9 Tips for Home Buyers

Often, when beginning the home buying process, the first thing folks like to do is fire up the computer and spend hours searching the internet for their ideal home. They commonly pick up one of the many printed home buying magazine, or search Zillow, Trulia, and many other free web based platforms, which are easy to use from home, at your own pace. This is not wrong, in fact its a great way to get a good idea of a given markets inventory. Truth be told though, looking is only one of the many steps involved in the complicated, time consuming process of buying a home.

At Steve Snow Real Estate, we understand our clients time and energy are some of their most valued resources. Due to this, we have broken down the approach we suggest both experienced and first time home buyers take to the home buying process.

#1. Get Pre-Approved.

If you are serious about buying a property, the first thing you need to do is meet with a lending professional to determine your buying power. The lender will examine your financial background and approve you for a specific mortgage amount. The lending institution will provide you with a list of items they’ll need to complete this process. Some of these items will include bank statements, W-2’s, and a copy of your credit report. Remember, you are seeking a letter of pre-approval, which is different then a letter of pre-qualification.

#2. Call Steve Snow Real Estate.

Whether you are a first time home buyer, or an experienced investor, Steve or Davis will be more then happy to help you out. The first thing we’ll want to do, is arrange a sit down to get to know more about you, and what you’re looking for.  We’ll pair you up with one, or both of us, and explain to you the approach we’re going to take to the home buying process.

#3. Determine search criteria.

Steve or Davis will spend some time figuring out what market you’re looking for. We’ll consider and discuss important factors such as schools, community centers, athletics, counsel on aging, or whatever else is  important to you.

#4. Price.

We’ll talk about what price range you will be searching. We’ll consider things like tax rates and association fees if applicable.

#5. Look at some homes.

At Steve Snow Real Estate, we pride ourselves on communication. Because we dedicate huge effort into asking questions and listening to the answers, we often have a great idea of what our clients are looking for. Due to this, we create a list of homes we think you’ll love, and we’ll spend some time traveling around looking at them. If you are unsatisfied, we’ll create another list, and continue this process until you find the perfect one. We understand that buying a home is a huge commitment, we never want to create any pressure or urgency, and we’ll remain as patient as possible.

#6. Make an offer.

Once you find the perfect home, and there’s no questions about it, Steve or Davis will help you create an offer. We’ll go over the strategies in creating an offer, and explain to you each important part of the complicated contract. If the offer isn’t accepted, and a counteroffer is submitted, we’ll review that and discuss a plan.  This is where you’ll be especially happy to have Steve’s 30+ years of negotiating experience on your side.

#7. Attorney.

An attorney is needed to ensure all legal requirements of the transaction are fulfilled, they will draft/review the purchase and sales agreement, and prepare the title and deed. The Attorney will ensure the seller has equitable and legal title, and is able to convey their interests without interruption.

#8. Fulfill contingencies.

Once an offer has been submitted and accepted, its time to start hustling. Contained inside the offer, is a list of all the things that must take place before the deal gets to the next stage. These are called contingencies, each offer may have a variety of contingencies, each of which are time sensitive.

#9. Final approval.

Once all contingencies have been fulfilled, a waiting period is required by the bank. Once this time has elapsed, and a final walkthrough is conducted, a closing is arranged at the attorneys office. Once the closing is complete, the transaction is final and you’re a new home owner!!

6 Helpful Tips for Motivated Sellers

Remember, Todays real estate market is more competitive than ever.  At Steve Snow Real Estate, we pride ourselves on being upfront and honest.  We want to prepare sellers by giving them the honest truth about selling your home so there aren’t any surprises down the road.  Today’s buyers are selective and have more tools in their tool belts. They know what they want, and when they find it, they tie it up quick.  Because of this, sellers have to spend more time and energy making their homes as market ready as possible. For first-time sellers who have never been through the process before, it’s a difficult world. Below are 6 helpful tips for sellers that will make their valued home a competitive commodity on the real estate market.

Tip #1 – Price right from the start:

The largest number of showings is likely to occur in the first two or three weeks.  The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and Internet tend to drive the majority of showings.  Most buyers (or their agents) do the majority of their research from home on their computer.  As soon as something new comes on the market that fits their search description, they immediately want to see it.  It’s important to keep this in mind when pricing your home.  A competitive price from the start will attract multiple showing and multiple offers.  On the other hand, a home  over priced won’t even get looked at, never mind an offer, people don’t want to waste their time giving low ball offers that they know will be rejected.  When price reductions are finally made after many days on the market, consumers become skeptical.  Multiple offers are a seller’s best friend because it often means you can negotiate and get over asking price. REMEMBER, this all depends on the seller’s motivation, if your home has high sentimental value, as they often do, and you’re in no rush to sell, price it accordingly.  Meeting your expectations is always our priority.

Tip #2 -Pictures are worth a thousand words:

When looking for an agents to represent you, make sure they understand that good photo marketing will make a world of difference.  Find out how they plan to visually market and display the listing to consumers.  Are they knowledgeable with photography, or do they use a professional?  Look at some of their prior listings and see if you’re impressed.  Don’t neglect the “modern version” of curb appeal.  Using lots of pictures on your marketing website will attract consumers, and not leave them disappointed when they come see your home. However you market your house, you need a good number of clear, well-lit, professional-quality pictures that show your house at its best.

Tip #3 – Sweeten the deal:

When preparing to sell, create an inventory of all the property that won’t be going with you to your new home.  Often it’s wise to begin decluttering months before your home hits the market.  Sometimes you’ll see it’s hard to get rid of things like that extra basement refrigerator, or backyard swing set.  You could leave those items around to sweeten the deal for a potential buyer.  If it becomes an issue and the buyers decline the donations, your Realtor should be happy to assist with any last minute cleaning or property removal before the final walkthrough.

Tip #4 – Clean the Clutter:

It’s important to keep your home neat at decluttered while it’s on the market.  This is true with any sized house, large or small; clean and cluttered can be the difference between cozy and cramped.  It’s wise to remove any nonessential pieces and clear items that may be useful to you but not necessary to others.  Removing a few pieces of furniture will make your home appear more spacious.  Clearing the kitchen and bathroom countertops will make your home seem more organized and inviting.  You may also want to de-personalize your home, take down family pictures and refrigerator drawings.  The idea here is to create a space that any potential buyer can imagine themselves in, and visualize themselves personalizing it.

Tip #5 – Appeal to turn-key buyers:

Most buyers are lazy; they are looking for a home that is “turn-key” or ready to go.  Some buyers and looking for a fixer-upper, but most are not.  The last thing a new home owner wants is to have a to-do list waiting for them right after their move.  Take a walkthrough of your home and think objectively about what needs repairs or replacement.  Remember, you are trying to create the vision of a potential buyers being in this space, they are not going to want to picture themselves making repairs right off the bat.  If the mailbox is falling over, repair it.  If there’s dusting to do, do it.  If there are lightbulbs out, replace them.  It’s easy to make excuses, and assume the consumer won’t think too hard about it, but the reality is, on a subconscious level they will not be impressed.

Tip #6 – Put upgrade money where it counts:

Often sellers want to do basic home improvements to make their home increase in value and leave a more lasting impression.  This isn’t a bad idea; just make sure you’re spending the money and time in the right ways.  First of all, kitchens and bathrooms are the number one way to increase value by modernizing, however, make sure your home is in a market that will allow the increase.  Some homes (based on location and condition) are going to remain the same regardless of how much money you put into those new countertops.  Talk to an area expert before attempting any major home renovations.  To simply make the home more memorable, try a fresh coat of paint.  By leaving the lingering smell of fresh paint, buyers will have another reason to remember your impressive home.