There’s an old expression: Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. It refers, of course, to putting a problem or issue in the right perspective. Some things just aren’t worth worrying that much about – the molehills. However, there are other things that you do need to be concerned about – the mountains.
What does all this have to do with buying a home?
It’s difficult to find a property on the market that is absolutely perfect and has no issues whatsoever. Even if you find a home that you fall in love with and that meets all your requirements, there are bound to be one or two areas of concern. That’s normal.
The trick is to determine whether a particular concern is a mountain or a molehill. For example, say you want a home with four bedrooms, but find one with three. That may seem like a big problem. But if you look closer, you may find that one of the rooms in the finished basement can easily be converted into a comfortable spare bedroom.
That particular issue is really a molehill, and shouldn’t prevent you from putting that home on your shortlist.
On the other hand, say you want a home in an area with local parks for your kids and a sidewalk out front. If a property you’re considering doesn’t have those features, you might not think it’s a serious issue. But consider how difficult it will be to take young kids for a walk and decide where you think they’ll play. You may actually have a mountain in front of you.
So, when shopping for a home, you need to understand which are minor issues that can be easily dealt with, and which are major issues that will seriously impact your enjoyment of the home.
It’s no secret in the real estate world that the more attractive your home looks to potential buyers, the more likely it will be to sell quickly and for a good price. So, obviously, you want to do everything you can to ensure your home “shows” well.
But before you invest in a major renovation or other costly improvements – which may not be necessary – consider these low-cost tips first.
Paint. This is the easiest and most cost-effective way to make a room or other area of your home look bright and new.
Potted flowers. Flowers always brighten up a space. And if they’re potted, you can place them anywhere – in the foyer, outside the front door, even on the back deck.
New mats. Mats get worn and stained so easily. Place new mats at all entranceways.
Obvious repairs. A squeaky fence gate. A dripping faucet. A broken floor tile. People notice. Get these repaired.
Upgraded lighting. Improve the lighting in key areas of your home, such as the basement, which tends to be darker.
These tips won’t cost much and are relatively easy to implement. Yet, they can have a dramatic affect on how well your home shows.
Moving day is traditionally such a hectic and emotionally charged experience that there are even reality TV shows about it.
Does it have to be that way? Is it possible to ensure that moving day goes smoothly?
Picking a good moving company, or making similar arrangements to transport your belongings, is the obvious place to start. But here are some other tips you might not have considered:
Put pets in a kennel for the day. Pets may get excited by all the activity and tend to get in the way, or may hide where you can’t find them.
Have healthy snacks available. Vegetables, fruit, nuts, juices and water are all natural energizers.
Hire a babysitter for the kids. It’s going to be a long day for them.
Call your mover the day before. Confirm exactly when they will be arriving and be sure they’ll be bringing a large enough truck.
Clearly mark boxes that contain items you’ll need immediately. Think about the clothes, cookware, computer accessories, toys and other items you’ll want to find easily during the first week in your new home.
Plan ahead to make your moving day drama-free. Unless, of course, you want to be on a reality show!
When preparing your home for sale, you want to make sure every room looks its best. But pay particularly close attention to the kitchen. Many buyers will spend a lot of time determining whether or not it meets their needs. In fact, some buyers will even form an impression about the entire property based primarily on how they feel about the kitchen!
How do you make it look its best?
Start by making sure your kitchen appears as roomy as possible. Put away all countertop appliances, even the toaster and the coffee machine, so that the counter space is completely clear.
Check that your cabinets and pantry shelves aren’t stuffed with dishes, foodstuff and other items. While that’s normal in most family homes, it doesn’t promote the image of plentiful storage space. Clear out as much as you can. Make sure what you leave behind, especially food items, is stored neatly.
Got a junk drawer? We all do. Empty the contents into a box and stow it away.
Of course, you want to ensure that the kitchen is clean and shiny. The area in and around the sink is critical. There are some excellent specialty cleaners available that will remove even the most stubborn stains in a stainless steel sink. (Never use steel wool or other abrasive cleaners. They leave unsightly scratches.)
If you have a window over the sink – a great selling feature – make sure it’s especially clean. You can be sure that buyers will linger for a few moments to look through it.
And, finally, don’t forget the space under the sink. Make sure that the space is as clean – and empty – as possible.
You obviously have experience purchasing a home. But you may not have had an opportunity, yet, to be on the other side of the transaction: putting your house on the market and entertaining offers.
Offers, in particular, can intimidate first time sellers (even those who have bought and sold a few times). After all, the stakes are high. If you don’t accept the offer, deciding to counter-offer instead, the buyer may lose interest. If you take the offer, you may do so at a lower price than you could have otherwise negotiated.
Let your REALTOR® help you steer clear of both those dangers.
An offer is typically presented by the buyer’s REALTOR®, who will give you the proposed price. He or she will also explain any conditions, such as “conditional on a satisfactory home inspection”. Regardless of the conditions, always ask if the buyer has arranged for a pre-approved mortgage.
Now comes the tricky part. Do you accept the offer, reject it, or counter-offer? As your REALTOR® we can work together to ensure you make the right move. Ultimately, your goal is to sell your house for a price that is comparable to what similar homes in the area have sold for recently.
When you’re shopping for a new home, you may come across properties that require repairs or renovations. Are these houses worth the added expense? Will you get your money back if you decide to sell the house in the future?
According to market studies, certain renovations and repairs do add more value to a home than the repairs typically cost. These include kitchen and bathroom renovations, new or improved landscaping, and electrical and plumbing repairs.
One of the best things you can do to ensure you get the home you want is to arrange for financing before you go shopping. This is often referred to as getting “pre-approved”.
Getting pre-approved simply means that your lender has calculated how much of a mortgage they’re willing to offer you, depending on your down payment and current financial situation.
There are two advantages to having a pre-approved mortgage. First, you know exactly what you can afford when shopping for a new home. Second, when you make an offer, you’re likely to be taken more seriously.
The more you know about the best way to reach a goal, the more likely you are to get the result you want. So, whether you’re hunting for a new job, assembling a backyard BBQ, or training for a 3 mile run, you’ll want to use a proven process to help you get there.
That certainly holds true when shopping for a new home. There is a proven process to getting the home you want, in the area you want, at a price you can afford. Here are the highlights:
- Get ready
There’s a lot you must do before you pack your energy snacks in the car and go looking at homes. If you own your current home, you must prepare that property for sale. You should also get financing for a new home pre-approved, so you know exactly how much you can afford.
- Go shopping
Your next step is to view the right homes currently available on the market. It’s a good idea to make a wish list of the features you’re looking for in a new home. You may not be able to get everything you want, but you can probably come pretty close.
- Make an offer
When you see a home you like, the first thing you’ll need to do is to make an offer. This can be tricky especially if there are other interested buyers.
- Get an inspection
Always get the home checked out by a qualified home inspector. A property may have issues, such as a foundation leak, that are not obvious during a viewing.
- Prepare for the move
Once you’ve made the purchase, you need to arrange for moving and deal with other details, such as utilities, telephone, mail forwarding and so forth.
When shopping for a new house or condo, most buyers consider such factors as proximity to schools, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, size of the kitchen, and more. These are, of course, all important considerations. But there’s one question that few buyers ask – until it’s too late. “Will our furniture fit?”
This may seem like a trivial concern. But if you’ve invested thousands of dollars in a new living room suite, you’re going to be very disappointed if it looks too crowded in your new home.
Here’s a tip: measure rooms in your current home that contain the furniture you like most. This could be the living room, rec room, master bedroom or even the patio. Then imagine how much smaller – if at all – that room can be and still accommodate the furniture.
When you view condos or houses on the market, take those measurements with you. That way, you’ll be able to quickly determine if room sizes are going to be an issue.
And don’t forget to take a good look at entry ways. If you have a large wrap-around sofa, for example, you’re going to want to make sure you can get it through the door!
There’s no doubt about it. The best kind of offer is a “firm” offer. The buyer offers you a certain price for your property and, should you accept it, the deal is done. Congratulations. You’ve just sold your house!
But more often than not, an offer is “conditional”. That means the buyer is offering you a price, but with one or more conditions. If those conditions are not met, the buyer can walk away from the deal.
Examples of typical conditions include:
- Conditional upon arranging suitable financing within a fixed period of time.
- Conditional upon the buyer selling his own home by a specific date.
- Conditional upon an inspection of the property.
Should you accept a conditional offer? After all, if you do, the deal might fall through. But if you don’t, you might be passing up on an opportunity to sell your house for the price you want.
A REALTOR® who understands the real estate market can help you make the right decision.