In the nautical world of pleasure boating, there is a specific process to follow to ensure a fun day on the water. Skip one of those steps and you risk having a miserable experience.
The same holds true when buying a new home. There is a process to follow to ensure everything goes smoothly. Here are the basics.
Find a good real estate professional. Preferably someone who knows the area.
Determine what you can afford. Get a pre-approved mortgage.
Make a wish list. What kind of home are you looking for? View the right properties. Pick those that closely match the criteria on your wish list.
Make an offer. Your real estate professional can help you make an offer that gets you the home you want at the right price.
Get a home inspection. This is a must.
Get the paperwork done. Your real estate professional, lawyer and lender will typically handle all the transaction paperwork for you.
Prepare for the move. Find a good mover. Don’t forget to arrange for telephone, internet, change of address and other details.
Follow this process and your move should be smooth sailing.
“Staging” is about setting up and decorating each room of your home so that it looks as attractive as possible to potential buyers. Studies show that a property is more likely to sell quickly and for a better price if it is effectively staged.
Even if you haven’t heard of staging before, you probably already know the basics, such as eliminating clutter and making sure everything is clean and “guest ready.”
However, there are some home staging “secrets” by staging professionals that you may not know. Here are a few examples:
Increase horizontal surface space. Make sure desks, countertops, coffee tables, end tables, etc. are as free of items as possible. Give the impression that there’s lots of room available on horizontal surfaces.
Flowers. Fresh flowers or flowering plants placed in a couple of rooms, such as the kitchen and living room, can have a dramatic impact on how inviting that room looks. Just don’t overdo it.
Don’t be daring when you paint. You may love the idea of a bright yellow and green combination in the family room, but not everyone will share your daring sense of style. If you paint, stick to neutral shades.
Less is more. Be brutally honest about the amount of furniture you have in each room – including wall hangings. Is there a desk, side table or other piece you can put away in storage? Think about ways to make each room more spacious. Space is king!
Ultimately, the best staging advice is to use your common sense. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer as you walk through your home. Ask yourself, “What changes will make this room even more attractive?”
Lifestyle is a very important criterion when shopping for a new home. After all, a home and its surrounding area are the places where much of your lifestyle is going to be experienced.
So when considering a new home, think about the lifestyle to which the property is going to lend itself. Ask yourself:
- How much entertaining do we do?
- How important is it to have good schools located nearby?
- How long will the commute to work be?
- How big of a backyard do we require?
- Do we need a rec room?
- How easy will it be to get to golfing, dance lessons, baseball practices, movies and other activities my family and I enjoy?
- How important is it to be in a quiet area?
- Do we want a local park nearby for jogging, playing with the kids, and walking the dog?
This list is just an example. Ideally, you’ll create your own list of questions to ask yourself when considering a particular home.
You’ve spent a couple of weekends viewing homes. You’ve found a few that you like, but none were quite “it”. Then, finally, you visit a property that seems perfect for you. It has most of the features you’re looking for in a new home. You quickly fall in love with it.
But it’s not yours yet. You have to make an offer. The amount you offer will play a huge role in whether or not you get the home, and the price you’ll pay.
At this point, you might be tempted to put in a really low offer in the hopes that you’ll get a bargain.
But that’s usually not a good idea.
First, the seller (working with his or her REALTOR®) probably knows the current market value of the property. So your low-ball offer will not make a good impression.
Secondly, there might be another offer that comes in at the same time — one that’s closer to the listing price — and you might risk losing your chance to buy the property. So be cautious with the low-ball game. Chances are, you’ll lose. A good REALTOR® can help you make the right offer for the property you’re interested in purchasing.
When buyers shop for a new home, they typically start by viewing properties that meet a specific criteria… four bedrooms, a finished basement, a quiet street, etc.
But often there is something special about a home that catches a buyer’s eye that can very well tip the scales toward your home.
Think about it. How many times have you heard someone who has just purchased a home say something like, “Wow, the recreational room is fantastic!” Or, “The golf course is just a mile up the road!” Or, “There’s a great school just four blocks away.”
So when you list your home for sale, think about the special features that might get a similar reaction from buyers.
For example, you might have a view out your living room window that’s really, really great. There might be a local playground that’s especially well-equipped and clean. Your home might be located near a local sporting facility which is really, really convenient for families who have kids involved in sports.
So when you create your list of features, highlight those that are really, really great and make sure potential buyers are aware of them. It might just be the one feature that prompts a buyer to make an offer.
What do you notice when you visit a model home in a new development? Often, you’ll find wonderfully furnished and decorated rooms that anyone could live in.
The operative word here is “anyone”.
Sure, there might be a computer screen on a desk in the den, or a child’s Raggedy Ann doll sitting in a corner, but for the most part, all the rooms are anonymous. There is a sense of family, but no specific family… the feeling of personality, but no specific person.
The professionals who set up a model home make it anonymous for a reason. They want buyers to view it as their potential home, not someone else’s. And these professionals know — based on decades of experience — that this strategy helps sell houses faster and for a better price.
Why not use this same strategy when showing your house or condo?
It’s easy. Just put away that soccer trophy, take down the wedding photo, and box those souvenirs from the family vacation at Disneyland. No, you don’t have to completely empty your closets and drawers. Just pack those personal items that can be seen when a potential buyer views a room. Put away toothbrushes, collectibles, even unopened mail. Don’t forget the fridge door, which is often a mosaic of personal items in most family homes.
If you have lots of personal items, consider renting a storage unit for the few weeks that your house or condo will be on the market. It’s worth the investment.
You wouldn’t think of buying a birthday cake with a stranger’s name on it. The same holds true when you show your house or condo. Make it anonymous!
Recently, researchers have discovered that lighting in the home has a much greater impact on health and well-being than originally thought. Better lighting can boost your energy, help you sleep better, and even enhance healing.
So it pays to make sure the lighting in your home is healthy.
Start by enhancing sources of natural light, such as windows and sunroofs. Study each room of your home and replace as much of the artificial light as possible with sunlight. For example, re-position a preferred reading chair next to a window.
Consider dimming the lighting in your home during the evenings. If your home is very bright when it’s dark outside, it can affect your body’s natural rhythms, resulting in disturbed sleep.
Avoid over-lighting, which is common in rooms where there are few windows. Over time, excessive light can cause headaches and even mood changes. Lighting that is sufficient to see everything clearly is all you need.
Retailers know that if they dress up their window displays and other outside features to make them look as attractive and enticing as possible, they bring in more shoppers. Of course, having more shoppers means more potential sales.
The same holds true when selling your home.
The more appealing your property looks from the outside – from the sidewalk right up to your windows – the more likely buyers are to become interested in your home and want to schedule a viewing.
That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on new landscaping and window dressings. In fact, there are many simple, low-cost things you can do to make your property look significantly more inviting to home shoppers.
- Mow the lawn.
- Trim the hedges.
- Plant some flowers. Place potted plants near the entrance way.
- Make sure the walkway is clear and swept clean.
- Paint the front entrance door. (If needed.)
- Clean the windows, inside and out.
- Make sure window coverings, and all other items that can been seen from the street, look great.
Make your property look better from the outside, and more buyers will say, “Yes, I want to view that home!”
Viewing new homes on the market can be a very exciting and a fast-paced experience – especially if you’re also selling your current property. You see a home you like, you fall in love with some of its key features and, before you know it, you’re making an offer. But, if you haven’t taken the time to consider some of the details, you may wind up discovering that upon closer inspection, the home doesn’t truly meet your needs.
That’s a recipe for disaster.
Of course, you have to act quickly when you find a property that matches your criteria. You just need to make sure that the home really is a good fit, and that you’re not being swayed by first impressions.
When you’re viewing a potential new home, or checking out a property during a weekend “open house”, what should you look for beyond the obvious? Here are some suggestions:
- Will the property require a lot of immediate repairs and upgrades?
- Is it in an area that supports your family’s needs and activities. (Consider commuting time to work, playgrounds for the kids, local shopping, etc.)
- Is the yard big enough?
- Is the driveway and garage space okay for all your vehicles?
- Will your furniture and other items fit the space?
- Are there enough bedrooms, bathrooms, closets and storage space? (Think about your current AND future needs.)
Avoid the temptation to focus on only the major features of a home, such as the large kitchen. Get down to the nitty-gritty details. After all, it’s a major purchase. You want to get it right!
You’ve picked a great contractor or decorator. The crew is coming in on Monday to do the work. You can hardly wait to see the renovated kitchen, new hardwood floors, or freshly painted living room.
But there’s one thing that can put a damper on all your enthusiasm. The work itself.
Dust. Loud noise. Renovation debris. Work people tracking dirt in and out of your home. It can all add up to a not-so-great feeling about the renovation.
That’s why it’s important to have a discussion with your contractor or decorator before the work begins so you understand how the work will actually be done, and so you can set some ground rules.
Here are some key questions to ask: What are the names of the people on the work team? What are their hours? Who will be in charge of the work team when you are not on site? What steps do you take to reduce dust and dirt in the home during the project? Is the job area cleaned up at the end of each day? What is your policy regarding smoking and eating on site by your work team?
Getting answers to these questions upfront will help avoid unpleasant surprises.