Should You Worry About Market Fluctuations?

You turn on the television and watch a news story about housing prices going down. Then you receive a flyer in the mail about a property around the corner that sold for a decent price. Next you read a newspaper article about the housing market on the upswing again.

It’s a little like being on a roller-coaster ride!

Unfortunately the ride isn’t much fun if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home. In fact, it can be very confusing and frustrating. You just don’t know if “now” is the right time to make a move.

In reality, the housing market has been fluctuating for decades. Yet, people sell their homes every day for good prices, and just as many people get into their next dream homes affordably.

When you hear news of market fluctuations, there are two important things to consider.

First of all, a lot of media information about the housing market is national, or at least regional. If the housing market is trending up or down nationally, remember that it doesn’t necessarily mean that your LOCAL market is doing the same.

In fact, it’s entirely possible for housing prices to be rising in your area, while they are falling nationally, and vice versa.

Secondly, if you’re selling a current property while buying another home, then the net effect of market fluctuations may cancel out.

Say, for example, that the local market is on the upswing. You’ll probably be able to sell your current home for a good price. However, the home you purchase will likely also be priced to reflect the upswing.

The same holds true when the market is down.

All that being said, there are some circumstances in which you need to consider market fluctuations when deciding whether or not to make a move. A good REALTOR® will help.

Shop for Insurance Before You Close

After purchasing a new home, buyers are often focused on securing a good mortgage, hiring a reputable moving company, and preparing for moving day.

Those are all important. Just don’t forget about home insurance! It’s an easy detail to miss. If you wait until the last minute to make those arrangements, you may not have time to shop around and get the best policy and rate.

When is the ideal time to shop for home insurance? When your offer is accepted. Don’t leave it until the last minute.

Making Sure Your “Wish List” is Complete

Before shopping for a new home, people often create a “wish list” of the features they desire most. That’s a good way to ensure you choose a home that best fits your needs and desires. For example, you might want an extra bedroom for guests, ample space for a home office, a local playground for the kids, and so forth.

However, many buyers don’t make their lists complete enough. You might find a home with the extra bedroom and nearby playground you want, only to realize, too late, that your commute to work becomes twice as long. You missed the importance of the commute because it wasn’t on your list. Ouch!

When you make your wish list, don’t be afraid to dream big. You might not be able to find a home that includes everything you desire, but you may be surprised by just how close you can get.

Here are some wish list items to consider:

  • Distances to places you visit regularly – work, schools, running trails, restaurants, entertainment venues, shopping.
  • Specific home features – a backyard tree, large closets, a fireplace, a two-car garage, a beautiful view.
  • Characteristics of the area – safety, sidewalks, nearby public transit, parks, playgrounds.

A complete list helps you make a better decision about which homes to consider. It helps you balance the positives — “I love the large kitchen with the marble countertops” — with the negatives — “The bathroom off the master bedroom is small” — to ultimately make the best buying decision.

Also remember to take your list with you when shopping for a new home. Use it as a checklist or as a way to organize notes. Ultimately it will make it easier to shortlist homes, compare them, and determine when you’re ready to submit an offer.

When to Consider Buying a “Diamond in the Rough”

Let’s face it. When you visit a home during a scheduled viewing or open house, you’re usually seeing it at its best. The rooms are tidy. The sinks are clean. The closets are organized and uncluttered. Even the lighting is set to its brightest.

That’s just good old-fashioned marketing.

However, not every house you see will actually look this way. For any number of reasons, a house on the market may be less than tidy, poorly decorated, and even in need of minor repairs. You may open the front door in anticipation, only to be immediately turned off by stains on the carpets, faded paint on the walls, cluttered hallways, and more.

First impressions form quickly. It’s easy to make quick judgments and move on. But, you may be passing on what could be a dream home.

Don’t make that mistake. Make your purchase decision based on a carefully considered second impression, not just your first.

When viewing a house, imagine how it will look with a fresh coat of paint, some redecorating, the minor repairs completed, and your furniture adorning the rooms. You might just find that a home that doesn’t show well is really a diamond in the rough.

(One caveat: Be careful of houses that don’t look like they’ve been well maintained. There could be issues lurking that require expensive repairs or renovations. Always make a professional home inspection a condition of your offer.)

There are advantages to buying a home that doesn’t show well. They attract less interest and, therefore, less competition from other potential buyers. The listing price may be lower too.

Increasing Foyer Appeal

You’ve heard of curb appeal. It refers to the good impression buyers tend to get when they first see your house “from the curb”. The greater the curb appeal, the more enticing your house will seem.

But there’s another type of appeal you may not be aware of: Foyer appeal. That’s the impression buyers get when they first walk in the door.

Think of what happens when someone visits your house for the first time. Chances are, they stand in the foyer for a few moments, look around, and take in the view of your house from that perspective.

That’s why, if you’re preparing your property for sale, it’s important to make the foyer look as attractive and inviting as possible.

Obviously, you want to make sure it’s clean and free of clutter. You don’t want potential buyers to trip over shoes or catch a glimpse of an over-stuffed coat closet.

If you have a welcome mat, make sure it’s clean and in good shape. Or, better still, buy a new one.

Finally, make sure that the rooms that can be seen from the foyer look attractive.

The impression you want to make is, “Wow. I can’t wait to see the rest of the house!”

Lighting Matters When Selling Your House

Remember the last time you were in a furniture store or other major home retailer? Remember the fully decorated displays of furniture, appliances and other products? Some of those may have even been organized as model rooms.

What did most of those displays have in common?

Chances are, they were well lit.

In fact, in the retail industry, there are professionals who specialize exclusively in display lighting. It plays such an important role in showcasing and selling home products successfully that the stores are willing to absorb the expense.

And the same holds true for your house.

If you want to show your house well, and sell it quickly and for the best price, make sure every room is well lit.

There are probably some rooms in your house where the lighting is adequate, such as the kitchen and bathrooms, and perhaps the foyer. But there are other areas where the lighting may be mediocre. Take a close look at:

  • Closets
  • Storage areas
  • Bedrooms
  • Laundry rooms
  • Hallways
  • The garage

If there are areas in your house that are dark or shadowy, the solution may be as simple as installing higher wattage bulbs, provided your fixture can accommodate them. Keep in mind that brightness can vary significantly from one type of bulb to another. For example, a 40-watt energy efficient bulb may not give off as much light as a comparable standard bulb. So do some experimenting. Your goal is to make the room feel bright yet comfortable on the eyes.

Also, don’t forget to open drapes and blinds. Often the best and most pleasant source of light for a room is the sun shining through a window.

Preparing Your House for Sale in Less Than a Week

It’s great when you have lots of time to prepare for something important. But life doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes you have to move quickly, and do the best you can with the time you have.

Say, for example, you had to get your house ready for sale, and you only had a week to do so. What could you do in those few days to make your home as attractive as possible to potential buyers? Here are some ideas:

  • Clean the house from top to bottom. Make it look “guest ready”.
  • Get rid of as much clutter as possible. If necessary, put some things in storage. Try to make every room look organized and spacious.
  • Get all minor repairs done.
  • Paint. It’s the fastest and cheapest way to dramatically improve the look of any room.
  • Don’t forget the outdoors. Prune the hedges, sweep the walkways, and deal with any potential eyesores – such as a rusted old bike stowed in the side yard.
  • Place some fresh flowers in the dining room and outside next to the front door.
  • Depersonalize your house as much as possible. For example, stow away family pictures. You want buyers to imagine themselves living there, not you.

This is just a partial list of ideas. A good real estate professional can help you with more tips on preparing your house so that it sells quickly and for the right price.

Stay or move? How to Decide

Do you sometimes review the real estate ads in your local paper? Do you drive by an open house sign and feel the urge to stop and check it out? Those are common indications that, at least on some level, you’re thinking about the possibility of making a move.

But how do you decide if you should actually move?

The first step is to consider whether there are any practical reasons to consider buying a new home. What’s pushing you in that direction?

  • Is your current home too small for your needs?
  • Is the commute to work, for you or your spouse, too long? (Perhaps longer than you expected when you purchased the home?)
  • Are there property features you would now like to have, such as a larger backyard or a more spacious kitchen?
  • Has the area changed in an undesirable way?
  • Do you have personal reasons for wanting to move, such as a desire to be closer to relatives in another area?

Carefully consider those things that can’t change unless you move. For example, if a major highway was recently built near you, the ongoing sound of traffic isn’t going to go away.

If there are no practical reasons for moving, there may still be other reasons for wanting a new home. You may want to move your family to a better area, with better schools or you may simply want a bigger home, with a larger backyard, more rooms, and a wider driveway.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with simply wanting a better place than the one you have now. In fact, that is a common reason why many people make a move.

The point is, if you’ve been thinking about a new home for a while, perhaps now is the time to take the next step. A good real estate professional can help you understand your options.

Understanding Market Value

If you were going to sell your car, what would you do? Well, you would probably check to find out how similar vehicles to yours are priced. Then you would set your advertised price within that range.

What you would be doing, perhaps without knowing it, is determining the “market value” of your car.

Market value is simply what buyers today are willing to pay for a particular product.

When you decide to put your house up for sale, one of the first things you and your real estate professional will do is determine the market value of your property. That’s important to know because if you price your home too much above its market value, you probably won’t get any offers. Alternatively, if you price your property too low, it might get snapped up quickly but you’ll have left a lot of money on the table.

How does a real estate professional help you determine your home’s current market value?

He or she will look at a variety of factors, such as the desirability of the area, the features of your home, how well it has been maintained, renovations and other improvements you’ve made, and of course, its location.

Your real estate professional will also review what similar homes in your area have sold for recently – which is, perhaps, the strongest indicator of current market value.

Once you know the market value of your home, you can make an informed decision as to how to price it so that it will attract the right type of buyers and the best possible price.

Should you price your home high above its market value in the hopes that some unwary buyer will purchase it? Unfortunately, that rarely works.

The good news is, your property may be worth more than you think. One of the best ways to find out is to invite a good real estate professional to your home to do an assessment.

5 Things Home Buyers Don’t Want To See

When preparing a property for sale, homeowners often focus on the things that will impress buyers, such as clean and uncluttered spaces, well lit rooms, staged furniture designed to maximize appeal, and so forth.

But it’s equally important to pay attention to those things you don’t want buyers to see… those little turn-offs that, although seemingly minor, can distract buyers and cause them to lose interest in your property.

For example, you don’t want buyers to see these things:

Pets. Although many people love pets, some don’t. Others are allergic to them. Dogs, in particular, can take a keen interest in new visitors, jumping and barking excitedly. It’s best to take pets for a walk during viewings.

Unfinished repairs. Dripping taps. Gouges and marks on walls. Broken tiles. Squeaking gates. Home buyers will notice, and may mistakenly think there are other deficiencies lurking in your home. Do as many repairs as you can. Then be upfront about those that are in progress.

Clutter. It’s common for main rooms, like livingrooms and kitchens, to be clean and uncluttered during a viewing. But buyers who become interested in your property will take a closer look, and check out the garage, cupboards, backyard shed and other places where things tend to accumulate. The more you de-clutter, the better your property will show.

Smells. Obviously not something a buyer will see, but he or she will definitely notice lingering smells associated with pets, garbage, exotic cooking, and smoking. Scents have a strong influence on emotions. That’s why perfume companies do so well! So make sure your home is as scent-free as possible.

You. Nothing personal. When buyers view your home, they want to visualize themselves living there, not you. So let your REALTOR® be the host. Remove as many personal items, such as family pictures and trophies, as possible.