If you have kids, the local school will be a big part of your new home buying decision. That’s why it’s important to get a school’s “vital statistics”, such as:
- Safety record
- Accommodation for special needs
- Average class sizes
- Extracurricular activities. (sports, arts, crafts, technology, etc.)
- Scores on standardized achievement tests
- Daily schedules and vacations
Even such seemingly inconsequential details as hours of operation can be important. If school starts a half hour later than you expected, you may not be able to drop off your kids on your way to work and therefore, you will need to make other arrangements.
The problem with household smells is that we get accustomed to them… when they are in our own homes. However, it takes just a few seconds in a stranger’s home, to know if a smoker lives there. The smell is in the air!
So when you put your home on the market, think about the common smells you might have lingering around your property. Remember, you may no longer notice them, but a prospective buyer will.
These may include:
- A diaper bin in the baby’s room
- Kitty litter
- Model making glue
- Paints, even if the cans or tubes are closed tightly
- Food. The aroma of a spicy meal can linger for hours
- Garbage cans. Even empty ones, if they are not clean
- Strong smelling soaps, perfumes and other cosmetics and toiletries
- Flowers and other plants
- Firewood, (especially pine)
- Outdoor shoes
- Door mats are especially prone to stains and smells
Try to eliminate as many smells as possible. An hour or so before a viewing, open a few windows to give your home a breath of fresh air.
“I don’t have a problem with credit,” a potential new home buyer says. “I pay my bills on time. I never have trouble getting a loan.”
That may be true. However, according to several surveys, most people are surprised by at least one piece of information in their credit report. And it only takes one derogatory item to create an obstacle to getting the lowest mortgage rate possible, or even getting a mortgage at all.
That’s why it’s important to check your credit report before you shop for a new home. You will then have the opportunity to deal with any unexpected issues.
For example, you may discover an error, which is not unusual. If you do find there is a mistake in your credit report, inform the credit bureau immediately. They are required, by law, to promptly make a correction.
If there are late payments noted on your credit report, you can write a letter of explanation to the credit bureau telling your side of the story. This will accompany the credit information that goes to your lender. Assuming everything else in your credit report is fairly good, most lenders will accept a reasonable explanation for late payments, such as being laid off from a job, an extended illness in the family, or military service overseas.
How do you get your credit report?
There are three major credit bureaus in North America:
- Equifax (www.equifax.com)
- Trans Union (www.transunion.com)
- Experian (www.experian.com)
All have websites that allow you to order your credit report for a reasonable fee. It’s a good idea to order all three credit reports as not all companies report credit information to all three bureaus.
Getting your credit report, and checking that it’s accurate, will make the home buying process go a lot more smoothly.
When you’re looking for a home, chances are, you have a checklist of things you want. Two bathrooms… a finished basement… a great looking kitchen… an expansive deck…
But what happens when a home you see has a feature that doesn’t quite measure up? Perhaps the basement is poorly renovated. Or the kitchen is small. Or there’s only one bathroom. Should you say “No”?
Here’s something to consider: A home that has a few undesirable features will probably cost less. And, those savings may more than cover the costs of any needed upgrades or renovations.
So don’t pass up on a house simply because is doesn’t meet all your criteria. It may be worth buying a home for less and then making improvements.
When you put your property on the market, ideally you want to sell it as quickly as possible and for the highest price possible. But sometimes one is more important than the other. For example, if you’re relocating, or have purchased another home that is closing soon, selling your current property quickly may be a priority.
Do you have to sacrifice price to do that? Not necessarily. But there are some things you can do to help get a good offer, sooner.
Price your property competitively. Make sure your home is not listed higher than the price for which similar properties have recently sold in your community.
Make it look “move-in ready”. Take care of all repairs and other maintenance issues before you list. Ensure your property is clean and uncluttered, inside and out.
And lastly, be flexible with viewing times. Be willing to take your family out for a coffee or an ice cream should a potential buyer want to see your home on short notice.
When it comes to “staging” your home for sale – which basically means ensuring it looks clean and uncluttered – you probably already know the basics: clean the counters, vacuum the floors, mow the lawn, etc.
But there are some home staging tips that are less obvious, yet can help to sell your property faster and for a higher price. For example…
Obvious: The stove, sinks and countertops should be spotless.
Not-so-obvious: The contents of your cabinets and refrigerator should be facing face forward.
Obvious: They should be clean and uncluttered. Have fresh towels hanging neatly on the rack. (The “hotel bathroom” look.)
Not-so-obvious: All towels should match. Ensure toilet lids are closed.
Obvious: Make the bed neatly. Check that the closet is organized and uncluttered. (If your closet is bulging with clothes, put some in storage.)
Not-so-obvious: Don’t leave any clothes out. Even clean clothes neatly folded in a hamper can seem untidy to some people.
The Kids’ Bedrooms
Obvious: They need to be clean and, especially, uncluttered. (Good luck!)
Not-so-obvious: Arrange stuffed animals, games and other toys like an attractive display in a toy store. It’s okay to have a toy, like a race track, out of the box. Just make sure it’s completely put together. (No pieces lying around.)
Obvious: Make sure the floor is clean and that things are put away.
Not-so-obvious: If possible, get everything (except the car!) off the floor and onto shelves and hanging hooks. This will make a dramatic difference in how roomy the garage will look.
These not-so-obvious staging tips may seem minor, but they add up to a home that is much more attractive to potential buyers.
Shopping for a new home can be a dizzying experience. There are so many things to think about, it’s all too easy to lose focus on the most important consideration of all: getting the home you really want. Here are five questions to keep front-of-mind:
Is it located in the area I want? Where a property is located can have a dramatic impact on how much you enjoy it. Make sure the community has the characteristics you’re looking for.
Does it have the look I want? Looks aren’t everything, but they are important. A good looking property, inside and out, can make living in it that much more satisfying.
Does it have the features I want? Three bedrooms? A finished basement? A spacious backyard with wraparound deck? You may not find all the features you‘re looking for, but you should be able to come close.
Does it have issues I don’t want? Does the property require extensive repairs or renovations? Does it back onto a noisy street?
Can I purchase it for the price I want? Does the property fit your budget?
A good REALTOR® can help you find the home you want while making the entire process easier and less stressful.
Here’s a surprising statistic. In several surveys, upwards of 60% of people surveyed listed “bedrooms” as one of the reasons they decided to purchase a particular property. So don’t overlook these rooms when preparing your house for sale. You need to make sure they appear roomy and attractive to potential buyers.
The first step is to make sure every bedroom actually has a bed. Otherwise, you might inadvertently give the impression that your home has fewer bedrooms than it really does. To a potential buyer, a bedroom is often more valuable than the home office or storage room you may have converted it into.
You can’t change the number of bedrooms your home actually has, but you can make sure that each one shows well. Consider the layout of each room carefully. Is the bed and other furniture placed in a way that makes the room appear as spacious as possible? Can buyers easily walk around the bed? Are the curtains, bedding and other décor items clean and attractive?
Finally, buyers will understand that a kid’s room may be somewhat cluttered and may even have an eclectic style, but you need to make sure it’s as clean and tidy as possible.
Moving into a new home should be an exciting experience. But, unfortunately, that’s not typically the case. In fact, moving day is traditionally fraught with such misery that there is even a reality TV show about it!
Your real estate agent can help. He or she can assist you in finding the right movers, provide you with relocation tips, recommend contractors and other home professionals, and advise you on what to expect on closing day.
Some agents disappear after the deal is done. Make sure your agent is available to help make the transition into your new home a pleasant one.
Do you have a clear image of your perfect dream home? Have you made a list of all the features it must have? Will you walk away from a property that doesn’t have huge mature trees in the back yard, or a wrap-around deck, or a large country-style kitchen, or comfy sunken living room? (Or all of the above?)
It’s okay to have a wish list of features that you want in a home. In fact, it’s a very good idea. It will make shopping that much easier. Plus, you’ll increase the chances of finding a property you like.
But it’s also important to be flexible. Why? Because you’re bound to come across properties on the market that fit most of your criteria, but not all. And if you’re not flexible with your wish list, you may miss out on some otherwise ideal opportunities.
Keep in mind that a less-than-perfect property can potentially be improved. If the house doesn’t have a wrap-around deck, you can build one. If it doesn’t have a spacious kitchen, you may be able to expand the kitchen area – perhaps by adding a pantry in an adjacent room.
The perfect home, at the right price, may not exist on the market. But a property that meets most of your criteria probably does.