The holidays are over; the New Year has begun. Now is the time to look ahead and start on those New Years resolutions. For some of us that means getting back to our weight loss meetings, joining a gym, quit smoking, and the list goes on. What is on your list this year?
Consider this: the elections are over, the fiscal cliff is thwarted and mortgage rates are still at an all time low. This could be the perfect time to finally make a move. Whether you want to buy your first home, move from a condo to a single-family house, relocate from the city to the suburbs, I predict 2013 is going to be a super year for buying and selling real estate.
Why wait, let’s get started now! As your buying agent I want to hear about your dream home: what it will look like, style, size, location, etc. As your selling agent I want to hear what made you fall in love with the house you are in when you bought it so I can develop a marketing strategy to bring the right buyer who will fall in love with it all over again. But, whether you are buying or selling, there are some things that you should be doing now to get ready for this next big move.
Sellers: Focus on Price and Product
As your Realtor I will help you review current market conditions to determine an appropriate price range for your house. I will also help you understand that when you decide to sell, you need to view this as a business transaction and separate your personal attachment to your home. This may be hard, so I suggest in the quiet month of January you start by adjusting the way you think about your home. This house is now a product to be sold, so put your eyes on it as a potential buyer. What do you see?
• Clutter? Why not start packing? You want to move and there are probably many things that you don’t use but haven’t had the time or motivation to toss, donate or store them. Now your motivation is to present the “product” you are selling in the best possible light. Buyers don’t want to see your things in their potential new home. They want to envision where their couch can be placed and see themselves in the space.
• Distressed or worn out features? Look for things need to be fixed. You know, the loose knob on the laundry room door, the dirt from the dog on the corner in the kitchen, the doorbell that doesn’t ring. These are all easy fixes that could make a big difference in first impressions.
Buyers: It’s Time to Get Your “House” In Order, Too!
In this market the biggest obstacle for buyers is securing a mortgage. Do you have the “means” to buy a house? Interest rates may be very low but do you qualify? Getting pre-approved for a mortgage (at a rate you want) involves three things: credit, income and deposit. This is what a mortgage broker will ask for, so be prepared.
• Credit: If you haven’t checked your credit score within the past six months, do it now. Things change rapidly and recent events may affect your score. For instance, you bought a new car, you opened up a new credit card over the holidays, and you were late with one charge card payment. These will change your credit scores for each of the three credit agencies. Go to Annualcreditreport.com to get your free credit reports from all three reporting bureaus. It is important to do this sooner rather then later so if there are any glitches with your scores you have time to do something about them.
• Income: Your mortgage broker will also ask about your work history and income. How long have you been at your job? Are you self-employed? If so do you have two years of verifiable income to support a loan? Come with documentation to get the conversation started. That means bank statements, tax returns, and more.
• Down payment: Do you have any savings? Are you going to be getting a “gift” of money to help you with that down payment? If so there is a lot more involved than transferring money. You have to document where that money came from and there may be limits on how much you can receive as a gift. These are things that a mortgage broker can help you understand and navigate. It is important to start these conversations with a mortgage broker now, not when you are writing an offer and are asking for a pre-approval letter.
Buyers and Sellers: Get out every Sunday and Visit Some Open Houses!
• Sellers, start to look at your competition. Check out the houses in your neighborhood and town to see what potential buyers are seeing and how they stack up to your house. Did they de-clutter? Do you see the difference! Also, have you hired an agent? What a great way to interview a few!
• Buyers, you can interview agents as well at open houses. And, why not start to educate yourself about available homes in the town that you are considering moving to? The Internet is a great starting tool, but nothing beats walking into a house and getting the feel for the space and flow. Pictures can speak a thousand words, but reality is better then the novel.
Ok, let’s get started! Get out there and meet your 2013 Real Estate goals!