Yep, it’s that time of year again when we all decide that we are going to lose weight, quit smoking, start exercising and become more organized. Calendars and planners are flying off the shelves as everyone tries to start the New Year off on the right foot, hoping for an improvement over last year. Whether it was a good year or not, we always want more, more, more and the beginning of the year is the time that we plan out our paths for the next twelve months. While making my own list of resolutions, I put together some suggestions for home buyers and sellers that might help your real estate goals for 2010 come true.
Home Seller Resolutions
Make your home the best value in the neighborhood
Your home may be the most beautiful, with the most updates, but if it’s not priced to attract the buyers looking in your area, then you’ll be starting the year out disappointed. Ask your agent to provide a new list of competing listings and recent sales and review them carefully.
Be sure that you know what the successful sellers in your neighborhood did and follow their lead. Did they provide closing cost assistance to the buyer? Did they offer a home warranty? Did they allow the purchaser to assume their flood insurance? These are all incentives for a buyer to choose your home over the one right down the street.
A good place to start your research is with a free online report of listings and sales in your neighborhood.
Be prepared for all showings
Beyond the common sense advice of keeping the beds made, the dishes out of the sink and the toys picked up and put away, there is more to being prepared for buyers. Have you cleaned out your closets and made them appear as roomy as possible, or will those old tennis rackets fall out and hit someone in the head? Did you clear out the garage to showcase the storage space or is it jammed to the rafters with 20 years of stuff that you can’t bear to part with? Do you have seasonal plants in the garden or is it overgrown with the leftovers from summer?
From the moment a buyer pulls up in front of your house, you want them to feel at home. Read Home Staging Tips for more advice on preparing your home for sale.
Make your house easy to show
When an agent is scheduling appointments to show homes to potential buyers, don’t give them a reason to skip over yours because it’s difficult for them to get in. With the large number of competing homes in most neighborhoods on the West Bank, it’s important to be flexible and not turn down appointments.
If your showing instructions read something like “All appointments must be scheduled 10 days in advance of the new moon”, you are going to be in for the long haul trying to sell your home. Have your agent install an electronic lockbox and get those buyers through the door at their convenience.
Home Buyer Resolutions
Save, save and save some more
The guidelines for mortgages are becoming more and more stringent, with higher down payments than we have seen in several years being required. It’s important to save as much as possible before you starting house hunting. Not only will you need cash for a down payment and closing costs, but you don’t want to move into a home without the resources to furnish and maintain it properly.
Don’t buy more house than you can comfortably afford
While lenders are getting stricter, they will still qualify you for the maximum mortgage that fits their lending model. This may not be the same amount that you are comfortable spending each month.
It’s tempting to want to buy more house than fits your budget’s comfort zone, but don’t do it! You’ll soon find yourself dipping into your savings for an unexpected home repair only to find that there is no more savings because you are stretched too thin.
Be realistic about your wants and needs based on your budget
When you decide to buy a home, your agent will ask you a lot of questions about your wants and needs. This is the time to make a list of the things you absolutely cannot live without and those that are just nice-to-haves. Space for everyone to sleep is a need; a 3 car garage is a want. A functional kitchen is a need; an in-ground pool is a want.
Bells and whistles are nice to have, but staying within your budget is more important than those granite counter tops that you can always put in later.
The West Bank Living Team provides professional real estate services to home buyers and sellers on the West Bank of New Orleans. Contact us for assistance with any of your real estate needs. It would be our pleasure to help you!