Why Smart Homebuyers Work with an Agent

When it comes to selling a home, almost everyone understands the value of working with a knowledgeable real estate agent.

But buyers can often benefit even more than they might expect.

Find out the top reasons more buyers than ever choose to work with an agent when searching for their next home or investment property.

Saves Time

Undoubtedly one of the most commonly cited benefits of working with an agent when buying a property is the ability to save time. Real estate agents do the hard work for you by obtaining all the details and then showing you only those properties that meet your preestablished criteria.

Saves Money

Not only does working with an agent allow you to focus efforts on properties that meet your needs, but research also shows that it actually saves money in the long run. Sellers view agents as more objective during the negotiation process, and buyers that work with agents have access to the best deals. Remember, even in a buyer’s market, the best deals go fast. Many properties are already under contract by the time they make it into the magazines or online MLS listings, whereas many agents send out weekly or even daily updates of newly listed properties.

Reduces Stress

Real estate agents are able to work with lending officers, appraisers and others to streamline the entire transaction and keep things moving along by providing a single, reliable point of contact. Should anything go wrong, agents are able to access their network of contacts and expertise to assist every step of the way.

Access

Some of the best buying opportunities never even make it to the MLS listings; instead, foreclosures, bank-owned properties and even government repossessions are often handled by specific agents. Likewise, agents are often aware of creative finance options or specialized programs that may benefit veterans, first-time buyers, investors or even small-business owners.

Take the Stress Out of Moving with These Storage Ideas

Few things are more dreaded than moving day but new storage solutions can ease some of the stress. Learn how to select the right storage space for your needs, based upon your specific situation, without breaking the bank.

Flexible Time. If your top priority is a flexible schedule, a POD might be the perfect choice for you. PODs are large containers that allow you to pack – and unpack – at your own pace. Because PODs are closer to the ground, they also tend to be easier to load and unload.

Long-Term or Transitional Storage. If you are relocating for a job, downsizing or planning to move within a short period of time, longer-term on-site storage might make the most sense. Rather than selling all your belongings or buying a bigger home, shop around for a local self-storage facility within a short distance of your new home. It’s a great way to clear the clutter without sacrificing cost.

Whichever method you select, keep these tips in mind:

Ask about insurance: Don’t assume your homeowners policy covers belongings in storage. Verify it in advance or ask about a rider to ensure that your belongings are fully protected.

Evaluate on-site security: Not all storage solutions are equal – always verify the security measures are in place before making a final decision.”

Climate control. If you intend to store valuable antiques, expensive electronics or other items that may be impacted by high humidity or temperature extremes, consider opting for climate-controlled units instead.

Buyers: What Makes a Good-Value Home Today

Thanks in part to changing demographics combined with the economic downturn, a major move to get back to the basics is a hot trend in today’s real estate market.

For those seeking maximum value at a minimum price, keep these essentials in mind.

Bigger Isn’t Better: Bigger spaces are associated with higher utility bills, increased property taxes, expensive insurance and even more maintenance concerns. Instead of picking the largest house you can afford, search for the one with the amenities that your family will truly use.

Good Neighbors in Great Hoods: Friends, family and wonderful neighborhoods are major attractions. In fact, research shows that homes located in top-rated school districts routinely fetch 10% or more than do similar-sized homes in less desirable districts. Family-oriented neighborhoods with parks and other amenities are highly desirable, while empty-nesters can save thousands by searching for similar homes outside of popular school districts.

Fruit Trees and Gardening Are a Big Trend: Throughout the nation, high-maintenance lawns are giving way to eco-friendly (and budget-happy) gardens, fruit trees and other down-to-earth activities. Ask about HOA restrictions and the cost of water bills prior to buying with the intent of starting a garden.

Going Green Is Bigger Than Ever: From energy-efficient appliances to environmentally friendly building materials, green is not only “in” but bigger and better than ever. Save thousands of dollars by searching for homes that have already implemented upgrades like LED lighting and Energy Star appliances.

Entertaining: As the economic excess of recent years continues to drive down the market, people are interested in entertaining, exercising and even eating at home more. Focus on properties that support your interests and lifestyle for today and tomorrow. Remember, the average person remains in a home for seven years, so buy right to make sure that your next house truly feels like home.

Sellers: The Secret to Making Buyers ‘Belong’ in Your Home

It’s only natural for your home to reflect your personal style, but when it comes time to sell, what makes a house a home becomes a major hindrance. Learn how to depersonalize your home in order to obtain the best price.

Go Neutral: Unless your favorite color scheme is completely neutral, it’s time to get out the paint and restore the color to something less noticeable. Eggshell, white tones and beige are good options. Don’t forget the other senses – in addition to color, make sure that the smell of your home is also neutral. Never assume that what you find pleasant smelling will appeal to others. Instead, have your home professionally cleaned using an enzymatic treatment that neutralizes all odors, including heavy perfumes and deodorizers.

Minimize: Eliminate all unnecessary furniture, belongings and clutter as much as possible prior to photographing and showing the home. Not only does it allow people to see the property more clearly, but it helps break down the mental and physical barrier separating buyers from seeing the house as their own.

Highlight the Home: Never showcase personal belongings – instead, highlight the home itself. Tour the house room by room to discover the essence of each area. Create a beautiful view, ambient lighting or other inviting scenario that attracts visitors without overwhelming them. Eliminate distractions that identify the home as belonging to you while allowing them to see themselves living in the house.