Real Estate Resolutions: Tips for Homebuyers

Planning to buy in 2011? Preparation is the key to getting the best deal when shopping for a new home. Following are some tips to help you get started:

Define Needs Versus Wants: Make a list of your needs versus wants in the new home. For example, if you have a large and growing family then four bedrooms might be a necessity, while a pool might be negotiable.

Select a Location: Spend some time driving around town, researching schools and local amenities, crime rates, and other safety considerations. Select three to five areas to focus your search on.

Get Pre-Qualified: Find out how much you will be eligible to borrow and begin the paperwork so you are prepared to move quickly should a great deal arise.

Contact an Agent: Ask family and friends, perform a search for real estate agents that specialize in your target area, or consider using the services of a buyer’s agent. Let them know the price range you have been approved for, the type of home and zip codes of interest.

Read, Set and Search: Sign up for automatic listing notifications and begin viewing prospective properties online. Ask your agent for additional photos, virtual tour links and a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report, if available, which gives the insurance claim and loss history for residential properties. Once you find a property of interest, take a few minutes to google it before actually driving out in person. It’s often easy to see areas of concern from an aerial view as opposed to in person.

Real Estate Resolutions: Tips for Sellers

When a new year starts, many people resolve to lose weight, give up smoking and spend more time with the family. Others add selling the house to their list of resolutions. Following are eight tips to help you decide whether or not to sell, and how to go about it:

1. Take a good hard look at your home. What are its strengths and weaknesses? Make a list.

2. Watch for sale signs in your neighborhood and go to open houses. Start thinking about how your home compares.

3. What have other similar houses in the area sold for? Most homeowners are a bit unrealistic about what their house is worth. You want to be on the same wavelength as your real estate agent when the time comes to set a price.

4. Research the market. How long do houses stay on the market in your neighborhood? Is it a hot market for sellers right now?

5. Know what it will cost to sell your house. Will you pay for a home inspection, legal costs or renovations?

6. Spruce up the house. You know you’ll have to do it eventually, so why not present your house in its best light now? De-clutter and finish uncompleted do-it-yourself projects. Outside, tidy up the property, sweep the steps and change the light bulbs. It will allow others to see your house in a new light.

7. Select a real estate agent who is familiar with your neighborhood and ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. Word-of-mouth is the best way to source a realtor with a proven track record.

8. Take your time. Selling your home for the best price may take longer than you anticipate. Don’t add to the pressure by setting unrealistic time limits.