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Friday, March 29, 2013

Tips on buying/selling/renting a new house

Recently my husband and I bought a foreclosure house. All in all, we have probably looked at a couple of hundred homes, resells and rentals, and we have used around half a dozen of different types of Realtors in 2 different states in about 7 years time. Yes, we have moved around a lot because of the ministry my husband and I were in. Through all of that, we became a little experienced about looking for a place to live. We now have gotten so good that we can tell if we are going to like a place or not by just simply looking at the online pictures (and yes, online pictures are VERY important!) I am, by no-means, an expert; but, my grandfather always says, "Experience is the best teacher!". I thought I might pass along a few helpful tips that we have learned along the way. Whether you are buying, selling or looking for a rental - here are a few helpful tips!

For Renters:
1. Go through a Realtor! I feel, serious, committed, dependable renters usually work with a Realtor  A lot of people (like us) like to look at properties through the MLS system (or something capable to it). We have never looked at the newspaper for rental properties. There were times, we had to look at a rental and sign a lease all before we arrived. So good pictures were key for us.

2. Another reason I say use a Realtor is because they become the middle man for you in negotiating with the landlord. Yes, you can negotiate the price of a rental. Some landlords will budge, some will not.

3. In today's market I would highly advise looking at some sort of proof that the owner is current with making payments on the property. Countless rentals are being foreclosed on; thus, causing the renters to have to move. We had to move within 6 months of signing the lease; due to this problem.

4. Take care of the properties you rent and pay on time. This is very important for your character and for your future. If you ever desire to buy a house - they do go back and look at your rental record. They also may talk to your previous landlords. Most banks will be skeptical in giving someone a loan if they never paid their rent.

For Re-sellers:

1. DE-CLUTTER your home before putting it on the market. I can not tell you how many times a house would be so unappealing just because of the clutter! You want to show case the house and all of it's beauty not your style.

2. Clean, Clean, Clean!! Going into a messy home was definitely a turn-off. If the home was dirty or looked messy, we wouldn't even really consider it as an option. PLEASE make sure all of your "unmentionables" are put away at ALL times!!! A buyer already feels awkward looking around in someones home with all of their stuff; but when you walk into a room to see underwear and bras laying around it is definitely AWKWARD!

3. Use a Realtor! I can not stress enough the importance of using a Realtor  Selling and Buying is stressful enough. A Realtor is your middle man! In today's market and with the popularity of the internet you definitely want to tap into that energy as a seller. Most people look at properties through a Realtor and they mostly look at listing books or MLS listings on the internet. A home sold "buy owner" will not show up in these listings. You are missing a lot of vital traffic. A Realtor is your advertisement. Riding around and looking for "For Sale" signs are not a popular as it use to be. Paying the little extra cash to use a Realtor will be a great investment!

4. Fix-up. If there are any repairs that need to be made - make them before putting it on the market. Unless you include it in the price with a disclaimer. Otherwise, if I am looking at a house and it needs repairs, either I will not buy it because I want a "move in ready" home; or I will ask you to make up for it in the selling price.

5. Take good pictures for online posting. A lot of times, if a house did not have online pictures - I would not even consider going to look at it. Online pictures are a great selling point. Make sure they are good though. Sometimes people put up non-sense pictures. Take good pictures of each room. Take pictures of good selling points of your house. Good pictures will definitely draw the buyers in to your home.

For Buyers

1. Yep! You guessed it - GO WITH A REALTOR!!! When buying, go with a Realtor you can have confidence in; one, that you know will work for YOU. You are going to need a Realtor that will have your best interest in mind. Today's housing market is wide open and it is very competitive. If you do not know anyone, ask around to people you trust. A good Realtor will have a good reputation! We used one Realtor that only cared about himself - needless to say, we did not use him for long!

2. Write down some "must haves" and other things that you "would like". I had a lot of "would likes" but there were a few "must haves". We looked at houses for over a year before we settled on one to buy. There were those things that were "must haves" and if they did not have them; we didn't waist our time or our Realtor's time.

3. Be ready to negotiate. Have in mind what is your max offer. Especially if you are looking at foreclosures, be ready to "hash out" a few offers. Banks are wanting to get the most they can out of these properties and they will push you to your limit a lot of times. Sometimes they may even make you think that you have competition - to make you go higher. {Another good reason to have a Realtor you can trust. They will help guide you in these areas.}

4. Be patient. If you are looking at a foreclosure or short sale, be patient. Do not expect to close in 30 days or less. In today's market, it has been known to take longer then 30 days even  for CASH buyers! It took us around 3 months to negotiate with the bank and to close. Once the paperwork was all finished, it took us around 2 months to close. On short sales, it can even take longer than that! :)