Buyer’s Guide to Finding a Home & Choosing an Agent

Buying A Home

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you tired of paying high rental rates?
  • Are you ready to define your space outside of what your landlord will allow with paint, landscaping, etc.?
  • Are you ready to start paying for a home that you can call your own?

If you answered “yes” to the above questions, you may be in the market to get your own piece of the “American Dream” by owning your own home. But where do you start?

Buying a home can be an intimidating process, but with the right agent it can be a smooth, rewarding experience! Here are a few points to consider when starting your home-buying search:

1.  Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage 
This is very important, because it will give you a clear picture of how much house you can afford. Getting pre-approved will help you and your agent find your dream home without showing you places that are outside of your budget. It will also give you peace of mind knowing that you are, in fact, financially ready to purchase your own home. If you are unable to get pre-approved for a mortgage at this time, this process will give you insight into the steps you need to take to correct your credit and rebuild your finances. A good buyers agent and mortgage lender should be willing to advise you on how to improve your finances so you can get pre-approved in the future.

2.  Property Value 
Once you’re pre-approved and you and your agent have found a home which you are considering,  it’s time to assess the home’s value. Ask your agent to pull comparables or “comps” on the property. This will give you a look into other recent sales in the area of similar houses. This is a vital step that will show you how much the home is worth. It can also help you see the home’s value in comparison to the listing price the sellers have set. If your agent avoids this process after your request, you may want to consider finding a different agent.

3.  Property Condition 
Once you’ve decided on a home to purchase, the next step is identifying the condition of the property. Ask your agent to provide any disclosures the sellers have provided on their home. Review these carefully for any items that may be damaged or not functioning properly. Also, ask your agent to refer a professional home inspector to obtain a detailed assessment of the home’s condition. Based on these findings, you can tweak the price of your offer and rest easy knowing what you’re paying for.

4.  Cost of Living 
Find out if there is a Homeowners Association (HOA), if there are fees and how much they are. This, factored in with any repairs or upgrades you will need to make on the home, utility costs for the area, property taxes  and homeowners insurance can greatly affect your monthly payments. Ask your agent to identify/estimate  these costs for you so you can get a more definite number of what you will actually be paying every month.

5.  Location, Location, Location 
Review the neighborhood’s crime rates and school report cards. If the neighborhood is riddled with crime, you could run the risk of increasing your homeowners insurance rates from claims of theft or damage to your home. Take time to drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day. Look for any trends of suspicious activity, both day and night. Although school districts may not seem important, they are, even if you do not have children. if you ever decide to sell your home and the school district is not ideal, you could lose out on numerous potential buyers and/or money from a future sale.

6.  Offering the “Right” Amount 
After you have reviewed and considered all of the above options, take a good look at the home’s list price. Ask yourself the following:

  • Is the home within your budget? Can you afford the monthly mortgage payment?
  • Is the home priced right in relation to the neighborhood comps?
  • Can you afford to do any repairs or upgrades if you need to?
  • Are the HOA fees, taxes, insurance and utility costs financially manageable?
  • Is the location safe and ideal? Will the location hold or increase its value should you decide to sell?

If you can answer “yes” to the above, you may want to consider offering asking price. If your research finds the value differing from the asking price, discuss modifying your offer price to something different. Remember, offering too little could offend the sellers and have them reject your offer altogether. Be prepared to offer an amount that meets your needs without insulting the sellers. A good agent will help guide you in the right offer amount so you can begin the journey of home ownership!

If you’re ready to start your own search for the perfect home, consider Team George Weeks! We have a firm commitment to our clients to provide good service with integrity and honesty. We work for YOU. Our goal is to provide you with the best service so we will be the last real estate professional you will ever need!

Staging Your Home to Sell Without Breaking the Bank

staged

If you’re looking to sell your home and you want to make it stand out from the crowd, proper staging is the key!

If you don’t want to spend extra money to hire a professional staging company, here are a few tips that cost little or no money — and will likely make a huge, positive impact on potential buyers:

(1)  Deep Clean

This is the most essential step in the staging process. Potentials buyers want to be “wowed,” and nothing will send them running to the next listing faster than a messy house! Take the time to deep clean your house. In addition to your normal cleaning routine, set aside time to:

  • Wash the Windows – This includes all drapes, curtains, blinds, window frames, sills and glass. (Use a laundry scent booster on any linens you wash to keep the house smelling fresh!)
  • Scrub the Baseboards -All too often these are neglected when the floors are washed. Move any furniture, and scrub all baseboards with a mild soap and water mixture  to remove built up dirt and grime (If you have problems with lint or pet hair lurking in corners, rub a dryer sheet around the perimeter of your baseboards to help eliminate cobwebs and lint build up!)
  • Clean the Floors – Make sure you (carefully!) move furniture or appliances to clean up any hidden dust, crumbs or dirt that may have accumulated over time. If you have carpet, consider renting a steam cleaner to get your carpets fresh and stain-free!
  • Manicure the Exterior – Trim any unruly shrubbery, weed any flower beds or potted plants, remove / replace any dead plants, sweep any hard surfaces to remove debris and touch up any missing / faded paint on doors, window frames, shutters, etc. If you have hardware in your landscaping that doesn’t function (lights, broken bricks, rotted wood, etc.) be sure to remove or replace these items. (If it doesn’t work as intended, it’s better to not have it at all!)

(2)  De-Clutter and Organize

When buyers are viewing a home they are interested in, they need to be able to envision their own items in the house. If they are having a difficult time seeing past all your stuff, they might give up and seek out a different place. Set some time aside to:

  • Organize Papers – If you have stacks of papers lying around, go through them. Get rid of items that are out-dated, create a filing system for important documents (you can use a filing cabinet or use a 3-hole punch and store them in a binder)
  • If You Don’t Need It, Hide It – This includes any items that take up unnecessary space such as excessive nick-knacks. Consider getting rid of items you no longer need and neatly storing the items you cherish but don’t add function to a space.
  • Maximize Your Storage Space – Even if your home lacks storage space, de-cluttering will eliminate items that take up unnecessary space. Consider using plastic storage bins and neatly labeled boxes to store items. It will not only make your closets and storage areas visually appealing, but it will also make it easier to load when your home sells!
  • Move & Rearrange Furniture – If you have a lot of pieces in one room, and few in other rooms, consider moving some furniture into other rooms to balance out the space equally between each room. (If you have more furniture than you need, consider putting extra pieces in storage or selling some to make a little extra cash for other staging improvements!)

(3)  Eliminate Over-Personalization

As discussed above, buyers want to be able to see their own furniture and belongings in the home. If there is an over-abundance of personal photos throughout your home, consider storing them away or replacing them with generic artwork that fits the look and feel of the room. Although your friends and family may enjoy looking at pictures when they come to visit, John & Jane Buyers probably aren’t quite as interested. (Need some inspiration? Check out these simple, inexpensive ideas for wall art!)

Neutral colors are the best colors! If you have time and money, consider painting the interior rooms a warm, neutral tone. If you opt out of painting, make sure the room makes sense. Use items to decorate and accessorize that coordinate with the color scheme of the space. Even wild and eccentric colors can be toned down or played up with proper use of coordinating shades.

(4)  Maintain Your Hard Work

Take time each day to keep your home “Show-Ready” at all times!

  • Stay organized using the storage and de-cluttering techniques and systems you created (it only takes a few extra minutes to put things where they belong)
  • Keep up with the cleaning:  keep your floors vacuumed, swept and mopped, wipe off counters and faucets, make your beds daily, keep the sink dirty dish-free, consolidate trash, fold and put away laundry, dust regularly, etc. After a deep clean, it’s easier to prevent the need to repeat the deep cleaning process with some simple, daily maintenance!
  • Keep your exterior managed: mow the lawn regularly, keep weeds under control and sweep off hard surfaces of debris

(5)  Be an “Invisible Host/Hostess” During Showings 

With some pre-planning and preparation, you can make potential buyers feel welcome and excited about viewing your home:

  • Consider having fresh-baked cookies or other sweet treats set out with a simple note that says “Thank You for choosing to visit our home!”
  • Give potential buyers a run-down of your favorite features about the home and neighborhood in the form of a “Fact Sheet.” Be honest and positive.  Think of topics like:

What I/we will miss most about this home?
My/Our favorite thing to do around the house or in the neighborhood is
My/Our favorite feature about this house is; etc.

The agent you choose to list your home should be willing to take time to give you insight on staging your home the best way possible. If you’re looking for knowledgeable, professional, courteous real estate professionals to assist you with all aspects of selling your home, look no further than Team George Weeks! 

Contact Us Today!!

Buy or Sell With Team George Weeks & Use the Moving Truck for Free!

 

movingtruck2Team George Weeks is incredibly excited to announce the introduction of a program that we have been working on for months!

Moving can not only be stressful, but incredibly expensive. Therefore, our team spent much time and effort trying to come up with a solution for our clients. So what was the end result?

The Team George Weeks Moving Truck Program!

From this point on, families who buy or sell with our team have the opportunity to use our 24FT moving truck for free! That’s right – no need to bother with those pesky rental companies. We’ll put them all to shame, as we will even cover the gas expenses and the driving!

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, give us a call. No other team will work harder for you — before and after closing!

**Some restrictions may apply. Call for details!