With 2017 behind us, it is time to hit the ground running into the New Year. If you’re thinking about buying or selling (or doing both!) a home in 2018, NOW is the time to start with the prep work. Planning now will make the process easier and smoother. Below are some tips to help you get ready.
FOR THE HOME SELLER:
Get your home in order. The very first step is to declutter and clean. Get rid of knickknacks, mementos, and personal collections. Do a thorough cleaning from top to bottom. In addition, make necessary repairs and improvements, especially those that buyers will be quick to notice. Add a layer of fresh mulch, repair that sagging gutter, and fix the squeaky front door. Also, patch and paint walls with an on-trend neutral color.
Determine your timeline. When do you need to be out of your current home? Do you need to sell before you can buy? In today’s very competitive market, it is a challenge to be a seller with an existing home on the market while also looking to buy a new home. Can you juggle two mortgages if need be? What about a contingency?
Interview real estate agents. Ask your friends and family for recommendations. Be a smart consumer and interview potential agents by asking questions. What’s their experience? Marketing plan? Average list-price-to-sales-price ratio? You want a good working relationship with your agent and asking these interview questions will help you find the best “fit.”
FOR THE HOME BUYER:
Be financially prepared. How will you come up with the money for a down payment? Make a 2018 resolution to regularly set aside money from each paycheck for a “house fund.” Saving money takes discipline and self-sacrifice. Automating your bank accounts will make saving easier. Coming up with the down payment is only part of being prepared. Review your budget and factor in the added expenses that come with home buying, like furniture, utilities, HOA dues and routine maintenance.
Check your credit. Pay your bills on time and keep up with your student loans. Look at your credit report and check for errors. Correcting errors and having them removed can take time, so tackle this task promptly. Be aware of your income-to-debt ratio. A low debt-to-income ratio demonstrates a good balance between debt and income. In general, the lower the percentage, the better the chance you will be able to get the loan you want. Also, knowing your credit score will give you an indication of the interest rates you will likely qualify for with your mortgage.
Get pre-approved. Find out if you qualify for a mortgage. Being pre-approved saves time and frustration for everyone. Additionally, it signals to a seller that you are a serious buyer as well as increases your negotiating strength. In today’s competitive seller’s market, a pre-approved buyer is going to have an advantage over buyers who have failed to go through the pre-approval process.
Interview real estate agents. Just like the home seller, a home-buyer should ask friends and family for agent recommendations and conduct an interview. An agent specializing in home buying will also interview YOU by asking about your lifestyle, your job, if you own pets, have children, have health concerns, are an empty nester, desire a fixer-upper, etc. Effective communication between the buyer and the agent is crucial to protecting your interests in finding the home that is right for you.
Let us help you with your 2018 plans. With The Sherry and Maria Team, we focus on putting your needs first. We are here for you, first and always. If you would like to have a conversation about buying and selling in today’s market, contact us. We’d love to help make 2018 your best year yet!
The Sherry and Maria Team – Real People. Real Answers.