Your guide to navigating the real estate market

The real estate market can be a terrifying and confusing place, from first-time buyers and sellers to veterans alike. The market is always changing, so even those who have bought or sold before can feel like a first-time buyer when entering the market. Here are some tips to help make that world a little bit less scary.

Buying?

  • Know what you can afford. Start working with a trusted lender as soon as possible to find out what you will be able to spend on a home. Make sure you’re comfortable with and can afford the monthly payments and interest. Don’t fall in love with a house you can’t afford!
  • Update your FICO credit score. This plays an important role in determining the interest rate of your mortgage. Rates of 700 or higher tend to get the best mortgages.
  • Save up! Avoid making major purchases, such as cars or other big-ticket items while you’re in the market for a house. The more cash you have on hand at the time of the sale, the better!
  • Consider the long-term; will this home suit your future needs? Are the roof, air conditioning, heating, and windows in good shape or will you have to replace them?
  • Get a home inspection on the home you want to buy. Home inspections bring out any major or minor problems the home may have that you might be able to negotiate in the closing of the home.
  • If you have found your “dream house,” don’t wait too long to buy it. You might miss your opportunity!

Selling?

  • Develop a web presence. Most people will begin their home search online, so it’s vital to have a good online listing with professional, well-staged pictures. You want to make a great first impression!
  • Staging your house is key and can make or break a sale.
    • De-clutter rooms and try to remove furniture or wall-hangings to make rooms seem larger.
    • Try to de-personalize the house as much as possible; you want potential buyers to see themselves living there, not you.
    • Avoid crazy colors and themed rooms; try to neutralize these types of spaces.
    • Bake a fresh batch of cookies right before an open house so the home smells nice!

Tips for everyone:

  • Be open to negotiation, not only between buyers and sellers but also realtors involved. Make sure you know your limits and stay within them.
  • Consider consulting a real estate agent. Agents are professionals who know how to navigate the market and can help you with closing procedures, negotiations, and paperwork, and they can help you make connections within the market. A professional will be the best source to answer your questions.

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