How to Hack Home Buying

5 Hacks for First Time Home Buyers

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have taken the proverbial gloves off, taking stage and slinging jabs at one another over policy and everything else during the presidential debates. It’s quite a spectacle and will likely be the most widely-watched series of presidential debates in modern times. Pundits are saying that Trump really didn’t prepare and perhaps Hillary Clinton might have over-prepared. But when it comes to buying your first home, there is no such thing as over-preparation. Here are five hacks savvy first time home buyers employ.

Know Then Go. First time buyers know whether their loan application will be approved or not before they ever even start shopping for a home. That’s because they’ve already submitted their loan application to a lender and provided their financial information such as pay check stubs, bank statements and a credit report has been pulled and reviewed.

Check Your Emotions at The Door.  First time buyers know to keep their emotions in check. Sometimes first timers will see a home they absolutely, positively must have and pay more than what they’re qualified for. Get rock solid on the maximum you’re willing to pay for a home and stick to it. Emotions and money don’t mix well.

Be Flexible. Don’t be hard-headed when it comes to buying your first home. Be flexible in terms of location and amenities. You might very well discover there is a better deal in a better location if you let your real estate agent have free reign.

Be Credit Wise. One of the very first things you should do before you even speak with a lender is to get a copy of your credit report and check for mistakes. Unfortunately, it’s well-known that consumer credit reports are rife with mistakes. Don’t find out your credit report has problems while you’re shopping for a home. If you do find mistakes, document the error and let your mortgage company help with fixing what needs fixed.

Don’t Fly Solo.  Finally, there’s no reason to go this alone. Get some referrals for a good real estate agent, your loan officer can help here, and take advantage of a licensed professional. A real estate agent knows the neighborhoods, where to live and things like good schools and shopping as well as neighborhoods that hold value and appreciate over time.

Are You Positioned to Sell?

5 Tips for Getting Top Dollar When Selling Your Home

What is likely to be the most famous couple breakup in modern times, movie stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are getting a divorce and we’ve all got front row seats. Of course you already knew that. But what we don’t know is the positioning each side is preparing before the divorce gets to court. There are things you do that increase the odds of having the final terms of the divorce fall in your favor. This concept of positioning also works in real estate. If you want to get top dollar when selling your home, here are some things you can do on your own. And you don’t need an expensive lawyer.

1: When talking about curb appeal, there’s no need to bring in expensive shrubbery and completely overhaul your front lawn. For a couple of reasons. The first is some potential buyers don’t see lovely flowers and luscious shrubs- they see yardwork. Second, you’ll get the most bang for your buck with a thorough cleaning by clearing the lawn from leaves and sticks and even consider a new coat of paint.

2: Think seriously about increasing your agent’s commission. How’s that? If local custom is say a 5.0% commission, try 6.0%. You’ll get more traffic as more agents will bring buyers to your home, knowing they’ll split the higher commission.

3: Before you price, get an independent appraisal to see what homes are selling for in your area. When interviewing potential listing agents, they will all provide a Comparative Market Analysis, or CMA, but get your own appraisal beforehand and get an objective opinion.

4: Offer some seller concessions. This can be paying a buyer’s closing costs, for example. The trick with this approach is to price in whatever you’re willing to concede. If you’re going to pay $3,000 toward a buyer’s closing costs, make sure you take that into consideration when setting your list price.

5: Get a property inspection on your own. Your buyers will order a property inspection but getting one of your own lets you see what the buyers will see. If there is anything that could cause the buyers to come back and renegotiate the sales price due to some discovery, addressing such items before selling your home will avoid future price-haggling.

Are You Stage Ready?

10 Tips to Effectively Stage Your Home-A Little Goes a Long Way

The classic rocker Alice Cooper is currently on tour. Whether you like the music or not, he is known for an all-out presentation. Stage props, fire, animation. In one of his earlier tours he stuck his head in a guillotine. The visuals helped overshadow the music, we guess.  Presentation is everything but when staging a home, there’s no need to go all Alice Cooper on us. Here are some basic, easy to do staging tips that will help sell your home faster at the price you really want.

1: First Look. This is what your home looks like from the street when potential buyers stop and stare. It’s curb appeal. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges and clear up the clutter. A fresh coat of paint is a most excellent choice, too.

2: Bright Lights. Turn on the lights and open the drapes. You want a shining home, not a dull one. That means taking the extra steps of replacing your light bulbs with a higher wattage.

3: Elbow Grease. Hire some extra help and pull out the cleaning supplies. Really scrub those counters and clean the floors. Don’t forget to check for those little dust bunnies that hide under beds and on light fixtures.

4: Go Ahead, Get Floored. Make those wood floors shine and steam clean the carpets. Are there carpet stains that just won’t come out? Think about new carpeting. Relatively inexpensive and makes a huge impact.

5: And Speaking of Paint. The lowest cost staging with the greatest impact is a fresh coat of paint. And this is something you can do yourself.

6: Clutter Clearance. Clear your shelves. Hide away knick-knacks and store those family photos. Your bathroom should look like it’s in a hotel. Clear everything away.

7: Wide Open, Baby. Store some of that extra furniture anywhere but inside your house. You want wide open spaces to let potential buyers imagine their own furnishings inside your home.

8: Back Off. Once you get rid of extra furnishings, group together your furniture and move them off of the walls and around the center of the room. This little trick actually makes the room look larger, not the other way around.

9: Cabinet Crazy. The kitchen will get extra attention and if you don’t want to spend the extra dough on new appliances, a cheap hack is to buy new hardware. Remove old drawer and cabinet handles with shiny new ones.

  1. Grand Illusion. Here’s a trick professional home stagers use- to make a room look bigger and create flow, paint it the same color as an adjacent room. It’s a seamless statement and works so well it’s an optical illusion.

Looking to Buy?

Buying in a Seller’s Market is a Good Thing. No, Really. Ask Trump

Real estate mogul and Presidential Candidate Donald Trump is probably the most well-known negotiator there is. At least that’s what he’ll tell you. No matter the market, there’s always a deal to be made. But does buying in a seller’s market ever make sense? Buyers don’t have the luxury of determining when it’s a buyer’s or a seller’s market. It just is. But in many places across the country where inventory is shrinking and if interest rates got even lower the bank would pay you to take out a loan, it’s a seller’s market. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sidelines or pay more than you want. Here are some insider tips to take when shopping for a home with the sellers sitting in the driver’s seat.

1: You REALLY Want Their House. Have you heard of this one before? Probably not. When making an offer, write down on a little note card why you really, really want their house. Make it personal. Remember, you’re competing with others and any little nuance can help.

2: It’s In the Bank. Let the sellers know that not only have you applied for a mortgage but you’re already preapproved. Your preapproval letter should clearly state that your credit, income and assets have been verified and you can close within days.

3: On It Like a Bonnet. Your real estate agent is notified when a home is first listed and agents who list those homes know it’s better to place a new listing during the week and not on the weekend. When a home is first listed, get there right away. Don’t wait until the weekend like most shoppers do.

4: Seller Wiggle Room. Don’t forget the sellers are moving out and moving in somewhere else, just like you. It’s a hectic time. And while sellers like to know you’re preapproved and can close quickly, let the sellers know if they need more time to move out, you’re willing to let them stay a little bit longer after the closing. Your agent can craft a lease-back agreement for you.

5: Earnest Money Bonus. Earnest money deposits follow the norm in each market, say maybe 1.0% of the sales price. Whatever your agent suggests, think about doubling or even tripling that amount. Trust me, it will open the seller’s eyes a bit wider.