So, you’ve been sitting on the fence, wondering if you should sell your home and buy a new one. We hear rumors that interest rates are going to start climbing, and then the next day we hear that rates are going to continue to remain below 5%. So what does a potential Buyer do….who do you believe?
Let’s pretend that you are a “first-time” homebuyer. I say jump off that fence and buy a home. Home prices are low….rates are low. This is a fabulous time to become a homeowner. But you need to be financially prepared. You need to have a minimum of 3.5% of the purchase price saved for your down-payment, and another 2.5-3% for your closing costs.
The lender wants to see that you are financially secure. Yes, there are still several programs to aid first-timers with their down-payment, but these programs are dwindling, so don’t count on a free ride for your down-payment. In many cases, the Seller will contribute to the buyer’s closing costs, but I recommend that you have these funds in reserve, should you need them.
Most importantly to first-timer buyers: understand that you are not going to get your dream home. Your first home is not your “forever” home. So be prepared to make compromises in what you want. It took your parents years of sacrifice and hard work to purchase their dream home.
Don’t over-buy and become “house-poor”. Buy within your means so that you can enjoy your home and not cuss each month when you have to send off your mortgage payment.
But what if you aren’t a first-timer….should you sell your current home before it loses any more equity and uses this opportunity to possibly “buy-up” to a larger home? Or should you wait several more years, to let the house prices go up before you make your next move?
The first step should be to have an accomplished realtor help you identify your home’s strengths and show you how to play them up. How does your home stack up with others on your same street, in your same neighborhood, same zip code?
With a Realtor’s help, you can better understand your home’s “marketability” and price your home correctly. Pricing it a few thousand dollars too high can mean the difference between your home selling and your home sitting on the market.
If you decide to move forward and place your home on the market, the best time of the year to sell your home is spring. That is when many Buyers begin to emerge.
However, I tell my clients to try to have their home on the market by mid- February, as this gives them the “edge” over other Sellers before the busy real estate market actually starts. Generally, there are fewer properties on the market and you have a better chance of your property being shown to prospective buyers due to less inventory.
As a Seller, it is oftentimes difficult to compete with foreclosures and short-sales. And we are expecting more distressed properties to emerge this spring. So my best advice would be to
Make sure your home has great curb appeal
Make sure it has all the “bells and whistles” that other homes in your neighborhood offer. If most homes in your neighborhood have granite countertops, install granite tops before you list your home. Otherwise, Buyers might look elsewhere.
Make sure your home is spotless. This is very important.
Especially the kitchen and bathrooms
Price your home to “lead” the market; you don’t want to chase the market. If you price your home just 5% below current market value, chances are your home will be seen by many more potential buyers than if you price your home 5% over market value.
LEAD THE MARKET DON’T CHASE IT
Today’s buyers are very savvy. They search for homes online and have generally narrowed down their actual home search to 5-8 homes to physically tour. If you aren’t priced right and staged right, you may never get potential buyers into your home.
With guidance from an experienced Realtor, buying or selling a home should be stress-free. Find a Realtor that you are comfortable with, one who will tell you exactly what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.