Helpful Hints

1. Prepare Your wish list.

Prepare a wish list. Your list might include considerations such as: two or more bedrooms, quality schools, nearby parks or shopping, large yard, quiet street, attached garage, etc.

2. Start by shoring up your credit.

Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.

3. Aim for a home you can really afford.
The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. But you'll do better to use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.

4. Don't worry if you can't put down the usual 20 percent.

There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low-interest mortgages that require a down payment as small as 3 percent of the purchase price.

5. Buy in a district with good schools.
In most areas, this advice applies even if you don't have school-age children. Reason: When it comes time to sell, you'll learn that strong school districts are a top priority for many home buyers, thus helping to boost property values.

6. Get professional help.

Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Jan Carr and Associates will keep your best interests at heart and can help you with different strategies during the bidding process.
7. Choose carefully between points and rate.

When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points -- a portion of the interest that you pay at closing -- in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time -- say five to seven years or more -- it's usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.

8. Before house hunting, get pre-approved.

Getting pre-approved will you save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can't afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history.
9. Do your homework before bidding.

Your opening bid should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making it, consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. If homes have recently sold at 5 percent less than the asking price, you should make a bid that's about eight to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

10. Hire a home inspector.

Sure, your lender will require a home appraisal anyway. But that's just the bank's way of determining whether the house is worth the price you've agreed to pay. Separately, you should hire your own home inspector, preferably an engineer with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are buying. His or her job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.

Steps for a Successful Home Sale

1. Setting Your Home Sale Goals.

Do you want a quick, hassle-free sale to get out of the home only what you put into it? Or, are you willing to take the necessary time and effort to get the highest possible price? What will your housing arrangement be once you sell? Keep in mind that some buyers will be looking to close in a matter of weeks - will you be ready?. Timing your home sale with the purchase of your next home may reduce your options and flexibility about the closing.

2. Be an Informed Home Seller.

Whatever items are on your home seller checklist, it is all about being informed about the process. We offer a lot of information on this web site to assist you in the home selling process. In addition to offering information about selling your home in general, we also offer tips for picking a professional real estate agent to assist you with your home sale.

3. Home Seller Checklist.

Decide whether to sell your house with an Agent or on your own.
If you decide to go with an Agency, find an Agent in whom you can have confidence.

4. Set Your Home Selling Price.

Your agent will analyze the price of other comparable homes that have recently sold in your area as your starting point. If you do not have an agent, can give you a report with up to 30 comparable sales, plus a neighborhood demographic profile, nearby home owners and more (for a fee). It is critical to set the right asking price. You don't want to feel you sold for too little, but an overpriced home can languish on the market and go stale.

5. Identify problems with your home.

As a seller, you are obligated to disclose any major problems or flaws in the structure or property, including things like dry rot, termites, asbestos, septic problems, or a new highway slated to run nearby. Items that you must disclose vary by state, but if you fail to mention the leaky roof or flooding basement, you could be sued for fraud. Consider getting a professional home inspection of your own to head off problems that will inevitably delay your sale. There is really no upside to trying to hide problems anyway since most buyers will have the home inspected before closing.

6. Determine what you can and cannot change about your house.

Focus on those items that increase the perceived value above your cost to implement. You can always sell the house "as is" if it's a real fixer-upper. You also might want to take care of small items like a broken dishwasher or cracked tiles, so they don't beome a negotiating point for the buyer.

7. Get your house in showing condition.

There are many small cosmetic touches that can increase your home's value by thousands of dollars. Improve your home's "curb appeal" by adding a row of flowers to the walkway, trimming the shrubs and painting, even if it's just the side of the house that shows from the street or the front door. See Staging Your Home for more details.

8. Maintain records of all home improvements made to your house.
These will be essential at tax time!

9. Decide what goes to your next home, what you leave behind, and what to discard.

Have a garage or yard sale before you list. This is another part of preparing your home for show. Sell, donate, or trash everything you don't need. Leaving behind the custom cushions and drapes designed for a window seat could turn out to be an attractive selling point.

10. Figure out the financial results of your sale.

Know exactly what you'll net from the sale. Add up the amount you'll owe the bank and the broker. The good news is that most home sales are now tax free. You may even get some cash back at closing for prepaid local taxes, home insurance or fuel. Don't forget to take into account your moving costs.

11. Understand home financing options.

You should be at least as knowledgeable as your buyers. This is definitely an area where the services of a professional realtor are helpful (and reassuring) as they deal with all types of home sales and financing arrangements. Your agent's familiarity with various types of home mortgage financing can make the difference in closing the deal for a buyer with particular needs.

12. Develop an effective advertising and marketing plan.

Your real estate agent should be associated with multiple listing networks, such as RELO (as we are). Local marketing contacts are also very helpful, and a major reason to consider using a professional realtor.


13. Be prepared for the negotiation.

When it is time to negotiate, learn how to deal with offers and familiarize yourself with contracts. If you need to review an example of purchase offers, you can find forms for all states at a reasonable price at Of course, this is another area where the experience of a realtor can be essential, not only in maximizing your chances of achieving the highest sale price possible, but also in the peace of mind that having a professional in your corner provides with such a complex contract.

14. Start looking for a new home.

It is usually advisable not to begin your new home search until you have a signed sales contract on your present home. You don't want the costs of two homes if your home sale falls through. Timing simultaneous closings of your home sale and home purchase can add significantly to your stress as there are many more things that can go wrong. Among your options if you find you need to do both at the same time, you could include a contingency clause that states you will only buy the new home if the sale of your old home is successful.

15. Know what is involved at closing and settlement.

Same principle applies as in your preparation for negotiation.

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