By Mary Hartzell
As we prepare for another holiday season I thought it appropriate to create a list for this installment. With all that is happening this month it’s hard to feel motivated about projects around the house, but spring is next in line and it’s a very active time in the real estate market so I’ve geared this blog towards getting your “house” in order. There are tips for buyers and sellers and the undecided. Even if you are not entering the real estate market, these are great tasks to keep things maintained around your home and in your life.
Starting with the buyers…
1) Request a copy of your credit reports and your credit score. These are two big factors a lender will use to determine your credit-worthiness. Being aware and honest about your financial situation and how much house you can afford will reduce disappointments down the road.
2) Find a mortgage lender or reconnect with someone you have worked with before.
3) Get pre-approved for a loan before you start searching for a home so you know how much money you have to spend. In today’s market, many sellers require a pre-approval letter from your lender with an offer. This will assure the seller that you are a serious buyer and you’ll also feel confident in your financial position to buy the house.
4) Find a real estate agent who knows your target market. You will be spending a lot of time with this person throughout your search so choose someone who is competent, responsive and communicates effectively. A buyer’s agent will represent your interests in the transaction and help you hone your search.
5) Make a list of what you need versus what you want in a house. Divide them up so you can prioritize your search and stay focused on houses that suit your needs.
Now on to the sellers…
6) Remove clutter and simplify the décor. Look at your house with a discerning eye and consider putting heavy furniture, artwork and collectibles in storage to reduce disorder. We become accustomed to what we see every day so try to see the house as a stranger would see it.
7) Have a home inspection done on your property. This will give you an overview of the condition of your house and alert you to anything that needs to be repaired or updated before you put it on the market.
8) Dispose of unwanted debris around the yard, under decks and in garages and sheds. I love getting rid of stuff. As an unabashed self-proclaimed serial purger, I use craigslist to sell or get rid of unwanted items. You’d be amazed at what people will drive to your house and haul off if it’s free.
9) Smell your house. Pet, smoking and cooking odors will turn off potential buyers quickly. Invite some friends and neighbors to offer feedback on how your house smells; they will be able to smell things you no longer do. Don’t take offense and make changes so your house smells clean and aired out.
Be realistic about the value of your home. There may be a difference between what you think your house is worth and its market value. International Valuation Standards defines market value as "the estimated amount for which a property should exchange on the date of valuation between a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arms-length transaction after proper marketing wherein the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently, and without compulsion.” This is a lengthy way of saying your house is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.