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DFW Realtors Network House Hunting

When you’re looking for a home in a seller’s market, you need a plan in place to avoid making mistakes.

The real estate market often fluctuates, making it tough to predict whether the market will favor buyers or sellers when it’s your turn to buy. Buyers in a seller’s market can get what they want, but they need to bring their “A” game and be decisive. Here are six common mistakes and how to avoid them.

  • Not making your best offer

The motivation to buy what we want for as little money as possible is deeply engrained in us. So when most people see the listing price of a home, they naturally wonder what they can really get the house for. Offering lower than asking price is a reasonable strategy, especially if the house is overpriced compared with other similar homes in the area, or if it’s a buyer’s market with lots of available inventory. But trying to get a deal when you’re in a seller’s market might not be the best tactic. “In a seller’s market, many buyers do not step up with a strong enough offer,” says David Dubin, a New York broker. “There is usually a shortage of inventory, and the competition is usually fierce. I always encourage a buyer to come in with a strong opening offer.”

  • Over-Analyzing the Purchase Price

Just as impulse-buying a home is risky, over-analyzing a home purchase in a seller’s market is ill-advised as well. When you wait too long, “You are at high risk of losing [the home] you have fallen in love with,” says Dubin. Once you’ve determined the type of home you want, the location you desire, and your price range, and finally find a home that meets your qualifications, don’t wait to make an offer. To give yourself more leverage, be prepared to move quickly by having your finances in order — get a preapproval. “Know how much you can truly afford, repair any credit issues, have your down payment in hand, and delay [other] major purchases,” says John Lazenby, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association in Florida.

  • Working with an inexperienced agent

In a seller’s market, it benefits buyers to get all the help they can. If you have a seasoned agent on your side, you’ll probably have a better chance of getting the home you want. Plus, in most cases, buyers don’t pay real estate agents; sellers do. “When you are competing against other buyers in a fast-paced market, it is vital to be ‘offer-ready,’” says Michael Holt, a New York agent. “Working with a real estate professional saves tons of time and stress, as they know the ins and outs of the process and can provide tremendous insight regarding upcoming inventory.”

  • Not being prequalified (or better yet, preapproved) for a loan

You might know that you’ll be approved for a mortgage loan based on your steady income, your low debt-to-income ratio, and your high credit score — but the seller probably doesn’t know that. The only way to prove to the seller that you’re a qualified buyer is to be prequalified from a lender. “Prequalification is absolutely paramount,” says Teka Klopfenstein, a New York agent. “A buyer has zero advantage if they do not have the cash to purchase without a mortgage and haven’t taken the time to speak with a lender.” Not getting prequalified, she says, “sends a message to the seller that the buyer will lag on getting their ducks in order and aren’t taking their house hunting seriously.”

Prequalification means that you simply told your lender your financial story. Preapproval involves submitting a mortgage application, complete with providing verifying documents. “Preapproval from a reputable lender is key,” says New York agent Ryan Stenta. “Presenting this shows the seller that the buyer has already set the wheels in motion and is serious about making [the deal] a reality.”

  • Not being prepared for a bidding war

If there is ever a time when a bidding war could be imminent, it’s during a seller’s market. No buyer wants to be involved in such a battle for fear of possibly going over budget. But broker Michael Holt presents this solution for buyers: “Set your search below your max budget to leave room in case of an over-asking bidding war.”

  • Not learning from your mistakes

There’s no shame in learning that your offer has been declined, but it’s easy to get frustrated if your offers are declined repeatedly. Learn from your last transaction(s) so you can move in to your dream home. Stenta says that buying a house, particularly for first-time buyers, is a lot like dating. “You probably have to let a few keepers slip through your fingers, have a couple sleepless nights over it, and then come back with serious intent to lock up the next greatest opportunity in front of you.”

Article Credit: Trulia

DFW Realtors Network Home Staging

Heed these 8 suggestions from real estate pros to ensure your property gets the highest possible price.

Little things mean a lot when it comes to selling your home and getting a great price for it. But if everything counts and you have only so much time and money to invest, how do you know where to start to get your home for-sale ready and to fetch the best price?

The good folks at Consumer Reports National Research Center set out to answer just that, with an online survey of 303 real estate professionals from around the country.

As we head into the hottest selling season and with 5.3 million homes expected to change hands this year, use some or all of these strategies to help you leverage all you can against the competition.

1. Stage and declutter your home
One of the panel members Consumer Reports consulted was the former executive producer for This Old House, Massachusetts realtor and renovation consultant, Bruce Irving. Bruce was previously interviewed by Oprah protégé, Nate Berkus, and The New York Times called him “the house whisperer.”

“Do all the work necessary to make your property look good, not through expensive changes but through excellent staging,” says Irving. “Your agent should be able to provide proper advice and even bring in a professional.”

That means clearing out your clutter.

“I have a gal who I send into listings to declutter and depersonalize for sellers and just tidy things up using the sellers’ own possessions for the most part,” says Karen Wallace, an agent with Lyon Real Estate, located in Auburn, CA.

Tara Miller of Tarabell’s Designs in Portland, OR, does just that: she helps homeowners and agents stage their houses for maximum sales appeal.

Miller points out that people who don’t keep up on needed repairs end up spending the most when it comes time to prepare a home for sale.

“It’s remarkable what regular home maintenance, cleanliness, and minimizing clutter in your everyday life can do for you when it comes time to sell.”

She also notes that staging a home is very different from designing or decorating. “It’s a tough thought, but not everyone likes your pets, hobbies, sports teams, or religion.”

2. Clean it up!
“If it’s dirty, it will not sell — even if it’s a great place,” says Kathy Partak, a realtor with Select Estate Properties in Auburn, CA.

In fact, most of the agents we spoke to focused on overall cleanliness and space as the biggest factor in selling your home.

And cleanliness pays off, according to Consumer Reports: cleaning can deliver a 3% to 5% return on investment, and this is something you can do yourself.

When showing your home, Irving adds, “Raise window blinds, lower toilet seats — make sure the place looks at least as good as it would if you were having your boss over for dinner.”

3. Enhance your curb appeal
First impressions sell your home. As soon as a potential buyer drives up to your house, they’re making judgments — and a messy yard or a broken mailbox could cost you.

“Exterior space is ‘free’ extra square footage and is so appealing to buyers,” says Wallace. “It pays to enhance it.”

But if your staging budget doesn’t include the outdoors, Partak suggests making the most of the walk from the car to the entry.

“Make it look nice from the curb with some easy potted or planted flowers to trim the walkway.”

4. Pay attention to details
The details that you may believe are insignificant can turn out to be major selling points for your home. For Irving that includes everything from paint touch-ups throughout the house to a full redo of public rooms.

“Wash your windows, replace compact fluorescent bulbs with incandescent or halogen, and remove or minimize personal photographs,” he says.

If you have a small budget, Partak suggests upgrading to energy-efficient windows, and adding new appliances in the kitchen. “These are always the things that bring in more money.”

5. Refresh your kitchen and bath
Don’t forget two of the the most important rooms in your home: the kitchen and bathroom. Consumer Reports estimates that you can increase your home’s value by as much as 7% through renovation.

If you don’t have renovations in your budget, Kristen Kohnstamm, principal broker and co-owner of Dunthorpe Properties, a luxury real estate firm in Portland, OR, recommends fresh paint, a low-hanging opportunity to freshen up your space and potentially boost your asking price.

Choose a neutral palette to increase the appeal to as many tastes as possible; buyers need to be able to easily visualize themselves living in the home, and bright colors might turn them off.

“The worst thing you can do is put lots of money into things like carpet, paint, and other aesthetics that a new homeowner will likely want to change,” says Kohnstamm.

6. Invest in good photos
Make sure your real estate agent offers great photos that show your home in its best light when it comes time to list. Home buyers seeking a new place to live will see the pictures online before ever making a decision to visit.

And when it comes to open houses and showings, Irving suggests you “absent yourself” because sellers can sometimes get in the way of a sale by taking things too personally.

7. Don’t DIY everything
Irving’s top tip includes a good finger-wagging at people who think they can DIY a home sale and still come out ahead.

“First and foremost, for correct pricing, widest and best marketing, and the highest price, hire a real estate agent,” says Irving.

8. Try not to take it personally
Kohnstamm cautions first-time sellers to temper their emotions when it comes to the sale of their home. This won’t necessarily increase the value, but will speed up the sale.

“Whatever comments are [made] about your home, they’re never intended as a personal affront. Remember, everyone has different tastes, but clean and well-maintained never goes out of style.”

Article Credit: Trulia