So about this Christopher Columbus guy…

Here’s a question for you…

Did Christopher Columbus really discover America?

The answer depends on who you ask, or what you read.

But at this point, enough people believe he didn’t even step foot in America, let alone discover it.

So, why does he get celebrated?

Well, even if he didn’t “discover” America, he certainly did other great things worth being recognized for.

Years ago, real estate agents were given credit for “finding” people the perfect house. Then, the Internet made “discovering” almost any house on the market a pretty simple task. Even a novice, with no real estate experience, could find the house of their dreams on their own.

This kinda made people start to question the value of real estate agents…

Made it seem easy.

Well, if it were simply a matter of finding a house, that might be a valid conclusion.

But there’s so much more to it.

Stumbling across America, or a house to buy, is not the same as successfully staking your claim, and making it your new home.

Rather than give a laundry list of what a real estate agent does beyond just helping someone find a house, let’s just paint a quick picture…

You’re on a boat, back in 1492. You’ve sailed the ocean blue. You reached land. Now what? How do you actually make it your new home? Can you possibly anticipate everything you’ll encounter? What do you do first?

Finding a house, or a buyer for your house, is only one small part of the process. For most people, navigating the entire process of buying and selling a house is a whole new world. And that’s where great real estate agents earn their respect.

1

Home Buying in Fall

A lot of people think the best time to buy a house is during the Spring market.

And, it is…

…in the sense that more houses are listed for sale in the Spring. But, there’s also a heck of a lot more buyers trying to buy those listings.

The thing is, some of the houses listed back in the Spring don’t end up selling. (Usually just because they were overpriced.)

Now, it isn’t like new listings don’t happen in the Fall. There’s always new listings coming on the market. But it’s not like, just because it’s Fall and not Spring, prices are necessarily going to fall. In other words, new listings aren’t likely to list for a lot lower than you would have seen in the Spring.

However, the homeowners who did list back in the Spring, are much more likely to be anxious (perhaps even desperate) to sell their home. They’ve created their own problem…they missed the boat by pricing too high.

Which is great news for you, if you’re looking to buy a home:

  • Less competition. (Many buyers stop looking at this time of year…for no good reason.)
  • Motivated sellers. (They’re sick of being on the market, and wondering why nobody bought their house.)

But it isn’t always easy to find those listings. They don’t wave a white flag, or lower their price to some ridiculous amount everyone would notice. If only it were that easy…
Just because someone listed their home back in the Spring doesn’t mean they’ll be all that negotiable.

There are certain things a great real estate agent will know to look for.

And I love rolling up my sleeves and finding the ones we can most likely negotiate the best deals on.

So, got anything you want me to roll up my sleeves and look for? Real estate deals won’t just fall in your lap, but I can certainly help you find one this Fall.

Bonus
Want another reason to buy a home in the Fall?

You can take advantage of year-end sales to outfit your home!

Hardly anybody buys a home who doesn’t want (or need) to make improvements, however small. So why not coordinate your purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, September is an ideal time for buying carpet and paint. In October lawn mowers go on sale, and the same goes for appliances and cookware in November.

National Dog Day

It’s National Dog Day. Unlike many of these National days, it’s not just a day to celebrate your love of dogs. It has a pretty clear mission…

It was started to bring awareness to dogs who need homes. Dogs who were abandoned. Dogs who were “unwanted”.

I’m sure there are dogs who were “unwanted”, but it’s not always about not wanting a dog. A lot of times, it’s about not being able to keep a dog. In fact, many dog owners are devastated when they find themselves in a position to have to give up their dog for adoption.

While there are many sad, legitimate reasons to have to give up a dog, one of the ones I hate hearing about the most is when someone has to because they can’t find a place to live that allows dogs.

Most often, it’s because they’re renters, and it’s difficult to find a rental that allows pets.
Or, perhaps there are restrictions on the size or breed of dog.

This is avoidable. Not always easy. But avoidable.

There are a couple of solutions:

Find a rental that permits dogs (the most obvious solution).
Buy a house.

The problem is, many people avoid looking for a solution until they have no other choice than to give up their dog.

So, keep this in mind…

If you, or anyone you know, owns a dog and it looks like it’ll be affecting their housing situation, please reach out to me as soon as possible.

There’s got to be a better solution than giving up the dog, and I’m glad to help find it.
Luke-Large-Print

First time Home Buyers checklist

Buying a first home is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. But it’s also a huge decision and it can be overwhelming for potential homeowners who don’t know the steps to take to get them from “thinking about buying a first home” to “time to move in”.

Here’s a first timer’s checklist for purchasing property to help homeowners manage the buying process for the first time:

Finances

Before homeowners start thinking about purchasing a home, it’s important to take a look at finances.

Pay Down Debt

The first thing that potential homeowners will want to do before looking for homes is to pay down any outstanding debt, especially credit card debt. Credit card debt typically has a high interest rate and paying down large balances can be a drain on finances. Credit card debt also has a big impact on credit scores, which will directly affect the interest rates homeowners will secure on their home loans.

It can be a challenge, but paying down high-interest debt before purchasing a home is the best long-term strategy for potential homeowners.

Know The Numbers and Gather Documentation

It’s also important for homeowners to have a solid understanding of their financial history before they apply for loans and looking for homes.

It’s important that homeowners know their credit score, and the credit score of their spouse, partner or co-purchaser. They should also plan to review their credit reports to look for any errors or discrepancies; even minor dings on a credit report can cause higher interest rates on a mortgage.

Potential buyers will also want to gather the documentation they’ll need when applying for a mortgage. This includes copies of credit reports, paycheck stubs, copies of federal tax returns and documentation outlining any student loan or credit card debt.

Rework Budgets

There’s no way around it – owning a home is an expensive endeavor. In order to purchase a home that won’t put them under financial strain, homeowners need to take a close look at their budgets and figure out how much house they can afford.

Homeowners should track their expenses, see where they can cut expenses and then figure out a realistic and comfortable home budget. It’s also important to factor in all home-related expenses when creating a budget. Obviously, there will be a mortgage payment, but homeowners should also factor in things like property tax, any HOA fees and utilities.

Determine Mortgage

Once a budget has been decided, it’s time to determine what type of mortgage will be the best fit. Most homeowners elect for a 30-year mortgage, but there are shorter term mortgages available (like 15-year mortgages), which typically carry lower interest rates.

Homeowners should also determine whether they’ll be applying for a fixed rate or an adjustable rate mortgage. While adjustable rate mortgages can save money on the front end, they can cause higher payments down the line should interest rates increased. Fixed rate mortgages guarantee a fixed interest rate throughout the life of the loan, which offers homeowners security in knowing their mortgage payment won’t change.

Homeowners should speak with a mortgage specialist to determine the best fit for them and get pre-approved for a mortgage before beginning the home buying process.

Choose An Agent

Choosing the right agent is essential for first time home buyers. The process of purchasing a home can be overwhelming, and having the right agent can help homeowners navigate through this new territory relatively stress-free and find the home of their dreams.

When choosing an agent, homeowners should consider:

Does this agent have experience working with first time buyers?

Ideally, potential homeowners will want to work with an agent who has experience working with first time buyers. First timers typically have a lot of questions and, having never been through it before, need additional support, guidance and reassurance throughout the buying process.

A real estate agent who has worked with several first time buyers will expect these additional questions and concerns and will make room in their schedule to accommodate it.

Does this agent specialize in the desired market?

First time and seasoned buyers alike should always work with an agent who specializes in their desired market. Every area is different and working with an agent who understands the ins and outs of an area gives buyers an advantage over the competition.

Start Looking At Properties

Once an agent is in place, the fun can begin: it’s time to look at properties. Before homeowners look at properties, they should set clear expectations with their agent about what they’re looking for, share their “must haves” and their “nice to haves” and let the agent know any potential deal breakers.

Many first timers wonder how many properties they should view before making a decision. And again, there’s no magic number. Some homeowners may jump on the first property they see, and some may view 100 before finding a home that feels true to what they’re looking for.

When viewing homes, homeowners should consider whether the property is a place they could see themselves comfortably and happily living for the foreseeable future. Other considerations include:

  • How much work will need to be done on the home before it’s move in ready?
  • What will be the cost of necessary repairs and renovations?
  • How is the neighborhood? Does it feel safe?
  • If children will be living in the home, how is the school system?
  • Is the area noisy?
  • Does the property feel private? If not, is that something that’s manageable?

There’s no formula to follow for finding the right house as a first time home buyer. But following this checklist will get homeowners a few steps closer to finding their dream home.

Don’t forget to request your free copy of my Ultimate Home Buyers Guide as well

How Selling Your House Is Like Making Lasagna

How many layers are there in a lasagna?

There’s no right or wrong answer to that. Other than, “more than one” probably. Even two is pretty skimpy.

So, let’s say three is minimal for argument sake. (But, four or more is better.)

The number of layers probably just boils down to using up all the lasagna noodles and sauce you have, or getting to the top of the pan you have to use. No exact amount. Use what you’ve got.

But, if all you’ve got won’t stretch to make three layers in the size pan you have, perhaps you should use a smaller pan. At least have the three layers.

This isn’t a lasagna lesson.

You could say that it doesn’t really matter how many layers there are, as long as it tastes good.

And, there really isn’t any rule that you can’t have a one or two layer lasagna. So, you’d be “right”.

It just wouldn’t look exactly right. Not a big deal. It’s lasagna.

But, this article isn’t really about lasagna, it’s about real estate. Specifically, the critical “layers” you need to have when you list your house for sale.

Like we were talking about above with lasagna, for the sake of argument, you definitely need three layers. More would be better.

So, let’s look at the three most important layers when listing your home for sale.

The 3 layers

The three “layers” you need to have when you list your home for sale are:

1- Price
2- Exposure
3- Ease of access

Price

The price of your home is the first, and most critical layer when you are listing your home. If you don’t nail the pricing, the next two layers won’t matter a whole lot.

It won’t matter how much exposure your home has if the price isn’t in line with the market. Buyers have a good handle on values, and they won’t waste their time looking at a house if the price is way out of whack.

There’s certainly a little room to be on the “high” side. You don’t need to “give your house away”. But, you really need to be priced well against the current competition, and justifiable against similar homes to yours which have recently sold.

Exposure

Exposure has gotten easier over the years because of the Internet. But the easiest way to ensure you reach every single buyer in the market is to make sure you’re on the local multiple listing service (MLS).

Beyond that, you want to make sure your listing “populates” or “syndicates” to all of the real estate sites out there. Again, the easiest way to do this is typically to list your home on the local MLS. Most agents have a system that then allows your listing to be picked up by more real estate websites than you can imagine.

Beyond that, it doesn’t hurt to have some other exposure in terms of marketing. This will vary from agent to agent, and company to company.

But the bottom line is this — your home needs to be easily found. And since most buyers are actively looking online, make sure it’s on there as “everywhere” as possible.

Ease of access

Your home needs to be easy for buyers to come and see.

Sounds simple enough…

You want your home sold, so of course you figure you’ll make it easy to come and see.

But not everyone does. More people than you can imagine make real estate agents and buyers jump through hoops to schedule a showing.

Saying no to a showing, or trying to corral every showing into a tight window of time during the week is going to hurt you.

So, just make sure you keep your house ready to show at any given moment, and say yes to any request to come see the house. (Within reason, of course…)

If you just do all three of those things, you’re in pretty good shape to get your home sold for as much as the market will bear, in as short a time as possible.

But, it won’t necessarily be as good as it could be if you were to add just a few more layers to your “listing lasagna”.

The “extra” layers.

While the first three layers are more or less non-negotiable, and will most likely get you as close to the highest offer as possible, as quickly as possible, you may want to consider these extra layers.

Adding these into your mix will increase your chances of getting the highest and best offer possible, as quickly as possible.

1- Hiring an agent who knows and understands the market.
2- Hiring an agent who is a strong advisor.
3- Hiring an agent who can negotiate.
4- Hiring an agent who keeps things together.

Knows and understands the market

It’s easy enough to hire a real estate agent. There’s plenty of them. But, you should really make sure to hire one who truly knows and understands your local real estate market.

You want one who can analyze the activity on your house, and the overall market, so that the agent can…

Advise you

There’s a lot of talk about selling homes “as quickly as possible”. The key words there are “as possible”.

Sure, you and your agent want your home to sell, and sell quickly. But “quickly” depends on the market. And you want an agent on your side who, after analyzing the market and activity, can advise you on what to do…

Should you stay firm on your price and just be patient?

Should you lower your price? If so, how much?

Is there something you can change about your house that buyers are getting hung up on? If so, is it worth doing, or will the cost be too much for it to make sense?

There’s way more than that to list, but those are just a few examples of advice your agent should be relied upon for, and be able to provide to you.

Negotiate

This is another thing that gets a lot of lip service. But an agent who negotiates well is a huge asset.

Sure, you want one that will negotiate a “win-win” enough to make a deal come together. But, you really want one that gets you the fatter end of the win. And that isn’t always just about price.

A good negotiator will get you the best price and terms.

And, more importantly, it’s important to have an agent who will…

Keep the deal together

There’s a lot of time, and a lot of things that can lead to a deal falling apart between signing the deal and a closing.

Things go wrong. People get cold feet. Buyers get greedy and ask for credits and repairs, or threaten to bale on the whole deal. Appraisers throw their opinion into the mix.

Again, just to name a few examples… but there are so many things that can make a deal fall apart.

Having a strong agent on your side, who can almost predict and nip problems in the bud before things get out of control, is a huge layer to add to your listing lasagna. And, if things do get dicey, you want an agent who can wrangle it all in and get things back on track.

Looks can be deceiving.

People often look at selling a house as pretty simple. And the truth is, it is pretty simple…in terms of the first three layers.

But that doesn’t necessarily make the best “lasagna” possible. It might look OK enough to be called lasagna, but it’s not gonna be quite as tasty as it could be, if you take enough care to add the next four layers.