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A Home Shopper's Must-Haves & Wish List
Shopping for a home is an exciting adventure and it's easy to get lost in a sea of dazzling for-sale homes and all of their fabulous amenities – which can cause you to temporarily forget that a large backyard is your top priority. To keep yourself focused, take time to identify and organize exactly what you're looking for in a home by creating thorough "must-have" and "wish" lists before you begin home shopping. You may also want to make a third list that details your dislikes.
To get started, ask yourself these questions: Which items and features must your home have? Which items and features would you like to have, but could live without? What would your dream house include? What features or issue must you avoid?
For the must-have list, try to focus on essentials and hard-to-change details, like a home's layout. If you must have a three-bedroom, two-bath house, put it on the list. Ranking your must-haves in order of importance is also a good idea.
Ranking your must-haves in order of importance is also a good idea. Hard-to-change, must-have features can include the type of house, for example a two-story colonial or sprawling rancher; the number of rooms and square footage; the home's proximity to shopping; or its overall condition. Your must-have list can't be too detailed because it aims to itemize the features that are most important to you and your family.
Your wish list is the flexible and fun list. Wish lists are good for cosmetic features that would be great to have, but that can be changed. Hardwood floors can replace old wall-to-wall carpeting. If the yard is large enough and has adequate open space, a pool can be installed later. And landscaping can be a work in progress. Since the wish list is secondary, there are no limits so be sure to also include your dream amenities.
While compiling your lists, don't hesitate to confer with your real estate professional, who is a great source for information about neighborhoods, homes and other pertinent "must-have" information.
Once you've determined your must-haves and optional features, create a checklist to take with you during your home tours. Besides helping you stay focused, it will provide an organized review of each house.
Your lists will most likely change as you tour homes and see what the market really has to offer. It's also unlikely that one house will include all of your must-have features. But, your efforts will be well worth it once you find the perfect house that includes just enough must-haves and even a few wishes. Your perfect home might not include that must-have basement, but its view may be a dream come true.
Should a Buyer get a Home Inspection?
Should a buyer get a home inspection for a home they are buying? Should a seller order a home inspection prior to putting the property on the market? There are advantages for both.
Simply put, a home inspection is a visual examination of both the physical structure and major systems of the entire home including: walls, ceilings, floors, decks, exterior covering, the roof, foundation, insulation and ventilation, plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning. It is not an appraisal to validate the value of a home, nor a pass/fail exam. A third-party inspector will give a report on the physical condition and suggest repairs.
For buyers, a home inspection clause in the written offer that makes the purchase contingent upon the findings can provide peace of mind. If a serious problem is found, it allows room to renegotiate the purchase price or "opt-out" of buying the home altogether. However, this is usually uncommon. Typically, the seller will already have told the buyer about any major problems.
More often, inspections reveal less serious defects that aren't enough to warrant backing out of the transition. However, knowing about these minor problems can prevent major disasters down the road. In addition, if specified in the inspection clause, the cost of the repairs can be at the seller's expense.
Another advantage to having a home inspection is it offers buyers an opportunity to become familiar with their new home and learn about maintenance to help in its upkeep. Although not required, it's recommended that buyers be present during the inspection. This allows them to observe the inspection, ask questions about the condition of the home, and receive an objective opinion.
Avoid These Seller Mistakes
You want to get the best price for your home, plus sell it in the least amount of time. In a buyer's market such as the one emerging now, homes will take longer to sell. Therefore, it's important that you make the right moves at the very beginning of your homeselling process to remain competitive. Here are some common traps that many homeowners fall into and how to avoid them.
Over-pricing — It's easy to think your home is worth more than the current market may support, particularly after the long run-up in home prices. Since home prices have cooled in markets around the country, home sellers must be prepared to negotiate on price and terms, and stay flexible to other stipulations benefiting the buyer. Sellers must also keep their emotions in check during the process. After all, your home is special to you and your family, and you're proud of the improvements you've made over the years. But, how does your home really stand up to the others? And are those improvements important to a potential buyer?
To determine a reasonable listing price, get sales statistics on homes in the neighborhood including listing prices and actual sales prices, how long it took for the homes to sell, and government valuation comparisons. You'll also want a market appraisal on your property. Visit homes for sale in your area and compare what you see in terms of sales appeal.
Negligent Housekeeping — Buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in the home. Take a good, objective look at the condition of your home. Clean, well-kept homes with an updated appearance always stand out, and a little decorating appeal can go a long way. You don't have to buy new furniture to create charm, but you can put toys and clutter away, freshen up paint and carpet, make the most of window coverings, and add a few key accessories in order to send out welcoming signals.
Failing to Fix-It — Buyers, unless they are looking for a fixer-upper, would prefer to move into a home that is in perfect or near-perfect condition. If they have to fix the roof, a broken tile floor, the garage door, worn carpet or just about anything, this may give them pause about buying. At the very least, it may lower the value of the home in the prospective buyer's mind.
Not Identifying Exclusions — This can be a cause of contention just at a critical point in the sale. Be sure to specify any special sales considerations or exclusions from the fixtures and furnishings list. Generally, anything permanently fixed to the house is an asset that stays with the home after the sale. So if you intend to take your grandmother's antique chandelier that's hanging in the dining room, clearly specify that the chandelier is not included in the sale price.
Not Understanding the Agent Agreement — Your sales endeavor will go smoothest when all parties have a clear understanding of what is expected. Understand the types of agency agreements when you sign with a real estate professional or company. Be sure to check on fees, commission percentages, marketing plans and time frames. Most importantly, get everything in writing.
How Important is a Home Inspection to the Seller?
For sellers, conducting a home inspection (or pre-inspection) before listing their homes puts the control back into their hands.
When the buyer inspection finds problems, it can impede negotiations and cost the seller more in repairs. By having a pre-inspection, the seller can help eliminate any surprise findings after an offer has been made. The seller can make repairs before placing the home on the market and possibly even increase the value of the home.
A pre-inspection can also serve as a great marketing tool. Sellers are required by law to disclose any known defects in the home. Having a pre-inspection report available for buyers tells them that the seller has nothing to hide. It also gives them a clearer picture of the condition of the home.
If there are major problems found during the pre-inspection, it gives the seller an opportunity to disclose the condition up-front, making it less likely for the buyer to pull out of the deal or try to renegotiate the price.
Knowing the true condition of a home can bring peace of mind to buyers and sellers, and be one less hurdle in the home buying and selling process. Ask your real estate sales professional for a list of certified independent home inspectors in your area.