The Real Estate market in southeastern Michigan, and most of the country for that matter, has come back with a vengeance since the recession, and in most markets, the deck is stacked a bit in the favor of the seller. That’s why it’s more important than ever to be prepared if you would like to purchase a house or condo soon. Here are some tips to help you stay ahead of the competition:
1) Establish your comfort zone for a maximum monthly housing payment and the maximum amount available to spend toward your down payment and closing costs. If you’re going to be using mortgage funds in your purchase, you MUST have a recent (30 days or less) mortgage pre-approval letter from a reputable lender. The letter should indicate that your credit and income have been verified, and should show a purchase price for at least the amount that you plan to spend. This letter will accompany any offer that you submit, and without it, your offer will not be given the credibility that it deserves, and you could potentially lose a home to another buyer who has one.
2) Create a list of “must haves” and “would be nice to haves”. Prioritize them and be willing to drop an item or two off the bottom of the list if necessary. Conversely, make a list of “must NOT haves”, so that we do not waste time considering the wrong properties.
3) Get to know “your market”. This means once you determine what kind of home you are looking for and where you are willing to look, find out what homes like that have been selling for, and how long they have been taking to sell. I will be happy to provide you with this information. You should also take some time to drive the neighborhoods to better determine where you would like to live, and where you would like to avoid. Don’t rely solely on the aerial photography and Google Maps to make these decisions.
4) Let me begin to provide you with “real-time” property search updates, informing you of new listings that match your search criteria as they become available. It’s important to take the time to evaluate new listings as soon as they hit the market, to determine if it’s worth a look or not. If it is, contact me immediately, and let’s check it out!
5) Don’t get your expectations too high when looking at listing photos and descriptions. Often times, the reality of the home may be somewhat less awesome than depicted. After all, nobody wants to highlight the worst features of the home, yard, neighbor’s homes, smells, etc. Having said that, keep an open mind. Many things can be changed to your liking over time, and if the home has most of your “wish-list”, perhaps you can complete the picture to make it ideal for you.
6) It’s important to discuss features that you like and dislike of every home that you look at with me and any other parties that may be involved in your purchase decision. When working with couples, I often find that there are differences between the parties as to what each other really wants or is willing to accept. It’s often a learning experience for all of us. Communication is the key!
7) Once you find the right home, don’t hesitate to make an offer that you are comfortable with. I will assist you in determining the best negotiation strategies, based on many factors specific to that home and that seller. The best properties do not last on the market very long, and often times one day can make all the difference in the world, whether you’ll have a shot at it or not.
8) If faced with a competing offer, put your best foot forward if you really want that home. Remember that an extra $1,000 mortgage only equates to about $4.00/month on a 30 year mortgage. On the other hand, don’t make an emotional decision to pay more for a home than you should. Once again, we will go over pricing strategies and review comparable sales, to make sure you are educated as to what is a realistic price range for that home, and how much it could potentially appraise for. We’ll discuss in detail how bank appraisals are a major determining factor in the purchase equation, and how not to set yourself up for failure when submitting an offer that’s higher than the sales statistics will warrant.
9) Once we get your offer accepted, be prepared to have a thorough home inspection within the first 7 days of offer acceptance, including all components, structure, water/well, sewer/septic, environmental, radon, etc. These inspections will require payment on-site, and could range between $300 – $700, depending on company and which services you choose. Every home has issues that may need to be addressed. Obviously, the bigger, more expensive issues will be our primary focus, but keep in mind that if you’re not satisfied with the inspection results, or the outcome of any attempt to negotiate with the seller post-inspection, you have the opportunity to cancel the agreement if you so desire. Inspection day can be stressful, but the peace of mind that you will receive from knowing whether you are making a wise decision or not is priceless!
10) Contact me when you’re ready to take the first step. I’ve been assisting my buyer clients for over 28 years, and I will walk you through every step of the process. I believe in “no surprises” when it comes to buying or selling, and I want to make your purchase a very positive experience!