Making An Offer: Negotiating Your Buying Price

There is perhaps no more exciting and nerve-wracking time in the home buying process than when you decide to make an offer on a home.  If it is accepted, you will be on your way to owning a new home—if not, you will be forced to make some difficult decisions.

Your REALTOR® will help you get through the process of making an offer on a home.  He or she can give you advice on how much to offer and what concessions you will make.  But there are a few decisions you will have to make yourself, and be prepared to stick to them.

How High Will You Go?

If your initial offer on the home of your dreams is rejected, the seller will usually come back with a counter offer.  In most cases they will ask for a higher purchase price and may refuse some of the items you requested in your initial offer, such as repairs to be done to the home prior to the sale.  This is a normal part of negotiations, but especially for first time buyers it can feel like a very frustrating process.

When the counter offer comes back, you will have to decide if the purchase price is one you can live with.  Is it within your budget?  Is it a fair market price for the home?  Your REALTOR® can give you the answer to this second question, but the first is up to you to decide.

What Is Non-Negotiable?

What parts of your offer are you unwilling to back down on?  If the house really needs a new roof and you don’t want the expense and hassle of taking care of it yourself, then don’t back down.  It might be worth paying a little more in the purchase price with the agreement that the seller will have the roof replaced than to pay less for the house and have to do it yourself.

Decide in advance which items are completely non-negotiable, and stick to your guns.  If the seller won’t budge, be prepared to walk away.  As hard as it might be to say goodbye to that home you want, you have to be realistic about what you can afford and what work needs doing on the home.

It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of negotiating and the desire to own that particular home, but try not to let emotions rule your decisions.  After all, once you sign those papers and the deal is final, you won’t be able to change your mind.

 

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Ways To Thrill Mom On Mother’s Day

A mother is someone who looks after you, takes care of you when you are sick and is always there to show you just how much she loves you.  Every May, we celebrate our love for mom with Mother’s Day and, although we don’t always know just what to get that could possibly express our gratitude, it is possible to surprise your mom with something special.

All That Sparkles

Every woman loves to shine and jewelry is always a favorite.  Instead of just browsing the jewelry counter and picking out the first thing that catches your eye, look for that special item that says something about her personality.  Does she like to shop?  Perhaps a charm bracelet featuring a shopping theme would be ideal.  If you want to let mom know that you are with her always, consider giving her a heart locket and placing a photo of you and mom inside.  You can also engrave certain types of jewelry for a truly personalized gift.

Just Relax

Every mom wants to relax.  Afterall, she spent many years working hard to make sure that you had everything that you needed, so isn’t it time that she kicks back and relaxes on her special day?  You can thrill your mom on Mother’s Day with a vacation that includes a spa weekend, a short cruise or other favorite pastime that she would enjoy.

May I Take Your Order?

If you are looking for the perfect way to surprise mom, try cooking her favorite dinner and serving it up with her favorite dessert.  Best of all, make sure that you let her know everything is taken care of, including the clean up.  After all, this is Mother’s Day and it wouldn’t be complete without a little pampering.

Time Is Precious

If you really want to make your mom happy on Mother’s Day, spend some quality time with her.  It’s always nice to give a gift, but nothing can take the place of spending time with those who you love.  Go shopping, watch a movie or just go out to dinner together.  Whatever you do, make time for your mom.

 

What A REALTOR® Can Do For You As A Buyer

When we think of selling a home, the services a REALTOR® can provide usually seem worth the cost of their commission, but what about as a buyer?  What can a REALTOR® do for you as a home buyer, and is the commission worth the services they can provide?  Here are five great reasons you should hire a REALTOR® when you are in the market for a new home!

REALTORS® Can Help You Determine Your Budget—With a few simple pieces of information, a REALTOR® can help you pre-determine what kind of budget you may be looking at for your new home, and can match you with potential lenders that are right for you.

REALTORS® Have Access To Resources You Don’t—While a lot of real estate listings are available online, there are still resources and listings that are only available through a REALTOR®.  If you are looking for something very specific, having their insider knowledge may be crucial to finding that perfect home.

REALTORS® Can Read Between The Lines Of Listings—There are a lot of catchy phrases that often appear in home listings, and your agent can tell you what they really mean.

REALTORS® Increase Your Negotiating Power—A REALTOR® cannot only increase your ability to negotiate things like price, they can also give you advice on things like contingency contracts and required paperwork.

A REALTOR® Can Help You Navigate Through The Closing Process—The closing process can be a complicated process, and a REALTOR® can make sure all the details are addressed and that you are making a good financial investment.

Purchasing a home is a huge financial investment, and having a professional REALTOR® looking after your interests through the process is important.

 

Buying Your First Home: Seven Tips For First-Time Home Buyers

Now that you’ve made the decision to purchase your first home, a hearty congratulations is in order!  Becoming a homeowner, especially for the first time, can stir up some feelings of anxiety and excitement.  With the knowledge that you gain through individual research and the help of your REALTOR®, you will soon begin to feel like a seasoned house hunter.

Tip # 1: Do Your Homework

Did you know that there are a number of incentives available to first-time home buyers?  Everything from a 3-5 percent down payment and interest rates as low as 5.75 percent are just a few of the ways that lenders help to make the dream of home ownership into a reality for many.  An FHA loan, for instance, is especially appealing to first-time home buyers.  The best way to find out what’s available, in terms of down payment requirements and interest rates, is to do your homework by comparing offerings from various lenders.

Tip # 2: Save Money

Although many loans are geared toward offering lower down payments to first-time home buyers, it’s important to save as much money as possible so that you will have enough to provide an earnest money deposit (if applicable), pay for closing costs and still have the funds to furnish and decorate your new home.

Tip # 3: Get Your Credit Profile In Order

When you apply for a loan, the lender will access a copy of your credit report and will use the information to determine your creditworthiness and/or interest rate.  This means that you will want to make sure that the information contained in your credit report is accurate and up-to-date.  You can do this by requesting a copy of your file from each of the three major credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

In addition to past credit history, lenders will also look at your current debt ratio in order to determine whether or not you can afford the home.  This means that you may want to consider paying down some of your existing credit card debt and avoid taking on any new debt before applying for a mortgage.

Tip # 4: Start Your Search

With the World Wide Web being what it is today, it’s no surprise that many potential home buyers start their search online.  A Realtor’s Web site is designed to not only list real estate, but also to educate a buyer as they move through the process of searching for a new home.  In addition, the internet offers a way for consumers to browse through color photos and virtual tours, both interior and exterior, along with information pertaining to the homes themselves.  The convenience of being able to find a home that you like without having to wait is just one of the many benefits to shopping for a house online.  When you are finally ready to meet with a REALTOR®, you will already have one or more prospects in mind.

Tip # 5: Have Patience

Perhaps you will find the perfect house this week, or maybe it will take a little longer.  Some buyers find exactly what they are looking for right away, while others have to do a little more searching to find their dream home.  As a first-time home buyer, it’s a good idea to begin the process with an understanding that good things really do come to those who wait.  You may see a number of homes, take numerous photos and may even make an offer or two, but patience may very well be the key to finding your new home.

Tip # 6: Take Notes

If you see a lot of homes, it will be impossible to remember the features of each.  For this reason, you should consider taking a notebook and writing down each unique or defining aspect that you like or dislike about a particular house.  This information, along with any photos that you take, will help you greatly when it’s time to make a choice.

Tip # 7: Don’t Settle

A home is a big investment and it could, quite possibly, be the largest you will ever make.  For this reason, along with the fact that you will be living in the home every day, make sure that you get what you want.  There could be an instance where you need to make some type of compromise, but you may want to avoid choosing something just because it’s within your price range or you feel as though it’s your only option.  New houses are placed on the market every day and, as a buyer, the next one listed may just be your dream home.

 

Cut Your Cooling Costs With These Money-Saving Tips

When it comes to keeping your home comfortable in the summer, there are a number of ways to accomplish your goal without breaking a sweat over your cooling costs.  Believe it or not, the price of heating and/or cooling a home often accounts for more than 50 percent of a homeowner’s energy bill.  What does this mean for you?  As a budget conscious individual, it’s time to cut your cooling costs with these money-saving tips.

Sunblock

When the sun is up, consider pulling your shades down.  Close your curtains, blinds or whatever window treatments you use to keep the sun’s rays from heating up your home.  This will help to keep the interior of your home cool, which can help to cut your energy costs by not making your air conditioner work harder simply because the sun is causing excess heat.  Solar screens for your windows and a radiant paint barrier for your attic are effective ways to block much of the sun’s UV rays.

Coolness Counts

If you use an air conditioner to cool your home, make sure that you adjust the temperature when you leave the house.  Otherwise, you are just wasting energy on a home when no one is there.  Additionally, you can also turn the unit down at night when the temperatures typically tend to cool off.  This is true whether you are using a window unit for an individual room or a central system that’s used to cool the entire home.

Maintaining Your Cooling Unit

It’s important to clean your filters and/or replace them as recommended by the manufacturer.  In addition to possibly resulting in dust and other allergens being circulated into the air, neglecting your filters could prevent the cool air from properly getting into your home.  Have your air ductwork inspected on a regular basis for leaks and clogs to insure your system operates at peak performance.

Keep The Air Moving

Not every summer day is a hot one, which means you can often take advantage of the temperatures by using a standard fan instead of your air conditioner.  The latter uses a great deal more energy than a fan, so consider your needs on a daily basis when choosing how to cool your home.  You can install a ceiling fan for added air circulation, or you can use a standard rotating fan.

Cut Back On Cooking

Your kitchen oven can heat up your home in a hurry, which can make your air conditioner work harder to keep your house cool.  This, in turn, results in higher cooling costs.  Instead of using the oven, consider popping something in the microwave or on the outdoor grill for a change.  While this may not be possible every day, it’s certainly something to consider on those sweltering summer afternoons.

 

Sell Your Home Fast: Five Tips To Get A Fast Sale!

The process of selling your home can be a stressful and time-consuming event.  Getting a quick sale at the right price is the goal of any homeowner.  Here are a few simple tips to getting that sale fast and at the price you want.

Hire A Real Estate Expert—This may be obvious, but many people still need to be convinced that hiring a professional to handle the sale of their most valuable asset is important.

Get The Price Right—Knowing the fair market value of your home and getting advice on pricing it right will pique buyers’ interest will net you a faster sale.  Again, a qualified agent can help make this determination.

Have A Marketing Plan—Knowing how to effectively market your property means more people will see your home, and so you increase the potential of attracting that perfect buyer.

Consider Offering Incentives—Offering incentives can be just the drive a potential buyer needs to select your property over the competition.  Incentives may include major appliances, an allowance for worn carpet or paint, or paying some of the buyer’s closing costs.

Clear the Clutter—A neat, tidy, and well-presented home is always more appealing to buyers.  It is also a great way to get rid of items you don’t want to take with you to your new home.

These simple tips can get your home sold quickly, easily, and at the right price.  A real estate professional can help you with each one of these tips and can make the process of selling your home a more pleasurable one.

Landscaping Design Tips

As a homeowner, you can use a number of landscaping design tips to make your house look just as polished on the outside as it does on the inside.

Create A Path

One of the first things that a guest will notice as they walk up to your home is whether or not there is a defined path.  Instead of simply allowing the lawn to be trampled down and act as a pathway to your front door, consider installing a stone walk.  Not only will this be more visually appealing, but it will also keep both you and your guests from walking through the mud on a rainy day.

Make Your Mailbox Marvelous

The way that you maintain your mailbox says a lot about how you feel about little details.  An appealing design might include the family’s last name, the street number or address and a colorful display of flowers surrounding the base or possibly even a decorative flag or covering.

Add A Touch Of Color

No landscape would be complete without the addition of a little color in the way of flowers and plants.  Make sure to choose plants that will thrive in your particular region, making sure to keep in mind their tolerance to various temperatures and moisture levels.  Before planting, check the soil to make sure that ample sunlight is available to promote a healthy life for your flowers and plants.

Curb Appeal

Nothing says curb appeal more than an attractive water feature.  Whether you choose a do-it-yourself kit, which is available at most home improvement stores, or you hire a professional landscaper, a pond or waterfall is sure to be an asset to your landscape.  If you really want to be the envy of your neighbors, consider adding a goldfish pond to your yard and building a decorative arched bridge for added accent above the feature.