5 Things Real Estate Agents Wish You Knew About Buying a House

Buying a house isn’t like buying a Grande Americano at your regular Starbucks. Infinitely more money, thought, and prep work go into acquiring real estate – and given that it’s not a purchase you make often, it’s understandable if you might not be adept at wheeling and dealing.

But guess what? There is someone who can show you the ropes well within reach: your Real Estate Agent! Odds are (we hope), you’ve hired an Agent to help guide you through the home-buying process.

RELATED: How To Hire A Buyer’s Agent

But even then, there might be things you end up doing that make your Agent sigh deeply—and get a strong urge to sit you down and say, “Look, here’s the deal!”

Curious about what those things are? Read on for some of the things that Real Estate Agents really wish you knew, since it would save them – and ultimately you – a ton of aggravation seeing your deal through.

1. Know What You Can Afford Before You Start Looking

Finding the perfect home would be a snap if money weren’t an issue, but let’s get real. For most people, money doesn’t grow on azaleas, which means their finances must be taken into account. So don’t waste your time shopping for real estate before you know what price range you can afford.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Guide To Home Buying

One easy way to get your bearings is to type your income, savings, and other details into a home affordability calculator. Better yet, get a mortgage pre-approval letter; the process involves a lender checking out your finances and determining how much it’s willing to loan you for a home.

Plus, a pre-approval letter helps you move fast when making an offer. Since you now have it in writing that your loan is guaranteed, it removes any possibility that you won’t secure financing.

2. Don’t Call The Listing Agent

In case you didn’t know, buyers generally have their own Agent, and sellers have theirs. And ideally, it’s the Buyer’s Agent and Listing Agent who interact with each other, conveying their clients’ questions and concerns to see if a deal can be done.

As such, when you do an end run and contact a Listing Agent directly, this seemingly innocent move can cause a whole ton of trouble.

RELATED: About the Negotiation Process

While you main not mean this, it’s almost an implication that you do not trust your Buyer’s Agent and/or that you do not have a strong working relationship. These things will impede negotiation. You’re actually giving power away to the seller’s Agent.

3. Please Do Not Talk Around Other Agents

Another time buyers may put their foot in their mouth is during showings and open houses. Since the Listing Agent may be present, this is a time when loose lips can sink real estate deals.

You might say things you are not supposed to say, such as how many houses you’ve checked out, how much you like or dislike the house, and, worst of all, how much you can afford or are willing to spend.

Sharing such info is akin to tipping your cards while playing poker: It gives the home sellers a whole lot of info they can use as leverage during negotiations.

So when in doubt, say nothing. Let your Agent be your voice at an open house or in any conversation with the sellers.

4. You Do Not Need To See Every Home Within A 50-mile Radius

You don’t have to look at hundreds of properties to find the right one.

The truth is, if you have an Agent truly working for you, you won’t be looking at tons of homes. Your Agent will screen properties for you and make sure you’re only looking at the ones that fit your needs. So if the first home you see is the one, that’s OK, your Agent did her job.

If you feel the homes you are seeing are not a fit for you, talk to your Real Estate Agent again about your wishlist and revisit your must-haves vs. like-to-haves, etc. They are there to serve and satisfy you. There is no harm in revisiting this conversation.

5. Don’t Let Fear Of Commitment Give You Cold Feet

This tidbit you can file more under helpful advice because Agent’s have seen this before. Yes, buying a house is a big commitment. Yes, it’s scary, and your mind might race with all sorts of worse-case scenarios. What if you make an offer on a house, and that very day another house – even more perfect for you – crosses your path? Or, what if you move into a house you’re happy with, then a layoff leaves you unable to pay your mortgage?

Sure, these are all possibilities, but uncertainty is a part of life. It is normal to ask these commitment-phobic-type questions. Just don’t let them get in the way of this important and exciting life change.

And if the worse happens, you can always sell a house later on; this need not be a death-do-you-part endeavor.

YOUR TURN

Did you recently buy a home and would perhaps do things differently if you had to do it again? We’d love to hear from you! Sound off on our Facebook Page or on our Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. 

Is Every Offer Shown to the Seller? What to Do If You Think Your Offer Is Being Ignored

It’s unsettling to think your offer on a house is being ignored. After all, isn’t it only fair that every offer be shown to the seller? The real deal: While that might seem like a reasonable ask of the seller’s Real Estate Agent, it’s not necessarily required. Is it ethical for an Agent to present all offers to the sellers? Yes—and most do.

In general, written offers must be presented. This falls in accordance with the National Association of Realtors® Code of Ethics, which states that Realtors shall submit offers and counteroffers objectively and as quickly as possible. However, not all Real Estate Agents are members of NAR and required to abide by its code.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Ultimate Home Buying Guide

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Why A Seller Might Not See Your Offer

Some sellers set a limit for how low they’re willing to go in price and ask their Real Estate Agent to dismiss any offers below that price.

If the seller has specifically instructed their Agent not to bring offers that do not meet a certain minimum requirement, the Agent may not need to present any offer that falls short of the minimum.

RELATED: What Is A Backup Offer And Why You Should Consider One

Every state’s laws are different, but generally, if the seller has instructed his Agent in writing to withhold certain kinds of offers, then the Agent won’t present those offers.

The Shady Side of Withholding Offers

A Listing Agent withholding offers could be less than fully ethical if she is acting as a transactional broker (also known as a dual Agent), representing both the seller and the buyer. (Keep in mind that dual agency is illegal in some states.)

RELATED: Why You Need A Buyer’s Agent Representing Your Interests

The concern is that the Listing Agent might withhold one offer in favor of a higher offer that benefits the broker financially. Doing so is a big procedural breach and can put the Agent at risk of losing their license.

What To Do If You Think Your Offer Is Being Withheld

As a buyer, if enough time has passed and you suspect your offer is being withheld, talk to your Real Estate Agent about the situation. Agents deal with this kind of thing frequently and will know how to broach the subject with the Listing Agent. Advising you is your Agent’s job, right?

Here are some of your other options:

Ask for a rejection in writing. There should be a place on your written offer for the seller to formally reject your offer. You can request that your Agent ask for this formal rejection.

Contact the seller. It’s unlikely your Real Estate Agent will be happy with your doing this, but it’s not illegal for you to contact the seller directly to ask about your offer. However, be prepared: This might not go over well. If a seller wanted to work directly with the buyer, he wouldn’t have hired a Real Estate Agent in the first place. Proceed with caution, and maybe ask your Agent first.

Report the Agent. If you are truly convinced the Listing Agent is withholding your offer for selfish reasons, you can report the Agent to her brokerage or to the licensing agency in your state. Again, this is not an option to take lightly as it could have serious repercussions for the Agent in question. Seller’s are allowed to refuse offers for any reason they wish. So even if you feel your offer was fair, if the seller refused it and you didn’t hear back, it may have nothing to do with the Listing Agent at all. Accepting an offer is at the Seller’s discretion, not the Listing Agent.

Be fair. Remember the legal reasons why offers are allowed to be withheld. Do not report an Agent or leave a negative online review if you do not have all of the details about the situation.

Just move on. Whether there really are ethical issues or the Listing Agent’s communication style just isn’t working for you, it might be best to look for another house. And do you really want to work with an Agent you don’t trust? Unless this house is a picture-perfect, once-in-a-lifetime deal, it’s probably in your best interest to keep looking.

YOUR TURN

Are you a recent homebuyer who has experienced concerns over the status of your offer? Tell us about it on Facebook on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or sound off on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE™ eNewsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.

 

10 Rookie Mistakes That Hurt First-Time Homebuyers

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, buying a house can definitely be overwhelming. With an Agent by your side to guide you through the process, you’ll make it through just fine – but you might want to be aware of these rookie mistakes.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

If you’re searching for homes for sale on the Jersey Shore or Eastern Monmouth County where the market is ultracompetitive, making one of these mistakes could end up costing you big time.

Here are the Top 10 mistakes often made by first-time homebuyers:

1. Getting too emotionally attached

You’re about to purchase what’s probably the most expensive item you’ve ever bought. So try – as difficult as it is – not to get too attached. There will always be another house if you lose one.

A good tip would be to work with your Buyer’s Agent to find several homes you love so that you’re not too emotionally invested in one.

RELATED: How To Find The Right Buyer’s Agent

2. Finding the home yourself

We know you’re going to browse www.patrickparkerrealty.com and other real estate websites to find homes for sale in your desired location. But don’t rely on just your research skills. Finding your own home can be like diagnosing yourself of an illness.

Let your Agent vet homes for you. A good Real Estate Agent might find you properties that aren’t yet on the market. And of the homes that are on the market, your agent should be able to tell you what the home looks like, where it’s situated, the price per square foot in the neighborhood, and every other detail.

3. Going directly to the listing agent

If you’ve ever played Monopoly, there’s a card you might pick (a bad one) that says, “Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.” It means you did something wrong and now must pay the penalty.

The same applies if you go directly to a Listing Agent who is hired by and represents the seller, not you. Unless the Listing Agent is someone you have worked with or know personally and know they are an amazing agent, this is a big no-no. You need someone representing your best interests and your best interests only.

4. Assuming you have no rules to follow as a homeowner

One of the draws of homeownership is freedom: getting out from under someone else’s rules, whether those of your parents or your landlord. But some homes have deed restrictions that come with conditions.

Deed restrictions vary, depending on the community you’re buying in. Their purpose is typically to ensure the property holds its value, which is a good thing. But if you have plans that conflict with the restrictions, you won’t be a happy camper.

Get copies of the restrictions, read them, and ‘look under the hood’ at the internal health of a condo or homeowners’ association. Look for things like whether reserves are kept, the neighbors are paying their assessments, if there are pet restrictions, and whether you can run a business from the home.

5. Not saving enough money

If you saved up enough money for a down payment, kudos. That’s a huge accomplishment. Unfortunately, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Transitioning from a renter or your parents’ home to your own home has incidental costs that may be overlooked.

RELATED: 5 Things You Need to be Pre-Approved For A Mortgage

Aim to have two to three months’ worth of mortgage payments in reserve. You should also count on paying closing costs (between 2% and 5% of the home’s price) and property taxes. After moving day, you’ll also need to buy household essentials you’ve never owned before, such as appliances, tools, and garden supplies.

Three to six months of expenses saved up in an emergency fund is even better. It’s not money to buy new furniture or remodel a room. It’s for the unexpected expenses, such as a leaky roof.

6. Not getting pre-approved for a loan

You’ve run the numbers several times now and know just what you can afford. That’s great. But if you want your offer to be taken seriously by the seller, get proof of income and assets in the form of a pre-approval letter from a lender.

This process can take just a few days and simply means that the lender has looked through your financial situation and is comfortable with the idea of lending you a certain amount of money.

7. Paying private mortgage insurance (PMI)

If you don’t put down at least 20%, you’ll have to pay PMI. Many first-time buyers pay this, she says. If you do, make sure you notify your lender when you pay down your mortgage and owe just 80% of the home’s value. Your lender will automatically cancel your PMI when you owe 78%, but you don’t want to pay a month more of PMI than you have to.

8. Not checking the price of homeowners’ insurance

Buying a home on the water is a dream come true for many people. But make sure you can afford to insure that home because it could be pricey. Being on the water means higher wind insurance and, of course, higher risk of flood. Other factors may increase your insurance, such as if your new home has a pool and more. Do your research ahead of time. Your Buyer’s Agent will have a network of experts you can ask about these things.

9. Not checking your credit score

Here’s a weird trivia fact: About 42 million credit reports contain errors. True, the error might be just a misspelling of your street address, which wouldn’t affect you. But some errors could hurt your score badly, such as showing you have late payments when you don’t.

Check your credit at least three months prior to house hunting. If there’s an error, ask the credit bureau to kindly fix it. Your interest rate depends on it.

10. Not getting a home inspection

All homes need inspections, even brand-new ones. But some homebuyers skip this step because they get emotionally attached to the home and want it no matter what. If the home does have issues, you’ll want the seller to fix them or to lower the price.

If you’re first-time homebuyers, you might be a bit shy about asking the seller to fix that stuck window or leaky faucet. But the reality is that the buyers who ask for more often get more. So don’t be afraid to speak up and get outstanding issues fixed before you sign those settlement papers.

YOUR TURN

Did you make any rookie mistakes and have tips to share? Sound of on our Facebook Page, or on our Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Avoid These 5 Major Mistakes People Make When Hiring a Mover

Moving is stressful. And when you’re busy finding a new place to live, selling your current home, and then packing up your entire life, selecting the crew who will move your stuff is likely last on your to-do list. That’s ironic, because you’ll be entrusting them with all your life’s possessions.

Even if you manage to hook up with The Most Amazing Moving Company Ever, we can’t promise bad stuff won’t happen. But you can prevent some unnecessary duress if you have the right team in place. The process starts by schooling yourself in what not to do.

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Here are five of the top mistakes people make when hiring a mover…

1. Waiting too long

So you’ve wait until the weekend before your move to make those calls to moving companies. Well, if you procrastinated in your search, you won’t leave any time to do adequate research and get estimates. That means you might not get the best rate (spoiler: Moving’s expensive!) and worse – you could get scammed.

Plus, delaying selecting a mover can reduce your options – and unfortunately, unlicensed and unethical operators rely on this aspect of human nature to take advantage of consumers.

Take the time to get three in-home written estimates and, time permitting, visit the moving company in advance of making your final decision.

2. Being a total cheapskate

No, you don’t want to pay more than you have to for a move. But beware of being too budget-conscious.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is going with the cheapest estimate. The cheapest bid typically means that the company uses casual, inexperienced laborers who don’t care a whole lot about your belongings.

Conversely, higher-end estimates almost always assure trained, professional, and experienced crews who will show up, smiles on their faces, and move your stuff safely and efficiently.

In other words: If there is a hiccup, they will figure it out. They’re not leaving your stuff on the front lawn.

Disreputable movers often lure customers with lowball prices and then hit them with unreasonable charges or, in extreme cases, even hold their belongings for ransom.

This actually happened to an educated member of the Patrick Parker Realty team after being displaced by Hurricane Sandy. There weren’t many choices due to so many displacements, but this member of our team did all her research. However, when the movers showed up that day, they turned out to be an outsourced crew by the original moving company she had hired.

So be diligent from the time they arrive at your door. Look for consistencies and inconsistencies, such as license numbers that should appear on the moving truck. Make sure everything that was discussed beforehand, is what is being delivered the day of your move and all paperwork being presented to you before the work begins aligns with all conversation and paperwork you’ve kept during the research process.

3. Not asking the right questions beforehand

A professional mover will be happy to answer any questions you may have, so if they seem uncertain or won’t give you straight answers, that’s probably a mover to avoid. Ask them about the moving process so you understand what they will be doing and when they will be doing it, from start to finish.

Here are some questions we recommend asking before selecting a moving company:

•  Are you licensed and insured?
•  Are you a certified professional mover who meets the standards of the American Moving & Storage Association?
•  Are you a member of your state’s moving association?
•  What price are you willing to put in writing as a “not to exceed” threshold price?
•  What are the dates you can commit to for pickup and delivery for my move?
•  Can you give me some references of people you have recently moved?
•  How are your crews selected?
•  Have you ever done business under another name?
•  What actions do you take to ensure that the people who come into my home are skilled, professional, and safe?

4. Falling for fakes

The internet is awesome. right? Whether you’re looking for comprehensive info on the best mortgage rates, or you simply must know immediately the name of that song that goes; “da-da-da-da-dah-ooh-ooh-yeah”, the web is there for you.

And it’s there for you to find your next mover, too. But we shouldn’t have to tell you that online info can lead you astray. Double check your info by getting moving company referrals from an industry trade association or use a site that verifies and vets moving companies.

Sure, there are sites like Yelp you can rely on, but don’t do yourself a favor thinking that if you use a pay-for site like Angie’s List that the search results are any more credible. Our aforementioned team member, that’s where she first found her mover before she performed her interview and research. When she contacted Angie’s List to make them aware of what happened, she was told that their listings are paid listings and they do not vet the businesses on their site. That is disturbing given what Angie’s List and other site’s like these imply in their ads.

Another word of caution: Beware of blindly trusting that the company you’re hiring is who it says it is… another scheme; some disreputable movers try to lure customers in by using names that are similar to reputable companies. Check the reputable company’s website to make sure the local agent is affiliated with the brand name it is claiming.

In addition, disreputable movers are often changing their name to escape consumer groups and bad reviews. Be cognizant of where your Mover is located on Google Maps and if there was ever another moving company located at that address, it a red flag. Sometimes you’ll find, as our team member did, there’s not even an office located at that address.

According to the American Moving & Storage Association, the lack of a physical, local address is a telltale sign of a fake mover. Here are other red flags:

•  No federal motor carrier number, which shows the mover is registered with the federal government for a state-to-state move
•  Movers who refuses to visit your home to provide a written estimate for an interstate move… Responsible moving companies will provide in-home estimates and explain why the pricing is the way it is
•  Movers who seem uncertain or unresponsive, especially when asked about their claims process if something gets damaged or lost

Ultimately, add this to one of the many reasons you should never buy or sell without a Real Estate Agent. Your Agent has a huge network of trusted professionals that handle every aspect of the buying/selling/moving process. Do not hesitate to ask your Agent for a Moving Company referral.

RELATED: Why You Should Never Buy or Sell Without A Real Estate Agent

5. Agreeing to pay a deposit or pay in cash

If you’re moving across town, this one’s a huge red flag.

Typically, you should not be required to pay a deposit to have your items moved, most companies request payment at the time of delivery.

If you’re moving out of state, your moving company could request a deposit. But make sure it’s reasonable.

A reasonable down payment should be in the hundreds of dollars toward your state-to-state move, rarely exceeding 20%.

Similarly, avoid movers that demand cash instead of allowing payment by credit card.

YOUR TURN

We hope you don’t, but do you have moving horror stories to share? What tips would you add to our list? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page. You can also visit our Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to sign up for our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

 

5 Crucial Questions Home Buyers Should Ask Sellers Before Moving In

Moving into a home you’ve just bought is exciting—and sometimes exasperating. That’s because, although you might love your new place, you don’t know it all that well—which means that sooner or later, you’re bound to end up in a situation where you’re floundering cluelessly with the circuit breaker, or petting a neighbor’s seemingly adorable Pomeranian who nearly nips off a finger. Home, sweet home, right?

Yet you’d be surprised by how many of these unfortunate surprises home buyers can circumvent merely by asking the person who sold them the home some pointed questions before moving in. Sure, you’ll also be soaking up intel from the seller’s disclosure agreement, the home inspector who gave a thumbs-up to the place, and eventually even the neighbors. But truth be told, there’s nothing better than hearing about a home straight from someone who’s been living there for umpteen years. So go ahead and ask!

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Buyers Guide

Just keep in mind that some sellers might feel tight-lipped if they think your questions might jeopardize the sale. As such, many of these questions are best asked near the end of the process—like during your walk-through or at closing.

1. Are there any special quirks about the house?

A thorough inspector will point out any oddities that are unsafe or devalue the house, but only someone who’s lived there will have a handle on all the unique characteristics worth mentioning—light switches in unexpected places, doors and windows that stick up or down, poltergeists, you name it. This question is most effectively asked during the final walk-through.

RECOMMENDED: ‘I’m wondering if you can tell me anything I might need to anticipate moving forward?’ Be subtle but persistent.

2. Have you had any past problems with the house that you’ve fixed?

True, sellers are often required to disclose most existing problems or issues related to the home. But what about past problems that have since been repaired?

RECOMMENDED: ‘I’ve read the disclosure statement. Is there anything else that has happened or that you’ve done that would be helpful to know?’ Use the disclosure as a jumping-off point to learn about what’s not listed.

3. Where are the water shut-off valve, sump pump, circuit box, and more?

Hopefully, the home inspector will locate all of these things and point them out to the new buyer as part of educating them about their new house, But not all inspectors do. So these are some important safety questions.

Ask the seller to show you not only the location of these valves, switches, and pumps, but also how they work. If you’re moving into an older home, chances are that many of the utility features will be unique in their operations, so rather than fumble around blindly, it’s a no-brainer to lean on the seller.

4. How is the neighborhood?

This is a great question to help establish rapport between buyer and seller, and is also best asked near the end of the buying process.

RECOMMENDED: ‘Tell me about the neighborhood.’ Keep it light.

Often the good, the bad, and the ugly will tumble out if approached conversationally. While you’re at it, if you’re new to the area, consider asking the seller for recommendations for everything from grocery stores to their favorite restaurants.

5. Is there anything you want to leave behind?

This one doesn’t so much help you get to know your home, but it might result in a few nice bonuses. It’s worth a shot to see if the seller is willing to part with large items he or she might not want to bother moving.

Most things that are being left, such as appliances, are dealt with in the original contract, but as it gets closer to closing, sellers are often wanting to unload some other things too. You might get lucky and wind up with something great.

YOUR TURN

Are you a recent homebuyer? Do you have questions you wished you asked? Let us know on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram Feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter  for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

5 Reasons You Should Never Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent

You’re DIY’ing this real estate thing, and you think you’re doing pretty well—after all, any info you might need is at your fingertips online, right? That and your own judgment.

Oh, dear home buyer (or seller!)—we know you can do it on your own. But you really, really shouldn’t. This is likely the biggest financial decision of your entire life, and you need Real Estate Agent if you want to do it right.

Here’s why…

1. They have loads of expertise

Want to check the MLS for a 4B/2B with an EIK and a W/D? Real estate has its own language, full of acronyms and semi-arcane jargon, and your Real Estate Agent is trained to speak that language fluently.

Plus, buying or selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. Real Estate Agents have the expertise to help you prepare a killer deal—while avoiding delays or costly mistakes that can seriously mess you up.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Complete Home Buyer Guide

2. They have turbocharged searching power

The Internet is awesome. You can find almost anything—anything! And with online real estate listing sites such as yours truly, you can find up-to-date home listings on your own, any time you want. But guess what? Real Estate Agents have access to even more listings. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A Real Estate Agent can help you find those hidden gems.

Plus, a good local Real Estate Agent is going to know the search area way better than you ever could. Have your eye on a particular neighborhood, but it’s just out of your price range? Your Real Estate Agent is equipped to know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, so she can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked.

3. They have bullish negotiating chops

Any time you buy or sell a home, you’re going to encounter negotiations—and as today’s housing market heats up, those negotiations are more likely than ever to get a little heated.

You can expect lots of competition, cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Don’t you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you?

RELATED: Patrick Parker Realty’s Refined Negotiation Strategy

And it’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. A Real Estate Agent will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies, and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs.

4. They’re connected to everyone

Real Estate Agents might not know everything, but they make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, home stagers, interior designers—the list goes on—and they’re all in your Real Estate Agent’s network. Use them.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Complete Home Sellers Guide

5. They’re your sage parent/data analyst/therapist—all rolled into one

The thing about Real Estate Agents: They wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople, but they actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn their commission. They’re constantly driving around, checking out listings for you. They spend their own money on marketing your home (if you’re selling). They’re researching comps to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

And, of course, they’re working for you at nearly all hours of the day and night—whether you need more info on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in. This is the biggest financial (and possibly emotional) decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Real Estate Agents take lightly.

YOUR TURN

Did you try the DIY route and the go Agent? Tell us about your experience. Sound of on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, our Twitter or LinkedIn Feeds or on our Instagram account. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

5 Factors to Look At When Purchasing a New Home

Purchasing a home is in many cases, the single most expensive purchase a person can make. With such a huge investment, potential buyers should be aware of problematic areas that may exist in a house.

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RELATED: The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

Real estate laws vary from state to state and often times deficiencies of a property must be listed in the disclosures. However, whether the home is new or was built years ago, buyers should be cautious about some of the hidden dangers that often don’t appear in front of you.

Here are five things to look for:

1. Structure
The structure of a house generally affects all aspects of a home, and is often referred to the most important part of a house. A home that is slopping can often not only affect the overall appearance of a house, but can lead to cracking of walls and plumbing as a home shifts during settlement. Poor structures also can create weak floors that often bow when walked across.

2. Roof
Be aware that a damaged roof can severely damage a home both inside and out. Leaky roofs can often create devastating mold problems that can take years to discover. Take a good look at the roof and see what condition it is in. A poorly installed roof can be just as damaging as an old roof.

3. Air Conditioning/Heating
There is nothing worse that moving into a home and finding out that the air conditioner stopped working. Although AC units can be repaired, finding parts for older units may be difficult and lead to a complete replacement. To avoid this potential problem, have the AC checked out by a reputable company, the expense of a service call may save you lots of money later on.

4. Kitchen & Bath Fixtures
A clogged toilet or sink may seem like a normal part of owning a home, but it also may be a symptom of a much larger problem. Check to see the condition of toilets, sinks and showers. In they are working properly, they won’t leak or have water stains around them. Check to make sure that the water pressure is at or below 80 psi.

5. Workmanship
The quality of the materials in a home will have an overall effect on how long things will last. Paint is one of the things that are considered a normal part of maintaining a home looking nicely. However, repainting a home to cover up its defects can become costly year after year. A well build home using quality materials will maintain its beauty for many years of ownership.

YOUR TURN

Currently House Hunting in New Jersey?  Do you have anything to add to our list? Sound off on our the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

When Is a Good Time to Rent? Not Now.

People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home. No one ever asks when a good time to rent is. However, we want to make certain that everyone understands that today is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their 2016 median rent numbers. Here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today:

rental-rates-jersey-shore

As you can see, rents have steadily increased and are showing no signs of slowing down. If you are faced with the decision of whether you should renew your lease or not, you might be pleasantly surprised at your ability to buy a home of your own instead.

Bottom Line

One way to protect yourself from rising rents is to lock in your housing expense by buying a home. If you are ready and willing to buy, meet with a local real estate professional who can help determine if you are able to today!

YOUR TURN

What are your experiences when it comes to buying vs. renting? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.

Buying a Home? 4 Demands to Make on Your Real Estate Agent

Are you thinking of buying a home? Are you dreading having to walk through strangers’ houses? Are you concerned about getting the paperwork correct? Hiring a professional real estate agent can take away most of the challenges of buying.

You want to deal with one of the best agents in your marketplace. To do this, you must be able to distinguish an average agent from a great one.

you-need-a-buyers-agent

Here are the top 4 demands to make of your real estate agent when buying a home:

1. Tell the Truth About the Price

When making an offer on the home you want to buy, make sure that your agent walks you through their plan for getting both the seller – and the bank – to accept that price. Too many agents will just take the offer that you suggest and then try to ‘work’ both you and the seller in the negotiating phase later. In a competitive market, you need an agent who is going to help you make the best ‘initial offer’ so that you stand out from the crowd. Every house in today’s market must be sold twice – first to you and then to your bank.

The second sale may be more difficult than the first. When prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that closed recently) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank. A red flag should be raised if your agent is not discussing this with you at the time of the original offer.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Guide to Buying A Home

2. Understand the Timetable with Which Your Family is Dealing

You will be moving your family into a new home. Whether the move revolves around the start of the new school year or a new job, you will be trying to put the move to a plan.

This can be very emotionally draining. Demand from your agent an appreciation for the timetables you are setting. Your agent cannot pick the exact date of your move, but they should exert any influence they can to make it work.

3. Remove as Many of the Challenges as Possible

It is imperative that your agent knows how to handle the challenges that will arise. An agent’s ability to negotiate is critical in this market.

Remember: If you have an agent who was weak negotiating with you on parts of the purchase offer, don’t expect them to turn into a superhero when they are negotiating with the seller for you and your family.

4. Find the Right HOUSE!

There is a reason you are putting yourself and your family through the process of moving.

You are moving on with your life in some way. The reason is important or you wouldn’t be dealing with the headaches and challenges that come along with buying. Do not allow your agent to forget these motivations. Make sure that they don’t worry about your feelings more than they worry about your family; if they discover something needs to be done in order to attain your goal, insist that they have the courage to inform you.

Good agents know how to deliver good news. Great agents know how to deliver tough news. In today’s market, YOU NEED A GREAT AGENT!

YOUR TURN

Tell us about the experience you had with your Agent. What made them good? What made them GREAT? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.

Study: How Much Will Paying Off Credit Cards Improve Score?

Paying off credit cards can improve credit scores substantially as outstanding debt is the second most heavily-weighted factor in calculating scores. Here we examine factors that determine credit scores. If negative marks on your credit report are the cause of your low score, it is advised to find a credit repair service to help remove them.

A survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America found that a startling number of Americans know little about credit scores, including more than a quarter of respondents not knowing ways to raise or maintain their scores.

There are many ways to improve credit scores and paying off revolving debts is one of them. Credit cards and other outstanding debts is the second most important factor considered when determining your FICO score – the most widely used credit score by lenders. Therefore by reducing the amount you owe your score will increase, but by how much is determined by other factors.

One quick way to raise your score is to hire a credit repair company that can remove negative marks on your credit reports that lower your score.

There’s Not a Fixed Amount of Points Your Score Will Improve

Because each individual’s credit report is unique and there are many factors that determine one’s score other than credit card debt, there’s no set amount of points your score will improve from doing any one action that applies to everyone.

How Much Your Score Improves Depends on Your Outstanding Balance

Someone who pays off $1,000 on a card with a $5,000 limit isn’t going to see the same score hike that someone paying off a maxed out card will. This is because of your credit to debt ratio. The generalized rule is for every open account you have, you want your credit utilization to be below 30 percent.

how-much-your-score-improves-depends-on-your-outstanding-balance

Always keep your credit utilization below 30 percent.

Example: If you have a card with a $1,000 limit, you never want to have more than $300 charged on it.

How Long it Takes You to Pay Your Credit Card Debt Also Matters

The manner in which you pay your credit card debt also contributes to the rate at which your score improves.

For instance, if you stop using the card and continue to pay it down month after month until it is eventually at a $0 balance or at least below 30 percent utilization, your score will very gradually increase by a few points here and there, assuming all of your other credit accounts are in good standing. If you pay the balance in full, you’ll notice a moderate point increase much sooner.

The best way to see what actions can improve a score and by how much is to use a credit analyzer tool. A credit analyzer can tell you how to improve your score based on the amount of cash you have on hand to pay your debts, as well as how much of a point increase to expect per action.

Alas, most credit analyzer tools aren’t free, but Credit Karma has a Credit Score Simulator that uses the information on your TransUnion credit report to estimate the result of changes to an account.

The 4 Other Factors That Determine Your FICO Credit Score

By now you know that paying your credit card debt will improve your credit score, but what else makes up your FICO score?

fico-score

These percentages are used to calculate FICO scores, the credit score used by 90% of lenders.

1. Payment History – 35%
Payment history is the largest factor used in determining your FICO score. This includes on-time payments, so if you’re trying to improve your score, whatever you do, don’t let a payment run late or be missed.

2. Length of Credit History – 15%
What this means is how long your accounts have been opened. Generally, a longer established credit history results in a better score, assuming the accounts are in good standing. FICO looks at the age of your newest account, oldest account, and the average age of all of your accounts combined.

3. Types of Credit – 10%
What types of credit do you have? A mortgage, student loans, credit card debt, medical bills, retail accounts…all of these are considered.

4. New Credit – 10%
You never want to open too many new accounts within a short amount of time. According to myfico.com, “Research shows that opening several credit accounts in a short period of time represents a greater risk – especially for people who don’t have a long credit history.”

The Road to Recovery: How to Boost Your Score

By boosting your score you’ll receive lower interest rates and increase your chances of approval for all types of loans and credit decisions.

Your credit report information is updated frequently, so when you begin making positive changes it won’t take very long to notice improvements if you’re consistent. Other than paying down your credit card debt, there are other actions you can take.

The Consumer Federation of America suggests these four actions for improving your credit score:

  • Consistently pay bills on time every month.
  • Do not max out, or even coming close to maxing out, credit cards or other revolving credit accounts.
  • Pay down debt rather than just moving it around, as well as not opening many new accounts rapidly.
  • Regularly check credit reports to make sure they are error-free.

YOUR TURN

What tips do you have for increasing your credit score? Are you looking to increase your credit score but hitting roadblocks? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, Twitter or LinkedIn feeds and don’t forget to subscribe to Patrick Parker Realty’s monthly Jersey Shore HOME ADVICE™ email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.


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