Don’t Get Snowed Under by These 6 Winter Open House Blunders

Summer open houses are easy-breezy. The sun is shining, the air is warm, potential buyers are out in force, and your curb appeal is on point thanks to blooming flowers and a lush green lawn.

Winter is a very different beast when it comes to open houses. Buyers huddle inside, wary of the cold and snow. Foot traffic can slow to a trickle during the holidays, when folks spend time with family and friends and suspend their hunt for a home.

And if you create additional hurdles for potential buyers before you even open your door, it could be a long slog through the snowy months. Avoid these seven gaffes when throwing a winter open house, and make buyers feel the warm fuzzies for your home.

1. Not clearing a path, for goodness’ sake

No one’s going to be happy at your open house if you make them trek through a month’s worth of built-up snow to get there—or worse, if they slip and fall on an icy surface. Of all the open house mortal sins, causing a potential buyer to fracture a hip is definitely up there.

And clearing a path isn’t just about shoveling: Try laying down rock salt to keep any melted snow from refreezing.

open-house-in-new-jersey

And make sure to look beyond your sidewalk. Snow buildup on your street might make your home less visible, or it could mean potential buyers will have to park farther away—and have ample time to snap out of the buying spirit. Shovel out plenty of parking spaces for visitors.

2. Skipping the ‘landing zone’

In most places, winter means snow and rain. And snow and rain mean scarves, jackets, gloves, and muddy shoes. Try as they might to be polite, potential buyers are tracking in all kinds of muck—all over your professionally cleaned or staged home.

Create a landing zone by your entrance to keep the mess at bay. Add extra hooks and a coat rack so no one is forced to tote around a heavy parka. Put up a placard kindly requesting guests to remove their footwear, and provide baskets or cubbies to stow the items. Don’t forget an umbrella stand.

Want to be really nice? Purchase inexpensive slippers so guests won’t have to shuffle about in their socks. They’ll love it.

3. Overheating the place

Piles of snow cover your yard, icicles dangle from your trees, and you can’t step outside without six layers of clothing. Winter isn’t coming—it’s here. But a serious chill doesn’t mean you need to turn your home’s interior into a sauna.

Find a reasonable temperature for your thermostat – and that does not mean 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember your potential visitors will be entering your house from a much colder outdoor temperature. Buried in hats, coats, and boots, they will find the 80-degree temperature downright steamy. Stick to 68 degrees to keep everyone comfy.

4. Phoning it in

Don’t limit yourself to the standard plate of supermarket cookies and bottled water. A winter open house requires more effort — and will be appreciated by those who had to abandon their warm spot on the couch to come see your home.

Hiring a caterer or investing in warm chaffing dishes to provide seasonal treats, snacks, and hot chocolate will make your guests feel right at home. And that’s exactly what you want.

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Attracting Buyers and Selling Your Home

And make sure to flaunt that fireplace to give things an extra cozy feel. After all, you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) light that sucker for a summer open house, so you might as well take advantage of the season.

5. Lacking light

Darkness and dreariness rule during winter, but you want visitors to find your open house bright and cheerful.

Lighting can be one of the most important factors in selling a home. Second only to location, lighting is the one thing that every buyer cites as a necessity.

Sure, you’ve survived with your lights as is for long enough, but are they enough to entice your buyer? Give each room a long, hard look. If it lacks can lighting or any kind of built-in light fixture, double up on lamps to make the room pop.

Adding more bulbs isn’t the only way to brighten a room. Try removing drapes, scrubbing the windows, increasing your wattage, and trimming outside bushes to let the sun shine in.

6. Forgetting to keep an eye on the weather

You can host an open house in a flurry, but if those flakes become a full-strength blizzard, be prepared to reschedule. Know the forecast. A little flexibility can mean the difference between a low turnout and a house full of happy potential buyers.

YOUR TURN

Ever get snowed in by these Open House Blunders? Or were you able to bring buyers in from the cold? Sound of on The Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

8 Stellar Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Purchasing a home can be quite a challenging task, especially for first-time homebuyers. For most people, it represents one of the most significant monetary investments they will make in their lifetime and they want to get it right.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Homebuyers Guide

Unfortunately, the process can be quite complex and riddled with surprise expenses and unfamiliar technical terms.

RELATED: 7 Rooking Mistakes Common to First Time Homebuyers

Here are 8 stellar tips for first-time homebuyers to make the entire experience less stressful and help you save some money along the way:

1. Start saving for your down payment sooner than later

In most cases, the down payment amount is 20% of the listed value of the house, but many lenders also permit much less than that now. Some first-home buyer programs may permit as little as 3% down payments.

But when you put down a lower amount at this stage, it also means you will be paying significantly higher interest rates and heftier mortgage installations.

Use an online down payment calculator, to know what amount you would comfortably be able to pay.

2. Check your credit rating

Your credit rating is one of the first things a lender will check when you apply for a mortgage loan and the approval of your loan hinges on this aspect.

In fact, this will also help determine what the loan terms and interest rate will be. This is why it’s best to check your credit score well before you start the buying process.

RELATED: How Much Will Paying Off Credit Cards Improve My Score?

If you have a low credit score, try to clear off existing debts etc. improve your credit rating and then apply for a mortgage loan.

3. Look for a home within a comfortable price range

When you start looking for your first home, it isn’t difficult to go overboard and buy something you can’t really afford.

This is why you need to determine what falls within a comfortable price range and don’t be tempted to look at anything outside that limit.

4. Get a pre-approval letter

In continuation of the previous point, it’s best to get prequalified; this gives you an estimate of the amount a lender may be willing to lend you based on your credit history, income, and debts. But once you start moving through the home buying process, it’s a good idea to get a preapproval.

In this, the lender minutely examines your finances and then confirms in writing the amount they are willing to lend you and on what terms.

Having this pre approval letter in hand gives you the upper hand over home buyers that haven’t taken this step; it indicates to the seller that you are serious about buying the property

5. Conduct some research on down payment options

Most first-time homebuyers struggle to come up with sufficient money for the down payment. But there are a number of good first-time home buyer programs out there such as the federal mortgage programs that allow loans that have only 3% down.

In addition, there are Veterans Affairs loans and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans that you can apply for if you are eligible. You also have the option to approach close family members to loan you some money for making the down payment.

6. Factor in the closing costs

Most homeowners omit this aspect of the transaction. Apart from saving for the down payment, you would also have to budget for the amount required to close the mortgage and this can be significantly high.

These costs can range from between 2% and 5% of the total loan amount. The expenses you have to keep in view include title searches, building and pest inspections and homeowner’s insurance.

7. Set aside some money for after you move-in

Once you have sufficient money for the down payment and have factored in the closing costs, you need to have a comfortable cushion to pay for things that would need to get done once you move into the house.

This includes things like appliances, updated fixtures, furniture and furnishings as well as any other minor upgrades and additions you want to make once you start living in that house.

8. Consider the type of property to buy

If you want a more indoor space or a larger lot, you may assume you’ll purchase a single-family home. But if you feel that sacrificing space for extra amenities and lower maintenance is something that works for you; and you don’t mind paying a regular homeowners’ association fee, a townhome or a condo may be a better fit.

RELATED: How Big A Home Do You Really Need? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

In addition to all these things, look for a safe neighborhood that has a positive vibe, good schools, shopping centers and an efficient transportation system, hospitals, supermarkets, and pharmacies etc.

Make it a point to drive through the neighborhood at different times on different days to check out the activity, noise and traffic levels.

YOUR TURN

Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter or Instagram feeds or on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty HOME ADVICE eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.   

Real Estate Negotiation: 11 Items You Can Negotiate In Your Contract

So, you’ve offered on a piece of real estate. What happens next, however, is somewhat out of your control. Enter: Real Estate Negotiations.

You wait for a response. A seller could respond to your offer in three different ways:

1.  Accept it
2.  Reject (or ignore!) it
3.  Make a counteroffer

If they accept it, great! If they reject it, that’s OK; there is always another deal, or you could re-offer again. However, when a seller submits a counteroffer, that’s when the real fun begins.

A counteroffer (often just called a “counter”) is a response to another, earlier offer. In other words, if you offered $100,000 on a property, and the seller says, “No, I want $110,000,” that response from the seller is the counteroffer.

A counteroffer can be a good thing. It means the seller wants to sell to you and is willing to find common ground where both parties can get what they want. The negotiation process is where the two sides try to make that happen. Remember, both parties want the exact same thing: a sale.

Real Estate Negotiation

11 Items You Can Negotiate in a Real Estate Deal

Many people see the word “negotiation” and envision one party winning and the other losing. However, in a good negotiation, both parties walk away feeling like they achieved pretty much, if not exactly, what they wanted. When there is no negotiation, that’s when one of the parties tends to feel they got shafted! So remember: a little back-and-forth is a good thing.

RELATED: Is the Offer You Made on that Home Being Seen?

Keep in mind, this is not about negotiating just on the price. In fact, there are multiple parts of the contract that can be negotiated. For example, you could negotiate for any or all of the following:

1. Price How much are you actually going to pay for the property?

2. Closing Date When will you close? Next week? Next month?

3. Closing Location Where is the closing going to take place? Your title company? Theirs? An attorney’s office?

4. Contingencies What contingencies could be removed from the P&S agreement?

5. Financing Will the seller agree to carry a second mortgage on the property?

6. Closing Costs Who will pay for what during the closing process?

7. Home Warranty A home warranty is sometimes included in the sale of a home and covers certain repair items after the sale happens. This can help smooth any concerns on the part of the buyer. Will your deal include one? If so, who will pay for it?

8. Repairs What do you need the seller to fix before you purchase the property? Will you hold them to it? Will you buy the property “as is”?

9. Credits What about getting credits at closing toward certain repairs that are needed? If a new roof is needed, and the seller doesn’t want to put one on before closing, could you negotiate the cost of a new roof given to you at closing?

10. Possession Date When will you actually take control of the property? While it’s most common to transfer possession immediately after the title has been transferred, this is negotiable. Maybe the seller needs a few more weeks. Maybe you want to get in early. It’s all negotiable.

11. Items Left at The Property What is the seller required to leave at the property? Appliances? Tools? Furniture? This is all negotiable.

Again, these are all elements you can negotiate, either offering or asking for a concession. Perhaps the seller is firm on the price, but you can get more repairs done on the property before closing. Or perhaps they don’t want to do anything with the condition or the price, but the seller is willing to carry a contract on the property (seller financing) for a short period while you fix it up. The possibilities are nearly endless as to what your negotiation can produce, so look at negotiation as a huge opportunity for you to creatively achieve your goals.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Guide to Home Buying

You’re likely working with an Agent (or at least you should be), so you may never sit down across from the seller to engage in some television-worthy negotiation. Instead, the negotiation will take place through a back-and-forth exchange of documents signed by you, given to your agent, sent to their agent, and finally given to the seller. The seller will then either accept, reject, or reply with a counteroffer. Your job, at that point, will be to either accept the counter, reject it, or reply with yet another counteroffer.

RELATED: About Real Estate Negotiations

If you are offering on a property outside the MLS, through a private seller, your negotiations will likely be much more direct. In fact, you might negotiate every point on the hood of your car or sitting at the seller’s kitchen table. The back-and-forth will likely be much less formal, though we absolutely recommend putting as much of the negotiation on paper as possible, even if that just means pulling out a sheet of blank paper and writing down the terms.

YOUR TURN

What items have you negotiated in a real estate deal? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter or Instagram feeds or on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty HOME ADVICE eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox.   

How Big a Home Do You Truly Need? 5 Questions to Ask to Figure That Out

When it comes to homes, the popular credo is that bigger is better. More square feet = a larger slice of the American dream, right?

Not necessarily.

For one, bigger homes obviously cost more, and oversized McMansions can be harder to sell. As such, you’ll want a home that’s neither too big nor too small. But how do you strike that balance?

Here are five questions to ask yourself that will help you determine how much space you really need.

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1. Is this my ‘forever’ home, or is ‘right now’ good enough?

While you can’t predict the future, it is possible to evaluate the likelihood you might be moving in coming years. If so, then maybe you don’t need to buy that perfect “forever home” where you’ll grow old; maybe a “right now” home is good enough.

There’s a common perception that you should be searching for your ‘forever home,’ and that pressure to find a place that has all the space you might ever need often leads buyers to purchase a home that might be too big. It’s OK to know that you’ll only live in a home for the next five or six years, and to buy a home that will serve your needs during that period. You can always re-evaluate and upgrade to a bigger space later.

2. What will my income look like later?

If you’re early in your career, odds are decent that your income will increase over the years. Or, if you’re reaching the end of your career, you may be looking at flattened or declining income. In either case, it’s never a good idea to get a mortgage at the max of what you can afford; it’s better to go small and have some wiggle room.

Nothing causes more stress than financial strain and a mortgage on a home that is a size too large is most likely to be your biggest burden, and a hard one to overcome. Happiness is often one size smaller than your dream home. That way, you can enjoy your home without dreading your monthly mortgage payment.

Also, remember more space means more time and money spent on upkeep and improvements, more rooms to fill with furniture, and higher utility bills to heat and cool the home.

3. What are my priorities?

Another question to consider is what you’ll use all that space for—and be honest: While you might dream of hosting epic dinner parties in that big formal dining room, will you really? Can you say with certainty that your in-laws will descend on you during the holidays and need a guest bedroom to crash in, or might they be just as comfortable in a nearby Airbnb?

Aside from justifying what you’ll use each space for, ask yourself what you’re giving up. If you dream of having a secret “travel fund” so you can see the world, that may be possible only with a smaller mortgage (and house). Or, perhaps you value things other than space, like school district or a walkable location. So make sure to factor in those variables, too—and make sure you aren’t sacrificing them for space you don’t need.

4. How much space do I want from my own family members?

If you absolutely must have privacy—to, say, get work done in a home office or chill out in your man cave—then that extra square footage may be well worth the money. But if you’re more the type who loves having their family members nearby, a large home gives people plenty of alone time… sometimes too much.

Recently when speaking with one of our buyers, she commented: “I’ve found that my daughter’s friends who live in large homes rarely even run into their parents.” So her preference was for something a bit smaller, because she prefers her kids a bit underfoot.

She was also seeking a more cozy vibe and a close-knit family environment a smaller home encourages. This was what the preference was for her family dynamic. You’ll have to determine yours.

5. Does this home feel spacious even if it doesn’t have much space?

Keep in mind that even small homes can feel spacious purely based on an open floor plan and lots of light. Meanwhile, large homes can still feel cramped if they’re dark or poorly laid out. So, when shopping real estate listings, know that the little number next to square footage may not tell the whole story.

For example, features like a long hallway may increase the total square footage, but they are spaces you pass through, not a true destination within the home.

So instead of focusing on total square footage, focus on the size of individual rooms where you see yourself spending the majority of your time. If all you do in your bedroom is sleep, does it matter if its massive or not?

YOUR TURN

In your experience, how much space is too much space? Or, did you find you underestimated how much room you actually needed? What did you learn about space when buying your current home? Sound off on The Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or our Twitter or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Everything You Need To Know About Buying A Home This Spring

Blooming flowers and warmer temperatures don’t just mark the start of allergy season. Spring is also peak season for real estate sales. If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, you’re probably wondering what the current market is like and how to navigate it.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

low-housing-inventory
The 2017 spring real estate season differs from past spring markets in some big ways. Here’s what you need to know…

1. Inventory Is Low

Home inventory has dropped for eight consecutive quarters, making it harder to find a home, according to Trulia’s research.

In 2017, homebuyers are up against a very competitive market, where there are fewer homes for sale that cost more than they did last year.

Hit hardest? First-time homebuyers. There’s a larger inventory of trade-up homes and luxury homes than starter homes. As prices rise, people who might have been looking for a luxury home may now be in the trade-up market. Those who would have been in the trade-up market are buying starter homes or hanging on to the homes they already have. This means first-time buyers have to put in extra effort to land a home.

RELATED: 10 Rookie Mistakes That Hurt First-Time Homebuyers

2. Homes Are Selling Fast

Understanding the current real estate market can keep you from being blindsided. Short supply is the dominant issue this spring. Homes that are priced at market and are in attractive condition sell in days.

You may want to act quickly when you find something you like, and be flexible with seller requests — two tactics that can help you buy a home in a competitive market.

3. Interest Rates Are Rising

Rising interest rates could price some buyers out of the market. The Federal Reserve announced in March that interest rates would be increased by a quarter point based on the growing confidence on the economy.

But interest rates are still historically low and affordable. Higher rates will likely decrease one’s home-buying power, but it’s unlikely to deter serious buyers who are actively looking for a new home. What’s likelier to happen, at least in the short term, is that more people will enter the market before rates get even higher.

4. Timing Is Everything

The hardest part of buying a starter home is saving the down payment. Once you have that in place, there are great options.

But should you wait to save 20% for a down payment to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), or should you buy now with only, say, 5% to put down before interest rates rise?

RELATED: Making Sense of Mortgage Rates, APR and PMI

In most cases, it becomes more expensive to wait. If it’s going to take you two years to save 20% and prices and rates rise, it’ll usually be better to go ahead at 5% and pay PMI.

RELATED: What Is The Cost of Waiting Until 2019 to Buy A Home

5. Consumer Confidence Is High

Rising interest rates signal a strong economy, and consumers, with renewed confidence in this strong job market, are buying homes. This is what most people call a comeback. People who found themselves underwater on their homes are now starting to see those homes gain value. They can now make — instead of lose — money on a home sale.

6. Try To Overlook The Little Things

If your ultimate goal is to become a homeowner this spring, you may wish to circle back to that older home with no upgrades that didn’t initially excite you.

Some available properties may lack modern layouts and amenities. Consider ignoring cosmetic issues like bad paint colors or poorly placed furniture and determine your budget for desired upgrades. In a competitive real estate market with low inventory, being able to overlook simpler flaws could be the difference between getting a good deal on a home and not getting a home at all.

7. Preapproval Is More Important Than Ever

You may need to offer more money to buy a home in this busy real estate season. First, figure out what you can comfortably afford. Don’t stretch yourself financially.

A good formula for a starter-home buyer would be to dedicate 38.3% of monthly income to your home — a 2.9 point increase from last year.

Once your budget is set, focus on prepping your finances for a home purchase. The more prepared in preapproval you are, the more value you add to yourself and your buying appearance. This means having all documentation in line so you can move fast.

YOUR TURN

Are you planning to buy a home this spring? Tell us why on our Facebook Page or Twitter or Instagram Feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Why Is There So Much Paperwork Required To Get A Mortgage?

Why is there so much paperwork mandated by the lenders for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today? It seems that they need to know everything about you and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form.

RELATED: 6 Mortgage Terms To Know

Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Guide To Home Buying
The Most Critical Steps To Take When Buying Your Dream Home

home-loan

There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today’s buyer than perhaps any time in history:

1. The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank proves beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of paying the mortgage.

During the run-up to the housing crisis, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can’t happen again.

RELATED: Will I Qualify For A Mortgage?

2. The banks don’t want to be in the real estate business.

Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.

However, there is some good news in the situation.

The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allowed you to get a mortgage interest rate around 4%.

The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty years ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process, but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990s and 6.29% in the 2000s).

If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of around 4%, they would probably bend over backward to make the process much easier.

RELATED: How To Qualify For A Mortgage with Poor Credit

BOTTOM LINE

Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let’s be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates.

What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy a Home?

Over the course of the last 12 months, home prices have appreciated by 7.0%. Over the same amount of time, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Guide To Home Buying
The Most Critical Steps To Take When Buying Your Dream Home

As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price, but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 4.7% over the next 12 months.

What Does This Mean as a Buyer?

If home prices appreciate by 4.7% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:

home-price-trends-2018

BOTTOM LINE

If buying a home is in your plan for 2018, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.

Follow Patrick Parker Realty on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn and subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your favorite media platforms.

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

making-an-offer-on-a-house

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.

 

7 Questions to Ask a Home Inspector Before Your Home Inspection Even Begins

Given a Home Inspector is charged with checking out a home for any flaws before you buy it, s/he’s an important safeguard who could protect you from purchasing a lemon—and squandering tons of cash in repairs.

So, how do you find a reputable home inspector?

Find A Jersey Shore Home Inspector

It boils down to interviewing home inspectors to gauge how thorough a job they’ll do. To help, here are some of the best questions to ask.

Bonus: This will also help you know what to expect! Knowledge is power, my friends.

1. “What do you check?”

A lot of people don’t know exactly what a home inspector is going to do… it’s a lot! A home inspector scrutinizes a long list of more than 1,600 features on a home. They inspect everything from the roof to the foundation.

RELATED: Genius Home Hacks That Will Change Your Life

Going into the inspection with a clear understanding of what the inspector can and can’t do will ensure that you walk away from the inspection happy.

2. “What don’t you check?”

There are limits. For instance, inspectors are restricted to a visual inspection – they cannot cut holes in walls for that look behind the curtain.

As a result, an inspector will often flag potential problems in the report and you will have to get another expert – a roofer, HVAC person, builder, electrician, or plumber – to come back and do a more detailed examination.

3. “What do you charge for an inspection?”

Home inspections usually cost between $300 and $600, though it will depend on the market, the size of house, and the actual inspector. Generally, you’ll pay the inspector the day of the inspection, so you’ll want to know in advance how much and what forms of payment are accepted.

Beware of inspectors who quote you a very low price. That’s often a sign they’re having trouble getting customers.

Spending on a good inspector will more than pay for itself in the long run.

4. “How long have you been doing this?”

Or perhaps more important: How many inspections have you done? A newer inspector doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality, but experience can mean a lot—especially if you’re considering an older home or something with unusual features.

5. “Can I come along during the inspection?”

The answer to this should be a resounding yes! Any good inspector will want prospective owners to be present at the inspection.

RELATED: 5 Crucial Questions To Ask The Seller Of Your Home Before Moving In

Seeing somebody explain your house’s systems and how they work will always be more valuable than reading a report, and it gives you the opportunity to ask questions and get clarifications in the moment.

If an inspector requests that you not join him, definitely walk away. Run!

6. “How long will the inspection take?”

Inspections often take place during the work week, when the seller is less likely to be around. Knowing how much time you’ll need to block out will keep you from having to rush through the inspection to get back to the office. You’ll get only a ballpark figure, because much will depend on the condition of the house. But if you are quoted something that seems way off – such as a half-day for a two-bedroom apartment, or just an hour for a large, historic house – that could be a red flag that the inspector doesn’t know what he’s doing.

7. “Can I see a sample report?”

If you’re buying your first home, it can be helpful to see someone else’s report before you see your own. Every house has problems, usually lots of them, though most generally aren’t that big of a deal. A sample report will keep you from panicking when you see your own report, and it will give you a sense of how your inspector communicates. It’s another opportunity to ensure that you and your inspector are on the same page.

YOUR TURN

Always remember that your Patrick Parker Realty Real Estate Expert has a network of trusted home professionals and experts we’ve been working with for years. Don’t be afraid to ask us for referrals.

Do you have Home Inspector nightmare stories to tell as tales of caution? How about Home Inspection successes? Share your comments the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, Twitter or LinkedIn, or on our Instagram feed. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.


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