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.

Access Is An Important Factor In Getting Your House Sold

So, you’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you with the entire process, and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to potential buyers.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Home Selling Essentials
Everything You Need To Know To Sell Your Home Fast For Top Dollar

There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is Access, followed by Condition, Financing, and Price. There are many levels of access that you can provide to your agent so that he or she can show your home.

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Here are five levels of access that you can give to buyers, along with a brief description:

1. Lockbox on the Door  This allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.

2. Providing a Key to the Home  Although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.

3. Open Access with a Phone Call  The seller allows showings with just a phone call’s notice.

4. By Appointment Only (example: 48-Hour Notice)  Many buyers who are relocating for a new career or promotion start working in that area prior to purchasing their home. They often like to take advantage of free time during business hours (such as their lunch break) to view potential homes. Because of this, they may not be able to plan their availability far in advance or may be unable to wait 48 hours to see the house.

5. Limited Access (example: the home is only available on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2pm or for only a couple of hours a day)  This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.

In a competitive marketplace, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.

YOUR TURN

Did you recently sell your home? How did the access you allowed to buyer’s impact your sale? We want to hear from you! Sound off on our Facebook Page or on our Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm eNewsletter 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

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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

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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.

moving-company-new-jersey

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.


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