March Madness: Top Tips for Buyers & Sellers

March madness isn’t just for basketball—for buyers and sellers alike, the start of spring kicks the real estate market into high gear. Online listings start piling up and the choices can be a little overwhelming.

Don’t let the frenzy of activity put you off. While there is luck involved in any competition, there is also plenty of hard work and preparation behind the scenes on any team, including real estate. It pays to prepare, plan, and consult a professional before the mayhem hits a feverish pitch.

If you’re looking to get ahead this season, consider the following suggestions:

Top Tips for Buyers

• Focus on substance, not surface
Don’t let flashy details and superficial factors distract you from more important details like the quality of construction, and possible underlying issues. Just because a home has been “botoxed” to look good on the outside doesn’t mean the bones and structure are top notch. Be sure to check on the quality of the roof, hot water tank, boiler, and that the electric is up to code.

• Get pre-approved
Before finding the home you love, you need to get loan pre-approval to determine the price range of properties you can look into if you’re planning on having a mortgage. This can be a somewhat extensive process with a fair amount of paperwork, so it’s best to get started early.

• Make the largest down payment possible
Paying more than the minimum will save you both time and money in the long run, not to mention lower monthly spending on your mortgage. It will also help build the equity of your home for when you think of selling it in the future.

• Don't wait for the “perfect” home
The market moves too fast these days, which means it’s risky to pass up a home you like early on in the search in the hopes there’ll be something “even better” later on. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to jump on a house even if it’s early in your search. Similarly, holding out for something absolutely perfect isn’t reasonable either — if it hits most of your checklist, try to see the potential. Sometimes a fresh coat of paint or new kitchen cabinets can do wonders to a home.

Top Tips for Sellers

Selling is more than just looking for a buyer. Before listing your property, make sure it is standing tall in all respects.

• Build equity
Home equity, or how much of your home you really own as opposed to what you still owe, is your most valuable asset and biggest consideration when selling. To build even more equity, try to pay down what is still owed on the mortgage. If paying more on your home loan isn’t an option, you can try refinancing and switching from a long-term mortgage payment timeframe to a shorter one. Now is an excellent time to refinance as rates are at 2.5%!

• Prepare for home inspection
A big part of preparing your home for sale is preparing it for the home inspection. Find out what needs to be fixed, renovated, or updated and prioritize the most glaring issues. Before potential buyers step in, make sure it is completely ready from appliances to structural features. Consider a pre-inspection as it is an indication of honesty and can be a strategy for negotiation as it will help you stand firm on price.

• Give everything a cosmetic makeover
The first look is so important which makes curb appeal crucial. Ensure cleanliness outside your home, trim the grass, plant flowers, clean the gutters, etc. An extra effort to create a “wow” factor can go a long way and will improve your property’s value. Think about making some minor renovations as well so that everything is up to date. Some home renovations provide a better return on investment than others, so be sure to look up what will give you the best return at resale.

• Set a realistic price
Yes, you want the most for your home that you have lived in and loved for so many years. Sometimes what we want, and what is realistic in the local market are two different things. If you set an unrealistic price, your home may sit on the market for a longer period of time, which hurts you even more in the long run. Pricing is often best left up to the professionals who know the comparable sales in the neighborhood and can view the larger picture.

Biggest tip for BOTH buyers and sellers?

• Work with an agent!
No matter what side you’re on, it is in your best interest to team up with knowledgeable and experienced realtors who will guide you every step of the way. It is just too easy to miscalculate or make some other costly mistake without the help of a seasoned professional. They know the local market inside and out because they are working in it constantly, and can therefore help you make the best decision considering all the factors at hand. Most importantly, realtors can help you seal the best deal and negotiate on your behalf. Working without a realtor is literally “leaving money on the table.”

Thinking of buying or selling this spring? Give The RGroup a call!

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