Real Estate Do’s & Don’ts

by | Dec 22, 2014 | Real Estate | 0 comments

Upcoming free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Education Classes:

Saturday, 1/10/15, from 9am-12pm  Happy New Year!
Marshall Community Center, upstairs conference room
1009 E McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver Wa (kitty corner from Clark College)

Thursday, 1/15/15, from 5pm-8pm
Marshall Community Center, upstairs conference room
1009 E McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver Wa (kitty corner from Clark College)

…if these dates/times don’t work for you, we have others. Check out the website for more class dates, times, and locations. PLEASE always check  the website for any changes regarding the classes!

Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner!  🙂
Hey there!

Merry Christmas, Merry Yule, Happy Kwannza, Happy Hannukah, Seasons Greetings, Happy Holidays, Happy Solstice….did I miss any?  I know the for some folks this is a big deal, but it isn’t for me.  I appreciate the time you took to offer me greetings, the fact that you thought about me at all, and I appreciate the meaning and the sentiment behind the words…so, no, the words themselves don’t bother me as it is the meaning that counts.  Whatever you celebrate, and however you celebrate it….I wish you a blessed, and merry one…filled with love, humor, and joy.  🙂

This week I am going to cover some real estate do’s & don’ts as this sometimes  (more often than you know) comes up.  Buying (and selling) a home is a lot like traveling down Mill Plain during rush hour traffic….a lot of stop and go…some frustration…excitement (when you hit 2-3 green lights in a row)…and relief when you get to your destination.  Remember that your lender, and your agent are a lot like GPS….our goal is to help you get to your destination.  🙂  We provide instructions, and direction, but you drive the bus.

 Things to do, or not to do when buying a home…

#1… Please get pre-approved before looking for a home.  There is nothing worse than falling in love with a home that you can not afford.

#2… Do NOT look at homes above your price range, or above the price range you want to spend.  We are in a sellers market.  In a buyers market there are more homes for sale than there are buyers….in a sellers market there are more buyers than there are homes.

Look at homes in the price range you are approved for, or for what you want to spend because if you fall in love with a home that is more than you want to spend then you will look for ways to justify that expense…we all do it….so don’t!  🙂  If you are looking at homes higher than what you can spend, and you fall in love with one of them, and the sellers won’t come down to your pre-approved limit…then that home will be the one that got away, and you will always be comparing all other homes to that one…and that makes finding your home tough…so don’t!

#3… An agents job is to advise, help, and assist.  We can not tell a buyer and/or seller what to do, how much to price their home for, or what to offer…we can only advise.  The final decision is always the buyer or sellers.  Sometimes buyers want to put together a lowball offer, and then get upset when the sellers counter back at, or close to, the listing price.  Sometimes sellers get frustrated when they don’t have any showings, but don’t want to lower their purchase price to encourage buyers to come see their home.  For buyers, this is their offer…for the home they want.  For sellers, this is their home.  For both the buyer and seller, this is their dreams….and ultimately for both the buyers & sellers, it is about PRICE…  Agents try to understand this and help our clients accordingly.  For both the buyers and the sellers, one of our jobs is to help educate our clients about the market… and buyers and sellers.  However…no one said you have to listen…  🙂

#4… Please use a local lender!  Every market is different, and a local lender will be able to help you understand what will finance, or not finance in your area.

#5… Please pay your bills!  It’s crazy that we have to remind people about this…

#6… Please don’t lie to your lender….  Yes, they will find out…they always do!

#7… Please don’t think that buying a home is like what you see on HGTV…it really isn’t!

#8… Please keep up with the current market trends.  This is not 5 years ago, 10 years ago, or 3 years ago.  The market is consistently changing and sellers need to keep ahead of it, and buyers need to keep up with it.  Again, your agents job is to advise, help, and assist.  Take advantage of your agents knowledge and experience.  Talk with your family and friends…they love you, care for you, and want to make sure you are going to be ok…but please…remember that they may not be up to date on current laws and trends in real estate, and your agent is.

#9… Hire a real estate agent that you can trust, and have fun with.  Buying a home, and selling a home, is stressful and a lot like riding a roller coaster…only not always as fun.  A good agent and lender can help alleviate a lot of the stress, but no…not all.  Buying a home is scary…it is the largest purchase you will ever make, and it is ok to be freaked out!  When you hire a real estate agent though…know what you are getting into with him/her.  Ask questions…when are they available?  how do they prefer contact?  how long have they been in business?  how many homes do they sell per year (anything under 15 is a part time agent pretty much).  how often do they work with sellers?  buyers?   Are they going to insist on a buyers agency agreement (see email/blog from a couple of weeks ago)?  Some things you will just find by being with this agent… you don’t want a ‘yes’ wo/man…you want someone who will tell it to you straight…whether you like it or not!

#10… Hire an inspector!  Preferably one with excellent reviews, and not because of price!  This is the largest purchase you will ever make…don’t hire cheaply, hire by referrals, and ability.

#11… Don’t trust the sellers disclosures as 99% of sellers don’t know anything about their home.  This is what a good inspector is for.

#12… Don’t start packing until after the appraisal.  The appraisal is typically the last big hurdle in a home buying adventure.  Once the appraisal is in, and approved, you should have clear sailing to closing (as long as your lender did their job).

#13… Remember that you are buying your home…not just an investment.  Purchase a home in a neighborhood you want to live in, and that you feel safe in.  You aren’t just buying the house…you are buying the neighborhood, and the neighbors too.  If you love the home, but not the neighborhood…don’t buy it.  If you love the neighborhood, but not the home…don’t buy it.  Buying a home is always a compromise somewhere, so know what your top THREE things you need in a home are, and concentrate on those.

#14… Tying into #13, plan for the long term, not the short term.  It costs a seller 13% to sell their home.  The average homeowner lives in their home for 5-10 years..I always tell my clients to plan to be in the home for 7 years.  Can you imagine living in that home for 7 years?

#15…Tying in #13, know what you want when buying a home!  What are your top 3 things you want in your home?  Is that in your price range?  If it is, then let’s focus on that…let’s find the home you want.  If what you want is outside of your price range then you are going to have to reevaluate either what you want in a home, or your price range.  I know that it is fun looking at homes and that, for some people, they want to see everything because it is interesting and fun, but what are you missing because you are worried that you will miss something?  We all want the best home for the best price, but there does need to be reasonable expectations.  So..what do you want in a home?  Let’s find it!

#16… Please don’t purchase furniture or appliances before you are given keys to your home!  This could cause you to lose your home loan, and your home.  The furniture or appliances isn’t worth your home…  Don’t make ANY purchases in the home buying process without talking with your lender!

#17… Don’t look for the worst house in a great neighborhood with plans to re-do it and ‘flip’ it a la HGTV.  85% of homes that went into short sale, or that were foreclosed on were homes that someone had plans to fix up and flip.  If you have two homes to buy…one is pretty much move in ready, and one needs a lot of work…buy the move in ready every home.  Why?  Because you work…and because projects take twice as much time and money as you think.  Because there are material costs, and then there is your time…and do you want to work another 40+ hours a week on your home on stuff that HAS to be done after you work 40+ hours a week at your job.  Now…we all enjoy house projects that make the home ‘ours’…things that we can do here and there…and that is different that trying to redo the entire home.  In the long run, that almost move in ready home will cost you less than the cheaper one that needs a bunch of work.

#18… Tying into #15, we are a coupon society.  We all want the best deal we can get.  Everyone has champagne desires, but a boxed wine budget…and wants the most for the least amount of money.  Agents get that…  Please be reasonable in what you want in a home.  What is your price range?  I can not get you the Taj Mahal for the price of a mobile home…it doesn’t work that way as I do not have a magic wand, and I ran out of fairy dust.  Frequently we hear from folks who want acreage, 3-5 bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, homes in excellent condition…preferably newer, and at least 2000 sq ft…..Oh…and don’t want their mortgage payments to be above $1000 a month.  Now, don’t get me wrong…there are homes that fit that description, but they are not here!  Maybe Kansas?

If you are pre-approved for a certain dollar amount then we will look at homes in your price range.  Please remember that this is your FIRST home, but not your last home.  You most likely won’t be buying a home exactly like your parents home your first time around…

#19…  Short sales are not short time-wise…and they are a gamble!  If you are thinking about a short sale you will need three things:  Money (cash in the bank because you are going to need it), no worries about rising interest rates, and LOTS of time.  Please see the email blog from a couple of weeks ago for more information about this.

#20… Your interest rate can not be locked in until you have a signed around, and mutually agreed upon, purchase/sale agreement with the person with the legal authority to sell the home.  An interest rate lock is good for 30 days, and most loans are going to take 30+ days to close.  Most lenders will not lock in an interest rate until the appraisal comes back in at the agreed upon purchase sale price, or more.

#21… Please attend your home inspection, and please confirm that your buyers agent will be there as well.  As your agent is there to assist, help, and advise…they can’t do that realistically unless they are with you for the important things.

#22… PLEASE ask questions!  Not sure about something?  Don’t understand?  Ask questions!  There is a saying (can’t remember by whom) that says that, “if you can’t explain something simply then you don’t really understand it”.  That makes sense to me…

#23… ALWAYS have your own agent!  In the state of Washington dual agency is not illegal, but remember that as a buyer, or as a seller, you are hiring an agent to represent you, and your best interests….not to represent the other side too!  It is only my opinion that dual agency doesn’t really represent any party…except maybe the agent themselves….again…that is only my opinion.  Each party to the transaction should always have their own representation…

#24… Never work with more than one agent at a time.  Sometimes people want to ‘increase’ their chances and think that working with more than one agent at a time will help them…in fact…this will do the opposite.  I am not saying you should sign a paper to work exclusively with one agent, and in fact, I don’t agree with those forms because they can hurt the buyer.  I fully believe that good customer service builds excellent customer loyalty, but please remember that an agent does not get paid unless the client gets (or gives) keys….we will work tirelessly to help you find (or sell) your home….we can do wonderful things, but only together.  Don’t lie to your agent…we always find out, and I know that, personally, if I find that a client is working with another agent, I will call the other agent, and let them know.  I will also call the client, and wish them the best of luck in their home buying adventure.  As many agents do, I will do everything I can find to help a client buy the ‘perfect’ home, or sell their home….and I expect my clients do help me and respect our relationship.  If that relationship no longer works for either party, then let’s move on amicably…because we all know how to play nice in the sandbox.  🙂

#25… Remember that the paint & decorations don’t make the home.  Sometimes you will love the paint, or the homes decorations, and sometimes you will hate it.  That is how that person lives in the home….you are going to change it (most likely) to fit your tastes.  Many sellers agents tell folks to get rid of all personal belongings to de-personalize a home home, however, in my experience this is often taken to an extreme and leaves the homes feeling like a rented apartment, and not a home at all.  Most buyers are looking to buy a home….not a cold shell.   Sometimes the home is so cluttered that folks can’t see past all the ‘things’ that are there.  Staging is a fine line… and not usually done well.

One of the more difficult things for buyers is when the home is vacant because it is not as easy to gauge the size of the room when there is nothing there to use as a reference.  When you leave your home, your furniture automatically becomes larger in your mind….and the room can seem smaller.  If you have a special piece of furniture, or an awkward piece of furniture you need to fit into the home, measure it out before you go look for homes.  If you see a home you really like, you can see how that item will fit.

#26…  Know your expected expenses upfront.  There are some fees associated with buying a home, and some other fees that can surprise you after you get keys.  My blog next week will tie into this more.

#27…  Last, but not least…ALWAYS get some home buyer education before you embark on your home buying adventure.  Classes are always free, and always non-promotional!   We try to be helpful with this weekly email/blog, but really, the classes cover the entire loan process, all the loans, good faith estimates, and the entire real estate process…including going over all the pages of the offer.  We want to make sure you are well informed when you step out there into the home buying world.

….As a buyers agent I have a couple of rules… One, I insist that my buyers are at their home inspection.  This is your home and you need to know what you are buying.  Two, I won’t sell a home that I won’t personally live in.  I want to make sure that all my clients are in good homes, and in safe neighborhoods.  As always, these emails/blogs are to help you in the complicated and scary world of real estate, and by no means are meant to be promotional….however, I do hope that if you are thinking about buying a home that you will call me as I would love to help you with your home buying adventure.  🙂

I hope that explains this a bit, but if you have any questions, or comments please call or email me anytime!  Please remember that while I mean these emails/blogs to be helpful, and educational, I am still hoping that you will call, or email me.  I would love to help you with your home buying, or home selling adventure!  🙂

….and as always….may the odds ever be in your favor out there!

Please call, email, text, or even facebook me anytime with any questions, or if there is anything I can do to assist you with your home buying adventure!  As a buyers agent, I am, as always, here to help!!  😀 
Thank you again for your business and for your referrals! 
…as always…if you have already purchased a home, or no longer would like to receive these emails from me, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from receiving any more.

Thank you again for attending the home buyer education classes, and I hope that you will continue to refer the classes out to your friends, family, and co-workers.  We appreciate your referrals and word of mouth!

Next Week:  ‘Hidden’ fees of Real Estate…
What is that home worth?  The 4 values you need to know
How long does it take to close & get keys on a home?
Last Week:  Best time of year to buy a home?  

Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,

Tracie DeMars / Realtor

ReMax Equity Group
License# 81289
Vancouver, WA

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