Wednesday, July 22, 2015

3 Biggest Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

All home owners were first-time buyers at one point. And you can learn from their mistakes. These are the most common mistakes we see first-time buyers make:

  • Buying more home than they can afford.  
  • Not getting pre-approved for a loan.
  • Not using a real estate professional.

We have several homes listed that would be great for
 first-time buyers, like this one at 844 S. Kickapoo near MSU
and the one below at 310 N. Marie in Nixa.
The first two mistakes go hand-in-hand. Actually, all of these go together. When you are ready to buy a home, a good real estate agent will help you figure out how much home you can afford and encourage you to get pre-approved for a loan. Avoiding all three of these mistakes will save you time, money, and mental anguish.

Several factors determine how much home you can afford, mainly the down payment, closing costs, and monthly mortgage payments. See
our previous blog for more about determining how much is realistic and manageable for you. 

Getting pre-approved for a loan forces you to go through the process of how much home you can afford if you haven’t already done that. Most lenders require that your home mortgage payment fall between 28% and 34% of your gross monthly income. The mortgage payment and all your other monthly debt payments should range between 36% and 50% of your gross monthly income. The lender will take into account your income, your assets, and your credit report when determining whether and how much you qualify for. (A good real estate agent can steer you to reputable lenders.)

Going through the pre-approval process helps you start looking in the correct price range. You don’t want to look at 30 houses and then find out all are out of your reach. When you have been looking at $200,000 homes, it’s hard for homes in the $150,000-range not to be disappointing.

Of course, as realtors, we think real estate professionals can help buyers. But if you talk to your friends and neighbors who have bought homes, they are likely to agree. Like getting a loan pre-approval, a good agent can also save you time and money and mental anguish.

You are likely to look at lots of homes on the Internet before you even contact an agent. But an agent can put that home into context for you. You benefit from the agent’s knowledge of the area and neighborhoods.  She can turn you onto areas you may not have considered—or even get authorization to show you homes you love but are not even on the market.

A good real estate agent can also take you to look at many houses at one time—much more efficient than waiting on open houses or making arrangements on your own. She will quickly know your likes and dislikes, helping to filter out the homes that would be a waste of your time for you to visit.

One more reason to use a real estate agent: A realtor is free representation for the buyer. She is your advocate in the process and serves as your personal expert in one of the major purchases of your life.

As always, we would be happy to walk you through the home-buying process. We want to help you avoid the pitfalls many first-timers make.

Monday, July 13, 2015

First Impressions Part 2: Tips to Improve Your Home’s Appeal Inside

At the seller's request, Holly rearranged a few pieces of furniture
at 932 S. Caliburn in Nixa to make sure buyers experienced
 the home's great light and floor plan
In the previous post, we talked about making a good first impression as soon as buyers see your home. The goal is to create such an appealing picture, buyers want to see the inside. We want them to stop and come in.
Tidiness reigns supreme inside as well as outside. Here is what we tell our sellers:
Declutter…everywhere. Pick up shoes, hide stacks of paper and mail, put away coffee table detritus, clean off bathroom counters, and hide nightstand clutter. Take a critical assessment of your home and address those places things tend to gather.
Go easy on aromatherapy. We usually tell people not to burn lots of scented candles. That often makes buyers wonder what smell the seller is trying to hide. A subtle, fresh scent is fine, just don’t overpower the buyer.   
Clean. Devote some time to a thorough and deep cleaning of your house. Clean baseboards, dust ceiling fans and blinds, and wash walls and doorways—all of the tasks that don’t make your weekly to-do list.

If you need help seeing your home objectively, ask your agent to help. Our sellers often turn to Holly to stage their homes. She has a great eye and can help you present your home in the best light possible. We consider this just a part of our service to sell your home successfully. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

First Impressions Part 1: Tips to Improve Your Home’s Appeal Outside

When it comes to blind dates and homes, first impressions matter. Before you list your home, you want to step back and take a look at how your home will come across to a buyer.
Even a seemingly simple thing can make a lasting bad impression (think bad breath). Take a minute to reduce the factors that might cause buyers to drive on by:
The yard: Keep the grass short. Trim bushes and weeds. Bag leaves. Clean up after your dogs. A well-tended lawn sends a message that the owner takes pride in keeping the home tidy. Remove any items from the yard, even things you consider ornamental. Less is more when it comes to the front yard.
The driveway: If possible, keep your driveway clear of cars, boats, and any other equipment. Park in the garage or down the street. Temporarily relocate any broken vehicles. Make your home seem approachable. Put trash cans and other equipment in the garage or out of sight…or move those items offsite until your home sells. You don’t want a junky first impression.
The porch: Create a tidy, welcoming stoop. Sweep the porch, brush away cobwebs, wash light fixtures and the front door, and remove trinkets that crowd the space. A potted flower is a nice touch. But if you choose to have potted plants, tend to them. A dead plant detracts from the pleasant appearance you’re trying to create. 

Here's a photo of the front of one of our current listings at 4008 E. Wilshire. Doesn’t it make you want to step in and see the rest of the home?
And this garage area of 5331 S. Virginia is clean and elegant. The landscaping makes it feel part of the whole house, adding to the homes overall appeal.

Just a little effort and attention to the outside of your home can create a good impression—one we hope buyers take with them when they see the inside.