By Barbara Wanamaker
Are you getting ready to buy or sell a home? Here are several tips that will help you get started.
Although we are still in February, this is the beginning of the “spring” market. Many buyers are already searching online, going to open houses, figuring out their financing and connecting with an agent. In this area, February through the end of May are the months when most houses are sold. Since the process can take three to four months, buyers want to be closed and moved in before summer is over.
Getting your home ready to put on the market can be a daunting task. If you have seen any of the real estate T.V. shows about decluttering and staging your house, that will give you an idea of what needs to be done. There may be plumbing or electrical issues that need to be repaired, carpet that needs to be removed to expose wood floors, peeling paint to be scraped from the bathroom shower, etc. Then there’s the outside. Many people come into their home through their garage and thus don’t get the same first impression that potential buyers will see. So go stand outside your front door and inspect the condition of that whole area. Trim overgrown bushes, and repaint and repair, if it’s needed. This first impression is important to how the buyer perceives the rest of the home.
An important piece of getting ready to sell is to whether all of the town permits and Certificates of Occupancy are in place, not just for the house, but for any pool, deck or extension. If not, securing them could take two to three months. There are people who can do all this for you called “expediters.” Also, you will need an attorney to handle the contract, and any other legal matters related to selling.
And then, of course, you will want to find a good realtor to handle the sale for you. If you don't have one already, ask for a referral from family and friends who may have just sold. Check out local companies and check their agents online to see their credentials. I suggest interviewing two to three agents so you get a cross section of companies, and also an outline of pricing and marketing. Remember that your agent can help you with almost everything mentioned above.
When starting the process of buying a house, I always tell buyers that they are stepping onto the “rollercoaster of real estate.” It’s a process full of excitement, emotion, frustration and nerves. Fortunately the internet has given the buyer a lot more control of the process. It also educates them to many of the details that they need to learn about before signing on the dotted line. A knowledgeable real estate agent can be an invaluable part of finding the right home. That agent will be able to give you lots of information about towns, schools, shopping, beaches, commutation, hospitals, etc.
The first step in the buying process is to prepare your financing options. Having financing in place ahead of time is very important. When you decide to make an offer on a house, the first thing the selling agent will ask for is a pre-approval from a lending institution or “proof of funds” if your purchase will be funded with cash. This financial homework will allow you to shop for homes priced within your budget.
Then it’s time to go shopping with your agent. As you tour homes, let your agent know what features and floor plans you find most attractive. This is valuable feedback and will help your agent more skillfully pinpoint offerings that present your most-loved features.
When you’ve found the perfect home, it’s time to make an offer. Ask questions; discuss “what ifs;” and get ready for that roller coaster ride. A great real estate agent will guide you through the buying process from beginning to end. Your agent has many resources at hand to help you select home inspectors, termite specialists, moving consultants, and other valuable counselors to help you make this exciting decision with confidence. A trusted real estate agent will be by your side as you make such an important and life-enriching decision.
Editor’s Note: Barbara Wanamaker is the owner/broker of Prime Properties of Long Island. She has 37 years of experience in real estate, representing both buyers and sellers.