15 Real Estate Tips You (Probably) Never Heard Before
Some real estate tips are more obvious than others—like putting up a “for sale” sign in front of your house and cleaning up the clutter before a home showing. We pick up a few words of advice from the realtors we meet along the way and learn from our own personal experience buying and selling our homes. As real estate agents, we’ve been around the block enough times to know more than a thing or two about real estate including fifteen tips you (probably) never heard before.
- Finalize your mortgage pre-approval before you make credit or career moves.
Mortgage pre-approval is a huge deal, so it pays to be smart from the time you get the green light from a lender until you close on your home loan. Despite the thrill of chasing that next big career move or the fun of opening that credit card at your favorite retail store, pump the brakes on your ambitions until your mortgage lender seals the deal.
- Start working towards your dream home today.
We all want the dream home—but don’t get discouraged if you can’t get into yours the first time around. Even as a budget-conscious first-time homebuyer, you can make a smart real estate investment today while keeping your long-term goals in sight. Stumble upon a less-than-perfect but affordable starter home? Buy it today and slowly make it yours with improvements over time—while building up the home equity to cover the expenses in the process.
- Give yourself wiggle room to negotiate.
Be careful bidding on a $500,000 home with a $500,000 budget—you could get into back-and-forth bidding hot water. Instead, focus on homes on the lower end of your budget, giving yourself enough wiggle room to counter other potential buyers with competitive offers high enough to win heated bidding wars and buy a budget-friendly home without giving away the farm.
- Take Zestimates with a grain of salt.
How accurate are Zestimates—otherwise known as Zillow home estimates? According to Zillow, their median error rate ranges between 1.9% for on-market homes and 7.5% for off-market homes. In other words, your Zestimate could be thousands of dollars off. A real estate agent—on the other hand—can review area comps and neighborhood nuances to help you get the price right.
- Beware of homeowners eavesdropping on your tour.
In our modern-day era of nanny cams and smart home technology, think twice before you make comments—especially negative ones—about a home in the middle of a tour. The homeowner could be eavesdropping, ready and willing to hold those comments against you.
- Consider the people—not just the property.
Buying a home also means buying a neighborhood, so chat with the neighbors before you make an offer. A nice, welcoming neighbor could make a property that much better—the same way a rude, dismissive one could make it that much worse.
- Don’t chase perfection.
Perfect homes are rare. If you find a home that meets 85 percent of your criteria, make an offer.
- Keep a poker face while touring homes.
Over the moon about a home? Hide your enthusiasm in front of the owner or risk losing your negotiating power.
- Never skip a home inspection.
It’s the cardinal rule in real estate: always get a home inspection. Even better, request seller concessions—closing costs the seller agrees to pay—to help compensate for imperfections that show up on an inspection report.
- Keep an open mind.
Don’t get too hung up on a listing. Tunnel vision can cloud your judgment and impair your decision-making abilities.
- Consider writing a letter to gain an edge.
Every seller wants a serious buyer—and a pre-qualification letter can solidify your seriousness and help you stand out from the crowd. Just be mindful not to turn the seller off with a list of all the remodels and improvements you have in mind after moving in.
- Keep the home staging ambiance moderate.
Go easy on the ambiance when staging your home. Buyers want to smell fresh air—not artificial scents from candles or air fresheners.
- Understand—and respect—fair market value.
We’re all emotionally invested in our homes—but what you feel and what the open market says are not always the same. It’s nice to have warm, subjective feelings about your home. But your home also has an objective and fair market value that sellers can expect to pay, despite how much it means to you.
- Embrace—rather than hide—your home’s imperfections.
Honesty goes farther than deceit in selling a home. From broken-down appliances to water spots, disclose the defects to your real estate agent—rather than try to sweep them under the rug.
- Manage your expectations.
Buying and selling a home is exciting—but anticipate some challenges, too. Fixing-and-flipping looks fun on TV—but expect more headaches than happy high fives in the real world.
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