Everybody makes mistakes. After all, we're only human. Some mistakes are bigger than others, though, especially when it comes to the real estate market. Make a mistake on either the buying or selling side and it could end up costing you a pretty penny in the long run. Here are some tips for you to ponder:
Buying or selling a home should be like any other business transaction: clear, concise and without emotion. This sounds like common sense, but as they say, home is where the heart is. Making an impulsive decision when caught up in the moment could cause big problems later. Buyers and sellers will often make emotional decisions that cost them money and time, so having a third-party like a Realtor to balance things out is a wise move. Be sure to stick with tough standards when selecting a Realtor, just as you would when hiring an attorney, your child's pediatrician or an accountant. Smart up-front decisions will pay off at closing day.
Base asking price on market value
Many sellers base their asking price on how much they paid for or invested in their home, but this can be an expensive mistake. If your home is not priced competitively, buyers will reject it in favor of larger homes for the same price. At the same time, the buyers who should be looking at your house won't even see it because it's priced over their heads. The result is more time spent sitting on the market, and the perception that you're selling a house that nobody wants.
Dress up (your home) before you go out
A house with overgrown shrubbery, tires in the front yard and old lawn furniture strewn about is a huge red flag for the buyer. While that description of disarray might be a little extreme, keep it in mind when you get your home ready to sell. The bottom line is that sellers who don't make repairs and who don't clean the house inside and out repel buyers.
Don't overdo it
On the flip side, don't make the mistake of overdoing upgrades, especially if you think you'll recoup the cost. The real benefit of home improvement is making the home more marketable, not a dollar-for-dollar return. This is where a real estate professional's advice can come in very handy. Don't misunderstand - I'm not saying avoid improvements, I'm saying avoid making the wrong improvements or out-improving your neighborhood. Consult with your Realtor before making any big or expensive changes.
The first of many?
The first offer you get may be the best you get, so don't discount it. Sometimes, sellers believe that the first offer they get will be one of many to come, but are disappointed when a higher offer never occurs. Remember that your property is usually at its hottest early in the selling process; after that, its appeal can diminish over time. The phrase "get it while it's hot" definitely applies here.
Know the true value
Before you make an offer to buy, you need to know what the market value of the home is to make sure you're not overpaying for it. Your Realtor can help you analyze the market, often by looking at recent sales prices of similar homes in your area of interest.
Upon further inspection
Buying a home is certainly one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make, and it's a decision that's often made after spending only 30 minutes or so looking at the home. That's why an inspection is crucial, whether the home is brand new or 100 years old. Your Realtor can recommend several inspectors and will help negotiate if any repairs need to be made prior to closing.
Get your finances in order
Knowing how much you can afford to spend goes a long way toward peace-of-mind when you're looking for that dream home. And getting pre-approved by your lender before you start looking will put you way ahead of other offers on the table - especially if those buyers still need to obtain financing.
Follow these tips and the dream of homeownership - or selling your house quickly and for the highest possible price - will be yours. All it takes is a little common sense and being aware of potential pitfalls when it comes to buying and selling real estate.
Whether you're interested in buying your first home, your next home, or just want to know more about home-ownership in general, I encourage you to check out a couple of great online resources: http://www.texasrealestate.com/ or http://www.har.com/ and for all of your Pearland TX and Northern Brazoria and Galveston County real estate needs, please visit my site at http://www.danfrankrealty.com/. All of these sites offer tons of useful, real estate-related information geared specifically for Texans.
Danny Frank is a local Pearland TX Real Estate expert!
My column was also published in the 26April09 edition of the Galveston County Daily News