- A box of 4 magic erasers is around $5 and these things are genuinely as close to real-life magic as you can get. Magic erasers can clean up almost any surface stain in your house with just a little bit of water and some elbow grease. I’ve seen these things completely overpower wall stains, stovetop gunk, and shower stains without very much effort at all. They are truly remarkable.
- Set your table. This gives the dining room a classy feel and allows the buyer to actually see themselves sitting down for a meal. It also transforms a boring table into an elegant dining space. Use a nice tablecloth and your best dinner set and you won’t regret it.
- Touch up paint. Odds are, you didn’t use the exact amount of paint you bought the last time you repainted a room, and if that’s true you probably have the leftover paint from that project sitting on a shelf in your garage. Use that paint to touch up any scuffs or stains on your walls.
- Make sure your home is well lit. Change any light bulbs that may have burnt out and open all of your shades to ensure that your house is bright and beautiful when it is shown.
- Remove personal items. There are 2 reasons to do this. Family photos, children’s fridge drawings, etc. are great, but you want the buyers to see themselves in that house, not you as the current occupant. Also, removing mail, pill bottles, or paperwork from your office can help protect you. Stolen information shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Q.) What is the difference between a buyer’s and a seller’s market?
A.) These terms are based on supply and demand and basically define whether the buyer or seller has the advantage in the market at the time. During a buyer’s market, there are more homes on the market than there are people looking to buy. A seller’s market, conversely, occurs when there are more buyers than there are homes, making the search more competitive and forcing buyers to offer more for homes they like.
Q.) How long does a typical real estate transaction take?
A.) A closing is typically scheduled to take place 30-45 days after an offer is accepted. This allows time for inspections, surveys, loan approval, appraisal, and allows a little wiggle room for all parties involved on the off chance that there is a hiccup or roadblock of some kind.
Q.) What is earnest money?
A.) Earnest money is sort of a security deposit on a home. Earnest money is an expected, and therefore necessary, part of an offer and is typically between 0.5% and 1% of the total purchase price offered. It is not extra money added to the purchase price, think of it as a part of the down payment that you will pay at the start of the transaction instead of at closing.
Q.) Why should I use a Realtor?
A.) Realtors are essential for many reasons. To name a just a few, Realtors are expert negotiators and can help you with the difficult paperwork associated with a real estate transaction. The average person buys probably 2-3 homes in their life. Realtors deal with hundreds of home sales, so they are a valuable addition to your team.
Q.) How many properties should I look at before I submit an offer?
A.) In my opinion, you should make an offer on the first house you LOVE, whether that is the first property you see or the 50th. I’ve seen many people lose a house they truly love because they want to make sure there isn’t anything better on the market or because they think that by waiting they could get a better price.
Becoming a homeowner is one of the biggest rites of passage anyone achieves in their lifetime, but how can one tell whether or not their first home will sell well when they are ready to upgrade? In this blog, I’ll give you some things to keep an eye out for when you begin your home search so that you don’t wind up stuck when it comes time to sell.
Let’s start with an obvious point: things like stained carpets, bright paint, or outdated decorations aren’t something you should view as a problem. If your goal in buying a starter home is to eventually make money off of it, think of your time there as an extended flip project and tackle one room every couple of months. There are tons of DIY projects (which I’ll cover in a future blog), which can be done to drastically improve the appearance of a home.
Next, think about the location of the home. Look for homes in emerging neighborhoods like downtown Greenwood where property values are expected to rise in the coming years. Also, familiarize yourself with school districts. The same house placed in three different school districts will appraise and sell for 3 different prices. It’s important to understand property values from township to township.
Finally, pay attention to floor plans. Hot pink paint is temporary, but floor plan is forever. Let me give you some examples of positives and negatives when it comes to the layout of a house. Bi-level and tri-level homes were very popular once upon a time, but are now harder to sell than a ranch or multi-level home. Tastes and trends evolve greatly from decade to decade, but these are currently not styles that are as commonly sought after. An example of a beneficial floor plan in today’s market is an open concept layout. Many of today’s buyers prefer this style because it unifies the rooms of a home and makes entertaining and socializing easier.
I hope you find these insights helpful and, if you’re concerned about making money off of your first home, you now feel more comfortable about what to look for in a starter. If you have any further questions about this topic, feel free to contact me.
- 1.) Don’t Stress About Your Down Payment- There is a common misconception that you need to be able to put 20% down when buying a house. In reality, most first time homebuyers put between 3.5% and 5% down. With a higher down payment, monthly mortgage payments are affected only slightly, so a smaller down payment isn’t a problem.
- 2.) Make a Wants/Needs List- Determine the difference between a want and a need and make a list. Limit needs as much as you can and enter with an open mind. For example:
Needs: Attached Garage, Fenced Yard, City Sewer/Water, 140-220k
Wants: Stainless Steel Appliances, Community Pool, Hardwood Floors
- 3.) Talk to a Professional Early- Talking to a lender and real estate professional early can define a great path for the transaction to follow. By reaching out several months before you intend to buy, a lender can help you maximize your credit for preapproval and a Realtor can begin to get a sense of your needs, which will eventually smooth out the search process.
- 4.) Save for Closing Costs- Save up some money so that you don’t have to ask the seller to pay a portion of your closing costs. Closing costs are usually about $3,000 and being able to pay these yourself makes your offer much more appealing in this competitive market.
- 5.) Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover- There’s no getting around it… many starter homes come off as tacky. It is important to be able to look past bright paint, tattered carpets, or poorly decorated homes to see the actual features of the home. Cosmetic things like these are easy to fix and aren’t too pricey. The things that actually matter like home layout, neighborhood, and structural integrity are what matter.
Last June, the average national monthly rent cost reached an all time high of $1,405/month. Let’s say you make $12/hour at your job. You’d have to work 117 hours (nearly 3 full 40 hour weeks) just to pay a month of rent, not including utilities, food, entertainment expenses, etc.
Rent in Indiana is slightly less outrageous. Last year, the average rent cost in Marion Co. for a 2-bedroom apartment was $918/month, which is projected to increase to about $946 this year. Buying a property can be cheaper and rewards you by increasing your equity in the home with every payment.
If you were to buy a $175,000 house with 5% down on a 30 year term, your monthly payments would be about $900/month, less than the rent of most Marion Co. apartments, AND you’d be on your way to owning that property. A homeowner’s net worth is, on average, 44x greater than that of a renter, simply because of how great an asset a house is. The average equity gain on homes in Indiana in 2019 was about $10,000, nearly double the national average, so what are you waiting for? Don’t throw away another month of rent money- use it to boost your net worth and be one step closer to owning your own home!
Final Details: Decide Where to Keep Your Documents, and be Consistent!
As you are celebrate the sale of your home, there are a few final details. First and foremost, be sure you put all of your documents from closing in a safe place – a place you can remember and access again. You will need them for your taxes at the end of the calendar year. Taxes can be complicated in years when you sell a primary residence or any real estate, especially if you sold for a profit. Talk to your tax professional early and provide him or her with all the documents from your closing. They will want to see them!
Plan to be Asked for Feedback and Evaluations
Finally, you should expect a request to come inviting you to evaluate our service. We take this evaluation very seriously and we hope you will be able to give us an excellent review. We will be expecting it, because we have been in such close touch through the whole process that we should already know if you aren’t pleased with the service you’ve received. It may also be that you will receive requests to evaluate other members of your service team. We encourage you to fill out any such requests as good service should be rewarded – and bad service should be addressed and improved.
You will continue to hear from us even after your transaction is complete. We will send you useful info about Real Estate and we hope to hear from you too – we will have forged a real relationship after the time and intensity of our work and we consider that relationship to be of great value.
We hope that you will feel very good about referring family, friends, colleagues, or neighbors to us in the future. Our business is built primarily on referrals – we enjoy working with the friends of our previous clients very much!
We will continue to gently keep in touch long after your sale. If questions arise for you about neighborhoods, areas, home services (such as landscaping, HVAC repair providers, painters – you name it) we would love to remain a regular and dependable resource for you!
If you have any additional questions, please get in touch:
It’s Closing Day! What should I bring?
The day has finally arrived – we have made it to the Closing table! You should plan on closing taking at least an hour, though sometimes it is shorter than this. You should bring a legal and unexpired ID (drivers license or passport) with you and you may also be wise to bring a second ID that also has your name on it such as a credit card.
Who “Runs” the Closing?
The Title Company usually provides the “Closer,” an individual who will marshal the stack of closing papers. The Closer will alternate between the Seller and the Buyer. Most of your paperwork, as the Seller, relates to transferring the deed to the new owners. There will also be paperwork related to filing taxes and reporting any capital gains.
Feel free to ask questions and ask for clarification of the purpose of any documents you do not understand, but realize that most of this paperwork is standard for any home purchase.
How Long Does it Take and When is it “Done”?
After collecting all signatures, the Closer will leave the room to go scan all documents and submit them to the lender, who will then give final approval and activate the loan. When the Closer receives confirmation that this has happened, they will return with copies of documents for Buyer and Seller. At this point, you will also be given a check for your profits from the home sale, or the money will be wired to your bank, whichever you have specified. Now the transaction is complete and you have sold your home – congratulations!
Before we leave the Closing, we will confirm that the Buyer has called all utility companies to transfer accounts into their name. We will tell them what day is trash day and recycling pick up. We will confirm that the Realtors have contact information in case either party needs copies of documents or has questions going forward. You will then be give all your keys, garage door openers, or other access items and codes for alarms to the new owners.
Take some time today to enjoy – Congratulations!
If you have questions about any of these steps, feel free to get in touch:
What is Final Walk Through?
Buyer’s and their agent will probably take one final tour of your property before closing. This final walk through will take place, ideally, within 24 hours of closing. During this visit they will visually inspect the items that you agreed to fix, they will look through the home to be sure everything is still there that should be (for example, the kitchen appliances are there and are the same ones they saw before) and that nothing is there that should not be (that the home has been emptied of debris and of the Seller’s possessions).
This is a cursory trip and should not be long, but it is important because after closing, the Buyer owns the house and if at that point something is wrong, it is no longer the Seller’s responsibility. Some agents do not emphasize the final walk through, but we believe it is very important and you, as the Seller, should count on it.
What if the Buyer Finds a Problem?
Final walk through is a formality, but it is still important. If there HAS been damage to the property, the Buyer can refuse to close until the damage is corrected. This is more likely to happen if the property has been unoccupied for some time before closing. If we are made aware by the Buyers that there is a problem w will immediately seek to find a remedy that still allows us to close. This might mean that a sum of money is put in escrow to fix the issue identified. However if the problem is severe, closing may yet be postponed or even cancelled if no resolution can be agreed upon. This is unlikely, but we can prepare for final walk through too by being sure we have checked the home ourselves before the Buyers go through it.
Additional questions? Feel free to get in touch:
At this point, closing is in sight. We will be in touch with you to go through our final checklist items to help insure that you have everything ready to close, move, and start fresh at your next location. At this point you should be doing- or hiring- a final cleaning of your home.
Many people don’t have the luxury of being entirely moved for a few days before they give over possession of the house to its new owners. Because of this, your final deep clean may need to be in stages. One method is to clean out each room as you empty it, moving all possessions into a central area for the moving professionals. This is a good idea anyway because it decreases the time the movers need to load up your possessions and since most movers charge by time as well as miles, this will save you money.
If you have a monitored alarm, it is time to call the alarm company and schedule to cancel service. Sometimes this is harder than it should be, but you definitely want to get this process started while you are still in the house. The alarm provider will often want info about the new buyer- just refer them to your Realtor and let the Realtors decide how to get the new owners in touch with the alarm vendors.
If you have instruction booklets about your alarm, find them and leave them for the new owners. We would also recommend that you change all your codes before you leave, because most people use identifying data like birthdays, anniversaries, or partial Social Security numbers as passwords even though they know they shouldn’t. And, you are likely (though again you shouldn’t!) to use the same codes at your new place so changing these instead of giving the new owners your standard codes makes sense.
Questions about the final checklist items? Get in touch and we will be glad to discuss them with you:
At this point you should also contact your insurance provider. If you are moving to a new home you may have been in steady contact with them if you are using them again. If not, at this point you should get in touch with your agent to discuss cancelling your home insurance coverage once ownership of your house is transferred.
Does it Matter When I Cancel?
Scheduling this ahead is a very good idea. It should be that the policy can cancel quickly, but it may be that you can get a partial refund if you make it clear what date you are transferring ownership. If you delay, you likely won’t get as much money back. You should also be sure that there are no outstanding claims or other issues that could tie you up.
Also, be sure that you are only cancelling what you intend! Be sure that any other policies you may have in force are safe! Be sure your agent understands that you are NOT cancelling any business policies, or auto policies, or personal umbrella policies.
This is also a good time to shop out your insurance needs. If you haven’t asked an insurance broker to see what is available from other companies, it may be a good time to do so.
More questions, or could you use a referral to a great insurance broker? If so, get in touch and we can help: