Buyers, Get an Edge During The Busy Spring Season
Getting started early is key to success
By Michele Dawson
The spring and summer months are traditionally the
busiest times of year for the residential real estate
market. Weather is more cooperative and many families like
to move while the kids are on their summer break.
But in recent years spring, for many regions, has
meant more homes on the market, but also more buyers, fierce competition
and an increase in prices.
If you're in the market for a house this spring,
there are a number of steps you can take to try to give you the
advantage over other homebuyers, including:
If you're going to work with a Realtor or real estate professional,
get started early. Interview three or four, get references and let
the person you choose know exactly what you're looking for.
Get your loan pre-approved. This will give an advantage on several
fronts. First, it will be done and out of the way. Second, you'll
know how much the bank is willing to loan you so you know in which
price range to look. And third, it shows sellers that you're serious
and ready to buy when you make an offer.
Figure out how much you have for a down payment. NAR says first-time
buyers typically make a down payment of 6 percent on a home
purchase, and 24 percent of down payment funds were gifts from
relatives or friends. If that's not an option, there are many loan
programs that accept down payments of five or three percent. And
don't forget closing costs, which will often run two to seven
percent of the property's purchase price.
Be ready at a moment's notice. If you're in an especially tight
market, your Realtor will be reviewing new listings as soon as
they're available. If he or she finds something that matches your
criteria, you'll want to look at the house and be ready to make an
offer -- quickly.
When looking at houses, look at the potential. There are major
factors you won't be able to change -- the neighborhood, proximity
to work and schools, the basic floorplan of the house (unless you
plan on completely renovating), and size of the back yard, among
other things. If you're put off by paint or carpet color or old
linoleum floors, envision what the walls will look like with your
color of choice and the floors in a material you prefer.
Begin thinking about homeowners' insurance now. Begin
by making sure your credit report is accurate -- credit
histories are sometimes used to determine whether a
company will insure you, and, if so, at what rate. Also,
the Insurance Information Institute says you should get
a copy of your loss history report, such as a CLUE
report from ChoicePoint or an A-PLUS report from
Insurance Services Office. This is a record of home
insurance claims you have filed. If you have not filed
any insurance claims in the past five years, you won't
have a loss history report. The better your report, the
better chance you'll have of obtaining reasonably-priced
insurance on the house you buy. And if you're renting,
make sure you have renter's insurance -- it's helpful to
have insurance history when you obtain insurance for
your new house.
If you're buying in a seller's market, listen
carefully to your Realtor or agent about how much
you should offer. If there's competition you may
want to offer more than the listing price and you
shouldn't try asking for things like carpet
allowances or a long closing date. If you know
sellers may have several offers in front of them,
you'll want to make yours the best.
Contact us today!