Everything listed under: Buyer advice

  • Relocating? Tips For Buying and Selling in Varying Markets

    Zillow featured a blog post on tips for buying in one market while selling in another market.  The bottom line of the post was do your research ahead of time and know the local markets almost as well as your realtor.  The more you know, the more time and headaches will be saved down the line in negotiating.  Also a lot depends on whether a local real estate market favors a buyer or or seller at the moment.  

    How to Sell in a Buyer's Market

    A buyer's market is one with a high level of inventory of homes for sale, low demand from buyers or a slow economy.  Selling in this atmosphere may be more difficult.  That's why it's imperative to heed to the advice of a realtor that does his homework and knows the current climate of a local market.  Pricing your home to sell and preparing your home for listing before it goes on the market are two examples of ways to sell faster in a buyer's market.  Zillow's blog stated, "strongly consider any suggestions your agent makes for slight cosmetic fixes or staging" and we agree.

    How to Sell in a Seller's Market

    A seller's market is one where demand is high and there are a lot of buyers looking for homes, with lower level of inventory.  Although it may seem intuitive that this real estate climate is a "walk in the park" for selling your home, sellers still need to take precautions.  For instance, choosing the right buyer among a few offers is imperative to avoiding having to put your home back on the market.  The "right" buyer is one that has usually seen the home a few times, is pre-approved for a loan and/or has been looking in the market for a while.

    How to Buy in a Buyer's Market

    A buyer in a buyer's market may feel like a kid in a candy store...there are lots of homes to choose from and sellers give full attention to a prospective buyer.  But, before signing that contract, ask as many questions as possible through your agent to the seller.  Why is the seller moving?  How long as the seller lived there? What's the timeframe for moving?  These questions can unearth which properties have the best values and the buyer can get the best deal possible.

    How to Buy in a Seller's Market

    Competition is the name of the game here.  Few homes on the market and lots of hungry buyers looking at these few homes.  To give your "team" the best chance at winning, build a team!  Make sure to be represented by a buyer's agent and have a mortgage pro on hand.  Don't wait for open houses.  When a home comes on the market, have your agent contact you immediately and set up a showing of the home.  However, don't move too swiftly.  Sellers are aware of the desperation in many buyers.  And foregoing inspections or contingencies for the sake of "winning" a home is not the right approach.  Do your due diligence.

    To read the full post on Zillow, click here and as always contact us with any real estate questions you may have!



  • Should I Stay or Should I Go? 3 Things to Consider in Deciding Whether to Remodel or Buy a New Home

    Should you stay or should you go?

    Before making the decision to remodel your current home or buy a new home, consider these 3 factors according to Realty Times:

    1.  Local Market Conditions:

    There are 2 parts to buying a new home usually - selling your current home and then getting a good price and rate on a new one.  Check with your local real estate agent on the current market conditions in your area and the area you want to buy in.  Home prices and inventory can play significant roles in this process.  Some markets may be favorable to selling your home and then using the proceeds for a down payment on a new home... but some may not.  It is important to do your research on market conditions before making this decision, to avoid having to back out of a deal down the line.  You don't want to commit to a purchase and sale contract to  buy a new home, only to realize your current home either won't sell for the amount you need to purchase the new home or won't sell in the current market conditions in your area.

    2.  Counterproductive Upgrades:

    Homeowners should only consider remodeling if the upgrades will increase the value of their home over time.  Adding upgraded smart home appliances, energy efficient windows, and lighting for example are the most common upgrades that increase home value over time.  Remodeling can be less expensive than buying a home, but coming up with the capital to do so may require a home equity loan or line of credit, which creates new debt.  Be sure that the project(s) you undertake are not money pits and remove as many unknowns from the equation of remodeling as possible (ie get inspections or opinions of contractors if necessary before ripping up an area of your home!).  

    This is a very useful Cost vs. Value 2014 report in evaluating what remodeling projects to take on in your current home:

    Cost vs. Value 2014 Report

    3.  Future Market Conditions:

    Do your homework on future market conditions in your area and the area where you want to buy a new home.  Is the property walking distance to schools, parks, malls or other amenities?  If so, this will increase the value of the home, rather than if a home is only driving distance to everything.  If you see or hear of a new construction project being built near your current home or new home, inquire further about it.  Although construction in the short-term may be a pain to deal with, it may add value to your home or new home and should influence your decision whether to stay put or move to a new home.  

     Bottom line: Do your due diligence in deciding whether to remodel or buy a new home.  And contact us with any questions you may have about current or future market conditions in your area. 



  • 10 Ways to Strengthen Your Offer and Beat Out Competing Buyers

    Inman news and ActiveRain posted an insightful article about ways to gain the competitive edge when submitting an offer.  The purchase price isn't the only way to woo a seller.  In fact, a savvy buyer should consider the following 10 things before submitting an offer:

    10.  Present it in person. This rarely happens these days, with the ease and accepted norm of submitting offers via email or fax.  However, even submitting a letter or explanation of why the buyer loves the property and the story behind why this buyer wants the property can go a long way in a seller's decision to accept the offer.

    9.  Include any requested addendums and documentation.  If the seller and seller's agent has requested certain addendums and documentation, be sure to include them in your offer.  If there are multiple offers, and yours is missing essential requested information, the seller may choose another offer that includes all essential parts.

    8.  Include proof of funds in a cash offer, or a lender's pre-approval letter.  

    7.  Inclusions.  Don't ask the seller for additional personal property items to be included in the sale at the time you submit your offer in a multiple offer situation.  

    6.  Inspection contingency.  We don't fully agree with this one.  Unless a property has just been built or you know personally that the home has been meticulously cared for, never waive a buyer's inspection.  Obviously, waiving an inspection shortens the closing time, and in the seller's eyes, may eliminate any delays in closing due to the seller having to repair anything.  This is good for the seller, and may boost your offer, BUT we strongly encourage you to always request an inspection if you are a buyer.

    5.  Requests for seller concessions.  If you are going to make requests from the seller (ie, asking them to pay some of the closing costs, leave some personal property items behind, or dramatically reduce the purchase price), make sure every other aspect of your offer is mistake-free!

    4.  Earnest money.  In states that require a deposit, or earnest money, to be submitted along with an offer, buyers are encouraged to offer more money than less.  There is usually no requirement for the amount of the deposit, so the more you put down, the more the seller may be inclined to accept your offer in some cases.  

    3. Closing and date of possession.  Usually, the sooner you are willing to close, the more enticing the offer is to the seller. Or the more flexible you are with when the closing date can be, the better the seller will view your offer, based on the seller's ideal timeframe.

    2.  Costs paid by.  Costs of a sale are mostly negotiable between the buyer and seller.  Costs can range from appraisal, loan origination fees, septic inspection, a title policy etc.  Make sure you're not requesting the seller to pay for costs that are not usually allocated to the seller.  It is generally the rule of thumb in real estate deals that the party that benefits from a transaction usually pays for the majority of the costs.

    1.  Cash is king! While most buyers are not in the position to offer all cash offers, cash offers are perceived as more favorable to the seller because 1. cash closings are quick and uncomplicated 2. There won't be any chance of a lender finding something objectionable about the buyer or an appraisal coming in lower than the purchase price in the contract.

    For the full article, click here!



  • Most Common Causes of Buyer's Remorse

    Realtor Magazine posted a great article about the most common causes of buyer's remorse in the current market and we agree with them.  We hope this helps you out if you are a potential home buyer or currently looking for a new home.

    1.  Get Smarter About Financing

    9 out of 10 home buyers said they felt prepared going into the purchase of their new home.  However, 56 percent said they wish they had known more about financing.  22 percent said they weren't as educated about the details of a closing.  19 percent said they weren't confident about the process of making an offer and negotiating.  15 percent said they needed more guidance on the overall financing of a home.

    2.  Pick a Different Size House/Area

    39 percent of respondents said they would choose a different size house, a differently priced house, or even a different neighborhood.  While you don't know until actually live in the house, you can do more research and contemplation about what you require in a home (even things you just really prefer to have), your budget and what you like/hate about your current neighborhood.  Bottom line: If you feel like you're compromising, think a little more about the new potential home.

    3. Adjust Expectations

    This is one of the most common observations of both buyers and sellers.  In general, the home-buying/selling process takes longer than expected.  40 percent of respondents said the home-buying process took longer than they thought it would, while 16 percent said they were pleasantly surprised with the duration of the process.

    4.  Be More Prepared to Spend on Maintenance

    34 percent of respondents said home maintenance costs ended up being more than they expected.  This is a reality of home ownership that first time home buyers often don't appreciate, with 50 percent of home buyers feeling overwhelmed by maintenance costs.  Overall, 80 percent of respondents felt their home was move-in ready at the time of purchase, but then 76 percent already had plans or completed renovations.

    Feel free to contact us with any questions or to discuss buying or selling a home... 207-251-4762 or contactus@alandrealty.com 

  • What Type of Property Should You Buy?

    With spring around the corner (woot woot!), you may be considering buying a property.  Even if you plan on living in it for the long term, it is always good to view your property as an investment.  With that in mind, here is a very informative guide to investing in the right type of property for you by The Bigger Pockets Real Estate Blog

    In a nutshell, before buying a property, evaluate:

    1.  What are your individual goals? 

    -You must first figure out what your real estate goals are.

    2.  What is your strategy? 

    -Flipping, Buy-and-Hold, etc.

    3.  What are your location criteria? 

    For example,

    -Within an hour driving to/from

    -Increasing population over the past 10 years

    -Local businesses offering jobs, etc.

    Once you have these three questions thoroughly answered, you can begin your search.  Target the area that fits your criteria and analyze growth in that area, focusing particularly on your goals, strategy and location criteria.  Monitor rental activity and compare that to properties for sale in that area, possibly creating a spreadsheet.  Analyze the ratio of housing purchasing prices compared to rents in that area.  Compare ratios of various zip codes within your target area.  This allows you to "score" zip codes and narrow down where you should look to buy a property and the type of property that fits your goals.  Read the full article on The Bigger Pockets Real Estate Blog for more details and contact us today to assist you in finding the right property for you!  

  • Signs Of An Up And Coming Neighborhood

    If you're a buyer looking to invest in a neighborhood before it becomes the next trendy or upscale area to live, here are some signs to look for in a neighborhood according to Trulia.com:

    1.  On-trend businesses are moving in.  Are the latest popular grocery stores or coffee shops moving in (ie, Wholefoods)? Larger businesses usually do their research on a neighborhood before moving in.  Are small local businesses moving into the neighborhood?  They tend to follow where people with disposable income live or will soon live.  These could be 2 predictors that an area is about to increase in value before it actually does.

    2.  Uber-convenient location in a land-impacted metro.  If you live in a densely populated metro area – especially one that is coastal – or an urban setting with intense governmental restrictions on building, demand for homes will continue to grow as the population does, but the supply will remain somewhat limited. In many of these situations, neighborhoods that have been downtrodden but have very convenient proximity to employment centers, public transportation, freeways and bridges tend to be prime for whole-neighborhood remodeling in times of population growth or rapid real estate price rises in already-prime areas.

    3.  Negatives to a neighborhood are eliminated.  If a neighborhood has been plagued by certain stigmas for years and those stigmas disappear (crime decreases, accessibility/public transportation increases), then that neighborhood may be primed for development and home value increases.

    4.  Architecture within a neighborhood suddenly is on trend.  If a neighborhood is primarily composed of a certain style of home such as Tudor or Victorian, and that style becomes popular again, then that neighborhood may see a resurgence in popularity and value.

    5.  At least one major economic development is brewing.  Is big business coming to town?  Is there a new line of transportation being integrated in an area?  Never underestimate these factors bringing more people to the area and home values increasing.

    6.  Renovation and development is in the air.  If you see numerous homes being remodeled/renovated and/or commercial developments beginning, this may be a sign of an up and coming area.  It is advised to visit your local City Building Permit office and investigate what developments are in works.  Whether it be commercial or governmental backed, development in an area is usually a good indicator of a soon-to-be upscale area.

    7.  Slow but steady decrease in DOM.  If days on the market (DOM) are steadily decreasing for homes in a area, this shows that an area may be ripe for growth.  If you notice this steady decrease of DOM before home values are increasing, you may want to talk to your agent further about it and investigate the area. 

    Now, get to it, Mr. Sherlock Homebuyer.

  • The Home Inspection: An overview

    It is well known that a home inspection is a key part of buying a home once the home is under contract.  But, it is also important for you, the home buyer, to do an initial inspection yourself PRIOR to making an offer.  This is in addition to the formal home inspection performed by a licensed home inspector once you make an offer.

    By doing an informal inspection yourself before making an offer, you may notice obvious deficiencies that would eliminate this house from further consideration and prevent you from wasting your time putting an offer in on a property.  Again, this is not meant to replace the formal home inspection performed by a licensed home inspector after you make an offer on a property.  

    For Your Own Initial Inspection

    Here is a checklist brought to you by Zillow and featuring our additional remarks for your own initial inspection:

    Foundation: In each room of the property, look at the base of the walls and ceilings.  Are there cracks or apparent shifts in the foundation?  Then, go outside and note if there are any trees encroaching on the foundation. 

    Lot: Are there any noticeable soggy areas and does drainage appear to be away (and not toward) the house?

    Roof: Again, this is just a cursory inspection by you and it is not recommended to climb onto the roof!  But from plain view, what is the overall condition of the roof and when was it last replaced?  Are there any tree too close to it? 

    Exterior: What is the condition of the siding?  Will it need repainting soon or will it need repairs?  Are gutters and downspouts firmly attached? Are there any loose boards or wires?  Is there asbestos in the exterior material that would require remediation and added costs if needing repaired or replaced? 

    Attic: Can you see any signs of leaks?  What is the general appearance of the interior of the roof? 

    Interior evidence of leaks: Look at the ceilings and windows for any signs of leaks. 

    Basement: Is there dampness? Odor? Adequate insulation?  And again, don't venture into a crawlspace, leave that for a professional home inspector.  

    Electrical: Do the switches work? Are there any obvious malfunctions? Have the outlets been grounded? Is the panel updated and expandable for additional appliances or a potential remodel?

    Plumbing: Any unusual noises or malfunctions? Has the sewer line been scoped to check for potential cracks?

    Appliances: If these are included, what is the age and condition of the stove, dishwasher or refrigerator?

    Heating/cooling system: Does it seem to do the job? How old is the furnace? If the system has been converted, are the old systems or tanks still in place?

    Odor: Is there an odor in the house? Can you detect what it might be and whether it could be fixed? Beware of musty odors which could signal a wet basement.

    What a Formal Home Inspection By a Licensed Home Inspector Should Cover

    Once you make an offer on a property and it is accepted, you, the buyer, will work with a licensed home inspector who will perform a formal home inspection.  Realtor.com lists the following items as mandatory items to be inspected by the licensed home inspector.  Also try the virtural home inspection at ASHI.org (the official website of the American Society of Home Inspectors).

    Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.

    Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.

    • Doors and windows
    • Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
    • Driveways/sidewalks
    • Attached porches, decks, and balconies
    Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.

    Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.

    Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

    Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.

    Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.

    Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:

    • Walls, ceilings and floors
    • Steps, stairways, and railings
    • Countertops and cabinets
    • Garage doors and garage door systems
    Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.

    Fireplaces: They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.

    Source: American Society of Home Inspectors and Realtor.com, as well as Zillow.com

  • 6 Things Real Estate Agents Wish You Knew

    This slideshow is very informative for both buyers and sellers.  In a nutshell:

    1.  Want to sell quickly? Price it just under the market.  The longer a house is on the market, the less likely you are to get fair value for it.

    2.  The preapproval letter is just the beginning.  Never get new loans or start using credit cards more heavily until after you've actually closed on the home.  A lender will re-examine your credit right before closing.  Better yet, wait a few months after closing to start spending until you get a hold of how much your new home will impact you financially.

    3.  Selling a house probably takes longer than you think.  Underestimating the timeline adds stress.  A smart seller anticipates a minimum of four to six months to sell.  And that's if the home is priced correctly in a good market and gets a solid offer that makes it to closing.

    4.  Not all "buyers" are able to buy.  Smart buyers will get "preapproved" rather than rely on a "prequalified" letter they received.  Being "preapproved" means they have applied for a loan, the bank has verified their financial information, and it promises to loan a specific amount at a specific rate.

    5.  Yes it really does have to smell good.  A seller's home should be kept showroom-ready at all times.  A mess or bad odor leaves an impression with the buyer that is hard to overcome.

    6.  We don't make as much as you think.  Unless your agent is handling both sides of the transaction, figure your agent is getting only a quarter of the total commission.  

    View the full article at Bankrate.com here!

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