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Homeowners have been enjoying the price growth that happened in 2013. New construction home sales are also up and previously underwater properties are returning to positive equity. Economists expect home prices to rise another 4 percent to 5 percent in 2014.
With all that in mind, here are 10 tips for homebuyers and sellers from MSN Real Estate:
1. Sellers: Jump-start the process. If you want to sell your house this year, it is best to start planning as soon as possible. Since the process always takes longer than expected, start cleaning and de-cluttering now, and get your home inspected in case there are any repairs you need to fix.
2. Buyers: Be credit-ready. Since there is a lot of competition out there, it is best to get ready ahead of time. Get your credit report and make sure there are no errors. Then start with the pre-approval process on a loan so you can be ready to go when you start looking at houses.
3. Sellers: Search for an agent, and then follow the agent’s advice. Make sure to hire the right real estate broker to help you sell your house. You’ll most likely want one that is web savvy and uses mobile technology, since most homes are viewed online. Once you find the right agent, accept their advice on pricing, marketing, and negotiation.
4. Buyers: Adjust your negotiating expectations. This year is not the time for lowball offers as they will likely eliminate you from consideration. Try to respond to counteroffers quickly to keep other buyers away and prevent a bidding war. Also, have a few other homes in mind just in case it becomes competitive.
5. Sellers: It’s your market, so make the most of it. Don’t jump at the first seemingly generous offer––especially if you have received more than one. Lastly, never let the buyer’s agent know what you’re willing to do if you planning on giving something extra. Make them ask.
6. Buyers: Find life after foreclosure. If you have had a foreclosure in recently, don’t fret. The Federal Housing Administration requires just a three-year waiting period and there are many nonconforming lenders out there (often called “shadow bankers”) to help you out.
7. Sellers: Hesitate to renovate. There is no need to completely remodel your kitchen if you plan on selling soon. According to remodeling surveys, the average renovation project only returns about two-thirds on investment. In most cases it would be cheaper to drop your price or issue credits to buyers. Smaller jobs such as installing new doors, painting or fixing up the exterior are more practical and will likely have a greater return.
8. Buyers: Ask and you won’t receive. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to the selling party in writing before signing a contract. Ask anything, from questions about the neighborhood, to sex offenders nearby, to commercial zoning, to on-premise felonies, noise pollution and more. If the selling party refuses to answer any of them, that might be a red flag.
9. Sellers: Tailor your local game. Remember that real estate is local and that all markets are different, therefore prices tend to vary. Find out local area trends and statistics as well as recent comparable sales.
10. Sellers and buyers: Heed changing trends. Make sure to pay attention to trends and react to them accordingly.
This article can be found in its original form on MSN Real Estate.