It's always fun when I get calls from friends saying, "Want to look at houses?" In this case, it was the son and daughter-in-law of one of my closest friends, Cathy–and friends in their own right. I knew these two back before they were married, and it has been a joy to watch their family grow. Baby number three is on his/her way soon!
Here are pictures of the day of signing and the day I got to hand them their key.
Because kitchens should never be empty …
Happy 2015! As always, new years mean new resolutions. Soon, we'll see joggers in their spanking new running shoes trudging and panting along roads and trails. Registration at the YMCA will skyrocket, and for a little while, fitness center parking lots will be full of hopeful exercisers. You have to love the collective optimism that binds us all together every January. And who knows? Maybe this is the year we'll all lose those unwanted pounds for good.
But this post isn't about diet or exercise. This post is a plea for resolutions from a different group of people: home buyers.
When working with buyers, the role of your agent is a combination of counselor, teacher, warrior and cheerleader. He or she will do everything they can to negotiate a good deal for you and secure the home you want. To that end, some things make the job easier (and result in an easier transaction for you). Consider the following resolutions a gentle nudge from someone who has your best interests in mind:
1. I will get pre-approved by a lender before beginning the search for a new home, and I will resist the urge to look at homes priced higher than what I am pre-approved to buy.
Why? A pre-approval letter makes you look both ready and serious (and therefore more attractive) to a seller. In a multiple-offer situation, a buyer with a pre-approval has a giant advantage over one without. As to staying within your price boundaries, the simple fact is that looking at more expensive homes only makes you discontent with the homes you can afford.
2. I will resist the temptation to search for homes on one of the popular apps, but will instead search real estate websites.
Why? Sites like Zillow and Trulia are not run by realtors; they’re run by marketers who make their money by attracting as many people as they can to their sites. To do this, they will often keep homes on the site long after they’ve been sold. This keeps their inventory high (which attracts more homebuyers), but also creates frustration. Why get your hopes up about a house that actually sold three weeks ago? When you confine your search to actual real estate websites, you can be sure that the status of the home you see is in real time. Also, real estate agents and firms see new listings on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) immediately. It can take up to nine days for a listing to appear on Zillow and Trulia. And in this market, you can’t afford to be nine days late.
3. I will make a priority list that includes one or two deal-breakers (such as size or location), then a few high-wants (such as an upgraded kitchen or a bonus room), and finally a short list of things that would be nice, but aren’t necessary … and I won’t reject a house based on those bottom items.
Why? You don’t want to lose an otherwise wonderful house simply because you don’t like the cabinets.
4. I will keep in mind that no home is perfect, and no home will have everything I’m looking for.
Why? Buyers often believe that the perfect house is out there and our job is to track it down. In actuality, even people who build their own homes from the ground up (and I am one of those) will tell you that they would change a dozen things if they could do it over. Aim instead for a 90 percent perfect home.
5. I will trust that when my realtor says, “We need to see this house now,” he or she knows what they’re talking about, and I will make the effort to see the homes my realtor suggests.
Why? In a seller’s market, or in a market with low inventory, homes can be snatched up quickly. Your realtor knows when time is of the essence.
There you have it … just a short list of five good-for-you home-buying resolutions. And you didn’t even have to break a sweat.
And of course, who wouldn't want that? If you're considering a home purchase, check out this article on HSH.com.
I met with a client tonight and we drove a loop from Sunnyside to Lake Stevens and back, trying to find that just-perfect house. From our initial list of five homes, we ended up looking at three. This is a client who makes it very easy: she knows exactly what she wants (and what she doesn't).
When we walked into the house just off Sunnyside, my immediate thought was, "This house is staged." From the perfectly plumped pillows to the ringed napkins on the table, not one item was out of place. Generally that tells me that listing agent has either hired a professional home stager, or decorated the house with his or her own furnishings. But rarely is it done on a scale we saw in this home.
To confirm my suspicions, usually all it takes is a quick peek in the fridge. Staged homes have empty fridges. So I took a peek … and saw food. Lots of food. Condiments, soda, leftovers … I slammed the fridge shut and turned to my client.
"Someone really lives here."
I have no idea how the owners manage to live in that perfectly-arranged house and give absolutely no sign of their existence (beyond the mustard and half-eaten sandwiches). But I was truly impressed.
I know how hard it can be to keep your house clean and ready when you're trying to sell. But just know that when you make that effort, it makes an impression on the buyer.
We may just be back.