It would be unrealistic to say that the real estate market is utterly rosy right now, but neither is it thorn-filled by any means. In fact, things are decidedly looking up: July got some good news, when the National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales rose 5.2% from downwardly revised June levels, beating economists' expectations. This is good news for both buyers and sellers.
While challenges still exist-for instance, getting the best price when selling, or securing financing when buying-there are some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities out there, and plenty of happy results can be had for both buyers and sellers. The key for both groups is to remain flexible, adaptable and diligent. To that end, here are some dos and don'ts for today's buyers and sellers:
Be flexible. Often it's the little things that push a buyer into the "yes" zone. If the buyer goes on and on about how much they love your icemaker, throw it in. If the closing has to be pushed ahead more than you expected, try to be as flexible as possible and pack the moving van a little quicker.
Clean up. One person's prize doll collection is another person's cluttered nightmare. Similarly, a living room filled with Beanie Babies could elicit a reaction of fear, rather than "Aw, how cute!" from a buyer. Put away any personal collections that not only cause clutter, but also make it hard for a buyer to see the home as his or hers, rather than yours.
Don't be greedy. The market-not your emotions-dictates your home's price. If comparables in the area, and several trusted real estate agents tell you your home is worth $400,000, you're not fooling anyone by pricing it at $500,000-and you're only doing yourself a disservice. Pricing it at market, even a little below, could generate a bidding war, and ultimately get you more money.
Don't get personal. If you're selling your house for a certain amount, and someone offers something much lower, don't take this as a personal affront and refuse to counteroffer. Letting your emotions get in the way can potentially ruin the deal. What's the harm in making a counteroffer?
Don't procrastinate. In the current climate, you might be scared to try to sell your home, as you may have to face a lower selling price than you may have gotten before the recession. But remember, the house you buy might be even lower, commensurately. It's all relative. So if you're serious about selling, consider doing it now. Also, acting before the cold months come is a good idea, as the winter months are historically harder for home sales.
Get a home inspection. It's important to hire a trusted home inspector to check out the house's potential issues and problems. Don't skip a home inspection because you're afraid of what you might hear-many issues sound more serious than they actually are, and can be fixed easily. And if something deal-breakingly serious is turned up, as disappointing as that is, it can save years of heartache and financial outlay. Better to walk away from a clunker.
List your place before you look for another. If you're truly serious about looking for a home, list your place first. In the current economy, banks want to make sales as uncomplicated as possible-and contingency sales, which can be very complicated, are often rejected.
Talk before you act. Don't ever start a home search without a firm budget not only in mind, but literally written down. Mutually agree with yourself-or with your partner, if you're buying with someone else-long before you start seriously searching. Going out of that zone because of a place you just "gotta have," or are emotional about, could put you in dire financial straits later. You don't want to buy a house that isn't affordable for you, and then be worried about paying for dinner and a movie on Saturday night.
Don't be a design snob. If someone's enormous bathroom has wallpaper border containing frolicking kittens and pastel flowers, or a wall that's a nuclear shade of green, we understand this can send you into style shock. But stand fast and ignore bad d?cor. Instead, try to envision the space raw. Besides, you can always redecorate once the home is yours.
Don't make a silly offer. There's nothing wrong with making an offer below asking price-it's no secret that today, many homes are selling for under the asking price. But going 40% below the asking price may anger the seller. Some sellers, especially more emotional ones, won't even bother counter offering an outrageously low offer. Feel free to make a deal-just don't make an offer so low that you'll be kicked off the table.