Whether it's your first time buying or selling a house or it's your fifth, you'll likely have lots of questions about the process. We understand that, which is why we're answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the home-buying and home-selling process. Read on to get the answers you seek!
Buying a Home
Should I work with an agent?
Yes! When searching for a home, it's important to know what you want. The right agent will help you determine must-haves and deal-breakers, as well as educate you on the communities you're interested in. Your agent will also help you navigate the complexities of the home-buying process. They're the expert, after all!
Should I go to the bank before starting my house search?
Getting pre-approved before starting your house search can be very helpful. By measuring factors like income, credit, and assets, a lender can determine what type of loan best suits your needs and how much home you can afford. Not only will you know your spending budget, it can also give you an upper hand as a buyer because it shows sellers you're serious about making a purchase.
How many houses should I tour?
As many as it takes until you find the perfect home for you. Everyone's needs, wants, and deal-breakers will be different, and you want to avoid settling for a house you'll dislike after a few months. Even if it takes time, it's worth the extra effort.
Do I need money for a big down payment?
Not necessarily. Today, more loan options and homebuying programs exist, giving buyers a larger variety of approaches to buying a house. While some people may still want to complete a large down payment, it is absolutely not vital to purchase a home. In fact, the average first-time buyer only puts 6% down, and many loans and programs available to first-time buyers require even less than that.
How long will closing last?
After negotiations have settled and your offer is accepted, the loan process and title work begin. Inspections and other walkthroughs will be completed as well. Most closings last 30 to 45 days.
Selling a Home
Should I sell on my own or with an agent?
You've probably heard from one person or another that going the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route is optimal as it will save you money that you would otherwise spend on commission fees. However, the benefits of listing, marketing, and exposing your home to potential buyers an agent provides are often worth the commission fee.
What's more, you may end up spending less money by selling with an agent. A typical home sale process that requires lots of time and effort likely won't net you much savings at all if you go it alone.
When should I put my home on the market?
This is the first of many steps where an agent's expertise will help you make a decision. When there are fewer available homes to purchase to meet buyers' demands, you get a seller's market. Each home for sale becomes a hot commodity in this sort of market.
There's no truly bad time to sell, necessarily. Even in a buyer's market, your home will still draw attention so long as it's promoted properly.
Should I make any changes to my home before selling?
Definitely! Do a deep clean, make necessary repairs and replacements, organize cabinets and closets, declutter and depersonalize, and spruce up your home's curb appeal. Be careful about spending too much money on major repairs and renovations, however; you may not make back what you spent in the sale.
How should I price my home?
Determining your home's value can be tricky; setting an accurate sale price can be even tougher. Your agent will help you assess your home's value by analyzing other similar homes in the area that have sold. A home inspection will also help to paint the picture of your home's value.
Setting a sale price is a delicate art. Price it too high and you risk pushing buyers away. Price it too low and you might raise suspicions in buyers' minds. Again, your agent will help you find the sweet spot and price your home favorably.
Still have questions about the home-buying or selling process? Contact one of our expert agents to have your questions answered.
If you're like 60% of people, you probably dread the idea of moving. And we get it! Packing, loading, unpacking – it can all be a bit of a drag. So you've probably considered simply reimagining the space you're in as an alternative to moving. But that has its own drawbacks, like trying to live around the messiness and noises of home improvement.
At the core of either of these decisions lies the true issue: you're not happy with at least some part of your home. Making the choice to renovate or move to a new home entirely isn't easy, but we're hoping the following guide can help you make an informed decision one way or the other.
Consider the Costs
Try to think beyond the profit, because believe it or not, selling your home can be costly. Everything from touch-ups and minor repairs to staging and various closing costs can rack up a high price. That's before you even consider paying for your new home!
Then again, depending on the scope of your renovations, you could be looking at a hefty price tag as well. Renovations also typically require immediate out-of-pocket costs, and as projects go on, you could see additional costs enter the picture.
Do You Like Your Location?
Do you love your neighborhood? Are your kids in a great school district? Are you an active fixture in your community? Sometimes the one thing you fall out of love with about where you live is…where you live.
If you've found you adore your community but your home isn't meeting your needs anymore, perhaps renovating is the route for you. Conversely, if you'd rather discover a new neighborhood, you might choose to start fresh with a move.
It's generally accepted that what you pay for in renovations, you probably won't get back when you sell. There are exceptions to this, of course, but for most folks it holds true.
So if you plan to be in your home for another 10 years, remodeling is a good idea. You'll get to enjoy the results of all your hard work and money spent. If you don't see yourself staying put for long, however, it likely won't be cost-effective to sink money into renovations.
Research the Market
For the past year and more, the market has been particularly ripe for sellers. And while that might influence your decision to sell and move into a new home, keep in mind that you'll still need to buy a new home. The market has been significantly more challenging for buyers.
The market is always fluid, however, so whenever you find yourself pondering renovations versus selling, do yourself a favor and check in on your local market.
What you choose will ultimately come down to your unique situation. If you're looking for an agent's expert opinion on the matter, check in with one of Watson's knowledgeable real estate pros!
For most of us, a life lived mostly inside the walls of our home became the norm for at least a year. Lots of things changed; grocery store trips became deliveries, intense hand-washing sessions occurred multiple times a day, and empty guest rooms became home offices.
It makes sense then that homebuyers' preferred features have shifted in response to the changes they've experienced. Point2 Homes examined 43 million words from more than 640,000 listings across the United States, then compared their findings to a study of the same nature in 2019.
Examining the most popular home descriptions words, phrases, and features reveals a lot about how buyers' tastes have changed.
September is officially Happy Cat Month, so take some extra time to appreciate your feline friend. Cats make wonderful pets, but there's one part of cat ownership that everyone dislikes - the litter box. Its appearance isn't attractive, and no one wants to have its odor or the sounds of a cat scratching away in the box invading your home's common areas.
With a few tools, some time, and a little bit of effort, you can hide your cat's litter box while still leaving it easily accessible for them. Check out these tips to help make your cat's litter box out of sight and out of mind.
With homes flying off the market within days of being listed (and often for far more than the listing price), you might reason that selling your home on your own is the wise choice. Why pay a commission fee to an agent when buyers are falling over themselves just to make an offer for every available house, right?
Not quite. It may seem appealing to go the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route right now. But even in a seller's market, the benefits of working with an agent are worth their weight in gold. Here's why you should still use an agent to sell in 2021.
While choosing to list your home in a seller's market is a highly desirable opportunity, there are still a few tips you should keep in mind to ensure your home stands out among the rest. Although your Watson agent will take care of most of these for you, you should also be well-versed on what to look for. Here are a few key things you'll want to implement in order to attract buyers and achieve your selling goals.
Hire a Great REALTOR®
A sound home-selling strategy includes multiple parts. Perhaps the most important part is hiring an outstanding REALTOR® who knows the market, the comps in your area, and what buyers are looking for. An experienced agent can sell your home faster and at a better price, so do your due diligence on agents in your area to maximize your profit and minimize sale time.
Make Your Marketing Matter
According to Forbes, social media is the biggest factor in the new real estate market. Not only that, but a Pew Research Center survey also found that of 30-to-49-year-olds, 82% use at least one social media platform, with Facebook and Instagram being the most popular.
Take advantage of social media by giving your agent permission to post stunning photos of the home with relevant hashtags like #yourcityrealestate on Instagram and Facebook. Then, share those posts to maximize your reach! Don't forget to combine that with traditional methods like yard signs, and you'll have more eyeballs from a variety of sources on your home, which equals more offers for you.
Go Live at the Right Time
Psst! Here is an insider secret: Friday is considered to be the best day of the week for home selling. Many people start their vacations that day or take off work early and are ready to get into personal affairs like browsing homes for sale. Since this day is likely to have more online traffic, consider posting the listing for sale on a Friday to generate more initial activity and engagement with your home. Conversely, Mondays are the worst day for activity, so keep that in mind!
Photos and Videos are King
What is the first thing you would look at when browsing homes to buy? If you said photos, you've done this before. Sharp, clean, professional photography is paramount to the buyer experience of wanting more of what your home has to offer. Good photos will entice a buyer to come visit your home in person. For homes in the $200K to $1M range, high-quality photography can increase the price by $3K-$11K. Even better, high-quality photos and especially virtual tours can lead to a 32% faster sale!
Begin with Curb Appeal
Hands down the most important part of making your home attractive is making it beautiful, clean, and as turn-key as possible. Start with the outside and take care of your landscaping, painting, and repairs. It's the first thing people see in photos and in person – and first impressions count! Plant bright flowers, lay down fresh mulch, eliminate weeds, and give the outside a power wash or new coat of paint to give your home an affordable facelift that yields excellent returns.
Create a Clean Slate
It should come as no surprise that if you plan on getting your home sold, the bare minimum is getting it clean, de-cluttered, and repaired. But you may also want to consider a professional cleaning or upgrades for key areas, like the kitchen and bathrooms – which buyers zero in on most. Ensure there are no smells whatsoever, remove any sign of pets, and de-personalize by removing photos or items like sports team flags or religious keepsakes which can turn buyers off. Don't forget home staging can help buyers visualize the way furniture compliments the home.
Ready to take the first step to getting your home sold? Let our Watson agents help – contact us today!
Listing your home for sale can be overwhelming, especially if it's your first time. One of the best ways to sell your home quickly and increase your sale price is through proper home staging. Home staging is both an art and a science and often takes a good bit of experience to pull it off just right. Our real estate agents are experts at home staging and are always willing to offer tips to help you through the process.
With the current market favoring sellers, you're in a great position if you're looking to get your home sold. But the excitement of selling in a sellers' market often overshadows the fact that you're not just a seller; you're a buyer, too. And if your home sells before you've secured a new one - which is likely to happen in the current market - you could find yourself in a compromising situation. You always have options, though, and we're here to remind you what they are. Here's what you can do if your home sells faster than expected.
The Captain may have a point, but that doesn't mean it's always feasible. Sure, you should try to secure your next home before selling your current one, but any number of factors can limit your ability to do so; especially in a sellers' market, when listings are often snatched up within days of hitting the market. If you don't have a home lined up before finalizing the sale of your house, at least try to get pre-approved for a mortgage. You'll remove some of the waiting period that comes with financial pre-approvals and at least be one step ahead in your home search.
With some savvy negotiating and good bit of trust, you can negotiate a post-possession agreement to essentially rent your existing home a little longer after closing on the sale. If that sounds extremely convenient, well, it is. But it's also very risky for the buyer, so expect negotiations to be tough. This is where a skilled and experienced agent will come in very handy for you.
Depending on when you close, you could find a great deal on a vacation rental during the offseason. Demand is naturally lower in the offseason. You'll likely find one that's furnished, and most offer stays of up to a month or more.
Maybe your best friend has an extra bedroom? If not, you can take solace in knowing that your dear old mother will always welcome a visit. In all seriousness, friends and family can possibly put you up for a few weeks if you need it.
This means someone who's bought a new house and moved before their old home has sold. They may be willing to let you rent the home out for a brief period – it'll help them avoid paying extra on two mortgages at once. Of course, it also means you're subject to the owner's desire to sell; should they decide it's time to finally find buyers, it'll be time for you to move out. This is unless they've decided to convert the home into a full-time rental, which you'll want to determine before making your own decisions.
Many hotels offer suites designed specifically for longer stays. These are sort of a middle-ground between a rental home and an apartment. You'll have a degree of privacy and access to the amenities you need, but you'll have even less ownership over the suite than you would in an apartment. But if it's only for a temporary stay, you likely won't be bothered by that.
If you're moving into a furnished rental or staying with a friend for a few weeks, you need somewhere to put your stuff in the meanwhile. Consider looking into a portable storage container. Many companies will drop off the unit, let you pack it up, then bring the container to your new house when you're ready. If you just need to store things for a night or two, check with your moving company; they may let you keep their moving truck overnight for an additional fee.
As we alluded to in our post about selling your home in winter, spring is widely considered to be the best time to sell your house. That holds firm even as we weather the Coronavirus outbreak. In fact, digital adaptations like virtual tours and contact-less appointments have made it easier to safely sell your home during this time. Beyond that, a combination of factors makes that window of time from late March to early June such a perfect time to sell, and our brokers are here to explain why. Here's why you should sell your home in spring.
After wilting during the cold winter months, nature comes alive in spring. Beautiful flowers blossom, trees become full with leaves again, and grass shimmers brightly in the sun. Your yard returns to its pre-winter glory and your garden blooms once again, instantly boosting your curb appeal in a way that even virtual tours can brilliantly display. "Grass turns from brown to green, and cold dreary days turn into sunny, warm ones," explains Mike Matthews, Managing Broker for Watson's Amelia Island office. "Properties always show better in the spring for those reasons."
Listing your home in spring allows you to get on the market just in time for those families aiming to purchase a new home and move right after the school year. "Lots of people plan their moves around the school schedule. They start looking in spring so they can prepare their moves for the summer when school is out," Mike explains. The same benefit extends to your family. Donna Daigle, Managing Broker for Watson's Middleburg office, adds, "When timed correctly, listing in spring allows your children to finish school, sell your home, and be settled in your new home before the next school year starts." Even with most children out of school right now, it can still be beneficial to plan selling your home around the home-schooling methods your children are currently working through.
As anyone in the military will tell you, your family is bound to move a lot. Getting your home on the market in spring gives you the best chance to target military movers. "A lot of military transfers happen in the summer," Donna says. "By listing in the springtime, you're opening your home up to many high-quality military buyers who will begin their search a few months before their transfer."
Many buyers try to save as much as possible for a down payment (even if it isn't always necessary). Tax returns can play a big part in their budgetary efforts, which means you can also benefit. "People typically receive their tax returns in spring," Mike explains. "This leads to additional funds for their down payment or even their move." As buyers are able to increase their down payment fund, you'll likely see more serious shoppers.