Frequently Asked Questions

Why use a real estate agent?
Considering your home is one of your most significant personal and financial investments, using the advice, counsel and assistance of a professional real estate agent through the buying and selling process has great advantages. Selecting a Realtor with strong local knowledge and experience that has the backing and support of a respected and solid real estate company is key.

If you are buying a home, an agent that is dedicated to helping you achieve your goals can find you the right home, assist you through the complex contract process, ensure you have input from other important advisors (such as home inspectors, lenders and settlement agents), and stay with you through the final settlement.

If you are looking to sell your home, the right agent will use their comprehensive market knowledge to help you strategically price, stage and market your home to get it sold in the shortest amount of time for the best price and terms.
Is this a good time to buy a home?
This is an absolutely ideal time to purchase a home. Unlike conditions at the height of the “boom” market, there are now an abundance of houses on the market ready for buyers to make them their home. Having many homes from which to choose, elevates the likelihood of finding one that is just right and requires little compromise.

Prices of homes have dropped considerably over the past few years which has made them more affordable than ever. This presents a golden opportunity for those that are so fortunate as to be able to buy at the “bottom of the market.” Another factor that makes this a grand time to make a home purchase is the fact that interest rates remain at historically low levels that are not likely to last forever.

When you consider the three unique conditions that have all occurred simultaneously….lots of home choices, low prices and low interest rates…..it is clear that for many, this is a great time to buy a home!
I want to sell my home, but it needs some work. What should I do?
Selling a home in today’s market requires precision pricing, marketing and staging. With so many homes on the market from which buyers can choose, the competition is intense and the homes that sell are doing so because they have “beaten” their competition.

The first question a potential seller must ask and be able to answer is if they were a buyer, would they choose their home over the competition based on its price, location, appearance and condition.  A professional Realtor will be able to give you a current assessment of your market competition and what you would need to do to effectively position your home to sell.

A general rule of thumb is that houses that show well, sell faster and for more money than those that are in need of even minor cosmetic work. However, major renovations, such as redoing kitchens or baths, will rarely provide a full return of your invested dollar. Some of the most cost beneficial things a seller can do in preparation for selling are fresh paint, clean and fresh caulking, clean carpets, fresh and groomed landscaping and no odors.
Do I need a loan approval to buy a home?
If you are planning to purchase a home and finance some of the purchase price, you will need a loan approval before the lender will give you the money to go to settlement. Buyers paying cash for a home do not need to go through the lending process.

It is always a great idea to begin the loan process before beginning your home search. That way you will know what type of financing program will be best for your needs; you’ll know how much cash will be needed for your down payment and closing costs; and you’ll be in a great position to move forward without delay when your real estate agents finds you the home of your dreams.
How important is a home inspection?
One of the most important things you can do as a buyer is make the opportunity to do a home inspection part of your purchase contract. Hiring a professional licensed home inspector to carefully scrutinize the home, its systems and its structure will not only ensure that you are aware of any needed repairs, but it will also be a great opportunity for you to learn all the intricacies of your new home. You’ll be better able to plan for the future as to what things you may want to ultimately do to your home and be better prepared to properly maintain its systems to optimize your investment stability.

Although the inspector will provide information as to the age and average lifespan of various components of the home, it’s important to remember that this is to enable you to plan for the future and not an indication of something wrong with the house. If it’s your desire is to own a home with brand new systems and components, it might make sense to focus on building or buying a new home.
Should I get a home warranty when I buy a home?
There are few things that provide greater peace of mind than a home warranty when buying a home.  For a very reasonable cost, typically around $400 for the first year, you can obtain a policy that covers the repair or replacement of a number of things in your home.

Before purchasing any warranty, however, it is important to carefully read all of the details concerning coverage and costs. Some considerations will be the age of your home. If your home is newer, you may feel that it is unlikely you will need to use the warranty. So, think about whether you will be upset if you buy the warranty and then never have occasion to use it. If your home is older, it is essential that you recognize that the warranty will not cover pre-existing conditions. Thus, if your home inspection shows issues with a particular system, don’t assume the purchase of a warranty will provide coverage for that system once you own the home. There are various home warranty companies, so it is advisable for you to start checking out the possibilities as soon as you start looking for a home. Your Realtor will be able to give you information on your options.
How can I find out what houses are for sale?
The best way to find out what is available to purchase is by using the services of a professional Realtor that has committed to assist you through the home buying process. Your agent will help you hone in on the type of home, price range and location that best meet your needs and be able to tell you everything that is listed as available on the market. They will have access to special terms and conditions related to specific properties and be able to arrange showings.

The database they use is called the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and it contains all properties listed for sale by real estate agents. It is the most complete and comprehensive source of available homes. By using this website, you are also able to access information from the MLS. Further, you can arrange for automatic email updates of homes coming on the market that meet your specific specifications.
How will I know if the home I purchased is a good investment?
Buying a home is one of the biggest investments we make in a lifetime, so it is important to carefully analyze every aspect of your purchase decision. It’s important to recognize that buying a home is not like buying a share of stock. Think about it this way…..would you ever buy a home you hated or disliked, just because it was a good deal? Probably not. You want to select a home that meets your lifestyle needs and satisfies as many of your hopes and dreams as possible.

As long as you can obtain those things for what you consider to be a fair and appropriate price and terms and you believe in its value for you and your family, you have probably accomplished your goal. Your real estate agent will give you detailed information about what has recently sold in the area and direct you to sources of other information that may be important to you, such as schools and recreation. Although no one can predict the future, armed with this kind of information should help you decide if this is the place you want to make your home.

Finally, the number of years you plan to stay in the home is a factor worthy of consideration. We don’t expect home prices to ever soar in the manner they did a few years ago.
Should I buy a short sale?
There are many short sales on the market at this time. Although a number of these properties can be obtained for very good prices, a short sale purchase is not necessarily for everyone. First and foremost, if you are considering purchasing a short sale, make sure you are working with a real estate agent that is certified and credentialed to handle these types of transactions. These sales require specialized knowledge and training and not all real estate agents have the necessary experience or training to properly assist in the process.

Once you have partnered with an agent, the next step is to assess whether a short sale purchase is right for you. The purchase of a short sale is dependent upon both a contract agreement with the seller and an approval of those terms and conditions by the lender. This process can take a long period of time during which the buyer doesn’t know if the purchase will ever come to fruition. Another thing to consider is that some short sales don’t sell for any less than a traditionally sold property.

All in all, the most important consideration for any buyer is ensuring they are purchasing a home in which they really want to live because it meets their personal, lifestyle and financial needs.
Do appraisals show the actual market value of a home?
If you are financing the purchase of a home or selling a home to a buyer that is obtaining financing, an appraisal of the property will need to be completed prior to loan commitment. An appraisal is an opinion of value prepared by an appraiser at the request of the lender. Since an appraisal is supposed to be based on comparing sale prices of similar properties, historically the appraisal of a non-distress property did not include short sales or foreclosures. The sale prices of homes sold under duress or with exigent circumstances are not typically the same as homes sold in a traditional arms length transaction by a non-distressed seller.

Unfortunately, there are some cases where appraisers are using short sales or foreclosures as comparative sales for lack of other recent sales data. Another factor related to appraisals is that they are primarily based on sold and settled properties so represent only a snapshot in time. A ratified contract that may have been consummated more recently may not be considered. Finally, when it comes to market value, it is logical and reasonable to conclude that value is in the eye and mind of the buyer. All real estate is essentially unique and its particular value has mostly to do with the degree to which it meets the needs, hopes and dreams of the buyer that wants to make it his/her home. So, it is entirely possible that an appraisal may differ from the price the buyer has decided a home is worth.

Since appraising is not scientific, there is nothing to say that the appraisal’s estimate is a better reflection of market value than the price to which the buyer and seller have agreed. However, the appraisal is the tool the bank must use as part of its loan process in determining how many dollars it will lend.