Beating The Stress Out Of Buying A Home | RealtyPin.com
The ultimate key to success is to make those emotions positive. While this may seem easier said than done, when you think about it, your approach to home buying should be no different than your approach to all other important decisions. Take buying a car, for example. Before you purchase, you consider things like price, new vs. used, reliability, maintenance costs, and gas mileage. All of these factors are important -- yet unemotional -- considerations that you take into account before you make your final decision. And how do you do this? You do some research online, you speak to your mechanic, you compare the options, and so on. Here's the point -- buying a home is really no different than buying a car. (It just costs more!) You need to be an educated consumer, and you need to understand the process and the market before you jump in with reckless abandon. So where do you begin? How can you best avoid the stress that is associated with home buying these days? Here are some helpful, practical home buying tips from RealtyPin.com.
1. Educate yourself
While this may seem elementary, there are a lot of home buying terms that you must understand before you jump into the market. For example, what exactly does "escrow" mean? What is "pre-approval", and how can it work in your favor? What types of home loans are available? ARM (Adjustable Rate)? Fixed Rate? What are mortgage points? Closing costs? Title insurance? Private Mortgage Insurance? So, how do you learn it all? Visit reputable and authoritative online sites. Search for blogs that are administered by reputable realtors, real estate experts, or professional lenders
2. Seek out experts
Realtors are the logical starting point. But remember one important lesson -- the realtor works for you, not the other way around. You need to feel comfortable choosing the realtor that best relates to you. Avoid being pressured. You are not going to understand every detail of home buying, mortgages, and interest rates solely from an online search. Your independent research should serve as your foundation for asking more in depth questions.
Find a realtor or agent that takes the time to clarify your questions. If the main focus is simply on selling you a house rather than on educating you to make wise choices, you probably need to move on. You're already borrowing money to buy a home; there's no need to borrow stress as well! By all means, seek out a mortgage professional. Whether it's your bank or another local lender, it's best to start at home. Local professionals have an edge over the national groups simply because they have a detailed understanding of the local market, and how available properties match up with particular financing options. Select your mortgage professional not on rates alone. Beware that some rates are offered as "teasers". You need to feel comfortable that your professional is eager to educate you on your available financing options. Ask pertinent questions, and discover precisely
what types of mortgages are best for youand your finances. Avoid high-pressure selling tactics (like so many lenders are using these days, in an attempt to get more qualified buyers through the doors), and focus more on information.
3. Get pre-approved
Once you've selected your mortgage professional, you can proceed with pre-approval. As opposed to pre-qualification, where a lender determines that you are credit-worthy, pre-approval is an actual verification that you have qualified for a specific loan. Why the emphasis on pre-approval? Because the "waiting game" is perhaps the greatest stress of all when it comes to buying a home! While you can't control whether or not the seller will accept your offer (or if he will counter with an outrageous offer), you can reduce a great deal of stress if you have already been pre-approved.
I recently updated some photos of a listing, 110 Tower View Road, Enfield. The property hit the market in the bleak early days of March, still cold, bare trees, patches of snow and ice breathing their last frigid breaths on the slowly warming earth. The property is a good listing, well located and in good condition. And given the market, pretty well priced.
It's situated on a secluded 5.8 acres, very private, tucked in amidst a forest of towering hemlocks. And I considered the photos to be pretty good. They showed the private setting, meandering driveway off Tower View Road leading to the home. The property is nicely landscaped with patio stone walkway up to the pretty front door and from what I could tell in early March, some nice shrubs and perennial plantings. There is an attractive two storey barn used now as a woodworking shop and storage as the covenants no longer allow horses to be kept on the property. (Ahhh, the sad but unavoidable progression of residential sprawl).
So, over all the property was presented well in pictures.
BUT MAN OH MAN, you should see it now! The verdent display of lush lawn and the trees bursting with a multitude of green. Shubs, just a few weeks ago with straggly bare branches are like a perky bunch of teenagers, giggling as they sport their new clothes of pinks and yellows, orange and fushcia. The pale siding of house is glowing with the warmth of spring and the surrounding pallet of colour. The patio walkway proudly pretends it's a red carpet to the stars of blooming beauties.
Everywhere your eyes land is pure natural beauty. It creates such a feeling of contentment to be surrounded by this display of natures glory. And this property will go to the person who yearns for that peace in a home.
It's hard to ask for help. It's hard to admit that you're struggling. So when we heard that an Enfield family was going through a very hard time, we decided to shake things up a bit and rock their world. Well, at least give it a bit of a nudge.
On Friday, May 18th from 10am to 7pm, agents from Exit Realty 1st Call will be working from rocking chairs for donations to a fund to help the Stewart family, two teen daughters and their mom who lost thier farther and husband to a brain aneursym. And if that is not tragic enough, the mom has been diagnosed with *** cancer. She is going though intensive treatment. As you can imagine this has greatly limited her ability to earn a living.
So, we're helping out by creating a venue for the visitors to the Superstore and NSLC to drop some cash in buckets while we rock.
If you're in the area, please stop by. Or spread the word so we can help this family out.
I'M not sure what the definition of pet peeve is. Mosty because I don't think I've ever had one...until now. So, I'm guessing it is a common human behaviour that is accepted by the masses but iirritates the heck out of you. If you're interested, here's mine.
At the risk of sounding like my parents......"I remember the day when... saying Thank you" to someone resulted, "You're welcome" or "My Pleasure". I am peeved by the ubiquitous replacement of those two niceties by "No problem". Really? It's no problem? I am thrilled beyond belief that my purchasing one of your products or services or paying you for doing your job has not caused too much of an inconvenience. I'm just hoping it won't be a problem if I come back.
Where did that phrase come from? It has crept into our lives. It has permeated the service and hospitaltiy industry where we most need to sound appreciative of client and customers. And telling someone that their patronage has not created a problem seems like a negative take on their decision to use our services.
I haven't resorted to voicing my 'pet peeve' to the person who delivered the "no problem' response. Mostly because I would be ranting too many times in a day and would most likely be met with eye rolls, raised eyebrows and pitiful glances and requests for my weekend pass.
But, please tell me I am not alone in this. And I know it's not all about the "younger generation." I see and hear this from every age group. The other day a wonderful man in his later years held the door for me at a mall. I said "Thank you". He said.....you guessed it, "No problem."
I would prefer to think that the offering of a common, albeit, forgotten civility was more of a pleasure than the 'lack of a problem'. And likewise with choosing to spend my money and my time on a service or business. That choice I made would be met with gratitude and appreciation instead of assuring me I have not put anyone out, or inconvenienced their day.
I want to send a nod of appreciation to whomever is in charge at the PetroCan station in Elmsdale, NS. I know you can't do much about the gas prices, but at least when I choose to spend my dollars there and say thank you to the clerk, I am rewarded with, "MY PLEASURE". Doesn't that sound so much better than "NO PROBLEM". Doesn't it?
I recently blogged about the mental tools we employ when making a decision about buying a home. Then, Voila, I come across an article from EMC news on how a good school can affect that decision. It offers some valuable pointers on determining the reputation of individual schools.
The article also provides a couple of website addresses that rate schools. They would be truly valuable if Canadian schools were included. And they might well be, but I couldn't seem to find any Canadian content. Nonetheless, I think the the article is still helpful. I hope you do too. I grew up in the East Hants area of Nova Scotia. I live and work here and have raised my children here. If you would like to ask me about the schools in this wonderful Nova Scotia community, I would be thrilled to tell you what I think.
Here is the EMC article: "There are many factors buyers consider when shopping for a home. From the number of bedrooms to the size of the backyard, prospective buyers have their priorities with what they're looking for in a home. Parents to young children or couples who are planning to start a family soon should also consider the school system.
Although granite countertops and interior living area may be foremost on the minds of house shoppers, individuals also have to take school districts into consideration when looking at homes, particularly if they're concerned about giving their children the best education possible. According to research by The Wall Street Journal, buyers are willing to pay more for a property if it is in a good school district. That's because even if they do not have children, buyers know that a good school district helps a home remain attractive.
Not all schools are created equal, and some rank better in test scores and teacher-to-student ratios than others. These are essential factors to think about when looking at homes. Although real estate agents can offer some basic information about what schools are in the area, legally they may not be able to share opinions on how "good"the schools are or be able to break down the demographics of student populations. It is typically up to the buyer to do his or her own research.
Because the tax dollars that home owners pay largely go to fund schools and town improvements, it is important to look at the schools. Also, if the home will be a stepping stone to another home in a few years, buyers want to ensure their home has the best chance for resale. Oftentimes, a good school district is a factor future buyers will think about.
There are some Web sites that can help prospective buyers look at the schools in the areas they are considering. GreatSchools.net and Education.com are two of the premier sites. They break down test scores, demographics, parent and student reviews and many other things that are vital to getting a picture of the school as a whole. The sites also use a ranking system from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) to show how the school stands in comparison to others in terms of test scores.
Buyers also may want to make a trip to visit the area they're considering during school hours. This way they can drive by the school and see for themselves the type of students and parents entering or exiting the building. One also may want to set up a brief meeting with the principal to learn more about the ideals of the school and its goals.
It's also necessary to look at the proximity of the school to the house. Some towns have rules in place regarding busing or walking to school. Students who live within a certain distance from the school may have to find their own transportation to and from school. This is something to mull over.
Families that are interested in a host of extracurricular activities can also evaluate the town or school district based on the sports or other opportunities offered to students.
Be advised that the school closest to a home might not be the one a student will attend. Zoning laws, and not necessarily proximity, often dictate where a student will attend school. Therefore, it is important to check with the real estate agent or town to ensure the research being done is for the correct school.
Some parents prefer their children go to private school, and many towns and cities have a number of options. In addition to the public schools, agents should be able to point buyers toward the private schools in the area. Some may be able to list tuition costs and acceptance requirements.
Having a picture of the school district in the area buyers are considering will help offer a better idea of the neighborhood and the people around whom they'll be living. School districts are important to consider when buying a home, so much so that buyers are willing to pay a little more if it means having a good school in their area"
When you think people are going to zig, they zag. Why do we decide to do the things we do? And that applies to the biggest decision many of us make. Like buying or selling a home, and most of us think we have perfectly rational reasons for planning a move. But how much do you really know about the decision making process? What influences how we make up our mind? Why do we make the choices we make?
I often try to read peoples minds about their different property choices. But I am a sales person, not a psychologist.
If you're thinking about the possibility of a move in the next 6 - 12 months, you might like to read up on the science of decision making. There are a number of stellar books out recently (and in the recent past!) which shed some light on the inner workings of our brains when it comes to choice, satisfaction with our choices, and the agony of selection.
Here are few good ones and a "sound bite" from the reviews:
The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar
"Sheena Iyengar asks the difficult questions about how and why we choose: Is the desire for choice innate or bound by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we choose? Sheena Iyengar's award-winning research reveals that the answers are surprising and profound."
The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz
"Schwartz tells us that constantly being asked to make choices, even about the simplest things, forces us to "invest time, energy, and no small amount of self-doubt, and dread." There comes a point, he contends, at which choice becomes debilitating rather than liberating."
The Emotional Hostage: Rescuing Your Emotional Life by Leslie Cameron-Bandler and Michael Lebeau
"Often we feel trapped and at the mercy of emotions that we don't want. This book teaches how to gain control over our emotional lives by discovering the many factors that together arouse our feelings."
If you need someone to talk to about your decision to buy or sell, I'd be glad to listen. Get in touch soon! Contact me anytime at my office 902-488-3937 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I came across this interesting infographic in the Washington Post recently called "Anatomy of a Burglary," which reveals some fascinating statistics about break-ins, including a few ways to protect your valuables and deter thieves.
Some interesting facts:
* Most burglaries occur between 10AM and 3PM.
* The typical house burglar is a male teenager who lives within a couple of miles of your home.
* Burglars spend on an average between 8 and 12 minutes inside your home.
Not only did the graphic detail the most common entry points for a burglar, but it also offered these helpful tips for protecting your home:
* A home with a security system is 3 times less likely to be broken into than a home without a security system. (Even if you don't have one, buying the stickers for them can deter an amateur.)
* Consider alternatives to the master bedroom for hiding valuables. It's the first place most burglars go.
* Burglars want to spend fewer than 60 seconds breaking in. Anything you can do to lengthen that time will increase the likelihood they'll pass on your house.
* The appearance of an unoccupied home is what typically attracts burglars. Not bringing the garbage cans back up a few days after trash day can be a big sign you're not around.
For a detailed look at the infographic, visit the Washington Post site here:
Protect your home and your valuables! Common sense is often enough to keep you from becoming a victim. And remember: Keep an inventory of your possessions for insurance purposes.
Quality of your neighborhood got you nervous? Looking to move to a nicer postal code? I'd be glad to help you find a safer home. Contact me! 902-488-3937 or email me email@example.com
Hosting out of town guests soon? Going the extra mile when hosting out-of-town guests can be both affordable and reflect the charms of your town. Here are some handy tips I like to share with clients who have friends staying in the wonderful Elmsdale area.
For the guest room:
Clear out a nice space for your guests items. Even a section of a closet or a dedicated set of shelves / drawers will help them feel welcome.
Fresh flowers are a great way to make an average guest room seem like a little dose of "B&B" treatment.
Provide local information on the nightstand; local maps, history, and points of interest are great ideas. And we have some great hiking spots in Oakfield, Grand Lake, Nine Mile River, and some local secret gems of trails if you know where to look. Just ask me sometime.
Giving guests a spare set of keys and showing them how to use the alarm (if you have one) is a great way to make sure they can come and go as they please.
People are often starving after a long day on the road! Have some food available as soon as your friends arrive.
Let them know "what's mine is yours" right away. Books, blankets, whatever they need. Don't assume they'll ask or feel comfortable with your possessions.
While they're staying:
Take them food shopping at one of our local stores or markets. If they like to cook, plan to make a meal together. It can be intimate, relaxing, and affordable.
Go beyond the tourist destinations! Show them "how locals do." Try some of our local pubs and unigue dining spots. And we're so close to the city of Halifax or Dartmouth, 20 minutes will find you surrounded by lively night life and shopping.
If they drink, offering a little "wind me down" cocktail at night is nice. Nothing says "Nova Scotia" like cocktails in the kitchen.
If it doesn't break the bank, find small, local souvenir you can send them home with. We have some gift shops in the area.
By the way, I'd love to meet your house guests! They might just like East Hants so much, they'd consider moving here. If you're out and about, give me ring or drop me a line so we can meet! Contact me today: 902-488-3937 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you ever wish you lived closer to work? Some of the happiest people I know have the shortest commutes. Traffic stress, the cost of gasoline, and the hours wasted on the road take their toll.
Well, if you've ever been looking for a reason to move closer to your work, this might just send you over the edge. The truth is, it could be a major financial mistake not to cut a long commute out of your life.
This eye-opening infographic from StreamlineRefinance.net shows you how much more home you can afford when you eliminate a long commute from your life. From their math, it looks to be anywhere from $15,900 (1 mile reduction) to an astonishing $477,000 (30 mile reduction)!
While you might have some arguments against their assumptions, I think the graphic is useful all the same: It gets you thinking about how you value your time and the "hidden costs" of a long drive to your livelihood!
Check out the infographic for yourself: It's in US dollars, so it won't be to the penny for us Canadians, but still very relevant.
Thinking it might be time to move closer to your job? I work with families relocating all the time, and would love to help you sell your current home and find a perfect upgrade closer to work! Contact me today: 902-488-3937 or email@example.com
Are you selling your stuff?
That is one of the questions I will ask a seller who is reluctant to declutter. After providing some great stats on home staging and experiences of selling homes for over a decade, some sellers say "I don't see what difference it will make. They're not buying my stuff."
"True enough", I say. "So why are you showing them your stuff?"
You see, If you are only selling your house, why would you want a potential buyer distracted by your 1960's vinyl collection, or your menagerie of Bolivian stone farm animals? They are appealing to you and probably to many others. But they are also taking the focus off your house. And they are making the space look smaller than it actually is.
And aren't you moving anyway? Why not get a headstart on the packing by boxing up everything you don't need during the sale period. You don't have to spend money on storage space. Neatly packed and piled boxes in a corner of the garage or in a corner of your home are not a distraction. Everything you don't need includes most of the childrens toys. (They'll have fun unpacking them once you relocate if they haven't seen them in awhile. And maybe even not miss them at all which means you have a good start on keeping the new place decluttered). Family photos should be kept to a bare minimum. I have shown homes to buyers who spend too much time looking at family photos trying to figure out why the sellers look familiar.
And the kitchen; wow. I had no idea how many kitchen gadgets there are. Open up those cupboards and drawers and remove everything you haven't used to open,poke, peel, cut, chop, incinerate,mulch,dissect,tie,or wrap. Don't put them far, because you might just need to deseed the dragon fruit someday soon. This will show your kitchen drawers and cubboards as being spacious and tidy. This leads the buyers to envision all of their gadgetry in your space. That's when a buyer starts to buy; when they imagine what their house will look like with their stuff in it.
That envisioning can only take place when they can actually see the space. Homes sell faster and at a higher price if they are decluttered and depersonalized.
There are many books, websites and articles dedicated to this subject. And for good reason. It's true and it works everytime.
In real estate the prospecting tool that strikes fear in the heart of most agents is door knocking. It literally puts you face to face with the possibility of being rejected, of having doors slammed, of intruding on peoples lives. It's a brave, and eventually an effective way to prospect.
I know I am not alone in saying it is something I have never mastered. Unless I am doing it for someone else. Which is what I and several of our agents and volunteers did on Saturday, November 26, 2011. And it is what we have done every year at this time since 2006. We door knock for the Caring and Sharing Foodbank.
We fill trucks and trucks of non perishable food by visiting the residential areas. We go from door to door with open bags asking for donations to the foodbank. And people greet us with open hearts, kitchens and wallets. We live in a very generous. giving community. Our unique food drive effort is popular as it allows people to donate from the comfort of their own doorsteps.
Sometimes children answering the door will eagerly try and clear the pantry of lima beans before the parents catch on. But we take lima beans. Sometimes people invite us in and want to chat. But we're on a mission. And delivering nearly one thousand pounds of food to the foodbank takes a lot of time and volunteer power.
It's amazing how easy it is to knock on the door of a stranger in order to help someone else out. Help many out, actually. Because the number of people relying on our foodbank is not small.
I am pretty proud to be part of a team who willingly give up a Saturday, usually a precious day off, to help fill the shelves of our local foodbank. And, as a Broker and Co-owner of this company, if that is the only time they venture out to knock on doors, I'm good with that. Giving back to the community pays off in many ways.
One of the things that makes an item appealing is finding out someone else wants it. This can cause a warm fuzzy feeling of satisfaction if you already own the thing. But if there is a competition to get it, then panic can set in. That 'nice to have item' can become that "I GOTTA HAVE THAT".
If that item happens to be a house, the frustration and anxiety can take on mammoth porportions. Here are some tips to help you avoid ending up in that situation.
1. If you are indeed house hunting,and... you KNOW I am going to say this, it is vital you have a qualified real estate agent helping you out. Pick one that knows the area for obvious reasons. Pick one with whom you connect and feel comfortable with and trust. Because when you need someone in your corner negotiating hard, you need to be confident your wishes and expectations are known and respected. And don't pick one by calling around to listed properties. Ask around. Ask for a recommendation from people you know. Google the area in which you are interested for active real estate agents. Visit their websites, call a local real estate company in the area and ask to meet with an agent.
2. Get preapproved. Many people might expect this to be number 1 on the list. But when you connect with a real estate agent first, they will often have mortgage experts offering deals that a regular visit to the bank would not reveal.
3. When your agent sends you information on a listing, book an appointment as soon as you can. As consumers we readily take time off work to visit the dentist, the doctor, the lawyer, the accountant. But when it comes to visiting the largest financial investment you could possibly make, you put it off until you have 'time'. And often, by the time that "time" comes, that house is already under contract. So, if the house is appealing to you, get there asap.
4. If you like the home you viewed, WRITE an offer. Most people know pretty quickly if this is the home for them the minute they walk in the door. After over a decade of selling houses, I have heard hundreds of times; "We knew right away that this was the house for us". Go with your gut.
5. This does not mean you have bought the house. It means you are creating some paperwork that will put the home under contract so no one else can buy it. What is heartbreaking to a real estate agent who has worked to locate properties for buyers is having them say, "We need to think about it." And then receive a call a day or so later from the buyers ready to write an offer. And we have to say, "I'm sorry, someone else already has."
6. There are conditions that have to be met in every Agreement of Purchase and Sale. And that time frame allows you to consider the features of the house and confirm they meet your needs. Heating costs, taxes, lay of the land, neighborhood amenities, condition of the home after an inspection report is created for you, financing. You'll have time to "think about it", believe me. And chances are you'll like it even more. And if you don't, you have every right to walk away.
An overly cautious consumer might say, "Yeah, but you have to look before you leap." Absolutely. And your real estate agent whom you trust is doing the looking. You do the leaping and we'll make sure you land right side up. And you might have a real estate agent who quotes back, "Yeah, but he who hesitates is lost, and follow it up with, the early bird gets the worm". I think then you know you've found a match.
Happy House Hunting.
I just returned from the 13th annual Exit Realty Corp convention in Nashville TN. And yes, I hit the Grand Ole Opry, and I visited some local sites and watering holes. Lots of fun and a great tourist experience.
But nothing rivals the experience of the convention itself. Connecting live with over one thousand real estate professionals could be considered a nightmare to the uninitiated. But when you love the real estate biz, it is exciting to have an entire week to bubble about it with like-minded folks. And to be present in a room when people the likes of Aron Ralston (127 Hours) relate their true life-altering encounter with a boulder is chilling, inspiring and life-altering itself for many of us present.
And do you know what kind of a Serengeti inhabitant you most resemble? An amazing presentation by Stefan Swanenpoel reveals how several creatures who call this incredible landscape home have characteristics that can be compared to human traits. It's extremely compelling. I am relieved, however, that the appearance is not taken into consideration. Otherwise I wouldn't be so proud to be a crocodile. "Don't be taken in by the welcome grin. He's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin."
Exit Realty Corp puts on an incredible show each and every convention. And it is topped off at the end of the week with the Grand President's Ball. What other time do we get to don a gorgeous gown or a tux? And every year a lucky participant can win up to $100,000.00!! Is there another Real Estate company that does this? Wouldn't matter. Exit is the company where success in all aspects of life is honoured. And that is a rare bird indeed.
We'll be back in Nashville again for 2012.
I am hiring a home inspector to pre-inspect some of my listings.
Buying a home is expensive. If we can minimize the cost without maximizing the risk, why not?
I'll be advertising the first home as Pre inspected and ready to go. It's a great boost for first-time homebuyers.