Charlotte, NC Home Buyers and Sellers - if you are planning to buy or sell a home in 2010, I have some great New Year's resolutions for you to consider as you prepare for this exciting event in your life!
Charlotte, NC is still a great place to buy a home! While crises in the US housing and mortgage markets drove home values down in much of the country, Charlotte only suffered relatively slight declines (see chart below). With mortgage interest rates at historic lows, home prices at affordable levels, and the home buyer tax credit set to EXPIRE on April 30, 2010, there hasn't been a better time to buy in many years.
So here are a few NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS to help Charlotte buyers and Sellers GET READY:
For Home Buyers in Charlotte, NC:
- Clear up any issues on your credit report. Contact Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion for a free credit report. Clear up any errors immediately. Strive for credit scores above 680; over 720 will earn you the best mortgage rates. If you have credit problems, RESOLVE to clean them up BEFORE you apply for a mortgage!
- Start collecting all of your financial information to prepare for your mortgage loan application. Click here for a list of items you will need to provide to your lender. RESOLVE to be financially organized - it will make the process less stressful for you!
- Get PRE-APPROVED by the mortgage lender of your choice. Talk to your lender to determine your purchasing power, and find out the monthly mortgage payment (including taxes, insurance and HOA dues) that is COMFORTABLE for YOU! Just because your lender says you can afford a $200,000 home, doesn't necessarily mean that you will be comfortable with the mortgage payment. RESOLVE to get pre-approved before you shop - it will strengthen your buying power!
- Check out the Home Buyer Tax Credit, and understand how it may benefit YOU! Here's my blog on the Home Buyer Tax Credit. If you qualify, RESOLVE to BE UNDER CONTRACT by April 30, 2010, and CLOSED by June 30, 2010.
- Interview and select a qualified REALTOR to represent YOU in the real estate transaction. Typically, sellers pay the realtors' commission, so buyers typically get representation for free (check with your realtor regarding his/her brokerage's policy). RESOLVE to hire a REALTOR represent YOUR best interests.
- Begin your home search online. Go to my website and click on "Search for Property" in the upper left-hand corner. I can also set you up on your own personal Multiple Listing Service (MLS) search which will email you with new listings that fit your search criteria. Email me to start your private search today. RESOLVE to KNOW your target market!
- Identify your NEEDS vs. WANTS. With your Realtor, discuss what you MUST have in your new home as well as features that would be deal breakers. This list may change as you go out looking at homes, but RESOLVE to give some serious thought to which features are necessities and which are simply wants.
- Look at homes with your Realtor (the fun part!). It's a good idea to take notes and pictures as you go through houses and neighborhoods, as you may forget details. RESOLVE to rate these homes for location, condition, price, amenities and emotional feel.
- Write a competitive offer - Ask your realtor to provide you with comps of recent sales in the neighborhood so that you can come up with a realistic offer price. Remember that your lender will order an appraisal as part of the loan condition; if the home doesn't appraise, you won't get the loan! If your dream is a short sale, prepare to have to WAIT from 2 weeks to 3 months for a response to your offer. If the home is a "flip" house, make sure it has been 90 days since the home was purchased, or this home may not qualify for a mortgage. RESOLVE to consider all aspects of the offer - price, down payment and earnest money amounts, loan terms, closing costs, and closing date - in coming up with a good, fair offer.
- Hire professionals to inspect your home. After negotiations and contract acceptance, hire a professional inspector(s) to inspect your home to assess its condition and find any defects or repairs needed. Ask your Realtor for recommended inspectors, and look for one certified by NACHI. Depending on the age of the house, you may need additional HVAC, structural, roofing and plumbing inspectors. RESOLVE to protect your investment by finding out what's wrong with your house BEFORE you buy it!
- WAIT, WAIT, WAIT! Your home passed inspections and appraisal, now it's time to patiently wait for loan approval from your lender. Your Realtor will keep you up to date during this process. RESOLVE to communicate regularly with your lender to ensure that the process is on schedule, and be ready to provide additional documentation to loan underwriters, if requested.
- Closing Day - The Finish Line. Your Realtor will take you on a final walk-through of your new home to ensure that all promised repairs have been completed and that the home is in the same condition as when you contracted for it. RESOLVE to make sure everything is correct, because after closing, it's too late!
- Move in and ENJOY! Your new home is READY for you to move in! RESOLVE to properly maintain your home, as it is most likely your most valuable asset.
For Home Sellers in Charlotte, NC:
- Hire an experienced Realtor to list your home. Interview several Realtors to find one who's marketing plan and personality meets your needs. Your Realtor will prepare a comprehensive Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) that will provide you with a realistic list price range and probable sales price. Remember, current market value is what a buyer is willing to pay for your home in today's market, based on comparable sales; what you paid or what you owe is irrelevant to what a buyer is willing to pay. RESOLVE to price your home competitively, or it will likely sit with no offers.
- Have your home pre-inspected. Identifying problems and correcting them before you are under contract (and under the buyer's microscope and time frame) will put you in a stronger negotiating position and will reduce stress and surprises. Virtually EVERY buyer will hire inspectors, so RESOLVE to find and fix any problems in YOUR time frame, with YOUR contractor/repairman.
- Allow your Realtor to "stage" your home. We live in homes differently from how we sell them. This mostly involves de-cluttering, cleaning and painting. You want your home to appeal to the BROADEST pool of potential buyers. RESOLVE to listen to your Realtor's suggestions for staging your home to sell.
- Spruce up your "Curb Appeal." Your home's first impression is the MOST important! Regular lawn maintenance, flowers, and a welcoming front door will help buyers make an emotional attachment to your house. RESOLVE to spruce up your lawn and entry.
- Does your home pass the "sniff test?" Neutralize/eliminate offensive odors from pets, smoking, cooking, etc. RESOLVE to deep-clean your home so that it smells fresh and sparkles.
- Provide convenient access for showings. The more accessible you make your home, the better the chance of finding a buyer. RESOLVE to keep your home show-ready at all times, and to make it easy for buyer agents to set up showing appointments.
- Let your emotions take a backseat during negotiations. In today's buyer's market, don't be offended by a lowball offer. RESOLVE to allow your Realtor to negotiate for price, terms and conditions that are fair and meet your needs, so that you can MOVE ON with your life.
- Be prepared to make necessary repairs. Your buyers' inspection will likely uncover some repairs. RESOLVE to work with your Realtor to separate necessary repairs from cosmetic items, and be fair in agreeing to make necessary repairs as set forth in the contract.
- Go to closing, and collect your sales proceeds! If you have sufficient equity in your home, closing day is a HAPPY DAY! Your mortgage will be paid off, and after closing expenses, you get to keep the rest! Many will use their proceeds to buy their next house!
If you are thinking about buying or selling real estate in Charlotte, NC, I would be happy to help you every step of the way! Check out my business philosophy and testimonials at my website www.MelissaBrownHomes.com.