This time of year, people make all sorts of resolutions for the coming year. When it comes to real estate, resolutions don’t necessarily apply, because it’s unlikely you’d do a real estate transaction each year. And you can’t actually resolve to buy your neighbor’s house or sell your $350,000 home for $1 million.
Some things are simply out of your control. But as a potential buyer or seller, you can learn from and make resolutions based on those who have gone before you. Here are the top five 2013 Real Estate Resolutions to get you started.
1. Buyers: Get your financial house in order
Meet with a mortgage professional early in the year. Know your credit score and what your financial situation looks like from a lender‘s perspective. If you have credit issues, identify them now and start correcting them. Sometimes, it can take six months for your FICO score to move up the much-needed 20 points to get you a better mortgage rate. A good real estate agent can recommend an experienced, local mortgage processional.
2. Sellers: Start thinking of your home as a product
When it comes time to sell, your home becomes another product on the market. Buyers will compare it and its price to competing properties. So you have to put your best foot forward, because the properties that are priced right and show well sell the quickest. To begin, start clearing out old stuff now. If there are things deep in your closets you don’t think you’ll use before you move, consider a storage locker. Does your basement needs a paint job? Get some bids now. Have you always hated how the bathroom vanity takes up so much space? Get rid of it; your potential buyers will perceive your bathroom as bigger. Getting started now will also help you spread out the costs of home repairs.
3. Buyers: Start feeling out the market
Buyers usually need a couple of months learning the marketing, understanding home values, the prices per neighborhood and the market in general. Going to open houses in your desired neighborhoods allows you to start feeling out the market. It may also be the best way to meet your future real estate agent.
4. Sellers: Understand your timing and exit strategy
Selling and buying at the same time brings up all kinds of financial, emotional and physical stress. Can you afford to close on the new home before selling? If so, for how long? Do you need to sell the property first? If so, will the potential sale price support a home purchase in the neighborhood you want to be in? If not, what other areas should you be looking in? It’s a lot to think about, and having your timing and exit strategy in place early on will help alleviate some stress.
5. Buyers and sellers: Get an agent now
Engaging a real estate agent early in the process will allow you to have an expert on hand as you start to put the pieces together. A good real estate agent doesn’t just show and sell homes: They are your strategic adviser, even well in advance of any actual transaction.