Did you know that FSBOs —homes that are For Sale by Owner — account for only about 8 percent of home sales? Or that many properties that start out as FSBOs end up being listed with and sold by a Realtor? Here’s why so many people sell their homes with the help of a real estate agent:
More exposure. Homes offered by owner get less exposure to home buyers, and in multiple offer situations, fewer bidders. The higher the number of bidders on a property and the more exposure a property gets, the better, when it comes to a home’s selling price.
Pricing assistance. A common mistake among those selling on their own is pricing their property too high or too low. A real estate agent is armed with information that can help you price your property right so that it sells quickly without leaving money on the table. So it’s not difficult to understand why the typical FSBO home sold for $185,000 compared with $240,000 for agent-assisted home sales. Real estate agents can be a tremendous help in setting the right listing price and helping home sellers get the most for their property.
Assistance with selling process. Real estate agents do many tasks other than simply helping you get the most money for your property. Agents manage all of the required paperwork involved in selling a home, help the seller determine things they should do before they list their home and during the listing process, and coordinate the other professionals involved in a home sale, such as an inspector and appraiser.
Moving into a new home? If you have children, it’s a great time to make sure your home is safe for the smallest members of your household. Every 30 minutes a child in the United States is injured as a result of a TV or furniture tip-over incident. Most of those injuries happen at home, involving children younger than 7 years of age.
So how do these injuries happen? Generally, they come from climbing. Children spot a toy atop a dresser or bookshelf and decide to monkey their way to it. The unfortunate result is that the child’s weight tips the furniture over. When it comes to television sets – which constitute about half of all injuries – the problem usually comes from oversized screens toppling over.
What can you do to keep your children safe? Here are tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
Secure your television. Televisions that are not wall mounted should still be anchored so they won’t topple over.
Read all instructions. Follow all manufacturer instructions to secure TVs and furniture.
Secure top-heavy furniture. Bookshelves, dressers and other types of furniture are prone to tip-overs. Secure furniture to the wall and/or install anti-tipping devices.
Remove tempting objects. Remove items that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys and remote controls, from the top of the TV and furniture.
For tips on how to make your home safe, check out this guide.
In the market for a new home? Purchasing a home is definitely something we don’t do every day. So it’s easy to make mistakes, and when it comes to home buying, mistakes can be costly. Here are some of the most common errors made by first-time buyers, as well as those who already have purchased a home or two before.
Shopping before getting pre-approved. Pre-approval is essentially a commitment from a mortgage company to provide you with a home loan up to a certain level based on your financial circumstances. Without consulting with a mortgage company first, you aren’t going to know how much house you can afford. And if you find a home you want to buy, most sellers today may disregard offers from buyers who aren’t pre-approved by a mortgage company. Get pre-approved before you start looking at homes.
Looking for homes on your own. Don’t go it alone. You’ll want the experience and knowledge of a real estate agent on your side. An agent can provide another perspective on the home you are thinking about buying and help you avoid common home-buying mistakes.
Using up all your cash on a down payment. Many buyers want to put as much as possible down on their home purchase to lower their monthly payment and/or to reduce or eliminate mortgage insurance premiums. Just make sure you have enough cash remaining for unexpected expenses after you’ve bought your home.
Skipping the home inspection. Never (ever) skip a home inspection when buying a home, if at all possible. A quality home inspection can reveal critical information about a home’s condition you’ll want to know before you sign on the dotted line.
Buying things. Hold off on purchases of items such as furniture before you complete your home purchase. Your home loan pre-approval is dependent on your current financial situation. This isn’t the time to be adding more financial obligations or draining your savings account.
Applying for a home loan? As a mortgage borrower, you will have two rates — your mortgage rate and your Annual Percentage Rate, or APR.
What is the difference between the two? Your mortgage rate is the base rate you’ll be charged to borrow the money needed to buy your home. This is the rate that directly affects your monthly payment.
Your APR takes into account your interest rate and points, mortgage broker fees, and other charges that you have to pay to get your home loan. The federal government requires lenders to calculate APR and provide it to consumers. The idea behind the Annual Percentage Rate is to help consumers more accurately compare rates among different lenders and loan products. Your APR is typically higher than your quoted mortgage rate.
Many first-time buyers are shocked when reviewing home loan documents to see a higher rate than they had expected. But look carefully. At closing, you should see both your APR and your actual mortgage rate on your loan documents. And don’t forget to ask questions if something doesn’t look right. Review documents carefully while your home loan is being processed and on closing day.
A pre-purchase home inspection is a recommended part of the home buying process. An investment of about $300 to $500 can help you avoid an unexpected defect that could cost thousands of dollars, even tens of thousands, after you sign on the dotted line. Here are some questions to help you select the right home inspector for you:
How long have you been an inspector? How many inspections have you performed? An inspector should be able to provide an overview of his or her qualifications and background as well as some customer referrals. Ask if the inspector is a member of any state or national inspection organizations, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors, or if they have participated in any type of continuing education.
What does your inspection cover? Home inspections typically cover the basic systems of a home, such as the electrical and heating systems, and the roof. If you want more specialized information about a home, such as a radon test, termite report or to certify it has no structural or septic issues, you likely will need to hire a specialist to do those inspections and/or tests.
Do you provide a written report? The answer should be ‘yes.’ An inspector should be able to provide samples of the written reports they provide their customers. The report on your property should be furnished within 24 hours of the inspection.
Will I be able to attend the inspection? Again, the answer should be ‘yes.’ And you should consider being there during the inspection. It’s a great opportunity to learn a lot about the property you are about to purchase. Some inspections can take two or more hours.
Your inspector will play an important role in the purchase of your home. Here are some more questions that can help you choose wisely.