Although the weather is turning colder, selling and buying do not need to be put on ice until spring. The fall and winter months still provide great opportunities in the real estate market, and based on recent market statistics the inventory of homes on the market is holding steady.
One upside to selling or buying a home in the cooler months is a decrease in competition compared to the booming spring and summer months. Less competition for the seller usually means a higher sales price and for the buyer fewer buyers mean not as many multiple offer situations.
Before you jump into the fall and winter market I would like to remind you of a few steps that can make the process more efficient and enjoyable.
▪ For the buyer, get your financial house in order.
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The first step in the home-buying process is to take a careful and realistic look at your financial situation to determine what you can afford. Nothing is more heartbreaking than to fall in love with a home only to find out that you can’t buy it.
Realtors strongly recommend (and may require) that prior to viewing homes buyers secure a pre-approval letter. Don’t start shopping until you are pre-approved. A great way to begin is by contacting a bank or mortgage broker. They will be able to educate you about available financing programs and help you determine what best fits your needs. They will also be able to help you determine how much you can afford and what you can expect when it comes to closing costs and monthly mortgage payments.
For anyone considering buying a home today, it’s more crucial than ever to understand the central role your credit plays in your ability to purchase. Obtaining your credit report will give you visibility to your credit history, allowing you to gauge your current financial standing and monitor changes to your score that might positively or negatively impact your ability to obtain financing. You can get a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
▪ For the seller, get your house in order.
Pricing and staging are crucial in any season. When you have a showing during the winter months, buyers are usually very motivated and need to purchase. Condition and price are even more important because fewer showings mean you may have only one opportunity to make a good first impression. Many buyers change jobs or relocate in the last and first quarters of the year.
▪ Work with a Realtor.
Regardless of whether you are buying or selling, one of the most important steps you can take is partnering with a Realtor to help guide you through this experience, ensuring that your best interest is represented. Make sure your agent has the experience and expertise to guide you along the way.
Talk to your friends and family for referrals or find a Realtor at www.KCRealtorLink.com. Interview several agents to make sure you and your agent have the same goals in mind. Most likely this will be one of the biggest transactions in your lifetime and you want to make sure that you and your agent can work well together throughout this exciting process.
▪ Understand the current market conditions.
Trust and listen to your Realtor’s advice about the current real estate market and how prices and demand can vary greatly from one area to another. By understanding the market, you will be able to more quickly reach your real estate goals. Your Realtor will be able to advise you throughout the entire process from the initial offer, negotiating the contract and closing on your home — a complex series of events that can require a great deal of knowledge and attention to detail.
As you can see, preparation can make all the difference in the home buying and selling process. It is still a great time to buy and sell. Call a Realtor today and get the process started.
Kathy Minden is 2014 president of the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors.