Buying a Home: What You Should Know About Home Inspections

north conway home inspectionWhen you buy a property, a home inspection may not be required. However, the little amount of money you spend to check for deficiencies and potential issues will be worth the cost. Each state’s language in the Contract to Purchase is different, and your real estate agent will be able to explain the process specific to the state in which you reside.

A home inspection done right will benefit both the buyer and the seller. If issues are present, the seller will be made aware and hopefully take steps to have those issues resolved. You, as the buyer, will be better prepared to make an educated and informative home purchase.

What is involved in a home inspection, and what can you expect when you arrange for one?

Finding a Qualified Inspector

  • Although your real estate agent may pass on recommendations for home inspectors, you ultimately decide who to hire for this process. Ask him or her for proof of state certification or membership in the NACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors), NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors), how many inspections they have performed, and proof of licensing (if state required).
  • Inquire as to whether the inspector carries “errors and omissions” insurance.
  • Work with a home inspector who does not mind you coming along for the process. Good communication is key, and a professional will be willing to answer your questions and not mind explaining things.
  • The cost for the inspection will be dependent on several factors, including the experience of the inspector, the type of home, and the location. However, cost is not the most important factor you should consider.

What to Expect From the Inspection

Since the mid-1970s, standard guidelines for home inspections have been in place.The world’s largest organization of residential and commercial property inspectors (NACHI), has set forth International Standards of Practice for home inspections.

A qualified home inspector should focus on:

  • Exterior areas such as the roof, foundation, flashings, and gutters
  • Electrical outlets and switches
  • Walls, ceilings, and floors
  • Central air and heating systems
  • Plumbing
  • Attic, basement, and garage
  • Attached porches and decks

What a Home Inspection is Not

  • Home inspectors are not superheroes, with the power to see behind walls or look into the future for potential problems. A home inspection is based on what he or she can see, including obvious defects that may negatively affect the home’s systems.
  • A home inspection is not a pest inspection.
  • A home inspection is not a guarantee or a warranty.
  • A home inspector is not required (when a part of NAHI and NACHI) to determine the presence of mold or mildew.
  • A home inspection will not go into detail concerning every nook and cranny of the home.

A high quality, professional home inspection will be worth both your time and the cost required. Although no process is perfect, and future predictions on a home’s quality are difficult to determine, a home inspection can bring peace of mind as you journey through the world of purchasing a home.

Buying and Owning a Timeshare: Pros and Cons

north conway nh homesWhen you think about purchasing a piece of real estate, you probably do not picture a timeshare as part of that scenario. You may or may not be familiar with the concept of a timeshare, those often talked about getaway spots in which travelers share ownership. The idea of timeshare, also referred to as “vacation ownership”, began in the 1960s. Simply put, this means you buy into a piece of vacation property, you pay an annual maintenance fee, and you share the right to use that property. Owners are given a specific timeframe (such as a particular week each year) in which to utilize their accommodations.

There are 1,600 timeshare resorts in the U.S. and more than 7 million intervals are owned across the country. If you love to travel, timeshare may seem like a better option than dealing with the hassle of trying to find a hotel room each time you take a trip.

There are pros and cons to owning and buying into a timeshare. Read on to see if vacation ownership is the right decision for you.

Pros
• New and different experiences: If you would rather stay at the same property each time you use your time, a standard timeshare is your best option. Point-based programs and flex plans allow you to share during different seasons and with different accommodations. Timeshare swap allows you to change locations based on your vacation preferences.
• Maintenance-free: When you pay your annual maintenance fees (which vary be resort), it should go toward expenses like landscaping, appliance upkeep, furniture, and repairs.
• Homelike amenities: Instead of paying for a single hotel room, your investment in a timeshare oftentimes means spacious and comfortable condos, cabins, or other similar units.
• Flexibility: If you need to switch weeks, change locations, or change your accommodation type for the time you own, the process usually involves a fee but is a fairly standard process.

Cons
• Initial purchase price: The price of your timeshare will depend on several factors, including location and the current market for timeshares. The average price for a one-week timeshare in 2012 was about $19,000. Purchasing a used timeshare can cost significantly less.
• Fees: Annual fees for maintenance, mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, and possible real estate fees when a property is sold need to be considered. All fees should be outlined clearly in the timeshare contract.
• Cost to travel: If you live in the north and your timeshare is on the southern coast, the cost to travel to your property will also need to be considered.
• Not an investment: Making money when you decided to sell a timeshare is rare. The FTC advises consumers to be aware that the value of a timeshare lies in its use as a vacation option and not as an investment.

When making a decision in regards to a real estate investment such as a timeshare, it is important to stay educated, understand all documents, and spend your money wisely. If a vacation deal sounds too good to be true, it most likely is a scam. Reputable and professional timeshare companies do exist and will strive to treat their potential property owners with respect and honesty.

You Think You're So Smart

north-conway-real-estate-educationMy brother once told me, if they took my brain and put it on a razor blade, it would look like a bb going down a 6-lane highway. Perhaps you need to let that sink in a bit. Apparently he had a teacher that was educating the class on perspective. I, on the other hand, was more concerned with my Legos and cartoons to worry about such things. At the tender age of 5 or 6, it took a while for my (apparently tiny) brain to wrap itself around that concept. Later that night, literally lying awake in bed, the concept gelled for me and I was both insulted and amused. Touché’ Tyler.

Besides my love for writing and having the opportunity to chat with (at?) you every week, I am also a blossoming web developer. A few times a month I find classes or meetings to attend, in which like-minded folks get together and discuss the latest trends, a problem they are struggling with or just gossip about annoying clients. (You know who you are!) When first attending these events, I was blown away by the level of education shown from different people throughout the room. The beauty of it is, it is not always the same person. We all have strengths in different areas and all have room to grow if we choose to take the initiative.

I have found the same truth in the classes I teach on web design, social media and search engine optimization. The first time you are asked to speak in front of a group, if you’re like me, the chants of inadequacy ring loud and clear in our brains. After doing this for a few years now, I have realized (again and again) that we all excel in different areas. We can all learn something from someone else. And, most importantly, we should never stop learning. Those people are in my class for a reason.

What struck me about these monthly meetings was the fact that I could be sitting there amongst these smarty-pantses and literally not understand a single thing they were saying. But it didn’t sway me from wanting to be there. I recognize the knowledge gap and dive into it headfirst in order to absorb all that I can. Just like anything else, if you spend enough time with it, it will start to become more familiar and better understood.

“When first time homebuyers begin the process, they tend to be overwhelmed by the flow of information, terminology and acronyms,” notes Badger Realty agent, Bernadette Friberg. She continued, “I have also learned that the ones that stick with it and make the effort to learn the steps are inevitably the ones that are most successful and are anxious to do it again.”

conway nh real estate buyThe biggest advantage those first time homebuyers have, in someone like Bernadette, is a valuable resource from which they can learn. I often marvel at the progression we have made on our planet over the last few decades. I don’t think I’m alone in believing one of the chief factors in our advancements in technology, medicine, manufacturing, business, finance and other arenas is the prolific sharing of information. At one time, in the not too distant past, we received our news from folks on horseback or even ships. Discoveries made thousands of miles away were disseminated, but in a painstakingly slow (by comparison) way.

Today, we have access to nearly everything we will need to learn at the push of a button or the click of a mouse. I learned to change the air-bag sensors on a Corvette and the headlight assembly of a station wagon, from people who shared their knowledge on a video on the Internet. My brother (You know, the smart one) learned to install recessed lighting in his kitchen and build a beautiful cabinet for the basement from similar folks online. The sharing of knowledge is one of the many things that make living in this day and age, simply amazing.

Real estate is a fairly straightforward industry. The buying and selling of property is not a complicated affair, but the actual details and “ins and outs” of the process can be complicated and full of many little steps. My encouragement for you, especially you first timers, is to lean on the folks that have already mastered the process and learn from them.

We no longer live in an age where we are forced to figure everything out on our own. We live in an age in which information and education are readily available. Don’t tackle it on your own and struggle with it. Take full advantage of smart, willing and able folks ready to make your life easier! Then, when you think you’re so smart, you’ll be right!

2015 Real Estate Trends

conway nh real estate futureIf industry leaders are on target, 2015 is gearing up to be a more productive year. The 36th annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate report brings together 1,400 participants in the real estate industry to look at the year ahead and what it could hold for the housing market. As the trends in real estate for retail, residential, and industrial are studied, we get a glimpse at what might be in the coming year.

Technology is Your Friend
If you have not embraced the technological advances available to real estate companies, now is the time. Not only will it connect you with millennials, it will provide you with quick communication means and an advantage over your competitors. When you understand how homebuyers use technology, you already have an edge in this modern world.

Everything is Bigger in Texas
Houston (investment opportunity) ranks at the top of the list of “U.S. Markets to Watch”. As the Lone Star State continues to witness a strengthened economy, Austin (low cost of doing business) makes its way to #2.

Talkin’ About My Generations
Millennials (18-34) are expected to emerge as the next largest group of home buyers, and they love the cities of Denver, Austin, and San Francisco. Baby Boomers are working longer and leaders predict their future to include city-like landscapes.

It’s all in the Family
Multi-generational living arrangements are still at high levels, and apartments are still popular post-recession. As millennials consider home-buying, there could be a pattern of this in the near future.

18 Hour Days
As America evolves, no longer are we as a society bound by a nine-to-five schedule. It’s cool to walk to work, walk to the store, walk to the coffee shop, walk everywhere. As we continue the trend of downtown living, investment and development also grow in these areas.

It’s not all at the Mall
As far as the retail sector, investor and development strength ranked the lowest of major property types. The last several years have witnessed more penny-pinching, budget aware Americans holding more money in their pocket and spending less at the big malls down the street. Although some opportunity may still exist in the future for these types of investments, it may be slow.

So What’s Next?
Can the real estate industry finally exhale after several years of holding its collective breath? That remains to be seen. But 2015 looks hopeful. And as long as you weren’t too attached to shopping malls, you don’t question your neighbor living with grandma, and you can handle having a 20-year old as your boss, you should be just fine.

Five centuries from now…..the moon will be developed real estate. There's economic incentive to exploit the moon – the helium-3 will be useful in powering fusion reactors, and the rare earth elements could supplant the limited terrestrial supply of these materials.-Seth Shostak

Sneaky Selling Strategies

conway nh homeI’m a big fan of Mr. Samuel Goldwyn’s quote “The harder I work, the luckier I get”. I like the notion that if you are not happy with the situation you are currently in, make a change. Of course it is not always that simple, but in most cases we really do control our destiny and really can make an impact on how our day, week, year and life progress. That’s a bit of a heavy introduction to what I’m aiming for today, but the moral of the story is going to be: If you want to see progress and change, BE that progress and change.

I say all of that to simply talk about some creative (OK, we can call them sneaky since it is in the title!) ways to get your home sold. First and foremost I want to be clear about my underlying intentions here. My goal is simply to show some neat ways to increase the likelihood that these potential buyers will choose your home over the others they are viewing. In no way would I encourage (or condone) the use of misleading the buyers or misrepresenting your home. Respectable Realtors are not allowed to “photoshop” power lines out of listing photos or paint the grass greener (yes, it has been done!). These tips are simply intended to highlight the good in your home and even capitalize on what you may know about the buyers to give focus to certain areas. Let’s get started.

Offer up a bounty. Whether your neighbors love you or dislike you they may still be interested in a reward for bringing a buyer to the table. Offer to friends, family and neighbors a reward for finding you a buyer. Your listing agent will be doing their thing to get the word out, but more mouths talking about your home is always a good thing. We all run in different circles and expanding your message to additional circles to include everyone you know is a fantastic strategy. (Hint: This is how real estate professionals make their living!)

Get creative with incentives. You are not going to sway someone who is not the least bit interested in your home with a pair of movie tickets. But you can certainly try to nudge that buyer who is on the fence with a year of homeowner’s fees, a winter of plowing or even a few gas cards. These things may seem small and trivial in the larger picture but I believe the gesture is what carries the weight in this situation.

jackson nh real estateWe all know it is crucial for a salesperson to be adept at golf. We all also know that this has nothing to do with the product they are hawking. Finding that common ground with your buyers is something we can learn from professional sales people and incorporate into the selling of our homes. You don’t always have the time or resources to research this information ahead of time (not to mention it can be a little creepy!), but even small tidbits of info can help you make a bigger impact.

If you learn that your buyers are interested in a certain activity, be sure to accentuate that in the home. If they are foodies, be sure to leave cookbooks visible and make the kitchen the focus area. If they are golfers or skiers, be sure to leave those items out to show that the existing owners are also active in those recreational exploits. Even if you are not a participant, borrowing some skis or clubs (or a couple bottles of wine) can be a cheap and effective way to accomplish this little trick. Remember (because you are a smart seller) you are not going to be at the showing anyway, right?!

If the buyers have a family (Something you can learn from the agent before the showing) make the effort to have your home kid-friendly. Something as simple as a few toys in the living room or some coloring books and crayons on the kitchen table will help keep the little ones occupied during the showing. This is a small investment that can be used for every showing down the road. Anybody with kids will appreciate the extra effort and it will allow them to view the home with a little less distraction.

Leaving a personal note for the potential buyers is a great tip I have used in the past and has garnered some great results. Nobody knows the experience of living in your home better than you. Take a few minutes to highlight some of your favorite parts of living there for the buyers. You can list your favorite ice cream shop, restaurant, bar and even the best times to run to the market during the summer! This also shows that you are very interested in their experience and want to be sure they enjoy the home as much as you have. You could even make this a “top-10” list and have them take it with them.

One of my favorite (OK, the only) reasons I enjoyed going to trade shows in the past was the swag we were given by all the various vendors. From key chains to stress-balls, pens, calendars and even calculators (yes, that was a long time ago!), nearly every vendor wanted you to get back to your office and have their logo in your face. You can do the same thing for the buyers. With today’s advances in manufacturing, you can get a small amount (10-20) of these items that will keep your home at the front of the buyer’s minds. Why not provide a key chain with a photo of your home to every buyer that walks through? Even if they don’t use it for their car keys, you will have made an impact and will have done something to make your home stand out above the rest. There’s nothing sneaky about that!

A Bit of a Fixer Upper

north conway homeIn an age of repurposing, where vintage is cool again and dumpster divers wait to dig out the junk from your trash, the idea of fixing up a North Conway home can sound like an adventure. The thought of buying a rundown dump for a steal and transforming it into the jewel of the neighborhood sounds good. This is especially true if you are handy with tools or have mad interior painting skills.
So many benefits seem to exist when buying an old house and making it new: a low selling price, a chance to make it your own, a sense of satisfaction when the project is completed, and the potential resale gain. You see possibility and potential. But before you go investing in the eyesore across town, ask yourself some questions first:

• How much will the project cost? This Old House suggests a simple equation for estimating how much you should pay for a fixer-upper. After a complete assessment of the house, add up what it will cost to renovate the property (including labors and material). Then, take away the market value of the home after renovation is complete, and then subtract 5-10% more for extras or problems that may arise. Whatever is left is about what you should offer to pay. Don’t forget to arrange for a thorough inspection; any hidden issues can turn a home renovation into a nightmare.

• Is this home a wise investment? Structural work such as foundation, a new roof, or an overhaul of the plumbing system is going to require a much bigger budget than painting the walls and replacing the cabinets. Cosmetic renovations like a new ceiling fan or front door are visible and add to a home’s visual appeal; these are also a little simpler to do yourself.

• Do I have the time to put into this renovation project? The more work you do yourself or with free labor, the more money you will save in the end. If you cannot do the necessary repairs, figure in time devoted to overseeing contracted work. Be prepared for glitches and setbacks.

• Is this journey worth the effort and time required? Is the home in a good neighborhood? What is the potential for resale? Are surrounding homes in good condition, and if so, what is their market value? Will I make a return on my investment, or at least choose to make this my new home, when the project is complete?

It would be wise to do your research, compile all the facts, and look at your budget before jumping on the home renovation bandwagon. Be aware of hidden problems or potential issues so that you don’t find yourself stuck with a home that is unlivable or unsellable. When you go in armed with the facts, and you commit to remain proactive throughout the process, your experience will be much different than simply diving in unaware. Who knows? Your next fixer-upper project could have the potential for a beautiful ending.

Bathroom Beauty

conway nh real estate kittyLet’s be honest, there’s really nothing sexy about a bathroom. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones with those awesome walk-in showers, tile everywhere and a soaking tub, your bathroom is likely not the first place you bring guests when they come to visit. That said, the bathroom is a contender when it comes to selling your home. Sure, kitchens are the fan-favorite and carry the most oomph, but the bathroom holds onto that second (ok, sometimes third) spot with a vengeance.

If you’re selling your home, there’s a good chance you are not in a position to spend loads of money on updates or remodeling. We all know it is important to stage the home for the best results, but dumping a couple thousand dollars into bathroom renovations is most likely not in the cards. Well, today is your lucky day! Since you’re done shoveling out from that epic blizzard (finally!), let’s turn our focus indoors to the bathroom. Here are a few things you can do “on the cheap” to make your potty pristine!

I don’t consider myself a sexist, but I have to be honest here. Women’s bathrooms tend to have 235% more “stuff” on the counters than men’s. (That’s science! You can look it up!) The trick for selling the home and generally for a better looking room overall, is to get creative with storage. Don’t be afraid to use the back of the cabinet doors just like you did in the kitchen. You can hang a magazine rack on there and use that area to store some of the larger items. Also, drawer organizers are one of the greatest inventions of all time. Use these to keep all of those smaller items easily found and not strewn about.

One sneaky way you can update your bathroom without breaking the bank is to re-surface the cabinet doors. We’ve talked about doing this in the past with kitchen cabinets and the same rule applies here. Painting, adding molding or just swapping out the door itself are all great options for this very visible area of the room. It can give the bath a facelift and not cost you a fortune.

Another effective option for this room is to mess with the mirror. Something as simple as adding a frame to the mirror can tie the room together and add a touch of style and personality. Of course, since you’re in selling mode, you don’t want to get too funky with this, as the buyers will be looking at it every day. Keep it classy and understated for a sure winner.

When I built my home a couple years ago, I struggled with locations for towel racks. A creative friend of mine suggested using hooks instead. The result was far more options for placement and a ton more locations for towels and washcloths to be stored. Using hooks can also give you a way to show your creative side by installing them at different heights, all in a row or wherever the mood strikes you. If you combine this strategy with some (clean) different colored towels, you can add some life and personality to the walls of this important room.

“While bathrooms are not the most critical room in a home, buyers tend to put a lot of weight on it,” notes Badger Realty agent, Nubian Duncan. He continued, “In general, people consider upgrades or remodeling projects with the bathroom to be more involved and expensive. Sellers can gain lots of points by making this room a priority before the showings.”

north conway real estate tubThe bathtub is another area that can be upgraded or updated with a small investment in time and effort. If your tub is a nasty color, rusty or just plain worn out don’t rush to the phone and start calling contractors to replace the whole shebang. There are now refinishing kits that allow you to re-surface the tub in a variety of colors and save yourself from an entire bathroom swap-out.

Last but not least is the ability to add some tunes to your bathroom. Most of those shower-radios are not built to last and rarely have sound worth paying for. With the beauty of Bluetooth, however, those days are gone. Now you can replace your shower/tub fan with a fan/speaker and get the best of both worlds. You get a new (and likely more quiet) fan for your shower with the added bonus of the ability to play music from your phone or computer. Maybe now your guests (or kids) won’t have to listen to you belting out Dave Matthews tunes every morning!

5 Tips to Find the Best School for Your Child

conway nh homes schoolSchool quality can be a huge deciding factor for many homeowners. If you have children, or if you’re planning to have children, you need to consider neighborhood schools into your home buying decision. In fact, school can make or break your overall experience in any given neighborhood.

1. Assess Your Child’s Unique Needs
Does your child have a special need? Do they fall under the gifted and talented category? Or is your child more of a quiet learner? Some children thrive in a public school setting with its reliable structure and peer levels, but some children might benefit from a more intimate educational setting. If you have your eye on private school, are the homes you’re considering close enough to it to make it a convenient drive? Take time to review each school’s programs, culture, and teaching styles based on the information on their website and social media. Take time to tour the schools in your potential district and see if you can picture your children fitting in there.

2. What Do They Teach?
While all schools have a teaching standard and criteria of information mastery required, your child or children might have a special interest in studying something specific. These days, many school districts offer magnet schools and academies for math, fine arts, science, and other education niches. When assessing schools, make sure you take your child’s interests and possible future plans into consideration. Some schools even offer dual-credit high school/college courses!

3. For Preschool Children: Check Out the Teacher
Do you have younger children? Is the baby about to cross the threshold into toddlerhood? Pre-school is a big choice for parents, and when you’re buying a home, you want to make sure that early education you select creates a solid foundation for your child’s educational future. The biggest factor, according to Time, is the relationship your child creates with their teacher. Meet potential teachers in person. Research their student-to-teacher ratios, and aim for a school that offers a low ratio so you child can get the personal attention they need in this early stage. For both public and private schools, you should be able to find this information online.

4. Learn About Different School Options
With the “No Child Left Behind Act,” there has been a rise in the variety of schools. According to the US Department of Education, parents have choices between:

● Neighborhood Public Schools
● Charter Public Schools
● Magnet Public Schools
● Advanced Placement Public Academies
● Virtual Schools (with courses taken completely online)
● Religious Private Schools
● Secular Private Schools

The types of schools vary by location, but keep an open mind and select your school based on proximity to your home and assessment of your priorities.

5. Get Acquainted with School Rating Websites
When all else fails, don’t forget to use public rating websites like GreatSchools.org and Neighborhood Scout. Use the zip code for any areas you are interested in, and pull up a comprehensive list of schools in that area. You can get unbiased information and ratings from parents in the school district.
Perfect Home, Perfect School

Your realtor is a neighborhood expert, and they can also answer your questions about schools in your prospective neighborhood. If you’re looking for properties with excellent schools in Mt. Washington Valley or Western Maine, contact Badger Realty today.

Anticipation Exasperation

north conway nh real estate sellOne of my favorite trails is the Hi-Cannon trail which peels off of Lonesome Lake trail after about ½ mile. I mostly like this trail because nobody ever uses it. Even on a fairly busy weekend, you can sneak up this trail and barely pass another hiker. On one of the many switchbacks of this trail, there appears to be a large log impeding one’s progress. As seen from a few yards below, it appears large and would take considerable effort to climb across the top. As you near the log, however, there is an obvious path just behind it making passage seamless and easy.

I catch myself worrying a little too much. I am learning to stop making mountains from molehills and causing stress where no stress is warranted. In the above scenario I learned that by continuing on my path and simply putting one foot in front of the other progress is made and the obstacles are overcome. A close friend just made the move across the country to Colorado. There was the potential to stress about housing, employment, friends and family, as well as the details of bank accounts, post office boxes, forwarded mail, etc. In the end, by taking one step at a time, the obstacles were taken care of and they are settling in nicely (as well as enjoying some great skiing to boot!).

Selling a home is not a small process. The piles of paperwork, applications, contracts and other “to-dos” can be daunting and even begin to seem overwhelming. The trick is to continue to put one foot in front of the other and handle each item as it comes to you. If you were to tackle all of the steps of selling a home in a single day or even weekend, you might just explode. By taking your time and focusing on one item at a time, the list is really not that bad.

Initially it is a good idea to really evaluate your finances. Let’s assume you have built some equity in the home so there will be some money left over at the end of the sale. If you can gather any other debt you have accrued and apply that amount to the projected proceeds, you will then have a more accurate figure for what you will actually gain from the sale. I’m not a financial expert, but I have always believed it makes no sense to carry debt if you don’t need to.

If you are considering a move, weigh the pros and cons of renting vs. buying. We have covered that in some past articles, but in general it comes down to your schedule. If you plan to bounce around a bit, don’t waste the time and energy buying a home since renting is going to be far more practical for you. If you aren’t sure about a neighborhood or even a town or state, renting is a perfectly good option and can provide some insights into the area you are considering.

Shifting our focus back to the task at hand, it is wise at this point to pick your agent. (Let’s assume you have read all the great reasons to use an agent and have wisely opted against trying to sell the house yourself!) The professional agent will know the area, the market, the buyers and the appropriate price to list the home to sell. Remember, the goal is to SELL the home not just to LIST the home. The use of an agent will be another reason not to stress about this process. They will handle the paperwork, the marketing and will ensure that your home is exposed to as many potential buyers throughout the state, country and world. Again, this is not really something that you want to have to deal with.

The last step is, in my humble opinion, the most fun. You get to play “house” and make your home beautiful and “staged” for the next showing. If you have kids and pets, this may be more of a chore than for those who don’t but it is still worth every second you spend working at it. Paint a room, de-clutter everything, eliminate foul smells (teenager’s room!?), tidy up the yard and ensure all the light fixtures have working bulbs. Every little step you take in this process will help. “More often than not, the staging and general tidying up of a home makes the biggest impact on potential buyers,” notes Badger Realty agent, Ralph Cronin.

The last steps involve negotiating the offer(s), cleaning out your stuff and moving to your new place. (You have found a new place, right?) The process itself typically moves rather slowly. From offer to closing is almost always 4-6 weeks at a minimum. You will have some time to secure housing and find a place for your stuff in this time. In the end, the urgency is almost never an issue since you are so excited that your home sold so quickly.

As I write this today, I have a burden on my brain. For the first time in my life I’m headed to the dentist to get a few surface cavities filled. I’m told it will be painless and will not even require sedation. That said, I’m picturing a drill the size of a Chevy and needles the size of cell phone towers. I’m doing my best to not make these “divots” into mountains. If there is no article next week, you’ll know they just had to put me down! Breathe Jason, Breathe.

Your Home: Be Aware Before You Buy

north conway nh real estate cautionIf we bought and sold property in a perfect world, all real estate agents would be perfectly honest, upfront, and transparent. There would be no surprises, no glitches, and no strangely worded contracts that we don’t understand.

Since most of us live in the real world, when it comes to buying and selling real estate we have to be our own advocates. Do not be afraid to ask questions. After all, this decision will affect everything – your finances, your family, your credit. You have the right to be choosy about who you hire to guide you through a process that will result in one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime.

You may want to interview a few agents before making a decision. You want to work with someone you can trust, knowing they have your best interests as their priority. If you have any doubts, keep looking until you are satisfied.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you have references? Skip the list of friends, relatives, and those who would know your potential agent best. Instead, ask for a few names of past clients. Ask about their experience and how satisfied they were.
  • How are the schools? What are the crime statistics? Are there any known sex offenders that live nearby? Get to the root of what is most important to you in a surrounding community. Does your family have specific needs in regards to location? This is another area where it would be helpful to ask around; if you are able to make contact with potential neighbors, they can also give you information.
  • Are there any upcoming construction projects planned for the area? The last thing you want is to find the perfect place to live, only to find out a few months later that the park across the street is being torn down to make way for a strip mall.
  • What realtor board are you a part of? You should only do business with a licensed agent.
  • What are your fees? Are they negotiable? Fees can vary, and your agent should be upfront about this issue. You may be able to find lower rates if you shop around.
  • What are some of prices of similar nearby homes recently sold? This will give you an idea of what to offer on a home when you are ready to take that step. A comp list can help you find the average for your area.
  • Is paperwork available for appliances? Mechanical systems? What are the drawbacks to this home? Transparency with any potential home issues is vital. Homes can appear to be in tiptop shape, but some flaws are easily covered up and not noticeable until further down the road.

Whether you are in the market to find your first home, looking into an investment property, or searching for the perfect getaway vacation spot, you should not go into the process unaware. Talk to others who have experience in purchasing real estate, ask around for recommendations, and do your own research. Take your time and be thorough. Happy house hunting!