Why Zillow Should Not Be Your First Option

Often Real estate agents get calls from potential buyers indicating they saw a property listed on Zillow and would like to view it. In some cases, they contact the listing agent. They may not be aware that the agent is working on behalf of the seller. Another issue is that the information on Zillow is prepared and updated by agents, and may in fact not be up to date. Even Zestimates, which are provided as to the market value are not aways accurate due to the fact that they are based on data provided by the local municipalities, and again not based on actual visual visits. It may be easier to use Zillow, however it could be costly. A far better approach is to connect with a professional agent in the area of your interest and have them work for you as your agent and advocate. They know the area and properties, and have direct knowledge of the neighborhoods and condition of the homes, and most importantly if it is fairly priced. This is too big an investment not to have a personal touch, and a knowledgeable agent on your team.

Should I Rent Or Buy?

The simple answer is… it depends. Of course, owning your own home is certainly a far better financial option in the long term, rather than renting and paying off the landlord’s mortgage. Both rental costs and housing costs are rising. So, step one is to determine if you can actually afford a to carry a mortgage and the additional costs associated with home ownership. To begin that process, you need to speak directly with a qualified mortgage broker or your local bank. Based on your income and your credit score and any outstanding debt, that person should be able to pre-qualify you at a particular price point. Then, depending on where you are thinking to buy, you should reach out to a local Real Estate agent to see if what you can afford is available in the area where you need to live. Keep in mind that your first home need not be you dream home. Concern yourself with what you need rather than what you want. Good luck in what ever path you take!

First Time Home Buyer Tips.

As the real estate market continues to shift, it will allow more renters, who are now paying a premium for rent, to seriously consider home ownership.
The first step is to create a plan.
Here are some steps to utilize in your plan.
  1. Start with a savings plan, even having a small amount taken out automatically from your paycheck is a great beginning.
  2. Check you credit score, you are entitled to a free report every year. Check with either Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union.
  3. You can also check with State of NY Mortgage Agency. They offer affordable loans as well as down payment assistance.
  4. Explore other Mortgage options through a local mortgage broker.
  5. If need be, ask family for assistance with a down payment.
  6. Engage a local and experienced buyer’s agent to represent you.
Best of luck in your endeavor to own your first home!

The Tide Is Changing

We have been talking about the possibility of a changing real estate market for quite a while now and we are seeing a once hot market starting to cool off. What has happened is a series of events that continue to challenge all consumers. First, the increase by the Federal Reserve has push interests rates to near 6%, thus forcing many would be buyers to step away from the market. Spiraling higher costs for gas and just about all goods and services is making owning a home substantially more expensive. Many second home buyers, who had been buying homes with profits from their investment portfolios, have had to put the brakes on due to the recent downturn in the stock market. As inventories are starting to increase, and prices softening, this could put buyers in the near future to be in stronger position to get back in.

Buyer Beware

Often buyers will go to look at a house and simply look at the amenities and the setting. It’s reminds me of a car buyer who is drawn to the gleaming shine. Aside from the obvious things to observe, an astute buyer should be looking for signs of deferred property maintenance. If a home owner has neglected basic routine care, then bigger problems may be lurking. To start with, are the grounds well maintained? Are there signs of rooms in need of painting? Do the windows look like they are all in good working order? Is there water in the basement, or cracks in the foundation that could lead to bigger problems later on? Ask your agent to get a list of what maintenance issues the home owner has taken care of in the last year. Remember not to get caught up in the presentation, lift the curtain to get a real peak.

Tips When Working With Your Buyers Agent

In the past, I have often suggested that you should interview a few agents before deciding on one that you are comfortable working with. You and your agent will now be a team working together to find you a suitable home to purchase. This agent should be a professional who knows the market that you’re interested in. Step one should be your ability to clearly explain and define your objectives. Also, allow them to make the selections of the homes that you should see. Don’t send them listings, they know the market and the surrounding neighborhoods. Be clear and realistic in your expectations by separating your needs from your wants. They need to know in advance what items would not be acceptable for you. Early on, make clear when you will be available and how each of you prefer to be in communication with each other. Establish goals that have a timeline in which to achieve them. If during your search, for any reason, you are not satisfied about something, make certain you communicate that to your agent. They want you to be happy with their services. When you are working with a professional, the stress of house hunting is truly minimized.

Tips For Minimizing A Bidding War

In today’s very competitive seller’s market, here are some suggestions that could help reduce the chance of you getting into a bidding war.
  1. Hire a local buyer’s agent who knows the market you’re interested in.
  2. Give details to that agent of your needs list, not your want list. They will be able to preview any new property for you just as soon as it becomes available, and sometimes prior to it hitting the market.
  3. Get pre-qualified or have a proof of funds letter in advance of your search. Your agent can put you in touch with local lenders or mortgage brokers.
  4. If your agent agrees with the asking price, offer full asking price.
  5. If your agent agrees, remove inspection contingency, instead you can have your agent recommend a local contractor who could come to the house with you.
  6. Ask your agent to find out what is the best time frame for the seller to close, and try to use that date as your closing date.

Buyer’s Need A Plan

Today’s Real estate buyers need a plan and strategy in order to buy a home. Currently we are experiencing one the hottest seller’s markets that this area has ever seen. Buyers must be better prepared if they want to be successful in buying a home. First, you need an experienced agent who is on top of the market conditions and vigilant in looking everyday for you for new offerings. Once a new property appears, you should anticipate that you may be competing with other buyers. If your agent agrees that it’s a house worth seeing, get in as soon as possible. Have your pre-qualification or pre-approval documents already in place. Have your agent find out as much as possible about what is most important to the sellers. It is not always the highest selling price. It could be, for example, they will need more time to be able to move. The more information you have about their motivation, the better prepared you will be to make an attractive offer. Be prepared to provide a substantial earnest money deposit, this will give the sellers a further reason to see your level of interest. Minimize the number of requests you make of the seller. If you’re interested, express your willingness to purchase some of their personal items. After consulting with your agent and attorney, you may be willing to perhaps, remove some contingencies. Also, have your agent find out if there was to be a multiple offer situation, how will it be handled. This is often handled differently by many agencies. Being better prepared, can help increase you chance of success.

Why Buyers Need Their Own Agent in Today’s Market

For most buyers, searching for a new home begins Online. Sites such as Zillow.comTrulia.com, and Realtor.com get their data directly from local Multiple Listing Services (MLSs). Typically, when a buyer sees a property of interest, they often contact the listing agent for additional information, or to arrange a showing. Here is where buyer beware comes into play. That listing agent has a written contract with the seller to represent the seller’s interest in the sale, by attempting to sell the house at the highest price possible. When a buyer visits the property, they will be required to sign a NYS Disclosure, indicating that the listing agent will now be a Dual Agent, meaning they will represent both the buyer and seller. In such a case, the agent is prohibited from offering any guidance or help in the negotiations when a buyer wants to make an offer. If, on the other hand, the agent does not choose to represent both parties, then the buyer is considered a customer, and the agent will continue to only represent the seller. This leaves buyers without their own agent and representation. Not a smart move. Here’s a better idea. Rather than starting a search for properties in the area, instead search for an agent who is experienced in that market. They know the area, and very well may already know the properties. If they don’t have firsthand knowledge of a specific property, a Buyer’s Agent can preview homes, which saves a buyer time. When it comes time to make an offer, a Buyer’s Agent is very experienced in negotiations, and local market values, which can save buyers thousands in the purchase price. And finally, the Buyer’s Agents fees are typically paid for by the sellers. Now more than ever, with multiple offers very common, you should have your own agent. Don’t shop without one.
Good Luck!

Tips On Buying A Home As Inventory Drops

The impact of this pandemic crisis has drastically reduced the level of existing residential houses for sale throughout the county. One reason being that many would-be sellers are fearful of having buyers who may be from outside the area come into their homes and unknowingly be carriers of the virus. When you combine that fear with the desire of many people wanting to leave the metropolitan area for a safer environment, the net result is a historical limited number of homes to choose from. We have seen an increase in the number of multiple offers, often just as soon as a property comes on the market. What can buyers do to help protect themselves from this happening? First, start by getting yourself pre- approved for a price range you are comfortable with and can afford. Not just pre-quailfied, there is an important difference. This document indicates you have already gone through the approval process with a lender or mortgage broker. Second, hire your own real estate agent, that can begin the search for a home while you get your paperwork in place. Be sure that your agent knows the market and has the experience in successfully representing buyers. Third, be realistic with your wish list. Include those items you must have from those that you would like, knowing it’s unlikely you can them all. When you do find the right match, you are going to have a true competitive edge as your agent presents your offer, with a pre-approved buyer. Good luck in your search!