Spring is coming! As we all start to emerge from our winter hibernation, maybe you’ve realized that the Michigan winter has finally become too much to bear and you are ready to pack up and move somewhere the thermostat doesn’t drop below zero. Or maybe that house down the street that you secretly love has suddenly become for sale and it must be yours.
There are so many moving parts that go into buying or selling a home. Whether or not to use a realtor or a real estate agent and how to find a trustworthy one. If you are selling a home, prepping it for the home inspection and finding a good home inspector if you are the one purchasing a home. With so much at stake, you want to make the right choices. BBB has some helpful tips for every step of your home endeavor.
First Things First
Hiring a real estate agent or realtor can the process of buying or selling a home a lot less stressful. Having someone who understands what is going on with the housing marketing and knows what each step of the process will entail can be invaluable, but finding the right person isn’t always easy. Here are some steps to take when looking for an agent or realtor:
Ask for Referrals. Ask for recommendations from friends and family members who have recently bought or sold their home. Ask if they were satisfied with their experience and if they would use the agent or company in the future. Be sure to ask if there are agents or companies to avoid. Look for residential agents and companies in the area so they will be knowledgeable about the neighborhood and the community.
Interview Candidates. Once you have assembled at least four prospective agents, schedule a time to meet with them in person. If you are selling your home, each agent will make a listing presentation. This presentation allows you to become familiar with their background, marketing plan, and market analysis which includes information about similar houses in your area that have recently sold.
Request References. Ask the agent to provide a list of references who have previously used their services to buy or sell similar types of properties. Ask the references about their experience with the agent or realtor.
Ask if They are an Agent or Realtor. A real estate agent is required to take real estate courses and pass a licensing exam before practicing. Every realtor has taken the same courses and passed the same exam, but a realtor who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is held to a specific code of ethics while practicing real estate.
Discuss Compensation. Usually, agents and realtors are compensated through a commission. The commission fee is usually 5 to 7 percent of the selling price, but it can vary from area to area. The percentage of the commission fee can sometimes be negotiated depending on the housing market. The agent receives a commission regardless of who finds the buyer but receives no commission if the property doesn’t sell. The commission is usually divided between the agent and their broker.
Carefully Read the Contract. Be wary of agents who pressure you to sign documents immediately. Carefully and completely read the documents and make sure the agent clearly answers any of your questions. If you are selling your home, usually you sign a contract granting the agent exclusive rights to sell your property within a certain time period. Make sure to ask about that time period.
Having your home in the best condition possible is key for a successful home sale. Not only do you want it to look put together during open houses, but once an offer is on the table you want to make sure any and all issues are taken care of prior to the home inspection. These hints can help with your home preparation:
Repairs- Is there minor repair work that needs to be done? Hire a professional to deal with outstanding issues that are beyond your technical knowledge before the inspection.
Testing-Test electrical outlets, drains, smoke alarms and CO2 detectors to make sure they all work.
Replace- Replaced burned out light bulbs and furnace filters. Better yet, get your furnace serviced and hot water tank inspected with the dates of inspections updated so the inspector and buyers can see.
Remove- Remove furniture or items that might be impeding to access panels such as electrical boxes and water shut-off valves.
Pets- Ask a friend if they can keep an eye on your furry friend while the inspection is happening.
Clean- clean your house. Including mowing the lawn and trimming the bushes. First impressions go a long way.
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial investments you will ever make. You want to be sure that what you are seeing is what your getting, so it is important to find a trustworthy home inspector, who is going to be looking out for you and not the bottom line. Here are some guidelines to follow when looking for a home inspector:
Referrals- Ask friends and acquaintances for recommendations. Look for someone who is familiar with the type of home to be inspected. Does the inspector specialize in residential property? Check with the Better Business Bureau if you have questions.
Interview- Ask prospective inspectors questions about their professional training, relevant experience and/or length of time in business. Look for home inspectors who are committed to avoiding conflicts of interest and refuse to be involved in any real estate transaction.
Be Present- Be present during the inspection. Most inspectors will allow you to tour the home with them and ask questions during or after the inspection. The inspection can last anywhere from two to five hours, depending on the size of the house.
Ask How Soon- Ask how soon after the inspection will you receive a copy of the home inspection final, written report. Carefully read your home inspection report and make a list of items that need correction; this will help you to determine your future expenditures for repairs and maintenance. A home cannot fail an inspection; understand that the home inspection report records the condition of the home, both positives and negatives.