by Cheap Chick Erin Schneider
Follow these tips to help ensure a smooth transaction with no hidden surprises, or costs! For more advice from Erin, visit http://www.thecheapchick.com
Get your finances in order before you look. You want a credit score over 700 points. Also, you want your financial records ready to give to your loan officer. These include your bank statements, tax returns, W-2s, investment accounts and any other assets. Also, be prepared to explain any unrecorded or unusual deposits posted to your accounts.
Be reasonable. If you lowball too far, you'll lose out to other buyers.
Start NOW. If you are credit-worthy and want to buy in 2014, do it now before mortgage rates start to climb. You want to lock in a low interest rate before the Fed starts to raise them.
Do your research. In MN, state law says that sellers have no obligation to notify you if there has been an accidental death, natural death, or suicide on the property, or if there is a sex offender in the neighborhood. Check with the Dept. of Corrections about offenders and other crime in the area. Researching before the sale is cheaper than filing a lawsuit after the closing.
Start NOW. The spring market starts in early February. You want your home clean, ready to show, and I recommend having it pre-inspected. For less than $500, you'll know in advance if there are any expensive repairs that could stop a transaction.
Don't assume you need to remodel. Remodeling TV shows give sellers an over-inflated expectation of how much return on investment a remodel will net. And, an under-inflated sense of the cost and effort.
Take better pictures. Your home's first showing is when a buyer looks at it online, not in person. Professional photos do make the difference. Ask a photography student if they can earn extra credit buy shooting your house.
Let the buyers in. No one likes cleaning for a last minute showing. Or leaving home all day on Sunday for an open house. But remember, the more people that physically SEE your house, the more likely you'll get an offer.
Most importantly: The sooner your house sells the better price you'll get. The longer your home stays on the market, the lower the offers will be.