Buying or selling a home can be scary. It's probably the largest financial investment you'll ever make, so it's important to do it right. Hiring a good realtor is a critical step, but here are some other basic rules to follow.
1. Figure out how much you can afford.
Don't become a slave to your mortgage. Take stock of your income, monthly expenses, credit rating, down payment and interest rates. Make allowances for unexpected expenses such as medical emergencies.
2. Do your research.
Once you've found a neighborhood you like, take some time to study the prices of other houses or condos in the area. You'll get a sense of whether the property you're interested in is fairly priced.
3. Shop for the best loan.
News reports are filled with stories about the current mortgage crisis, but families with solid incomes and a good credit rating can still get housing loans. Look for a loan that best fits your needs at a good fixed-interest rate.
4. Hire a home inspector.
Even the nicest-looking homes can hide serious defects in structure, plumbing and wiring. A reputable home inspector should survey the home before you buy.
5. Line up an insurer.
All lenders require buyers to have insurance that covers the amount of the mortgage. Talk with an insurance professional to be sure you have enough coverage.
1. Clean it up.
A clean home tells potential buyers it's a well-cared for home. Take a broom and a mop to everything from the ceilings to the baseboards. Don't ignore the outside. A power-washing will remove years of grime and make your house look more inviting.
2. Get rid of clutter.
A neat and tidy house makes it easier for buyers to imagine your home as their home. Clean up toys, piles of CDs, or anything else that will distract buyers when they visit.
3. Improve curb appeal.
Bright flowers, fluffy shrubs and a nice lawn increase the allure of your home and create a great first impression. If you don't have a green thumb, buy plants in pots and lay sod over bare lawns.
4. Stay neutral.
If you're repainting your home, avoid bright or bold colors. Lighter paint is generally more appealing to more people and it makes your home seem larger and brighter.
5. Don't be cheap.
Many sellers believe they'll increase the price of their home if they remodel bathrooms and kitchens. That's a good idea, but only if done right. Inexpensive cabinets, cheap light fixtures and other bargain-priced improvements may do more harm than good.
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