Consider this: if you needed work done on your teeth, would you go to a dentist or do it yourself? The same theory applies to real estate. The art of selling a home is something that takes years to perfect. There are so many aspects of home sales that the average buyers and sellers are unaware of. Also, there are many aspects of the process that are only easily available to a Realtor. The actual process of selling a home is very time consuming, and right about now, the seller has many more important things to consider, such as the impending move.
Realtors spend years learning the art of selling and how to interpret the real estate market. They can offer you insight and information that only comes from years of experience. Realtors are also experts on their area; they know the communities and what they have to offer, the location of schools, transport routes, and how the current market will affect the sale of your home.
Using a Realtor to sell your home has several advantages over a for sale by owner (FSBO). Perhaps the most important of these advantages is exposure. The marketing of your home is of the highest importance. Without a robust marketing plan, your home will not be seen by prospective buyers, and as such, will take much longer to sell. Realtors utilize the latest in internet technology to ensure that your home is seen by as many buyers as possible. Also, realtors have a large budget to purchase ads, hold open houses, and create flyers and information packs about your property. Realtors can also utilize a CMA to evaluate the correct value of your home and to price it correctly in your local market. This will enable your home to be competitive and attractive to buyers. Remember, homes sold by a Realtor sell for considerably higher than homes sold by the owner in most cases. Use a professional to sell your home, and free up the time you need to organize yourself for the process of moving your own new home.
If you are a renter who is tired of paying someone else's mortgage and want to own your own home, there are many ways to buy a real estate; one of them is Rent to own (RTO) option, a means of acquiring ownership over time without taking on debt. The renter agrees to lease the home for a predetermined time, usually from one to three years. There may be an up-front consideration fee. The seller allows the buyer to lock in a monthly price for the property until it is paid off. This is a way to settle on something that is right for you even if you are not in the position to make an immediate purchase. A lease purchase can make your rent money work for you instead of making your landlord rich.
This type of agreement works well with those who are new to the housing market or have made a job transition. It also is positive for anyone who needs to strengthen his/her credit or pay off an obligation to qualify for a home purchase. Another advantage to a rent to buy situation is that if you compare how much rent money is applied monthly to the home price, even if it is only 25-50%, it will still be much more money paid on the principal of the house than if you had taken out a loan for it. If you look at how much money goes to the principal payment of a home with a typical mortgage loan, you will find that most of your mortgage payment in the beginning is just paying interest on the loan. The best part about this is that with a rent to own home, you get to live in the home you want to buy while you work on fixing your credit up.
This creative process of how to buy a rent to own house is becoming more and more popular because it creates a "Win - Win" scenario. The Buyer is able to get into a home with limited money and credit, and the Seller is able to get a fair price for their home and get it sold more quickly.
People often make preventable and costly mistakes when choosing a potential home to buy. Here are some guidelines to evaluate potential homes from a layman’s perspective so you can prevent some unpleasant surprises after you’ve signed a purchase agreement.
Choosing the correct home from the start can save a lot of time, money and aggravation. Too often, homes can have major defects that could have been visible to even the untrained eye.
Now, I am not saying that a home that is less than perfect (aren’t they all?) cannot remain a candidate. It can, but having all the information you can gather up front can help you in your home buying decision. For example, let’s say you’ve narrowed it down to 2 homes. They are the same price, size, quality, age and neighborhood. Both homes are 18 years old. One has a new air conditioner, roof and water heater. The other has original everything. Which one is the best buy? I know the answer is obvious here on paper, but you’d be surprised how often home buyers never look at it from that perspective. We’ll attempt to change that here.
After you’ve chosen the potential school districts and neighborhoods, it’s time to start narrowing down the homes. This is a layman’s version of the process a good home inspector uses. It should help you narrow your decision down.
First we want to walk around the exterior twice, once up close, then the second time farther away. The first walk around we will be looking for things like wood rot, unusual cracks in the exterior or anything out of the ordinary. Look closely at the windows and doors, roof overhang, gutters, etc. Look for water stains and damage on the soffit overhang. This often indicates roof leakage, especially with tile roofs.
On the second trip around the exterior, we want to be far enough away to get a good look at the big picture. Does the home sit up high, or down low? Homes that sit high are ALWAYS preferable, and the ground should slope away from the home. If water is draining towards the house, that is a recipe for trouble.. Look at the home’s roof line. Look for framing sags, look for shingles that curl or look worn. Look at the walls and make sure they are plumb and square. Take in the entire home scanning left to right, top to bottom. Look at the condition of the wall cladding and the entire exterior.
Next we’ll look at the mechanicals. We’re not going to get too technical here; we just want to look at the general age and condition. The HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system is one of the biggest concerns here. We’ll start with the air conditioner. They can usually be dated by looking at the serial number. This can usually be found on a metal plate fastened somewhere on the AC unit.
Air conditioners generally have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years, sometimes less. With newer technology, systems are not made to be repaired as they used to be. They often need to be replaced. If you are by the ocean, your system will rust and have even a shorter life span. I know opinions vary widely on this, but this is a pretty fair estimate; my husband has worked in A/C for over 30 years.. You will want to turn on the AC and hear it run. Listen for any unusual noises. On the inside, just check for cool air coming from vents. Your Home Inspector should do a more thorough check later. For now, just note its age and condition.
Now let’s look at the furnace/air handler. Most houses in Hawaii don’t have these, but some do in the cooler areas. I recommend you observe it without opening anything on it. Leave that up to your home inspector. Look at its general condition and try to judge the age. Electric furnaces are commonly called air handlers, especially in warmer climates like Florida. Again, don’t open it, just look it over and judge its general appearance. Does it appear neglected, or well maintained?
Water heaters: You can generally date water heaters the same way you date AC units. Look at the serial number on the rating plate and determine its age. With most brands, it’s pretty easy to figure out. Depending on a number of factors, such as water hardness, water heaters will generally last from 7 to 10 years. Fortunately, a water heater will not break the bank when you need to replace it.
Kitchen: The kitchen is fairly easy. Give a good look at the appliances and cabinets. Operate all doors and drawers; just be careful in case a door comes off in your hand. (Hey, it happens.) Operate the disposal, and run water in the sink. Note the age and condition of the appliances. Your home inspector should to a more thorough inspection later.
Plumbing: Run water in all the drains, and flush the toilets with the seat lid open so you can observe the water flow. If there is a septic system, you may want to run water for several minutes then check over the septic field for backup or a foul smell. Either could indicate a serious problem with the septic system.
Interiors: Nothing complicated here. Operate doors and windows, look over walls and floors. If tile floors are present, look for cracked tiles and grout. Minor cracking is usually acceptable; major cracking or offset cracks will need further evaluation. Look over the ceilings for water stains. An important hint: Bring a flashlight, and look at closet ceilings. Homeowners often forget to cover up water stains in closets.
Electrical: Don’t get in over your head here. We simply want to operate all lights, and look at the main panel – NEVER remove the cover, simply open the door on its front. What size is the main breaker/disconnect? (It is often not inside the main panel, but near the electrical meter.) The most common sizes are 100, 150 and 200 amps. This will be printed on the main disconnect itself and tells you the size of your electrical service. I still see some older homes with 60 amp “fuse boxes”. If that is the case, you need to budget for an upgrade.
Following these instructions will increase your odds of writing an offer on a home without major disappointments. After the offer is accepted by both sides, now you have to find a good home inspector. They will help you find out anything you missed, but you will be off to a good start if you have followed this advice.
Dana Kern is the Principal Broker at Lokahi Properties