What ACTUALLY Matters When Buying or Selling: A No-Nonsense Guide

What ACTUALLY Matters When Buying or Selling: A No-Nonsense Guide

Posted on Mar 13, 2024

Navigating the real estate market can be an overwhelming task, whether you're in the market for a new home or looking to sell your current property. The amount of advice available is staggering, and it's often difficult to discern the pearls of wisdom from the sea of information.

Unfortunately, not all tips and tricks are as valuable as they seem. This guide aims to cut through the noise and provide a clear perspective on what truly matters when buying or selling a home. We'll examine the essential factors, dispel common myths, and explore nuances that could potentially impact your success.

What Matters When Buying a Home?

Yes: Getting Pre-Approved

When preparing to buy a home, there's no substitute for being pre-approved for a mortgage. Understanding how much you can afford can prevent heartache from falling in love with a home beyond your reach and streamline the negotiation process by showing sellers you're a serious buyer. A pre-approval gives you the financial clout to back your offer and can be the edge you need in a competitive market.

Maybe: Mortgage Rate

The current mortgage rate can significantly affect your purchasing power and the long-term cost of your home. However, the difference between a 6% and a 6.5% rate on a 30-year mortgage, while substantial, may not be the deal-breaker it's often made out to be. If you're looking to own your home long-term, you can plan to refinance in the future (or work out a rate buy-down with your lender).

No: Fussing Over Easy Fixes

It's easy to get caught up in the charm of a house and envision minor alterations that would make it perfect. However, buyers should consider the scale of the work. Paint, small repairs, and landscaping can transform a home—but shouldn't be deal-breakers. Focus on the big picture and remember that these are changes you can make once the home is yours.

Yes: Paying Attention to the Home's Structure and Mechanics

Aesthetics are fun to look at but it's the bones of the house that count. Buyers should keep a keen eye on the structural integrity and the state of the home's various systems, such as plumbing, electricity, and HVAC to avoid a money pit. A professional inspector can provide a detailed review, ensuring you're not buying into a nightmare of costly repairs.

No: Worrying About the Length of an Inspection Report

The importance of a thorough inspection cannot be overstated, but the length of the report can be daunting to buyers. It's not about how voluminous the findings are, but the nature of the issues. A report filled with minor concerns isn't necessarily a red flag, whereas a short report that identifies significant concerns could easily be a deal breaker.

Maybe: School District

For families with kids (or those planning to have kids), the quality of the local school district can be a pivotal factor in choosing a home. If you don’t have kids in public school, this matters less. However, it's important to remember that when you eventually want to sell your home, potential buyers may also be looking at the rating of the school district.

No: Paying Attention to the Seller's Decor

While it might be hard to look past a collection of creepy dolls or a lime green living room set, remember that these things don't come with the house. What does matter are things like layout, natural light, and the potential each room holds.

Yes: Working with a Top Agent

An experienced real estate agent who understands the market's ebbs and flows is an invaluable resource. They can help you navigate the sea of listings, negotiate effectively, and provide insight into neighborhoods and potential investment value. A top-tier agent is not only well-connected but will advocate for your best interests, helping to smooth over issues that may arise during the process.

Talk to an experienced buyer's agent


What Matters When Selling a Home?

Yes: The Power of Cleanliness

First impressions matter! To show your home at its best, a thorough cleaning both inside and out is essential before showings begin. Buyers should never feel distracted by messes or lack of maintenance when viewing your home.

No: Taking Sentimental Value into Account

The personal connection you have with your home may be priceless to you, but it won't increase its market value. Though it can be difficult, sellers should emotionally detach and view the home as a product to be marketed to maximize its appeal to a wide range of potential buyers.

Yes: Considering the FULL Offer Package

When reviewing an offer, the first thing most sellers will look at is the offer price. While the final take-home amount should be what sellers consider, there are a lot more factors that play into how much you ultimately make. Some buyers will include more flexibility or better terms with their offer, which can make all the difference based on your situation.

Maybe: Renovating Flooring Before Listing

Unless the flooring poses safety hazards or an immediate turn-off to buyers, investing in new floors might not be the best use of your resources. For example, if you have old, beat up carpeting, it may be better to offer a flooring credit so the buyer can choose the type of replacement they want.

No: Upgrading Appliances

While new appliances can add allure, they often bring a lower return on investment than other upgrades. As long as your appliances are in working order, you'll usually end up spending less if you price slightly lower vs. putting in brand-new appliances.

Yes: Professional Photography

In today's digital age, the vast majority of home buyers start their search online. No matter how beautiful a home is, cell phone photos aren't going to showcase it in the best light. Professional photographs can make all the difference, highlighting the best features of your home and enticing potential buyers to schedule a viewing.

Maybe: Timing the Market

The 'ideal' time to sell can be a moving target and is heavily influenced by your specific location, market conditions, and personal circumstances. While spring and summer often see increased activity, proper pricing and readiness can ensure that your home sells well, no matter the time of year.

Yes: Working With a Top Agent

For sellers, an experienced real estate agent is a partner in getting the best possible price for your home. They understand the local market, can effectively advertise your property, and negotiate with buyer's agents to net you the most money and best terms.

Talk to an experienced seller's agent

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