Home Buyers

Home Buyers

Six Questions to Ask Next Time You’re at an Open House

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An open house is an event hosted by a real estate where they allow walk-ins to tour a home that is for sale. The real estate agent often distributes information about the home and surrounding community during the tour and gives you the opportunity to explore the home. Many searching buyers explore open houses in neighborhoods they’re interested in to get a feel for the layout and structure of the home. If you’re new at touring opens, here are some key questions to ask that will help you make the most of your visit.

How long has this home been on the market?

The amount of time a home has been on the market indicates a few key elements concerning the price and marketability. If the home was just put on the market at a lower price, that may indicate the sellers are looking to sell quickly, making it more advantageous to put in an offer quickly. If the home has been on the market for a few months, the price may not match comparable home prices, therefor, may be a bit more stagnant. In either situation, talk to your Realtor about optimizing your offer for acceptance.

How many offers have been made on this home?

The number of offers on a home may impact your strategy when making an offer. If there are one or more offers on the table, consider meeting with your Realtor to determine the best way to reach offer acceptance Don’t let other offers intimidate you. Your ability to make an offer is the same as anyone else’s. In the event there are no offers on the table, you may have a higher opportunity to purchase at a lower price point.

What year was this home constructed?

Understanding the year the home was built will give you an understanding of the age of the internal home systems including cooling, heating, plumbing, etc. Unless explicitly stated, older homes often come with the original home systems.

What is the surrounding area like?

It’s important to consider the surrounding neighborhood, crime-levels, school districts, neighboring home appearances, etc. when buying a home because these indirectly affect the value of your potential home. Your Realtor should have an understanding of the area, as well as have additional resources for you to reference that will provide additional information.

Where are the lot lines?

In many residential areas, it can be difficult to determine the lot of the home. The Realtor at the open house should be able to provide you with an estimate of the home’s lot; however, in order to get exact measurements, a certified surveyor’s opinion would be required.

What are the property taxes?

Property tax will vary based on a number of factors that may or may not be apparent after walking through an open house. Your Realtor should have the previous years property tax valuations that will give you an estimate of the annual tax amount.

Brought to you by:
Austin Solomon, Realtor | Coldwell Banker Action, Schofield, WI

Home Buyers

New Homes Vs Pre-Existing Homes… What’s the Difference?

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So, you’re thinking about buying a home in Wisconsin. One question you make ask is what’s the difference between a buying a new home and a pre-existing home, and which choice is right for me? Many homebuyers consider both options when thinking about relocating or purchasing a home. Here are a few positives of both options!

Pros of Buying a New Home 

  • Low Replacement/Repair Costs: New homes are typically move-in ready and won’t come with many home projects. You won’t find yourself spending thousands of dollars on ‘fix-it-up’ projects after you move in. This includes aspects you may not even consider, like roofs, driveways, windows, trim, etc.
  • High Energy Efficiency: Energy efficiency rules and regulations at the local, state and national level are always changing. New homes often have to meet greater energy efficiency standards than homes built in past decades. A new home may include energy efficient appliances and efficient insulation to help decrease your recurring, monthly energy expenses.
  • Safety Features: Along with increased efficiency regulations, new homes are also held to many safety standards. New homes often include added fire retardants in materials such as carpeting and insulation, providing added safety features.
  • High Resale Value: Your home won’t be considered “brand new” when you’re ready to sell; however, a home that is 5-8 years old often has a higher resale value than a home that is well-aged.

Pros of Buying a Pre-Existing Home

  • Lower Price: Pre-existing homes are often less expensive initially in comparison to a new home (especially if it is a custom project where you are required to purchase the home materials/labor, in addition to the parcel of land for building). Generally speaking, pre-existing homes are more affordable; however, the needed improvements are something to consider in addition to the price.
  • Project-Oriented: Pre-existing homes feature character and charm that may not be replicable in a new home. If you love do-it-yourself projects, a pre-existing home often offers renovation and rehab projects. These home projects are considered a hobby for many people and may increase the homes value down the road.
  • More Flexible Loan Options: Generally speaking, pre-existing homes have more flexible loan options available compared to new home purchases. Depending on the organization, a new home construction company may require a conventional loan, while pre-existing homes often accept private lending options.

As you’re thinking about buying a home, either new of pre-existing, talk with your Realtor to discuss your options. They may have additional expertise regarding the market and can help you navigate the home-buying process.

Brought to you by:
Austin Solomon, Realtor | Coldwell Banker Action, Schofield, WI


Home Buyers

Should I Rent or Buy?

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Relocating for work? Upsizing or downsizing? Desiring a new neighborhood/city? These are all common reasons to move. The question comes down to determining if it’s better to rent or buy. Below are a few questions you should ask yourself before starting your home or apartment search.

1. How long do I want to live here?

Determine how long you’re planning to live in the area. If you’re relocating with a company you’ve been with for many years, this may be considered a long-term move with a reliable organization. However, if you’ve just started a new job with a new company, this may be a shorter relocation period based on your performance or job satisfaction. A common rule of thumb is the three-year test. If the amount of time you’d spend in one area is three years or less, it is often better to rent. If the amount of time is over three years, it is often better to buy. This is not a golden rule that must be followed, but rather a point of reference to consider during your research. In fact, many housing situations are complex and unique in their own way. The best way to determine what is best for you is to meet with a Realtor to discuss your options.

2. How much money do I have to put down?

Consider the amount of money you’re able to allocate to a home down-payment. This is often one of the top reasons individuals chose to rent for a year or two before buying a home. The main difference between the renting and buying is not the monthly payments, but the amount of money initially due, in combination with receiving approval for a home loan. If you don’t have a down payment for your desired home’s value up-front, you may need to rent temporarily until you have the funds necessary to qualify for a loan and purchase a home. Talk to your Realtor about having them help you coordinate a meeting with a trusted loan advisor to learn about available options.

3. How invested am I in this area?

Being invested in an area may influence your decision to buy or rent a home. Do you have a particular school district your children are enrolled in? Or are you involved in a local organization or city council you are actively involved in? Many people prefer to purchase a home in an area they are involved and invested in. If you are relatively new to an area, it may be wise to look into a short-term lease while exploring different areas prior to making your home purchase.

4. How much time do I have to move?

Are you looking to move tomorrow or in the next few months? Finding a place to rent can take a few days, whereas finding a place to buy can take a few weeks or months to close. Buying requires a number of added steps including; drafting offers, negotiating, closing, and fulfilling required inspections/contingencies. If you’re on a time crunch, it may be less stressful to start out with a lease and transition to buying. You may consider a short-term lease for 6 – 9 months, giving you more time to continue your home search.

5. How many people are living with me?

Are you the only one moving? Or do you have a significant other or family members coming with you? Consider the decision from multiple points of view. If you’re a single individual, you may not be interested in the larger square footage that comes with purchasing a home. However, if you have multiple members coming with you, it’s important to consider the needs of each member including square footage and privacy.

Brought to you by:
Austin Solomon, Realtor | Coldwell Banker Action, Schofield, WI

Home Buyers

The Protection of a Home Inspection

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Whether you’re buying your first home or your fourteenth home, it’s always a good idea to have your home inspected. A home inspection gives you more detailed information about the overall condition of the home prior to your purchase. In a home inspection, a qualified inspector takes an in-depth, unbiased look at your potential new home to:

  • Evaluate the physical condition: structure, construction, and mechanical systems;
  • Identify items that need to be repaired or replaced; and
  • Estimate the remaining useful life of the major systems, equipment, structure, and finishes.

Appraisals are Different from Home Inspections

An appraisal is different from a home inspection. Appraisals are for lenders; home inspections are for buyers. An appraisal is required to:

  • Estimate the market value of a house;
  • Make sure that house meets the FHA minimum property standards/requirements; and
  • Make sure that the property is marketable.

FHA Does Not Guarantee the Value of Condition of your Potential New Home

If you find problems with your new home after closing, FHA cannot give or lend you money for repairs, and FHA cannot buy the home back from you. That is why it is so important for you, the buyer, to get an independent home inspection. Ask a qualified home inspector to inspect your potential new home and give you the information you need to make a wise decision.

Radon Gas Testing

The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General of the United States have recommended that all houses should be tested for radon. For more information on radon testing, call the toll-free National Radon Information Line at 1-800-767-7236. As with a home inspection, if you decide to test for radon, you may do so before signing your contract, or you may do so after signing the contract as long as your contract states the sale of the home depends of your satisfaction with the results of the radon test.

Be an Informed Buyer

It is your responsibility to be an informed buyer. Be sure that what you buy is satisfactory in every respect. You have the right to carefully examine your potential new home with a qualified home inspector. You may arrange to do so before signing your contract, or may do so after signing the contract as long as your contract states that the sale of the home depends on the inspection.

This information was brought to you by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Federal Housing Administration. For more housing resources information, visit their website at www.hud.gov.
Austin Solomon, Realtor | Coldwell Banker Action, Schofield, WI

Home Buyers

4 Steps to Starting your Home Buying Process

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1. Get Pre-Approved

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have enough money to pay for your next home in cash, understand that the process of buying a house doesn’t begin with home searching. It begins by getting pre-approved. The pre-approval process is not the most fun place to start, but by allowing a lender access to your financial information and by filling out an application, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration. Speak with a lender today, they’ll be more than happy to help you through the process.

2. Make a List – “must have’s” vs “nice to have’s”

It’s important to identify what’s important for the house to have early on, so you don’t let your emotions get in the way of your decision making later on. Make a list of what the home must have. The list of must have’s should include things that you shouldn’t compromise on. These items vary for different people, but in general try to have 2-3 solid must have’s written down. Then make a list of the things that would be nice to have, but wouldn’t be totally necessary. These are things that you want to house to possess, but wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

3. Find a Realtor®

We are all trying to save a dollar, but in nearly all cases, a buyer will not have to pay their realtor’s commision. Typically that portion is paid for by the seller. When choosing a Realtor, find one who is up to date on the current market trends, and is willing to go above and beyond to get you in the right home. The process of buying a home is just that, “a process,” so find a realtor who is going to make the experience enjoyable along the way. Also, ask your agent to explain buyer agency and whether or not this is a good fit for you.

4. Communicate with your Realtor®

It’s important to be honest and open with a realtor. The more they understand about what you are looking for, and how they can assist you, the better off you’ll be. If you really don’t know what you’re looking for, or if you are really just looking, let your realtor know. If you want to shock your realtor, give them your list of Must Have’s and Nice to Have’s, they’ll greatly appreciate it. If you follow these steps, you’ll be on your way to buying your new home.

Brought to you by:
Austin Solomon, Realtor | Coldwell Banker Action, Schofield, WI