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Writing the Next Chapter: Tips for Buyers and Sellers

Are you contemplating a move to your next home, the place where you'll write the next chapter in the story of you life? Whether you're headed to the first home of your own, new construction or historic fixer-upper, a detached home or a town home, condo or coop, a farm house in the country, a loft in the heart of a city or any one of dozens of other options, it can be an exciting and emotional time.

Here are a few tips to help make the transition a bit less stressful.

Tips for Everyone:

Establish Good Rapport with a Real Estate Professional – Buying or selling your home can be a stressful time; establishing a comfort level with a real estate professional you trust will go a long way toward making the transition to the next chapter in your life a smoother and even pleasant one.

Make sure you choose a Realtor® who takes the time to listen to your needs and answer your questions. Don't agree to be represented by a Realtor® unless you're comfortable that they'll work hard for you and be there when you need them.

Don't Hesitate to Talk Technology – While you're speaking with a prospective agent, be sure to ask where the use of technology figures in to the marketing and sale of your home. Even though a solid majority of homebuyers use the services of a licensed real estate professional, about 80 percent begin their search on the Internet.

Today's real estate market is truly global. Choose a Realtor® and a real estate brand backed by a strong Web presence and a global reach; you simply can't predict whether your buyer will come from around the corner or a far corner of the globe.

Tips for Buyers:

Put Your Finances in Order – It's always good advice, but making sure your finances are in order before you begin looking for a home is crucial. Here are three ways to help make it happen:

  • Know how much you have available for a down payment; and the source(s) of the funds; it's very handy information to have on hand when you're applying for financing.
  • Avoid major purchases until you're in your new home; they could affect the amount you'll be able to borrow.
  • Postpone that new credit card; and cancel cards you use very rarely or not at all. The availability of a line of credit will reduce what a lender is willing to offer you.

Get pre-approval for your mortgage loan; It's easy to get pre-approval from your lender, and it costs you nothing but a little of your time. Don't underestimate the importance of this tip. Sure, you think it's a "buyers market" – at least until a seller is considering multiple offers on your dream home.

Choose an Attorney – If you're moving out of your area and don't have an attorney to represent you, it makes sense to secure the services of an attorney before you've found your next home; your Realtor can refer you to experienced attorneys in the area.

List Your "Must Haves" and "Have Nots" – List the features you must have in your next home and the "must have" amenities in the surrounding area, as well as the things you'd like to avoid (a multi-story home, or a home of a particular architectural style, for example).

Put the Internet to Work for You – About 80 percent of home searches begin on the Internet. The Web sites of leading real estate brands are a great place to begin your search. Look for:

  • The ability to search for homes in a particular area
  • Photos and descriptions of available properties
  • Virtual tours
  • Local information
  • Useful information for buyers and sellers
  • Contact information for a real estate professional who serves your area of interest

Go Out There and Kick the Tires – Once you've settled on your next neighborhood, contact a real estate professional and look at properties that meet all or most of your "must haves".

In addition, take as much time as you can to explore the neighborhood on your own. Dine at an area restaurant, pick up a copy of the local paper and talk to the locals. Before you've even had your offer accepted on your next home, the next chapter of your life will already be well under way.

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