Becoming a home buyer is exciting. It can be one of the biggest assets you will purchase in a lifetime. There are many steps to go from wanting to become a home buyer to unlocking the door to your NEW home.

CREDIT

The first step to planning to become a homeowner, is knowing your credit. There are many resources for this that you can get copies of your credit, without having to pay or paying a small fee. Here are just a couple.

  • freecreditreport.com
  • Credit Karma
  • Mortgage broker
  • Your bank

When you get your credit report, you should review it for accuracy. Review all the debts currently reporting and those from the past. It is not just your current debts that determine your credit score, but the reporting history from the past. Common things that can cause a lower credit score or are errors on your report:

  • Late payments
  • Debt that is not yours
  • Liens that are not yours
  • Medical bills
  • Things not reporting

If any of the items on the credit report are wrong, you have a few ways in which to dispute.

  • Login to Experian, Equifax and Transunion and follow their dispute process. Provide any information you can to show that the information is incorrect and what it should be.
  • Write a letter to Experian, Equifax and Transunion disputing the items. Again include any information that you can show to correct the information.
  • Talk with the mortgage lender about getting some help correcting the issues. Many of them have programs in place to help. They want your business, so they have these tools to keep you with them.

If you do not have information as backup for your dispute, still dispute it. Do not let it sit on your credit incorrectly. It can take multiple times, but the higher you can get your credit, the cheaper your mortgage will be in regard to the interest rate.

MORTGAGE

The second part about getting ready to buy a home is to know what you can afford. You may already be working with a mortgage company with your credit report, so you are ahead of the game. Make sure you research your mortgage company and the person you are working with. You have all the tool at your fingertips. Do a google search, look on LinkedIn, and check out social media like Facebook and Instagram. You will want to be comfortable with whoever you work with as you will be with them for 30 -60 days. You can also ask friends and family if they have any suggestions, or a Realtor if you already know one. Realtors work with many lenders on a consistent basis. They should be able to give you 2 or 3 they trust.

The mortgage company will review a variety of documents to make sure you can get approved and close a mortgage. Some of these documents to gather up before getting together with your mortgage person are:

  • 2 years tax returns – w-2’s or 1099’s as well
  • 6 months of bank statements
  • Last 2 months paystubs
  • Other asset statements
    • Stocks
    • Retirement
  • Contact information for the department that can do a verification of employment

If you prepare before meeting with your mortgage company, the quicker they can start processing your approval. Once you are approved the lender will provide an approval letter that you will give to your Realtor. This letter will have the amount you can get qualified for and some other information the Realtor will use when writing up your offer once you find a home.

Just a little information on the process after the offer is accepted – you will decide if you want a home inspection (always recommended) and the mortgage company will get an appraisal. Depending on the location of the property there may be other inspections required by the city or county.

REALTOR

The Realtor will be your access to the homes you would like to see. Choosing the right Realtor is as important as choosing the right mortgage company. You will be with them the duration of the process – which can be 30 – 60 days or longer depending on how fast you find the home you want to make an offer on.

To find a Realtor, you can ask the mortgage company. Much like Realtors know mortgage people, mortgage people know Realtors. Talk to a couple of them. You can also do your research in the same way you did the mortgage company online and social media. Personality matters when it comes to Realtors and mortgage companies. You want to feel comfortable with them on a personal level, as well as know they understand their industries and what it will take to get you the home you want.

When you finally pick out the Realtor you want to work with, your Realtor should ask you some questions to help start the home search process:

  • Location, Location, Location – where do you want to live?
    • You should have cities you prefer (the Realtor may suggest other areas as well)
    • Think about how far this is from your work, your family, schools if you need them, shopping, and things you like to do.
  • What type of home do you want?
    • Do you want a ranch, 2 story, bungalow, etc.
    • Do you prefer brick, vinyl, or some other exterior material?
    • How many beds and bathrooms do you want?
    • Do you want a finished basement?
    • Do you want a fenced yard?
    • Do you prefer neighborhoods or land?
    • What other features and amenities do you want in your new home?
  • Do you want to use your entire approval or is there a budget you want to stay in?

Talk openly about what you want and need in a home. Do not feel pressure from your Realtor to settle for what they are showing you. Most Realtors should be able to send you a phone app that you can do some of your own searching on. As a professional, I tell people not to put much effort into Zillow and other websites. These are just marketing sites. Use the tools the Realtor provides.

The Realtor should also set up AUTO emails that will show up each day with new homes that match your criteria. This will help narrow down what you like and do not like, so the Realtor can set up to show the homes that capture your attention.

One of the biggest things to make clear…..NEVER, NEVER, NEVER and I will say it again, NEVER feel rushed to choose a home and make an offer. See as many houses as you need to, until you know which one is right for you. Your Realtor works for you. Your Realtor is going to receive a good commission when your home closes. Your Realtor is NOT going to live in the home, YOU ARE.

Conclusion: Home buying is a process. It will be stressful, it will be fun, and in the end the home of your dreams will be yours. We hope this helps give you an overview of three of the major points of home buying and getting prepared. There are many more steps involved, some you will be part of, some are behind the scenes. We wish you the best of luck in your home buying journey. If you have any questions about real estate, please e-mail us at info@mittenrealtygroup.com or call 248-294-7850.

Thank you,

Scott Fader and Gary Brincat
Mitten Realty Group, LLC

Mitten Realty Group is a veteran owned company located in Michigan. Scott Fader and Gary Brincat are two of Michigan’s multi-million-dollar top producers. They have been working in real estate as brokers, Realtors, investors, property managers and real estate company owners for over 20 years. Together they would like to share their experiences, knowledge, success, and failures to help buyers, sellers, Realtors, brokers and anyone else in the real estate and business, so that together we can grow as a community.

 

 

Five Reasons Your Home Will Not Sell

Real estate has changed in just the last few months across the United States (worldwide as well). Professionals in the real estate business have gone from working with buyers and sellers in person to using technology like Zoom, Skype, Facetime and other video software to meet with clients and show homes. This non-personal way of business has now become the normal way of keeping business alive.

Realtors have found ways to survive and keep things moving forward in a time where the economy seems to be coming to a halt as people have been told to not work and stay at home if they are part of the “NON-ESSENTIAL” workforce. The stay-at-home orders have been both good and bad for Realtors and brokers. The good is, many people have been cleaning their homes and working outside to improve them (and to keep busy and sane). For sellers this is a good move, but is it what it will take to sell a home in the current environment we are in.

Below we will discuss 5 of the reasons why a typical home does not sell during normal times.

Pricing: This is the #1 sale killer for a home. When the pricing on your home does not fit the market, the neighborhood or the home itself, it WILL NOT SELL. Many owners think their homes have a value much higher than what the market can bare, mostly due to emotional connection. Owners also believe that all the money they put into the home makes it valued above market pricing. Putting money into the home can increase the value, but just because you did $150,000 in upgrades, does not mean your home is valued that much higher.

Pricing can also lead to extended days on market. Although days on market typically does not affect the value of the home, it will affect the value of the offer the home gets. Realtors will offer below ask when they see extended days on market. The assumption from the buyer’s agent is the sellers are or will become desperate, so lower offers seem reasonable from the buyer and their agent. This can cause prolonged back and forth with offers, and many offers to not be bottom lined.

A good way to avoid extended days on market and lower than desired offers, is to make sure your Realtor prices it correctly. Realtors have access to all the comparable sales and can adjust for some differences in houses for the market. Never hesitate to ask to see the way in which the Realtor came up with the pricing for your home. They should easily be able to show the comps and the calculations of value. Remember they work for you and are getting paid well to provide professional services.

A last note about pricing, ZILLOW values are rarely correct. Many sellers get hung up on the valuation they find on ZILLOW and it can harm the sale of their home. Local Realtor professionals have accurate, real time data that allows them to value your property better than websites like ZILLOW.

Curb Appeal: This one is especially important in today’s market (April 2020) due to people not being able to physically enter homes, but driving by homes for sale, while looking at the online pictures and videos. The outside of your home is the first thing they see. Its like the old saying “You can’t make a second first impression”

When your home goes up for sale, walk around your yard and see what can be done to improve it. Look at the exterior of the home as well. Does the outside need to be power washed, do the windows need to be cleaned, are the gutters empty, is there any rotting wood or siding coming off, is paint chipping or faded, or how does the roof look? Stand on the street as if you were a buyer and see what they will notice when they drive by. Another thing many sellers forget to do…PUT AWAY GARBAGE CANS, or at least hide them on the side of house or in the garage.

You do not need to put a ton of money into the home to have good curb appeal (unless there are serious issues that would affect the sale of the home). Maintaining the lawn and doing minor exterior maintenance is all it takes. Maybe even add some colorful flowers.

The thought behind the curb appeal is if the outside looks bad or needs work, what does the inside look like. You want them to want more. If you excite them about the outside, they will ask their Realtor to set up a tour (virtually as required at the time of this writing).

Photos and Video: Much like curb appeal, photos and video of the property are typically the first thing they see online of both the inside and outside. You will want to make sure the photos and video look professional and represent the house. Bad photos and video make the best home look terrible. Technology has come a long way. Many cell phones can capture professional quality pictures and video, but at times, they will not be enough to show the true vision of the home. Hiring or requesting your Realtor use a professional photographer is helpful to ensure that when the photos are posted on the MLS and it feeds to thousands of other websites, your home sticks out and captures the attention of buyers who will request more information and showings. Many Realtors will pay for these photos and videos to be taken, but if they pay, they own the photos and they cannot be used in the future without their permission.

No matter the size of your home, do not overwhelm the potential buyers with an abundance of photos. 25 – 40 photos can represent your home, along with 1 or 2 videos. Buyers can get bored and lose interest in the home when clicking through the photos. Use the best photos that show the best features of the home. The videos should not be movies. They should be short walk throughs of the home focusing on top selling features.

Do not let bad photos be used even on a temporary basis. Some Realtors use their cell phone for the initial listing photos to get it live and on the MLS. Buyers and agent typically will not back track to see a listing twice. They do not get notified new photos or videos are uploaded. Do it right from the start and you will have a better selling experience.

Specific Problems: Every home is unique and have unique problems that may need to be addressed. When we say problems, it is from the view of a Realtor on both the selling and listing side.

One problem Realtors often see is the home is TOO specific to the current owner’s taste. For example, paint colors. As homeowners we have our own wants in the home we live in, every rooms painted in crazy colors like purple, orange, pink princess rooms, or Star Wars themed room. It is fun and exciting as we want our homes to represent ourselves, our kids or other just to be different. The problem comes in when you want to sell the home.

Potential buyers coming into the home have their own visions of what they will want. Non-traditional paint can mentally make it seem like there is more work to be done than they desire to do. You want the potential buyers to come in and see a blank canvas where they can feel it is ready for what they do want to do to the home. Paint the rooms with traditional colors before you put the home for sale and before the home has photos and video taken. By putting the money into the home before, it will help make the home more appealing to buyers and many times allow for a quicker sale. Money in before saves on holding costs of a home sitting on the market.

Other items that can fall under specific problems are required repairs and appliances. Not all home sellers can afford to replace appliances or upgrade the home to make all required repairs a buyer would want. Prioritize what you can and cannot do. The more you do, the better the pricing will be on the home. When items seem like problems to buyers, they tend to either walk away from the home or they make lower offers, neither of which is beneficial to the home seller.

Bad Advice: We are not sure if this should be #1 or the closer to be fresh on the mind. Selling your home is stressful enough. People will be coming into your personal space. You must up and leave to allow for showings. You feel like you are always cleaning and maintaining the home. It is a like an extra job, even when you have a Realtor involved.

Bad advice can add to the stress. One of the pieces of bad advice that is known to add to the stress of sellers, includes pricing. Realtors sometimes will do anything to get the listing and will go with the sellers “WANT” when it comes to pricing. This is bad on so many levels. This leads to extended days on market as discussed above. This also leads to the Realtor coming back and wanting to reduce the price anyway to where it should be to fit the local market where the pricing should be. The Realtor already knew the pricing was off and he was already planning to request a price reduction. This is BAD BAD business for the seller who was not told what the “TRUE” price should be. If you are professional and have the facts to support the pricing you suggest, discuss it with the seller. Education is such a powerful tool. Clients appreciate facts, and in the end the Realtor can still walk away with the listing at an appropriate price.

Another piece of bad advice, or more like forgotten advice, if preparing the home for sale. Realtors want to quickly get the home to market, but do not guide the seller on items that could aid in the sale of the home – like many of the items above – curb appeal, repairs, updates and so on. They also do not discuss how to make the home more appealing by removing clutter, making sure the closets reflect the size by removing items or straightening them out, do not have dirty dishes in sink, make beds each day, and keep the house smelling fresh. These are simple things, but many Realtors do not guide the sellers on home preparation. Exterior and interior appeal are just as important as pricing.

 

Conclusion: In the end the main goal is to sell your home. This is a multi-step process that involves more people than just a seller and a buyer. It takes a team of professionals, from Realtors to photographers to title companies to inspectors, to appraisers and administration people (and probably more that we do not see) to take a home and get it closed. If just one thing above helps guide you to this amazing place we all love called the closing table, then we did something right today. If you have any questions about real estate, please e-mail us at info@mittenrealtygroup.com or call 248-294-7850.

Thank you,

Scott Fader and Gary Brincat
Mitten Realty Group, LLC

Mitten Realty Group is a veteran owned company located in Michigan. Scott Fader and Gary Brincat are two of Michigan’s multi-million-dollar top producers. They have been working in real estate as brokers, Realtors, investors, property managers and real estate company owners for over 20 years. Together they would like to share their experiences, knowledge, success and failures to help buyers, sellers, Realtors, brokers and anyone else in the real estate and business, so that together we can grow as a community.