First-Time Buyer Costs

firsttimebuyersBuying a new home can be a huge, complex undertaking, especially when it’s your first time. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced real estate agent guiding you along the way.

The biggest mistake new buyers can make is underestimating the costs of buying a house and maintaining it over time. Many experts agree that homeowners should have 1%-3% of their homes’ purchase price in savings for improvements and surprise expenses. It’s wise to have at least six mortgage payments in the bank after a closing. These estimates may not work for everyone, but if you are spending above your means on a new home, you may quickly find yourself in financial trouble.

Inspections are important for the first-time buyer, as they list repairs that will be needed for the home. A buyer should put together a short-term and long-term plan based on the inspection so they know how much money they will need in the months and years ahead.

Renters are accustomed to paying basic utilities. Homeowners, on the other hand, must also pay for water, sewer and trash collection—as well as property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, homeowner’s association dues, yard care, snow removal and other expenses unique to your location.

Buying a home is one of the largest investments you’ll make. Your real estate agent will help each step of the way, first helping you establish a realistic price point for your home purchase and a clear understanding of your monthly expenses.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

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5 Housewarming Gift Ideas

We’ve all done it. Peek out the window to see who the new neighbor is as the giant moving truck rolls up. And then talking about how much work it is to move and that you’re glad it’s not you!

After you’re done spying, how about giving the new neighbor a little housewarming gift! This also gives you a great opportunity to introduce yourself and give them a proper welcome to the neighborhood.

Check out these 5 Housewarming Gift Ideas:

1. Ready to Bake Cookie Dough Rolls: After a long day of unpacking boxes, the smell of freshly baked cookies would surly relax anyone and make their house feel like a home! Or, you could take over already baked goodies or even a full meal.

Source: SouthernLiving.com

Source: SouthernLiving.com

2. Bucket Full of Must Haves: Gather up some of your favorite household items and place in a bucket or basket. Maybe even include some of your favorite local service providers if you know they are new to the area!

Source: MarthaStewart.com

Source: MarthaStewart.com

3. Custom Stamp or Address Labels with the New Address: New address labels often go to the bottom of the list of things to do when moving, but it can be the most fun. With Etsy and so many online companies the options are endless! This might require a little pre-planning, but would surely break the ice with your new neighbor.

Source: Etsy

Source: Etsy

4. Organize a Block Party: Maybe the best way for you and your fellow neighbors to welcome someone new is by throwing a party! I mean, who doesn’t love a good party! Click here for step-by-step party planning.

Source: Lowes.com

Source: Lowes.com

5. Showcase Their New Address: New walls call for new art work and why not highlight their new address. Etsy has a lot of different options like the one below, but you could even make your own!

Source: Etsy.com

Source: Etsy.com

For more housewarming ideas, visit our Won’t you be my neighbor? Pinterest board.

Earnest Money Deposit – What is it?

Model Home on Money Pile

Most homebuyers today understand they need a sizeable down payment and a strong credit score to secure a conforming home loan. Buyers also must hold liquid funds for another financial obligation – an earnest money deposit – to be paid when they make an offer on a home.

In short, earnest money is handed over to the seller’s agent or the title company when a purchase contract is signed. This demonstrates that the buyer is serious about the transaction and is backing it up with cash.

Without earnest money, buyers could simply make offers on many homes, essentially taking them off the market until they choose a favorite. Sellers rarely will accept offers without such deposits.

There is no set amount for an earnest money deposit so it can be up for negotiation. If the home is popular with multiple bidders, the seller may ask for up to 3% of the asking price as earnest money. Ideally, the amount is enough to impress the sellers, particularly when they’re entertaining several offers.

Assuming the transaction results in an accepted offer, earnest money goes toward the buyer’s down payment and closing costs. If the transaction falls through, the buyer may have to forfeit a nominal cancellation fee or more.

Be sure the purchase agreement outlines the refund process. Remember, a buyer can lose earnest money through default, which happens when he or she does not perform according to the terms stipulated in a purchase and sale agreement.
Work carefully with your Prudential Real Estate agent to ensure a clear understanding of all terms and obligations.

For more information on the home buying process, visit PruKC.com to find an agent!

 

Be Mindful of your Safety and Property During your Homeselling Process

If you’re selling your home, you have enough to think about without worrying that your home isn’t safe, or that your things may be stolen.

Doorhandle7-Large

Yet, whether from open houses or scheduled showings, strangers are coming and going in your house all the time. By taking a few safeguards, you can ensure that you don’t need to worry about such things and better protect your belongings in the long run.

Of course, the easiest solution is to remove valuable jewelry, fine art or collectables beforehand, storing them with a friend or family member. If that’s not an option, then find a place to hide valuables in the home or keep them with you in a suitcase and take the suitcase with you in the car every time you leave yourself.

This should also be done for personal information and file cabinets that may contain papers with your account numbers and/or social security information. And don’t forget the medicine cabinets, as this is often an area that people steal from.

You should always keep your doors and windows locked and when returning to the home following a showing, double-check that they remain secure. Often, prospective buyers will open windows or doors to make sure they work or to see another part of the home. Although it may seem far-fetched, there have been incidents where people unlock doors when looking at a home and go back later to steal things.

One tactic involves people coming to the house multiple times and bringing a new person with them, who explores rooms when the agent is being distracted.

“While one person has your attention, the other raids jewelry boxes and medicine cabinets for narcotics,” said Robert Siciliano, an ADT.com security consultant who offers real estate advice on his blog. “In high crime areas, consider hiring an off-duty police officer to watch the property during a showing. You can’t possibly watch everyone during an open house.”

It may seem like a silly time to install an alarm system since you will be moving soon, but adding a security system will not only deter burglars but can also be a strong selling point of the house. People like safety features in the home.

If you are selling a home in which you’re not currently living, consider installing motion sensors that will automatically turn on lights when it’s dark. You can also put a few lamps on a timer so it appears someone is home when you’re out.

Reach out to your neighbors as well and ask them to keep an eye on your place. It’s always a good idea to introduce neighbors to your REALTOR® so they know things are OK when the agent is on the premises.

By taking a few extra precautions, you can feel safe and secure during a home sale.

Visit PruKC.com to find an agent or review current listings.

    

Five Tips for Spring Cleaning

Spring is here and for those selling their home or getting ready to put their house on the market, there’s nothing quite as beneficial as doing a great “spring cleaning” job to not only make your home look great, but to get rid of some of that clutter that could distract someone coming to see your home.

Here are five spring cleaning tips that will help you sell your home.

1: Curb appeal becomes as important as ever when the weather turns nicer and buyers are more likely to spend time outside looking at the exterior of the house and the property. Make sure to have a well-maintained lawn with all the leaves gone, the grass mowed and the hedges trimmed.

Spruce things up by buying some inexpensive, yet colorful flowers and spread fresh mulch in flowerbeds. Fill in any bare spots on your lawn with sod or seed. Make sure to also clean your gutters, wash your welcome mat and put away any rakes or winter shovels that clutter the yard.

2: The phrase “I don’t do windows” should never apply when selling a home. While a REALTOR® may tell you that homes show better with the blinds or curtains up, this will not be true if the windows are dirty. A clean window brings more light into a room and allows buyers the chance to see what the view will be when they look out of their potential new home. It’s important to clean both the inside and outside of all windows until they are streak free and spotless. This includes all sliding glass doors, garage windows and outside doors.

3: Pay close attention to the “little” things that might draw the eye of a prospective homebuyer. Go around your home with a pad and pencil and inspect each room for things such as small holes in the wall where a painting used to hang, outlets that are missing a cover or doorknobs that are loose and squeaky. Also, be sure to check all of the caulking around sinks, faucets and tubs, as well as any grout in tile counters or bathtubs. As you take the time and the small amount of money to fix these items you reduce the reasons for someone not liking your home.

powerwash deck

4: Power wash your driveway, walkway, siding and deck. You don’t need to invest in the money of buying a new power washer as they are easy to rent from stores such as Lowe’s. Power washing removes layers and years of dirt and grime from stone and cement, including mildew stains from the winter. Power washing the porch, a fence or deck clears away all the dirt and debris and makes the home instantly seem cleaner. If the outside of your home looks dingy, you may be setting the impression that you didn’t keep up the home itself well, so make sure to have everything looking top notch.

5: One of the first pieces of advice you will get from your real estate agent is to reduce clutter in your home. Spring cleaning is the perfect excuse to get rid of things you don’t really need. Go through all your closets and bag up all the clothes that don’t fit, are out of style or you simply don’t wear anymore and donate them to a charity. Take your old books, the kids’ toys they no longer play with and those kitchen knickknacks and hold a garage sale. A de-cluttered home is always more attractive to the homebuyer.

Don’t Drench Your Home Sale by Ignoring Plumbing Issues

Plumber working on sinkA plumbing checkup should be among your top priorities when preparing your home for sale. Your buying prospects might flush toilets, turns on faucets and inspect the showerheads, while more seasoned “experts” will look under the cabinets for leaks and check for water spots around key areas. The last thing you want is to drench a buyer’s enthusiasm because you didn’t fix a simple plumbing issue.

Major plumbing renovations may be huge selling points, but many homeowners can get as much credit by simply fixing leaks and changing out a few faucets. If you can’t make repairs yourself invest in a reputable plumber.

Before allowing prospective buyers into your home, make sure you have strong water pressure and that there are no stains on any of the porcelain. Hire a local housecleaning company to remove difficult stains.

If you do nothing else, take care of any leaks in your plumbing system, as these will be instant deterrents for buyers. Check as much of your plumbing as possible for corrosion or rust. If your house has more than one story, a smart buyer will look at ceilings for water stains from leaking pipes. Make sure to paint the ceiling following repairs.

Prospective homeowners tend to focus on places where they can use their hands, so make sure that all the hot and cold water knobs are easy to turn, and that the faucets do not leak. Also ensure that sinks and tubs drain easily.

Finally, updated fixtures catch the eye of prospective buyers. A relatively small investment for new faucets can pay off when prospects walk through.

No buyer wants problems. Take care of simple plumbing issues and keep your sale from going down the drain.

Visit PruKC.com for more Real Estate information.

Avoid These 8 Staging Mistakes

Living Room4-Medium

You may love your home, but that doesn’t mean that everyone coming through the door will feel the same way. What may be “charming” to the seller may seem off-putting to a prospective buyer. Many sellers attempt to stage their home themselves and, in doing so, create mistakes that can actually sidetrack the sale of their homes.

Here are some of the biggest staging mistakes, according to professional home stagers.

1. Getting too personal: Home staging is meant to create a neutral canvas that will appeal to the majority of buyers. Staging is all about de-personalizing the space, and creating more of a luxury hotel or a model home look that will appeal to most everyone. This is not the time to bring in your unique style and create a look that appeals to just you.

2. Using dark colors: If painting, you should choose a nice, neutral and warm color, such as beige tones, grey tones, or light blue or pale greens. You’ll be amazed at the transformation a few coats of fresh paint will make on your home.

3. Not taking advantage of natural light: People love natural light, so blocking off any light with heavy curtains or furniture can hurt your sale, especially if the home has attractive views. Anything dated in a home is a turn-off to a potential buyer and window treatments are one of them.

4. Thinking more is better: Scale down your furniture. The size of the furniture needs to be in balance with the scale of the room and the other furniture in it. Remember that the purpose of furniture when selling a home is to define the purpose of the room and to show what will fit where. It is not meant to show that you can provide seating for 15 in your living room and every seat has a side table to rest drinks on.

5. Leaving pets at home: You need to remove all traces of animals from the house and make sure “Fido” or “Sunshine” is away during showings. Having a pet could kill a sale before someone even steps into a house.

6. Neglecting the outside: People care about the outside space just as much as the inside, so add flowers, make sure the lawn is mowed, the yard is tidy and add a few backyard accessories for the kids.

7. Only dealing with “main” rooms: People are quick to stage living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms, but don’t forget to spruce up the garage, basement and closets as well.

8. Forgetting fixtures: When staging a home, it’s important to ensure all lights are burning with fresh bulbs, and that all fixtures are working.

Remember, staging a home means showcasing the property’s many features, not concealing its flaws. Make sure your house is in good condition and use staging to cast the home in the best light.