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For Buyers - 10 Steps to Buying a House
For Sellers - Why Staging is Important
Step 1 Search for houses
The first step in buying a new house is finding the right house for you. Start by entering search parameters on the simple search and advanced search listing page on our website. Some search parameters in the advanced search mode will include; number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, square footage, location, etc. Be sure to contact the homeowners if you have any questions about a property.

Step 2 Obtain financing
Being pre-approved early in the home buying process can make the difference between getting the house of your dreams or losing it to another buyer who is pre-qualified or pre-approved. It also gives you a clear idea of the price range you can afford. Make an appointment or fill out an application with a local mortgage company or a bank to start the process. Most pre-approvals take 15 to 20 minutes by phone.

Step 3 Set up showing
Make appointments to walk through the homes you’ve found that interest you. Take notes on your likes and dislikes for each house. This helps for later comparison and making decisions. Don’t forget to drive around the neighborhood and check out the schools, shopping malls, parks, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller questions.

Step 4 Consider inspections
Prior to making an offer it is a good time to consider which inspections you would like to have done on the house. Inspections to consider include; home, termite, and well/septic. The inspections can be written into the Offer to Purchase as a contingency. A home inspection should include the roof, attic, heating & cooling unit, plumbing and electrical systems, and the foundation. Prices can range from $200 -$300 for a single family, and $400- $500 for a multifamily dwelling.

Step 5 Make an offer/negotiate
Once you’ve decided on a house, complete the Offer to Purchase form and deliver it to the homeowner. Consult a real estate attorney if you have any questions about the Offer to Purchase form. The seller may wish to counter the offer. If you agree with the counter offer, return the signed form to the sellers. If you don’t agree with the counter offer you can make another offer and so on until the price is agreed upon and offer is accepted.

Step 6 Pay deposit
This deposit is also referred to as earnest money and may be requested by the seller. It’s a way of protecting the seller in the event you back out of the agreement. The deposit can be any amount you agree upon, but typically ranges between $500.00 and $3000.00. The money can be held by the seller or in escrow. An escrow account can be opened through title companies, attorneys, banks, or an escrow service.

Step 7 Get ready
As your closing date approaches there are a few things you can be doing to get ready for the move into your new home. Make arrangements to have the meters read, phone service transferred, mail forwarded and other services such as garbage, cable TV and newspaper delivery taken care of. Doing as much as possible ahead of time will make moving day much less stressful.

Step 8 Final walk through
A final walk through can be arranged with the sellers a few days before your closing date. This is an opportunity for you to walk through the house and verify all terms of the Offer to Purchase contract and inspections were met. It’s also a good time to confirm the closing date and time with the seller.

Step 9 Attend closing
It’s important to stay in touch with the seller, your lender and your real estate attorney (if your using one), right up to closing. You’ll want to be sure all documentation is ready for the big day. Review the closing costs with you're lender and or attorney well before closing to avoid any last minute surprises. At closing you will sign the necessary paperwork and transfer keys.

Step 10 Move in
You can begin moving the day of your closing unless other arrangements have been made with the seller. Things can get a little hectic when the seller is trying to move out on the same day you're trying to move in. Discuss this ahead of time and get the details in writing.

Imagine this: You walk into a gourmet restaurant, and order their most expensive steak. But while the waiter brings you the chef’s masterpiece, he trips. All the food falls onto another perfectly clean plate, and never touches the floor. But it’s all jumbled up now. So the waiter scoots all the portions into separate sides of the plate (it doesn’t look anything like what the chef had sent) and serves it to you anyway.

Now, it’s the same food, and nothing’s been added or subtracted. But it has a look about it…you might pay $10 for it, but you wouldn’t pay for a gourmet meal and want to eat this.

It’s All About Perspective
Any problems with the food are purely a matter of perception. It’s all in how you see it. And when you show your prospects your magnificent piece of property, it’s important to understand their perspective.

Who are you trying to sell to? If, for example, you’re trying to catch the eye of landlords, you should concentrate your staging efforts on showing that the property is extremely ‘rentable’. This might include keeping the house as bare as possible for the showings. Remove as much furniture and wall hangings. Paint in neutral colors. Try to display the ‘up-to-date’ features.

On the other hand, if you’re selling to families and want to attract the residential crowds, you’re trying to sell ‘livability’. While you would want to keep furniture to a minimum, you do want prospects to be able to envision themselves living happily there. A room without a sofa might look bigger, but it doesn’t look comfortable. Plain white paint might make the room look brighter, but not using some contrast looks too generic.

Understanding the Market
What it really boils down to is this: What are your prospects looking for? Find out what makes your market tick, and try to showcase those qualities.

What does all this do? It generally won’t increase the appraised price of your home, but it will often make it easier to sell for a reasonable price and in a shorter amount of time. Most of your prospects aren’t able to see ‘potential’ and besides, when something has ‘potential’, that means it isn’t what the prospect wants. Your goal is not to show prospects the potential, but to show them that you have exactly what they’re looking for.

If a prospect is looking for something with potential, they’re looking for something cheap. Something that they know they’ll have to spend a lot of time and money on. They’re looking for a handy-man special.

Finding Unique Selling Points
In the marketing game, one of the most important parts of selling is finding a unique selling point for your product. That is, something the consumer won’t find from any other brand.

Your home will sell faster, if you use the staging to demonstrate the qualities that aren’t found in other homes. For example, if you have beautiful bay windows that opens to scenery, then adorn them with some nice curtains (opened of course, so prospects can see the view). Put a few chairs there, so a husband and wife can envision themselves watching the sunset together on a romantic evening.

The selling points of your home could be the positives that turn prospects into buyers, and the staging should be set around them. Every detail should, in some way, complement the home.

Staging your home doesn’t have to be expensive, and it’s only one of many parts of the selling process, but it’s an important part. Not staging will give prospects the idea that the home wasn’t well cared for…just as piling food on a plate carelessly gives the impression that it’s not gourmet.

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