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Your first home is probably the biggest purchase you will make in your life so far—it can be an exhilarating time but you probably also have lots of questions. Here are some tips for first-time home buyers:
1. Get Pre-Approved
Before your start looking at houses it is important that you first know how much you can really afford. You can start the financial process by looking at your credit score. Having a good credit score is one of the most important factors to qualify for a loan. Next you should talk to a lender to get pre-qualified for a loan. Knowing exactly how much a lender is willing to give you to purchase a home will allow you to shop with confidence. There is no greater disappointment than thinking you have found the perfect home just to find out you can’t afford it. As an added tip, shop around when you are looking for a lender. Getting a second opinion can never hurt and one lender may be able to offer you a better amount or interest rate than another.
2. Prioritize Your Wants & Needs
Shopping for homes is exciting and fun! However, if you don’t have a clue what you might be looking for, you could end up making the home buying process a longer than it needs to be. Spending months looking through a hundred homes can turn the process into a frustrating and tiresome one for you and your Realtor. Make a list of features you’d like to have in a home and categorize them as “must-haves” vs. “nice-to haves”—but remember to keep this list realistic with your budget.
3. Look Online
With you wants and needs list completed, get online to start looking at homes. The Internet is where 90% of home buyers start their search. It is a great resource to get a feel for what is on the market and compare homes that are in your price range. This can help you quickly weed out the homes you don’t want to see and select the few you want to see in person.
4. Select a REALTOR®
Purchasing a home is an exciting time in anyone’s life, but the process can get to be overwhelming especially for first-time buyers. Selecting a REALTOR® who will represent and support you throughout the entire process is of the upmost importance. Your REALTOR® will advise you, keep you on the right track, help you negotiate, and handle all the paperwork during your transaction. Finding a REALTOR you can trust will put your mind at ease during the process, so if you need to, sit down with a few agents and decide for yourself which one is the best fit for you.
In today’s market, with homes selling quickly and prices rising some homeowners might consider trying to sell their home on their own. In the industry, this is referred to as a For Sale by Owner, or “FSBO”. While being a FSBO might seem to have its advantages, there are reasons why nearly 9 of every 10 homes are still sold with the help of a REALTOR®.
If you are thinking of selling your home on your own, first consider these challenges you will face by not using a REALTOR.
1. Setting the right price
Overpriced homes don’t sell. On the other hand, no seller wants to risk underpricing their home. FSBOs frequently misjudge the value of their home, basing their pricing decisions on inaccurate information they find online or the common misconceptions about the current state of home prices and the overall real estate market. REALTORS® have the expertise, knowledge, and resources to help sellers choose the best price for their home.
2. Being available for showings
Are you going to be available on short notice to show your home to prospective buyers? Your job, family, and personal life can make for a very busy schedule. This makes it very unrealistic for many of us to simply drop what we are doing and rush home to meet buyers for a showing. One of the roles of a REALTOR is to take the demands away from sellers and be there to represent your house any time a buyer wants to see it.
3. There’s more to negotiating than you may think
Negotiation is a normal part of any real estate transaction, but many FSBOs do not consider all the different people they must be prepared to negotiate with, including:
- The buyer who wants the best deal possible for themselves.
- The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer.
- The home inspector(s) who works for the buyer, not the seller, and will almost always find some problems with the property.
- The appraiser if there is a question of home’s value.
4. Exposure to prospective buyers
The days of considering a good marketing plan to be a sign in the front yard and some flyers are long gone. Studies have shown that out of 10 buyers 9 use the Internet to search for homes while just 2 are looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?
5. Results come from the Internet
How do we know the Internet is an effective marketing tool? Because it generates real results! A recent study from the National Association of Realtors showed 43% of buyers found the home they actually purchased on the Internet. That is in comparison to only 9% from a yard sign and 1% from a newspaper. Having a strong Internet strategy when selling your home is crucial.
6. FSBOing is not what it used to be, the process today is difficult and complex
Over the years more and more requirements have been set in place and the paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and procedures have become mandatory. This has made the process of real estate transactions a complex one, giving reason for why we have seen a drop in FSBOs from 19% to 9% in the past two decades. If you are thinking of not using a REALTOR to sell your home, ask yourself, how familiar are you with reviewing contracts and negotiating contingencies?
7. Using an agent will net you more money
Many homeowners are drawn to try selling on their own because they believe they will save the real estate commission. However what they don’t realize is that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. In reality, the seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.
Studies have shown that the typical FBSO home sells for $208,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $235,000. FSBOs are more common in lower price point markets so this doesn’t mean that an agent can get $27,000 more for your home. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.
Before making the decision to try selling your home on your own, contact a REALTOR in your area and see what they have to offer.
Semonin Realtors ® selects one weekend a month that we call a Super Semonin Weekend. It is a weekend we focus upon as a company to hold as many open houses as possible. We encourage visitors to register for a drawing to win your choice of an APPLE iPad or a $500 Gift Card to Lowe’s, Kroger or Target!
The winner of June’s Super Semonin Weekend is:
Kim L. of Louisville, KY!
Thanks to those who attended a Semonin open house during June’s Super Semonin Weekend.
The next Super Semonin Weekend will be held: JULY 18-19
For more information visit http://www.semonin.com/supersemoninweekend.aspx
You are probably familiar with websites that have emerged in recent years that attempt to estimate what your home is worth. If you have used any of these tools you may have wondered where the number comes from, or why the price one website gave you is different from what another one gave you. So how are these online guesstimates configured?
Websites use computer programs designed to make home value estimates, or averages. These are known as Automation Valuation Models (AVM). The estimates these models configure are usually based on public records like you might find from your local Property Value Administration, or “PVA”, department. The problem with these types of models is the automated estimates calculated do not figure in important factors like the condition or uniqueness of a home. So, for example, if you have owned your home for 10 years and spent lots of time and money making upgrades and renovations, you have added value to your home, however that extra value is not always reflected in the estimates generated by AVMs.
Not every website uses the same model, which is why various sites rarely agree on the price your home is worth. This creates problems during negotiations since the seller will want to believe the most accurate website is the one that gave the higher estimate, however, the buyer will fight that the site that gave the lower estimate is the correct one. So which one is right? The truth is, home value estimates or “guesstimates” that you can get on various websites are helpful when you want to get ball park figures and an overall feel for the market, but when you go to list your home for sale, pricing decisions should never be based on a website’s generic analysis.
The responsibility of Realtors is to make sure you have as much information as possible to base your decisions on. An AVM estimate can give you an idea of your home’s value, but a comparative market analysis or CMA will best determine this number. Realtors have the experience, knowledge, and tools to provide you with a more comprehensive estimate based upon a visit to your home where no automation model can go.
We offer home value tools on our website at www.semonin.com/home-values.aspx. What makes our tools different from others is the engine. The home value automation tools we offer on Semonin.com are powered by Collateral Analytics. Collateral Analytics is the top rated automated valuation model for bank grade information. Banks rate them the best in the country for giving them information so they can make wise investment information.
We offer consumers two tiers of AVMs. The first we refer to as the Consumer AVM (CAVM) which pulls public records on a frequent basis to estimate a home’s value. The CAVM allows you to enter your address, or any residential address in the country, and instantly find loads of information right at your fingertips. You will find a range and an estimate of what a property is worth as well as comparative data for other homes nearby.
The second tier of home value automation available on our website is called an Interactive AVM, or I-AVM. The I-AVM takes home value estimation one step further and uses information from a variety of sources. This model combines public PVA records, local MLS data, and predictive economic modeling to provide what is called a “Bank Grade” automated value which is what lenders use in determining mortgage loans. To access the Interactive AVM visit www.semonin.com/home-values.aspx and click on the “Get Report Used by Lenders” link.
The main reason most buyers look to real estate agents is because they want help in finding the right home. Throughout this process of finding the right home to purchase, buyers often find that working with a real estate agent also has a number of other benefits as well.
In a 2014 survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors, buyers indicated that helping them understand the process of purchasing a home was the most important benefit of using a agent. Following that, over half of all buyers said their agent was also beneficial because they pointed out features or faults with a property that they had not or would not have noticed.
Overall the benefits that buyers mentioned in the survey have to do with the wide array of valuable information agents provide, including insight on certain areas and neighborhoods and trusted service providers that are needed during the buying journey.
Semonin Realtors has just launched a brand new real estate mobile app that is available for your iPhone, iPad, or Android. This home search app is one-of-a-kind in our market and has a number of powerful features that enables you to access virtually every listing in Kentuckiana. You are able to calculate commute times, save your favorite listings and share them with friends and family, and locate current homes for sale near you using your phone or tablet’s GPS capability. One of the coolest tools is known as SemVision. When SemVision is turned on, you can move your phone or tablet around to scan your surroundings. Listings will appear on your screen indicating the direction of where a home is for sale within of a mile of your current location. For more information about the new Semonin Realtors mobile app CLICK HERE.
To download the app go to app.semonin.com. Desktops users will be asked to enter their cell phone number so that a text can be sent with a link to download it!
Semonin Realtors held our annual “Bowling to Build” fundraiser yesterday at King Pin Lanes in J-Town. Through the attendance of Semonin agents, staff, and guests and their generous donations we raised over $2,300 for our next Habitat for Humanity home, and we had a GREAT time doing it! We are gearing up to build our 18th Habitat home in the fall, and it is so great to have such an enthusiastic and supportive team at Semonin Realtors. We would like to thank everyone who came out and hit the lanes yesterday, those who donated all the fantastic door prizes, and 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty for sponsoring this event.
To see the full photo album visit our Facebook Page!
It is cold outside and it is about to get even colder with wind chills estimated to drop in the negatives. When prepping your home for the freezing temps, don’t forget these 3 P’s – Pipes, Pets, and Power.
1. Help Keep Pipes from Freezing.
Drip water in kitchen and bath faucets and open sink-cabinet doors to let warm air in. Be sure to remove any under the sink cleaning supplies and keep out of reach of children and pets. Also disconnect any outdoor hoses and wrap exposed pipes for insulation. If freezing does occur and causes a pipe to burst make sure you know where the water shut-off valve is located so you can quickly turn it off.
2. Keep Pets Inside.
While you may sometimes envy your pet for their lush, warm fur coat, freezing temperatures are dangerous for your furry friend. During the frigid weather, accompany your pets on potty breaks and make sure they have proper shelter at all times until temperatures go back up.
3. Prepare for Power Outages.
Winter weather can be harsh on power lines, and the last thing you want in -10 degree temperatures is for the power to go out and leave your home with no heat. Unfortunately power outages do happen so make sure you are prepared. Have an emergency kit handy with working batteries, flashlights, and a radio. If you have a working fireplace have some extra firewood stocked up or enough fuel for a generator to maintain heat in your home. Stock up on extra blankets, food and water.
Our annual awards ceremony is a time of celebration. On the morning of Wednesday, January 28th, 2014, the Semonin family gathered together and took the time to recognize and congratulate our agents on their many successes in 2014 as well as celebrate the kick off to our 100 year celebration. As we looked back at the last year, everyone left the ceremony excited and motivated to do our very best throughout 2015. It is the hard work and dedication of our Semonin agents and staff that has kept us going for 100 years and the #1 real estate company of the Greater Louisville area.
Visit our Facebook page for the full photo album!
Congratulations to our top agents in 2014!
2014 Top Producer Award Recipients
|Ackles/Williams Real Estate
Garrett Ackles & Sean Williams
Bill Clark & Brian Clark
|Jerry & Linda Grasch
Susan Hatton & Margo Dixon
Donna Jones & Melissa Jones
Louisville Home Solutions
Steve Shuff, Rob St. John, Landon Arza, Scott DeHart, Michelle Kurland, Caleb Thompson
Teresa Morgan & Greg Morgan
MOVE Real Estate Group
Kristy Dugan, Lisa Estep & Will Hoagland
Pete & Betty Sheltz
Joyce St. Clair