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Listing Your House for Sale? Fix it Up First!

by The Hat Team


If you want the best price for your house, you may have to do some repairs before selling it. Potential buyers will be willing to spend more for a home that doesn’t need a lot of work.  Here are 5 important things to fix before selling:

  1. Exterior - When was the last time the exterior of your house was painted?  Is the paint faded and chipping?  Is wood rotting around the windows?  Is your front door dingy?  First impressions matter when it comes to selling your home and buyers will get their first impression when they see the outside of your house, whether in pictures or in person.  Don’t forget the landscaping.  A well-kept lawn and simple, but clean flower beds will go a long way toward creating an enticing aesthetic for your property. The Importance of the First Impression of a Home
     
  2. Interior Paint - If the walls are looking a bit shabby and the trim a bit grimy, painting is a quick and easy fix.  The same applies if you went through a crazy color phase a few years back and decorated with hues that might not appeal to everyone.  Choose neutral colors that will allow buyers to focus on the spaces without being distracted. Paint Colors that Sell Houses Faster in 2019
     
  3. Kitchen - The kitchen is one of the most important rooms people focus on when looking at a house.  So, if yours is looking run-down you will want to update it.  It will be worth the investment to replace appliances that are on their last legs or putting in a new granite counter.  Or it might be as simple as repainting cabinets and adding shiny, new handles.
     
  4. Bathroom - Nothing turns buyers off faster than an unsightly bathroom.  Sparkling, clean fixtures and a fresh coat of paint will go a long way toward impressing someone searching for their dream home.  Inexpensive touches like a decorative mirror or a lovely picture on the wall will add to the ambiance without breaking the bank.
     
  5. Flooring - If your carpets are stained or thread bare, it is worth your while to replace them. The same applies if your vinyl floors are in bad shape.  Hardwoods are always popular, but you may want to consider getting them refinished if they are looking old and scruffy.

It may seem counter intuitive to spend money on repairing or fixing up a house you are getting ready to sell, but at the end of the day, it will not only help you sell your house faster, but you will get a better price for it too!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: realsimple.com

When you have overnight guests, you want them to feel welcomed and comfortable.  Providing a place for them to sleep is the bare minimum. If you’re lucky enough to have a designated, full time guest room, there are a lot of little things you can do to create a space that your guests will enjoy.  Here is a list of essentials to have in your guest room so that it is ready for visitors any time:

  1. Comfortable Bedding - Since this bed is not likely to be used all the time, you don’t need to outfit it with top of the line bedding (unless you choose to), but you want it to be comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.  Some quality cotton percale sheets and a coordinating comforter or quilt will provide a comfy bed for your guests.  Use neutral colors that give a simple, clean look.
     
  2. Extra Blankets & Pillows - You want your guests to be cozy and comfortable, so, provide extra blankets for chilly nights.  Extra pillows cam be used to provide cushioning should your guests want to prop themselves up to read in bed.
     
  3. Lighting - Be sure to provide bedside lighting. Place a lamp on the bedside table that will allow your guests to have subtle lighting without having the overhead light on.  Try to find a lamp that has multiple settings so that they can choose how bright or soft they want the light to be. 
     
  4. Extra Toiletries - Sample sized toiletries are perfect for guests.  Arranged in a pretty basket with a new toothbrush, they will have them feeling pampered.  Speaking of toiletries, here are 10 Thoughtful, Welcoming Touches for Your Guest Bathroom.
     
  5. Bath Towels - A stack of fluffy, white bath towels on the bed will be a welcome sight for your guests.  Make sure you have a wash cloth, hand towel, and bath towel for each person that is staying with you.
     
  6. Wastebasket - A simple item that is often overlooked in a guest room is a wastebasket.  When your guests need to throw something away, they shouldn’t have to make frequent trips outside their room to find a trash can. Choose a small, attractive wastebasket that coordinates with your guest room style.
     
  7. Full-Length Mirror - Whether you have it hanging on the back of the door, or propped up against a wall, your guests will appreciate having a full-length mirror in their room.  They may be sharing a bathroom with others, so having a mirror in the guest room will allow them to get ready in there if the bathroom is occupied.

These are just a few essentials that will make your guests happy to stay with you.  You can take it step further and decorate the guest room as well. But keep it simple and remember that comfort is the top priority!  30+ Cozy Ways to Decorate Your Guest Bedroom

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

Surprising Fire Hazards and How to Prevent Them

by The Hat Team


It is estimated by The National Fire Protection Association that over 47,000 home fires reported to fire departments are caused by some kind of electrical failure as a trigger to ignition.  But there are some other unusual ways that fires can start that we should all be aware of.

Dishwashers
While you may be aware that overheating dryers or ovens can cause fires, you might think dishwashers are safe because they have water. And water puts out fires…right? Wrong!  Dishwasher fires can be caused by liquids coming into contact with the machine’s wires.  Serious damage can occur when fires are ignited in dishwashers.  According to a 25 year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, any appliance that powers a motor, heating element, or both always has a higher risk for fire - and dishwashers are a common example.  He advises that they never be turned on when going to sleep or leaving the home. Tips to Prevent Dishwasher Fires

Jars and Other Glass Objects
According to survivalists, one of the best ways to start a fire is to use a piece of glass to refract sunlight onto dry wood.  Without proper care, that same scientific process can happen on your own kitchen table.  In 2015 a fire broke out in a southwest London home because of sun rays reflecting through an empty Nutella jar, the Associated Press reported.  While it may seem to be a freakish way for a fire to start, the fire brigade’s investigative unit confirmed that the glass jar was to blame.  The chances of this happening in your home are slim, but it is important to remember to never store flammable liquids like gasoline, cleaning fluids, paint thinners and even cooking oils in glass jars that you intend to leave out in the sunlight.  Metal cans for commercial-use flammable liquids and plastic containers for things such as cooking oils are safer options.

Rodents
Small rodents like squirrels and rats like to burrow into your attic insulation in cold weather and chew anything they can get their teeth on, including rubber covered electrical lines.  Unfortunately, if electrical wires become exposed due to their protective insulation being compromised, there is a likelihood of igniting a flame.  The key to preventing this from happening is to keep the critters out to begin with.  Before winter season, make sure all vents are covered, holes are patched and cracks are sealed. 4 Ways to Protect Your Wiring from Rodent Damage

Laptops
If you have ever had your laptop computer in your, well, lap for an extended period of time, you know that they get hot.  Because of this, it is a bad idea to leave one sitting on a flammable surface such as bedding, furniture or carpet.  But the real culprit behind laptop fires is the lithium in the batteries.  A poorly made battery can overheat and burst into flames.  Remember the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones that were recalled because they were catching on fire? It was the lithium batteries that were the problem.  Any device powered by lithium ion batteries should be shut off when not in use and stored away from any flammable items.

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: metrofamilymagazine.com

Staging Your Home on a Budget

by The Hat Team


Chances are, if you are getting ready to sell your home, you are also preparing to purchase a new home. So, the last thing you want to do is spend more money on your current property.  However, you certainly want to get the best price possible when selling it, and per the National Association of Realtors, for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400. As you can see, it will pay off in the end to stage your home to entice potential buyers.

Some people will hire a certified staging professional to get the job done.  While it might seem easier than doing it yourself, it is not the only way to get that SOLD sign planted in your front yard.  There are some simple, yet effective home-staging hacks that won’t break the bank:

  • Roll Out a Welcome Mat - Sounds simple, right?  It is!  First impressions mean everything when selling your home.  Also, prospective buyers tend to linger by the front door before the real estate agent opens the home for viewing, so an inviting entrance is crucial. A new welcome mat can cost as little as $15.  Purchase a modern mat that compliments the style of your home.  To further enhance the entryway, add a little green with some fresh plants.  An enticing entrance will make buyers want to see more!
     
  • Mount Mirrors in Strategic Spots - Every home has spaces like a dim hallway or small space that lacks natural light.  To spruce up these areas, hang a few mirrors.  They add extra light to rooms that look dark, and create an illusion of space. They will pack an extra punch if placed next to or directly across from a window because they will pull in more sun.  For a more decorative look, create a collage of several mini mirrors in different shapes and sizes rather than just slapping one large mirror on the wall. You can find inexpensive mirrors at craft stores and discount home stores. How to Use Mirrors to Create More Space
     
  • Set Tables and Serving Areas for Entertaining - A home filled with friends, food and laughter is a happy one!  Paint a picture of what entertaining in your home will be like for potential buyers.  Keep it simple, but aesthetically pleasing.  Lay out cloth napkins, wine glasses and solid plates in the dining room. Use matching mugs and bowls in the kitchen to produce the feel of family meals.
     
  • Replace Personal Photos with Art Work - Over the years, you have turned your house into a home by decorating with family portraits and personal mementos.  But potential buyers are going to want to be able to envision themselves living there and that is hard to do with your family members present in the form of pictures in every room.  So, get a head start on packing up your house by putting your pictures away and replacing them with art work that compliments the style of the home.  You can find inexpensive art at discount stores or you can print beautiful landscape photos to put in frames.
     
  • Make the Bathroom Look Elegant with White Linens - Spruce up your bathroom with crisp, fresh, all-white linens.  White towels, bath mats, and shower curtains give the room an instant update.  They inspire the feeling of a luxury spa without spending a lot of money.  Take it a step further by including some "spa like" displays. Simple additions like an orchid, candles and special soaps will go a long way. Spa-Like Bathrooms
     
  • Arrange Decorative Scenes - Decorative displays can give a cozy, lived-in ambience to a house.  Assembling classy vignettes of colorful vases, lanterns, books, plants, baskets, and other items atop dressers, counters and bookshelves will make a house feel more like a home. Group items in odd numbers and in varying heights and shapes while keeping them in the same color family. You will be amazed at what you can find to use in your house, but if you need to buy some things, you can mix in inexpensive pieces from craft and discount stores.  Done properly, these displays will have people feeling like they are looking at rooms right out of home décor magazines…and that is a sure way to impress prospective buyers. Staging Your Home with Inexpensive Decor

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: realtor.com

A Guide to Selling with Children in the House

by The Hat Team


Selling a home can be challenging.  There are so many things to consider. Between scheduling last minute showings and keeping your house in "staged-perfect condition" at all times, the stress can be overwhelming.  Now toss in a kid…or two…or three. Summer is almost here and that means kids won’t be in school, which makes keeping your home in pristine, “show-ready” shape is all the more difficult.  So, how do you cope with it all?  First, take a deep, cleansing breath.  Now…follow the advice of people who have been there, done that.  You CAN do this!

  • Make packing and moving an adventure! Once your house is on the market you know you are going to be preparing for a move eventually, so start right away.  Give your children little projects to complete to keep them busy and to make them feel like they are part of the process.  You would be amazed at how much help they can be if given the chance.
  • Have a “go-and-show” plan.  You want to take every opportunity possible to show your house, so prepare and be ready to head out the door if you get that last-minute call from your Realtor.  Have a list of “things to do” in mind so that you aren’t just killing time while you wait.
  • Remember that less is more.  One of the jobs you can give to your children is to choose the toys and other items that are most special to them to keep in their rooms while preparing to move.  The rest should be packed and stored out of the way.  Remember that visitors will likely look in closets and open drawers, so make sure you have smart storage solutions. 25 Super Smart Storage Ideas That Will Organize Your Entire House
  • Don’t forget to flush!  We all know that children, especially younger ones, can be a little absent minded when it comes to their toileting habits.  Assign someone to be in charge of checking all the bathrooms prior to leaving the house just to be sure everything has been flushed away!
  • Do a sniff test.  Let’s face it…kids can stink sometimes.  Summertime is a prime time for sweaty, smelly children who might not be as concerned with personal hygiene as they should be.  The odors emanating from them are NOT the first impression you want to make on potential buyers.  So be hyper aware of how your home, and especially their rooms, smells.
  • Stay neutral. If you have decorated your little ones’ rooms with bright colors and specific themes, you may want to change it up to appeal to buyers.  Remember that they want to be able to picture the house as their own, and that is easier to do with rooms that have neutral colors and simple décor. The Best Paint Colors for Painting a House in 2019
  • Relax.  I know…easier said than done.  But your house does not have to be perfect every second.  Try to keep up with clutter and cleanliness a little each day so that you don’t become overwhelmed when you find out someone is coming to see your house.  And remember to let your children help!

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: nearsay.com

Your Guide to a Successful Home Showing

by The Hat Team


When your home is for sale and potential buyers are coming to see it, it’s vital that they not only feel comfortable in the home, but that they can envision it as their own. Here are some tips for showing your house that will help engage buyers emotionally and leave them feeling like they have found their future home.

  1. Make them feel WELCOME!

      The buyer may be a guest in your home, but don’t make them feel like an intruder.The idea is for them to be able to imagine it as their own.Leave the house while they are looking so that they can speak freely and comfortably about what they are seeing.Let them take their time. If they feel rushed they won’t have a positive experience.Leave a bowl of candy or small treats near the front door with a short note thanking them for coming to see your home.

  1. Check the temperature.

      If it is hot outside, turn on the AC. Set the temperature a couple of degrees cooler than usual so that it runs consistently and isn’t kicking on and off while people are looking.Sometimes HVAC systems can be loud.The same applies with heat when it is cold outside (set temp a couple of degrees warmer than usual).You want them to be comfortable in your house so that they will linger as long as possible.

  1. Create a mood.

     You want potential buyers to get good vibes from your house the minute they walk through the door.When weather appropriate, light a fire in the fireplace.Set your dining table in a way that is appealing.Have soft music playing.Create and ambiance that is irresistible!

  1. Be careful with scents.

      Some people are very sensitive to certain smells, so don’t spray the air or use plug in deodorizers.Avoid burning strongly scented candles for the same reason.If weather permits, open the windows (unless it is too noisy outdoors).Most people enjoy the smell of freshly baked cookies, but if you are going to bake, make sure you leave some treats out for the visitors so they aren’t disappointed! How to Make Your Home Smell Great During an Open House

  1. Make it visually pleasing.

      Open window coverings to let in natural light.Display appealing seasonal photos in prominent      places. If your yard isn’t looking so fabulous, keep window blinds partially closed so that buyers aren’t distracted by what’s outside while looking at the interior of the home.

  1. Light it up!

Turn on every light in the house…even the closet lights. Brighten dark rooms with extra lighting.  A spot light on the floor behind a piece of furniture is a great idea for brightening up a room with few windows.  Lighting Tips to Help Sell Your Home

  1. Encourage touching.

Drape lush fabrics such as velvet or silk throws over chair arms.  Leave doors slightly ajar so that visitors feel welcome but must open the door to enter the room.  If a room is carpeted, vacuum it in one direction.

  1. Finish off with food.

Encourage buyers to stick around and notice even more details about your home by offering them food.  You don’t need to have a catered lunch; finger sandwiches, cookies, tea, water and desserts will all suffice. Be sure to have serving utensils, plates, cups and silverware available along with a waste basket in plain sight.

  1. Encourage feedback.

Have a guestbook or a short pre-printed questionnaire and some pens next to the food.  Feeding the buyers will allow them time to give you some feedback.  This will provide invaluable information to you. Allow buyer anonymity. 6 Feedback Questions Every Listing Agent Should Ask

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Scaling Down for an Empty Nest

by The Hat Team


Facing the dilemma of what to do with your empty nest can be overwhelming. You are not only dealing with the emotional turmoil of no longer having your children at home, but now you have this BIG, empty house as well.  You might already be considering a move to a smaller house, but the thought of giving up the home where you raised your children has you feeling melancholy.  Your current home likely holds a lot of wonderful memories for you. But remember, it’s just a house. There are a lot of perks to downsizing:

  • Your house will be easier to maintain and you will spend less time cleaning.
     
  • You will spend less money on everything from your mortgage, taxes and insurance to your heating, cooling, and electricity. 
     
  • Having less debt will eliminate the financial stress that comes with a huge mortgage payment.
     
  • A home that doesn’t drain your resources and energy will give you peace of mind.  And that is priceless.
     
  • A smaller home has a positive impact on the environment because it requires less resources to build and maintain.
     
  • You will have more free time for living the life you want.
     
  • It will force you to declutter and cut back on your belongings and keep you from buying more. The Ridiculously Thorough Guide to Decluttering Your Home
     
  • If decorating is not your thing, a smaller house will make it less overwhelming for you.
     
  • When the time comes to sell, a smaller, more affordable home will appeal to a larger percentage of the population.

Scaling down doesn’t mean you should move into one of the tiny houses that are trendy right now.  It might be just going from four bedrooms/three baths to three bedrooms/two baths.  A professional Realtor can assist you in finding a smaller home that will suit all your needs and provide you with a happier, more peaceful lifestyle. 12 Life-Changing Benefits of Living in Small House

If you have an empty nest and you are ready to sell your LARGE home for a smaller home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Negotiation - A Guide for Home Sellers and Home Buyers

by The Hat Team


It seems that negotiation has become a lost art in the world of real estate, and that’s unfortunate because the truth of the matter is, if you don’t ask…you don’t get. While sellers want the highest price and buyers want the best deal, they must meet somewhere in the middle for the deal to close. Negotiation is a crucial part of selling or buying a home because it is the largest asset people own and there is a lot of money at stake. Here is a simple guide for what sellers and buyers might ask for in real estate negotiations:

  • Price

Negotiating the best price means different things for sellers and buyers.  The seller wants the highest price and the buyer wants to pay as little as possible.  For a successful transaction, they must compromise and come up with a price that is acceptable to both.

  • Closing Costs

Prepaid closing costs are paid by buyers for their mortgage.  These are funds that the mortgage lender holds in escrow for expenses like taxes and insurance.  A buyer may ask a seller to cover some or all their closing costs either with a flat dollar amount or up to a percentage of what’s an allowable contribution for a lender.  If a buyer asks the seller to do this, they are likely going to pay a higher asking price. What is Escrow and Why is it Needed?

  • Closing Date

Sometimes sellers want to get out of a home quickly because they need the money from that house they are selling to put toward a new real estate purchase.  The closing date will also affect the buyer’s monthly cash-flow because when a buyer closes on a house, they skip the next month’s mortgage payment, therefore they may want to negotiate to close at the beginning of a month.

  • Financing Contingencies

When there is a financing contingency in place for a real estate transaction, it can tie up a seller’s property for a required 30 to 60 days.  For this reason, many sellers prefer buyers coming to the table with cash offers. If you are competing with cash buyers, you can shorten the closing timeline substantially by getting pre-approved for a home loan prior to making an offer.   Mortgage preapproval shows that your finances are in order and you can afford the home.  5 Things You Need to Be Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

  • Home Warranty

As a buyer, you can request a home warranty.  As a seller, you can offer one.      This home protection plan covers things like appliances and systems such as the hot water heater or air conditioning, in the event they need repair or replacement.

  • Leaseback

The moving process is stressful and labor intensive.  Sometimes a seller will need extra time to get into their new home.  When this happens, buyers can offer a zero-cost rent-back for 30 to 90 days to persuade the seller to accept their offer over others. 

  • Home Repairs

With a home that needs a lot of updating there comes ample opportunity for negotiation. Buyers need to consider the cost of bringing the home up to current standards and use the estimate of that cost to request a lower asking price.  The seller, on the other hand, can specify that the house is being sold “as is” and not offer any repairs.

  • Appraisal Contingency

A seller can push for a buyer to waive the appraisal contingency. However, if for some reason the appraisal falls short of the expected amount, buyers need to be prepared for the amount they might have to pay should the bank only be willing to lend them money based on the appraised value. How an Appraisal Contingency Can Protect You

  • Furniture

Personal property such as patio furniture, window treatments and chandeliers is all up for grabs. The buyer can ask for these things to be included in the contract.  Sellers need to determine what they are willing to leave behind.  And any exclusions need to be specifically listed in the contract as well.

  • Appliances

Depending on the market, sellers don’t always leave every appliance for the buyer.  They may include the dishwasher, stove and built in microwave in the contract but not the refrigerator, washer and dryer.  Sometimes they don’t want to give everything away up front so that they can use these as items for negotiation.

  • Inspection

When buyers waive inspection, they often find themselves with "buyer's remorse", but they can try to shorten the time frame for inspection, from ten days to five.

  • Condo/Co-op Assessments

These are fees that are used to maintain common areas in a community. If there is an open assessment, it can become a negotiation between the buyer and seller as to who will pay for it.

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

A Guide to Home-Selling During Spring

by The Hat Team


Spring is a great time to sell a house.  In fact, per a Zillow study, homes listed between May 1 through May 15 sold, on average, around 18.5 days faster than homes not listed during this period.  Add this to the fact that the largest number of buyers are actively searching for homes in the months of April, May and June and you will see that getting your property on the market this time of year is a must!  This is especially true right now because interest rates are still relatively low.  Here are some tips that will help your house stand out among the plethora of homes that get put on the market in spring:

  • Wash windows inside and out and polish all mirrors.  A little bit of sparkle goes a long way in impressing potential buyers.
     
  • Rake the yard and trim back bushes.  Your yard is the first thing people will see. Dead leaves and debris do not paint a pretty picture.  In addition, you want as much natural light as possible flooding through your windows, so make sure bushes aren’t blocking the rays. Budget-Friendly Home Staging Tips to Maximize Curb Appeal
     
  • Mow the yard diagonally and edge along the driveway and sidewalks.  Mowing diagonally makes yards look larger. And edging shows that you give attention to small details. 
     
  • Plant yellow flowers.  Yellow tulips and daffodils promote feelings of happiness and contentment.
     
  • Clean window treatments and open windows.  It will be worth your while to take down your drapes, curtains and blinds to clean them and give them a crisp, fresh look.  Weather permitting, opening windows lets the fresh air in and gives the whole house the feeling of spring.
     
  • Have fresh, fragrant flowers in the house.  Artful home-staging brings color and pleasant aromas indoors. Flowers for Home Staging
     
  • Polish floors to a high gloss.  Make those floors shine!  Refinish them if necessary.
     
  • Use light colors. Even if you must spend a little to replace items, towels, linens, throws and sofa pillows are inexpensive accents that will pay off.  Use soft, spring colors such as yellows, pinks, pale blues and lavenders to light up a room.
     
  • Spruce up your entryway. This is the part of your home where buyers will get their first impression.  Make it a good one!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Which Should You Do First - Buy or Sell?

by The Hat Team


It’s time for you to move. Maybe it’s because your family is growing and you need a larger home. Or perhaps your nest has recently emptied and you want to downsize.  Whatever the reason, as a home owner, you not only need to find a new home, you also need to sell your current home.  This brings us to the question…which should you do first?  Buy, then sell? Sell, then buy? Or do both at the same time?  There is no one right answer for everyone, but certainly there is one that is right for you. Here are the pros and cons of each of these options:

BUYING FIRST - PROS

  • One perk of buying a new home before you sell your current one, is that it allows you the time to find the ideal home without having to rush to a decision. There is no pressure to get out of your current home by a certain date, forcing you to maybe choose a house that isn’t quite right.
  • If you are a planner by nature, then knowing where you’re going to be living once you sell your home is definitely a positive aspect of buying first.  It will give you peace of mind to know that you can move directly to your new house once you have sold your current one.
  • If you buy first, you can take your time moving.  You will also have the time to do any work on your current property that is needed, such as home improvements and/or updates, before you put it on the market.

BUYING FIRST - CONS

  • Ideally, you would be able to sell your current home within a month of purchasing your new one so that you don’t have to pay two mortgages.  But there is no guarantee that will happen.  Your house might sit on the market for a while, and if it does, you need to be prepared to make two mortgages each month until it sells.  If this is not something you are able to do, you probably shouldn’t buy before selling.
  • If you buy before selling your income will need to be able to support both mortgages.  This will increase your debt-to-income ratio ( DTI )meaning that if you’re already struggling to qualify for a new mortgage, it’s going to be even less likely you will qualify if you have two mortgages.  You may want to sell first to lower your DTI so you will qualify for your new mortgage.

SELLING FIRST - PROS

  • Depending on the state of the current real estate market, there may be a lot of competition for homes.  In this case, you will find that selling first and having cash on hand will be an advantage when competing with other buyers.  You will also be in a better negotiating position if you don’t need a contingency when you buy. Home Sale Contingencies for Buyers and Sellers
  • When you sell your current home first, you will have a clear picture of how much you can afford for your new home.  It will also provide you with cash to put toward your down payment.  If you can put a full 20% down, depending on your loan program, you can avoid paying mortgage insurance each month. This will save you money over the life of your loan.
  • Selling first will eliminate some expenses.  If you buy a new home before you sell, you will not only be making two mortgage payments until your current property sells, but you will also be paying for utilities in both homes.  These expenses can add up quick!

SELLING FIRST - CONS

  • When you sell your house before you have found a new one, you may have to find temporary housing…which can be a real hassle. Trying to find a place to live on a short-term lease is challenging and becomes even more complicated if you have pets or you are looking for specific school district.  It also means you will have to move…twice. Moving once is stressful enough. Moving twice in a short period of time is exhausting. And when you do find your new home, you may have to juggle both a rent and mortgage payment for a month or more depending on your lease.
  • If you’ve sold your current home, but haven’t found your new one, you may feel panicked about finding a home quickly.  This feeling might lead you to rush your search and to perhaps settle for a home that isn’t right for you.  Buying a home is likely the largest financial investment you will ever make, not to mention the logistical and emotional implications, so it is a decision that you definitely don’t want to rush.

Believe it or not, it is possible to buy and sell simultaneously.  For example, you can make a contingent offer, meaning that your offer is dependent on your current home selling.  A contingent offer may not be as appealing to sellers in a competitive market, but it eliminates the risk of ending up with two mortgages. Another option is to use a HELOC: Home Equity Line of Credit to cover the cost of purchasing a new home while still paying mortgage on current home.  There is also the possibility, depending on your lender, of getting a Bridge Loan to help cover expenses in the time between buying and selling.

There are many factors involved when deciding whether to buy or sell first. Let an experienced Realtor like Sandra Nickel assist you in navigating the home buying/selling process.

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

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