10 steps to buying your dream home

Buying a home is without doubt the biggest financial commitment you’ll make. It isn’t just about dollars and cents, you are making an investment in your future.

Here are the important steps in the process. I’ll be here to help you every step of the way.

  1. Choose a Realtor® to assist you in the home buying process. The term Realtor® identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®  and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
  2. Get Pre-Approved. It’s the key to increasing your negotiating power. Meet with a mortgage consultant and get pre-approved for a loan. Don’t confuse this with a pre-qualification which is simply an estimate of your potential buying power. A pre-approval is a preliminary review of your credit information and pre-approves you up to a maximum loan amount.
  3. Refine your focus. Discuss your housing needs, wish list, preferred location, and budget.  Searching and previewing your properties online will help to narrow down your choices. I can create an online search for you at www.JeanHedren.com  based on your specifications to help you narrow your choices.
  4. View properties. Once you find homes that meet your criteria, request a tour of several in person so you can be comfortable with what’s on the market. I can show any home, even those listed by another firm. Be realistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Make a list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.
  5. Make an offer. When you know you’ve found the right property, you may need to act quickly depending on the market conditions. Ask about current market conditions and  get advice about preparing your offer. Several points for negotiation should be included in your offer, including price, financing, terms, date of possession, inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The offer to purchase should also include a period of time to have appropriate inspections completed.
  6. Negotiate terms. Counter offers are common in real estate. Be prepared to be a little flexible on price, closing date, repairs, or other items.
  7. Get an inspection. This is your best chance to have the property’s systems and structure evaluated. In NW Wisconsin, it’s common to have three types of inspections: house, well, and septic system.
  8. The walk-through. Usually a day before closing, do a final walk-through of the house to make sure everything you thought was included in the purchase agreement has remained on the property.
  9. The closing. At the closing you will sign the mortgage loan documents and pay your closing costs. The seller will execute the deed to the property, and the closing agent will record the necessary instruments to give you legal ownership of the property. The keys will be handed to you and the house is yours!
  10. Move in.

Start your home search at www.JeanHedren.com. Call Jean at 218-590-6634 when you are ready to view properties.

The art of finding your dream home: How to narrow down three important criteria

Key Insights

Home type: How to decide between a single-family home, condo or townhome

We admit that in today’s market, the majority of homebuyers and sellers tend to focus on single-family homes. But condos and townhomes can also be a great fit for your family in the short-term or for the long haul.

  • Home type is important. Consider the difference of each space, and how they would work for you now versus in the next 10 years.
  • Think about your location priorities: What’s important to one homebuyer can be completely different from the next.
  • Home features are important, too! Narrow amenity options down by considering what you have now, and how you’d like to see that change.

When deciding what type of home is best for you, here are some questions to consider:

Do you want full control over updating the space? If you plan to knock down walls to create an open floor plan, or if you love to landscape, you might consider a single-family home. Condos and townhomes are usually managed by a homeowners’ association, or HOA, that could limit or regulate your interior and exterior modifications.

Is convenience a large factor in your decision? Although a condo or townhome can be regulated by an HOA, that’s not necessarily a negative thing. In addition to regulating the space, an HOA may provide amenities such as a pool, workout facility, security patrols or lawn service.

So, if you’d like to relax after a long day of work (rather than worrying about setting up sprinklers to water the grass), a home such as a condo or townhome run by an HOA might be something to consider. Just keep in mind, the services from the HOA are not free. You’ll usually be required to pay monthly dues to your HOA.

Whether you decide on a single-family home, condo or townhome, remember — research from the National Association of REALTORS® shows that homebuyers are spending an average of 10 years in a home — so think not only of the home you want now, but also of the property that will suit you for the next several years.

Location: How to decide on a city or neighborhood

Some people prefer to vacation in a relaxing rural cabin, while others want to be in the heart of Uptown Minneapolis. Similarly, everyone has different preferences of where they’d like to settle in to buy a home.

When deciding on a location, consider these factors:

  • School district
  • Commute time to work
  • Safety

Think about what matters most to you, and the type of life you want to live. Rank the list of above criteria in terms of importance, then be sure to follow that list as you consider different areas to live. Remember: While your goal may be to find a home that checks every box off your list, you may have to narrow down must-have items versus nice-to-have amenities.

Home features: Certain features are must-haves for buyers

Just as some location criteria are important to certain buyers, home features can be just as important to others. Do you want the ease of walking into a turnkey home that doesn’t need any new appliances or updates? Or are you excited by the potential of purchasing a fixer-upper that could require months (or even years) of renovations?

Be sure to think about the key features that you’d like to see in your home-to-be, including:

  • Number of bedrooms or bathrooms
  • Status of appliances, possibly with warranties
  • Wallpaper or paint
  • Flooring: Hardwood, carpet or tile
  • Washer and dryer in a dedicated laundry space

Keep in mind that many requirements may stem from things you don’t currently like about your living situation — and that’s okay! There’s no better indication of what you need than knowing what isn’t working for you now.

Carefully consider what you have (or don’t have) now and generate a list of changes and upgrades you’ll need in your new space.

If you’re ready to purchase a house, or if you’d like expert help in deciding which type of home is right for you, reach out any time to get started. Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin, 218-590-6634.

Home buyers: Shop for a mortgage loan

Choosing a mortgage lender

More than half of home buyers don’t shop to find the best interest rate or loan program for their home purchase.

Generally a buyer would rarely purchase the first home they look at, they often accept the rate and terms offered by only one lender. Not all lenders are the same. They don’t offer the same terms and rates to the same buyer.

I advise my buyers that shopping around to compare rate and terms for a mortgage is a reasonable exercise considering that a half percent less interest rate could not only lower the payment but the cumulative interest that is paid throughout the life of the loan.

Mortgages consist of more than interest rates. They include the rate plus origination fees and discount points, which are prepaid interest assessed by the lender at settlement. Other considerations might include adjustable vs fixed-rate loans, low down payment vs high down payment, and whether there are prepayment penalties.

Most important, you will want to work with a lender you can trust, someone that will work effectively, and a lender that offers a range of mortgage loan options.

  1. Make a list of lenders. Your Realtor will know several area lenders and can provide you with a list of contacts.
  2. Talk to a loan officer. Call or visit the lenders on your list to learn how they might work with you. Ask questions:
  • What types of loan products are offered?
  • What are the rates, points, rate-lock period?
  • What are the closing costs?
  • How long is the mortgage application process?
  • When will I know if I’ve been approved?
  • What documents do I need to provide?
  • What costs am I expected to pay?
  • Is there an application deposit?
  1. Compare rates with other lenders. When comparing rates with other lenders, be sure the rates are for comparable loans.

www.JeanHedren.com

About Jean Hedren Realtor. Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, specializes in lake homes, cabins, and waterfront real estate in NW Wisconsin. View all posts by Jean.

A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make

A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make

I advise all my buyers to hire a home inspector.  I tell them it’s the best investment they’ll ever make.  If the inspection uncovers issues so serious that they decide to walk, it can feel like money wasted.  But if it helps them avoid big surprises they would have encountered later, then it’s definitely money well-spent.  That’s why I very rarely write up offers that don’t include an inspection contingency.

I even advise buyers to hire an inspector when they’re considering a foreclosure or other distressed property that’s being sold “as-is.”  More information can help them, in the words of that old song, “know when to walk away… and know when to run.”  Or, they can move forward with confidence, armed with solid information about just what they’re getting into.  And even when a home is being sold as-is, that doesn’t necessarily mean there can’t be a little negotiating if an inspection uncovers major issues.

It’s also important to remember that a condition report is very different from an inspection report.  Yes, sellers sign on the dotted line to signify that they’re telling the truth.  But even though they’re completing the condition report to the best of their knowledge, they may not know about all of their home’s issues.  So no matter how much you trust the seller’s condition report, it doesn’t take the place of an inspection.

If an inspection uncovers major issues, you have two choices: you can walk, or you can ask the seller to “cure.”  The seller can resolve the situation by either fixing it or giving you a credit at closing.  I almost never advise my buyers to walk away without trying to negotiate a solution.  The only exception would be in the case of serious mold or structural issues.  Almost anything else can be fixed.  If this is a home and a location that you like, work with the seller to reach a fair outcome.

Most homes outside the city limits have their own well and septic, and those need to be inspected, too.  Some inspectors are specialists, while others can take care of all three inspections in the same visit.  Ask your Realtor for recommendations.

Don’t procrastinate on this step; start working to schedule an inspection the moment you have an accepted offer.  The best inspectors can be very busy; here in northern Wisconsin, that’s especially true during the summer months.  So you’ll have plenty of time for any negotiations that might need to take place between the inspection and the contingency deadline, make sure you schedule your inspection for the earliest date possible.

Start your property search: www.JeanHedren.com
Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, 218-590-6634

Just Sold this comfortable 3 bedroom home. 9117 E Hill Top Dr, Solon Springs, WI

Sold 3 bedroom 2 bath home on a large corner lot in a quiet Solon Springs neighborhood.

Newer family room and upper level bedroom addition. Plenty of space for family or your home office or crafting headquarters. Large deck off the dining room. Garage is 30×24 with room for 2.5 vehicles and plenty of storage. Meticulously clean and well cared for home and yard. Close to Upper St Croix Lake, trails, Lucius Woods, and many area lakes. Only a half hour to Superior/Duluth.

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Sold by Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, 218-590-6634. Or, email: jeanhedren@edinarealty.com

What a Home Inspection Should Cover

Buyers, here is a list of the major items home inspections will cover depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties you might purchase.

Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.

Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.

  • Doors and windows
  • Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
  • Driveways/sidewalks
  • Attached porches, decks, and balconies

Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems, (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.

Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.

Electrical: Safe electrical siring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.

Air conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.

Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:

  • Walls, ceilings, and floors
  • Steps, stairways, and railings
  • Countertops and cabinets
  • Garage doors and garage door systems

Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.

Whether you are a first time home buyer or buying your first lake home or cabin, I’d be happy to help you find the home or cabin in NW Wisconsin that’s just right for you. Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, 218-590-6634. Email: jeanhedren@edinarealty.com

Douglas County WI homes for sale. Washburn County WI homes for sale.

Are these home interior and exterior structural and mechanical items in good condition?

The Home’s Interior Condition

Even when a home or cabin immediately feels like it might be “the one,” take time to check out the:

  • Electrical system.  Standard house current, number of circuits, outlets, and fuses or circuit breakers is sufficient for everyday needs.
  • Floors. Condition of flooring.  Whether plank or plywood. Solid bridging and joists.
  • Walls.  Condition.  Whether drywall or plaster. Absence of water marks.
  • Appliances and fixtures. Everything in working order. Bathroom and kitchen fixtures in good shape.
  • Attic. Sufficiently insulated and ventilated.

The Home’s Exterior Condition houses-1705073_640

When you’re looking over the exterior, check out the:

  • Foundation. Floors poured concrete. Walls concrete or cinder blocks. No evidence of water seepage or moisture problems. Note that minor settling cracks are not usually structurally significant.
  • Doors and windows. Easy to open and close. Easy storm and/or screen removal and installation. Newer windows are usually more insulative.
  • Roof.  Gutters and downspouts in good condition. If older home, know how long shingles have been in use.  (Metal or rubber roofs even better.)  Chimney flashing tightly caulked.
  • Garage.  Doors or opener in good working order.  Sufficient electrical, lighting, and heating for your needs.

You can always make your offer contingent on what you learn from a professional home inspection.  I tell my buyers this is one of the best investments they’ll ever make.  But then, and even on your first walk-through, keep your sense of perspective.  Most problems can be fixed—either by the seller now, or by you later.  And it’s good to have realistic expectations. No house is perfect, and even newly built homes can have their flaws.  The main thing is to keep your eyes open and make an informed decision.

As your NW Wisconsin Realtor, I’ll be glad to help you find the lake home, cabin, or waterfront property of your dreams. To get started right now, give me a call at 218-590-6634 or email me at jeanhedren@edinarealty.com.