How to Prepare for House Hunting

Know that there’s no “right” time to buy.
If you find the perfect home now, don’t risk losing it because you’re trying to guess where the housing market and interest rates are going. Those factors usually don’t change fast enough to make a difference in an individual home’s price.

Don’t ask for too many opinions. 
It’s natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas from too many people will make it much harder to make a decision. Focus on the wants and needs of the people who will actually be living in the home.

Accept that no house is ever perfect.
If it’s in the right location, the yard may be a bit smaller than you had hoped. The kitchen may be perfect, but the roof needs repair. Make a list of your top priorities and focus in on things that are most important to you. Let the minor ones go. Also, accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will most likely pass.

Don’t try to be a killer negotiator.
Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price or refusing to budge may cost you the home you love. 

Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself that you forget about important issues such as noise level, access to amenities, and other aspects that also have a big impact on your quality of life. 

Plan ahead.
Don’t wait until you’ve found a home to get approved for a mortgage, investigate insurance, or consider a moving schedule. Being prepared will make your bid more attractive to sellers. 

Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation.
A home is still considered a great investment, but its most important role is as a comfortable, safe place to live.

From the National Association of Realtors.

Ready to start your home search in NW Wisconsin? Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin, 218-590-6634.

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.

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

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

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.

A home inspection is the best investment you’ll make

A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Make

I advise all my buyers to hire a home inspector.  I tell them it’s the best investment they’ll detective-1424831_640ever 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 possible exceptions  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.

You’ll need 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 spring and summer months.  Allow 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.

Is this your year to buy or sell real estate? Call Jean Hedren, Your Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, at 218-590-6634. Or, email: jeanhedren@edinarealty.com 

A complete guide to buying your NW Wisconsin dream lake home or cabin.

 

This NW Wisconsin lake home or cabin buying guide includes the following 12 tips and resources:

  1. Getting started.
  2. Choosing the lake type that’s right for you.
  3. What is your preferred recreation?
  4. Your ideal cabin style.
  5. Lake frontage and shore land zoning.
  6. Beauty or price?
  7. How do critical habitat designations affect you?
  8. Viewing lake properties.
  9. Deciding where in NW Wisconsin?
  10. What to know about wells?
  11. What about septic systems?
  12. Writing an offer.

Thinking about buying your dream lake home or cabin this year? To get started, give me a call at 218-590-6634. Or, email me at jeanhedren@edinarealty.com.