This year, we’ve covered the ups and downs, tips and tricks, insider secrets and need-to-knows of real estate this year for buyers, sellers, owners and renters – now it’s time to highlight the best. The year’s most-read stories carry valuable real estate insights (with a healthy dose of realism) into 2012.
2011 was a tough year for home sellers – or at least, for those home sellers who were not in the know about things they can do, big and small, to get what they need despite the sometimes scary market climate. These top seller tips can help you get there:
1. 6 Things that Turn Buyers Off: From stalker-ish tendencies to smelly disorderly homes to crazy listing photos (or no photos at all), this story runs down the list of top six things sellers do that send buyers running the other direction. If you’re planning to sell your home in 2012, leverage this post to help spot and stamp out these issues before they even have a chance to sabotage your home sale.
2. 4 Buyer Incentives that Sell Homes: After learning what not to do when trying to sell your home, check out this post, which outlines four things you’ll want to try if you’re having a hard time selling your home. The article covers interest rate buy-downs, closing credits, HOA dues credits and broker incentives as viable ways to attract some buyer attention to your doors.
On the surface, it may have been an amazing year for home buyers, but the reality is that even in a buyer’s market, there’s a lot you have to know and do to successfully get you into your dream home:
3. 5 Things Home Buyers Do that Turn Sellers Off: Even in areas where it is extreme, the buyer’s market doesn’t give buyers have a free pass to behave badly. Unjustified lowball offers, misleading the seller or not qualifying for a mortgage are all potential deal killers. Whether your market favors buyers or sellers, avoid these seller turn-offs that can keep you from getting the home you want at the best price and terms or causing unnecessary complications in your purchase.
4. Top 5 Hidden Costs of Owning and Renting a Home: First-time buyers need to take careful consideration of the new hidden costs of homeownership, so they can budget and plan accordingly (i.e., not overextend yourself). Special assessments, HOA dues and private mortgage insurance that can tip the scales on your finances.
But there are hidden costs of renting that first-timers need to weigh as well when when making the rent-or-buy decision. The less-frequently considered costs of storage, lost deposits and higher income tax can all weigh in favor of taking the plunge into home ownership.
5. Top 3 Deal Killers and How to Avoid Them: Deal-killers can come from all sides, but buyers can avoid the most noxious of them by preparing ahead of time and knowing what to expect. The most common deal killers this year have been low appraisals, longer-than-anticipated loan approval processes, and property condition dramas.
I expect these will continue to be pain points for buyers in the new year. If you’re looking to buy – or sell – in 2012, these tips will prepare you for what to expect, and how to avoid problems that can result in total transaction meltdown.
6. 4 Tricks and Traps Foreclosure Buyers Need to Know: With foreclosures and REO properties (Real Estate Owned – by the bank) taking up large chunks of for-sale inventory in markets across the country, buyers are suspicious of the risks involved. This article illuminates the issues to be aware of when it comes to contracts, property condition, disclosures and unexpected (and seemingly illogical) bank/seller behavior.
For Buyers and Sellers
7. 10 Open House Do’s and Don’ts: Whether you’re preparing an open house as a seller or visiting open houses as a buyer, this list of pointers covers what to do and what not to do to make your endeavor a success. From opening doors and drawers to cleaning, de-odorizing and prepping the home’s curb and sensory appeal, these best practices and faux pas to avoid serve as an excellent guide year-round for how to handle these real estate events.
8. 4 Insider Secrets for Avoiding Surprises at Closing: We can probably all agree that surprises are only good in the context of parties or gifts; they are almost never a good thing when it comes to your real estate closing. This article is a deep dive into the need-to-knows to help avoid nasty surprises at the closing table. Get the inside secrets on financial blips, disclosure protocol, time management and reviewing documents in advance that may in fact save you from housing-induced heart palpitations come closing day.
For Owners and Everyone Else
9. 6 Reasons to Google Your Address: If you’re like me, you run to Google for just about everything – especially amateur medical diagnoses and amateur background checks. But Googling your address should definitely go on the list, especially if it’s an address you’re thinking of buying, renting or owning. A simple Google search can show you everything from local crime information to recent sales comps in your area (which may help you lower your property taxes) to your home’s basic property records.
Perhaps the best reason to Google your address is that everyone else can! If you’re planning to sell, you need to know what the rest of the world will see in those search results.
10. 5 Inexpensive Ways to Add Luxury to Your Home: Who says luxury has to come at full price? I can think of few – if any – homeowners who aren’t interested in adding a little luxury to their homes without the luxurious price tag that is normally attached. Whether you’re buying, prepping to sell or just looking for a few upgrades in 2012, these five tactics can seriously uplevel your home’s aesthetics and amenities, without costing a fortune.
By Tara-Nicholle Nelson (with permissions)