Tips for Buyers and Sellers

Tips for Buyers

Advantages of Owning a Home


Home ownership is part of the American Dream. The pride of owning your own home is one of the most significant benefits you’ll receive when you make this big commitment. Other advantages include:

Tax Breaks
When you own a home, you can take several deductions off your income tax. Deductions may vary depending on your situation, however you can write off all or part of the mortgage interest, real estate taxes paid and costs associated from buying the home (e.g. interest points paid). If you work from your home, you can also write off a portion of other home costs such as utilities. Check with your accountant to find out what you can and cannot deduct on your taxes.

Build Equity
When you purchase a home, you usually build monetary value known as equity. In the beginning, most payments go toward interest, but some go toward the actual principal (the home). The longer you live in the home, the more equity or value you accrue. This is not true in all cases, but many times home values increase. This means when you sell your home, you can often make a profit from the equity you have built up. You can also borrow against the equity with a home equity loan. For example, the extra money may come in handy if you want to remodel your kitchen.

Renters generally have no idea what they’ll be paying a few years down the line while home owners have a fixed-rate mortgage so they’ll make the same payment for up to 30 years. During times of inflation rental payments may rise while the equity of your home will increase.

Back to top


Determining the Right Home for You


First-time home buyers face a lot of decisions when trying to determine which house is right for them. You have to determine which housing and neighborhood features are most important to you in order to find the right house for your family. Once you determine the most important features you need, prioritize those features. Here is a home-buying priority checklist. Consider which ones are at the top of your list when finding a new home and add your own.

When thinking about affordability of the right house for you and your family, take into account the monthly mortgage payments, the down payment for a loan, closing costs, moving expenses as well as the ongoing maintenance costs of your new home.

Create a list of acceptable and unacceptable cities, towns and neighborhoods where you’d like to live. Factors to consider when finding the right home for your family include school system, parks, outdoor activities, proximity of health care, size of library, crime stats, and any other quality of living standards you feel are important.

Each family has different needs. Some features to consider include number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, one-story or two-story house
full basement, walk-up attic, one-car or two-car garage, acreage, type of heating system, attached or detached home. Your list may change slightly and become rearranged as you search for the perfect home.

Know Your Credit Score


One of the biggest things that can impact your ability to get a loan for a home is your credit score. Credit scores measure the risk a lender may take when deciding on a mortgage. If your credit score is not where you want it to be have no fear it’s never too late to become credit worthy. The first thing a lender will do is review your credit report. A high credit score will translate into a lower interest rate and that will permit you to qualify for a higher loan limit. Lower interest is directly translated into more home for your money.

Factors impacting your credit score include payment history, outstanding credit balances, credit history and type of credit (ie auto loans, credit cards, mortgages, etc).

Tips For Sellers

By Owner or Use an Agent


If you sell your home yourself, without the assistance of a real estate agent, you save a bundle on commissions. However, make sure you know what you’re getting into first. Learn about what the process entails, whether it’s a good idea for your situation, and where to get help if you do decide to go it alone. Above all, get to know the market well enough that you don’t end up selling the home for less than it’s worth.

Listing your home with an agent means that when you sell the house you pay a commission to the real estate agent. The advantages of using an agent to sell your home is that they are familar with marketing strategies and will do all the work for you.

Determining a Price


Determining your home’s value, and setting a price, is probably the most important step in selling your home. Why? Because if your home is overpriced for your area, no matter what the cost of improvements that you have made on your house, buyers will shy away from it.

On the other hand, an underpriced home will probably move on and off the market because of a quick sale, but there goes your profit. So, to avoid losing time and money, you must properly price and present your home.

Some of the factors to take into consideratiion when a house is appraised include: the overall market, location, design, quality of construction, age and overall condition, number of rooms, square footage, storage, heating and air and parking.

Showing Your Home


A clean house is very desirable when prospective buyers come to visit the property. While cleaning has little to do with the assessed value of your home, it is an integral part of selling your house quickly. Even the most dedicated homeowners still have certain areas of the house that tend to be neglected. When touring a property, these areas will stick out if left unattended.


» Cut and edge the lawn weekly for a finished appearance.
» Clear away any cobwebs from the front door area
» Mow & edge the lawn once a week
» Make sure the front gives a ‘welcome’ appearance
» Make sure the area in front of your property is clean and free of debris
» Sweep off pathways; kill or pull up any weeds
» Mow and edge the lawn
» Make sure the yard looks well maintained


»Dust and vacuum the whole house at least once a week
»Put all valuables in a safe place
» Put deodorizers in each room
» Straighten up living areas & put toys away – the less clutter they see, the more they’ll want to buy the house
» Open up blinds & drapes to let in light. Turn on lamps as necessary to brighten each room
» Put all toilet lids down
» Make sure the house is a comfortable temperature
» Turn off TVs. Turn on radios at a soft, low volume
» Make sure fact sheets about your home are easily accessible

Passing a Home Inspection

A home inspection is designed to give the real estate agent or prospective purchaser a system to detect major flaws or deficiencies in the significant components and systems of a home. Use the checklist below as a guide for getting your house in good condition before selling it.

home inspection

» Attic
» Balconies
» Basement
» Bathroom
» Ceiling, Floors and Walls
» Crawlspace
» Decks and Porches
» Doors
» Windows
» Drainage
» Driveways and Walkways
» Electrical
» Exterior
» Fireplace and Chimney
» Garage
» Heating and Air Conditioning
» Kitchen
» Roof
» Trees, Lawn and Vegetation
» Water