Today, Americans can shop for anything and everything online. Need groceries delivered? Order them online. Want dog food, a new wardrobe, new car, or even a mattress for your bed? If you have a computer, you can have anything you want with just a few clicks. If you’re looking for a new home, resources like Zillow, Trulia, and others offer resources for anyone wanting to move or list their homes, searching zip codes, neighborhoods, and price ranges. Since there are so many resources online you may ask yourself, “are real estate agents still important”?
Because of today’s technology, home-seekers are able to be better informed during their new home search because of the internet, but that doesn’t mean a qualified Realtor® isn’t important. Agents do more than simply unlock the door to potential, future homes and serve donuts at an open house. It’s true that the role of the traditional Realtor® of yesteryear has been transformed, but the initial home search is really only a small portion of the overall home buying process.
Before internet home-searching became available, consumers needed information on the homes exclusively from the Realtors®. Today, that information still needs to be analyzed by the real estate agents and the process of negotiation is more multifaceted than it has ever been. In today’s market, there’s usually low inventory and a high-demand, making the agent a home-seeker’s “best friend”. When a property is under contract, there’s a lot happening at the same time and a Realtor® can help keep it all straight. Realtors® help with heated negotiations, the inspection process, and dual-offer maneuvers when they happen.
As a local Realtor®, I am a fan of today’s technology because I find that my clients are better informed, knowing what they want in their new home and what they can afford. My job description is plentiful, but one of my main objectives is to keep my clients organized during the entire process, getting the best deal for their dream home. Technology is a wonderful asset to all of us, but it’s my ultimate goal to share my knowledge as a Realtor® so clients can rely on me during complex negotiations and more. Mobile apps, for example, can help keep clients organized and see homes more quickly. However; onerecent Forbes articles does state, “While the internet is replete with information, it’s the agent’s knowledge that makes the difference between mediocrity and extraordinary.”
For example, Zillow and Zestimate is more of a range for what the home may be worth. Working in the many Metro-east communities, I understand that a home’s online list price may seem a bit high, but I’ll be able to tell you why. Website’s like Zillow offer home-seekers a starting point, but they don’t know if the homeowner recently updated a master-bedroom closet or kitchen and that’s why the online listings aren’t always an accurate representation. With my network of builders, appraisers, inspectors and lenders, I know more about the homes on sale than any website search engine does.
Because of my real estate knowledge, I can help sellers price their homes right and help buyers know the best home investment for their particular needs. I do research on behalf of my clients, communicate, and listen to them…and relationship-building is something I take seriously. Want to make the most of your home search? Contact me and I’d be happy to answer questions or assist you in any of your real estate needs. My number is (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
I’ve been in the real estate business for quite some time, and often clients hesitate to ask me questions about getting their home ready to sell because they may think the questions seem frivolous or silly. Well, there truly are no silly questions in real estate! Every home is unique, and every situation has its own set of intricacies. If you’ve never had a house for sale before, or if a problem arises that you may have never anticipated, that’s all part of the process. I’ve compiled some questions over the years that homeowners have asked me and thought I would pass the information on to you.
Curbside appeal. What do I need to do?
I’ve written about first impressions before, but did you know that people looking for new homes notice things about your entryway that you may assume they won’t notice? You’ve spent a lot of time getting the interior of your home ready, but what about the entryway? The threshold of your entryway, from the steps to the welcome mat, will be critiqued by new home seekers. Is it dusty and needs to be swept? Is your welcome mat old and tattered? Make sure your mailbox is standing tall and without chipped paint. Pay attention to everything from your front door windows being clean to the walkway being inviting. “Curb appeal” may begin at the curb, but buyers will notice so much more as they approach your front door.
Not sure? Yes, you DO need to do the windows!
Another recommendation I give homeowners that are trying to sell their home is to not neglect the patio doors and windows. This may seem like an obvious tip, but when people are walking through your home and open the blinds or curtains to get a view of the backyard, you really want the frames to be dust free and the window’s glass crystal clear. Patio doors and the door tracks should also be cleaned and any obstructions cleared away, especially times during the year that may be considered “unseasonal” for using outdoor spaces. Wondering if hiring a window cleaner is worth the additional expense? Most definitely, especially if you don’t have time to do it yourself. Having your windows professionally cleaned at a price range anywhere from $6 to $8 a window, which includes the inside, outside and the screens, is well worth the return on that investment. And also make sure your outdoor spaces are tidied up, too.
Should I think about a heating and cooling system check-up?
When trying to sell a home, don’t forget about one of the biggest expenses associated with home ownership…and that’s your home’s energy costs. Heating and cooling your home can be quite expensive, and well-informed people looking to buy may inquire about the last time your HVAC system has been serviced. If your home is newer, it’s easier to present them with any installation and warranty information. For older homes, it’s a good idea to have a certified HVAC company come to your home and give a check-up of your system. Whether you simply need to change your filters or have a bigger maintenance issue to resolve, it helps to know what you are dealing with before you put your home on the market.
What do I do about our pets, pet toys and kid toys?
Homes can get messy, and pets and kids can often be the culprits! Think about walking into a home that you know has pets. Are you preoccupied with the smell you’re noticing or the toys you’re seeing, scattered around the home? When getting your home ready to sell, it’s best to keep the smells as neutral as possible, and always pick up remnants of toys, whether from Fido or your 5 – year old. Think about investing in a toy box for your kid’s room, if you don’t already have one, because it’s an easy way to collect toys and keep them organized. If an interested buyer wants to see your house within the hour, think about ways to keep the stress level contained. Ideally, load up the car with kids and pets before a house showing with snacks, games, and videos ready to keep your family occupied while out of the house!
This is only a sampling of questions sellers and buyers ask me. Throughout the year, I’ll share those questions and some tips as they arise. Attention-to-detail can make the difference between a sale or a snub. Let me help you get your house ready for an open house that is sure to impress! Contact me with any questions that you have about any of your real estate needs. My number is (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
Anyone that has worked with me knows that I have a genuine passion to find the perfect home for my clients. I love real estate and truly believe that investing in your home is one of the most important investments you can make. A home is where memories are made, love is shared, and your true personal taste and style can be expressed.
When finding someone the perfect home, it’s important to really be able to relate to the client. A Realtor® definitely needs to be a “people-person” to be successful! Listening is one of the best traits of a good Realtor® because finding the perfect home goes beyond the zip code and the price per square foot – matching the needs of the new homeowner is paramount! Tailoring the home search to the client saves time and ultimately is a more enjoyable experience. Open house visits are fun, but when it’s time to get serious in your home search, it’s always best to hire a Realtor®.
One of my favorite mottos is “extraordinary efforts produce extraordinary results.” I offer more of a personal concierge service to ensure that my clients receive the most information about neighborhoods, techniques and recommendations regarding the home buying or home building process, with on-going communication throughout the process. If you’re looking to relocate or change homes in the Metro-east area, I can help make the transition a smooth one!
There are many fantastic neighborhoods in the Metro-east. Here are just a few of my favorites along with some features to fall in love with, time and time again.
Niche.com ranked Edwardsville and Glen Carbon two of the BEST places to live in Madison County. Statistics were based on low crime rates, cost of living, job opportunities, and amenities. The Niche website gave both communities an A+! The Ebbet’s Field subdivision is a good representation of why these communities impress. This neighborhood is mere minutes from shopping as well as the excellent schools in District 7. The newer, full-service and local YMCA is also just down the street. Prices range from $400,000 and up.
Another family-oriented development, this subdivision is located in Glen Carbon. Prices range from $300,000 and up and this development boasts a collection of craftsman and traditional style homes. Community-minded and located conveniently by the many Madison County Bike Trails, Savannah Crossing is also close to shopping and is a part of the Edwardsville School District. Another good reason to think about living in one of the “Top 100 Places to Live”, as ranked in CNN Money.
Another beautiful development in the heart of Edwardsville is Brookshire Hamlet. Easy access to everything we love about Edwardsville, it’s also easy access to all major Interstates and only 25 minutes from downtown St. Louis. This is a simplified living community, which means it’s maintenance free living with lawn and landscaping care included along with snow shoveling and exterior maintenance responsibilities. Looking for a home site to build your next home? This might be it!
A perfect place for friends to gather, share day’s events or simply relax.. @Cloverdale the neighborhood has tremendous walkability factor for a relaxing evening walk with the family, friends, the dog or on your own for a bit of solitude. Hit the trails for a morning workout & easily traverse the 100 plus mile system full of the best that nature can offer. Another bonus: @Cloverdale is only a 20-25 minute walk to downtown Edwardsville for a beautiful morning at the farmer’s market or a delicious trip to one of the local coffee shops
Other neighborhoods that many of my clients now call “home” include Timberwolfe Estates, Arbor Lake, Somerset, Governor’s Way and Stonecliff Manor. Nearby Troy, Illinois is another emerging community that offers a great school district, restaurants, parks and shopping. Hampton Glen and Shadow Creek are two neighborhoods in Troy that are highly suitable when a new home is in your future.
I’ve only named a few of the neighborhoods and communities in the Metro-east area that offer wonderful homes with great features and amenities. My knowledge of the area goes beyond the neighborhoods I’ve listed here, and once I know your budget, ideal location and “wish list” items, I’ll be able to help determine which neighborhoods will best suit you. You can also find additional communities highlighted on my website at https://SandieLaMantia.com/.
It’s my ultimate goal as a Realtor® to find you the perfect home. I can also assist you when selling your existing home because I have a comprehensive knowledge of the local market and what works! I can help you determine which home features will lead you to a higher sale price, negotiating with the right buyer so you can sell your home efficiently and stress-free. Want to learn more? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
There are a number of different things you can do as a homeowner to winterize your home. Where we live, we can experience the mildest of winters one year and a bitterly cold mix of winter storms and below zero temperatures the next. It’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst, so here are some simple ways you can winterize your home in the next month to make sure your home is safe and sound.
Have a winter storm kit prepared. A home safety kit is a good idea, no matter the weather. The experts recommend having a container filled with food, bottled water, and other supplies that will last up to 72 hours in the event of an emergency. Some companies even offer pre-made kits! If a big ice storm hits and the roads become too treacherous to travel on, you’ll be glad you took some time to make a storm kit. It’s also beneficial to have one on hand just in case you lose power because of storms taking out power lines.
Trim trees in your landscaping. If you live in a wooded area and there are tree branches next to your home’s roof, windows, or electrical lines, it’s a good idea to trim them now. Keep in mind that ice and snow will weigh branches down even more, so there is definitely potential for damage to your home or landscaping.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detector check. Unfortunately, the winter months have an increase in home fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning because people are running their furnaces more often. Keep your loved ones safe and make sure your detectors have new batteries and if one isn’t working properly, change it out.
Fireplace chimney inspections. When was the last time you had your chimney cleaned or inspected? Visit www.csia.org for information on chimney safety and to find a certified chimney sweep. Cleaning your chimney each season is just one more safeguard against house-fires.
Install proper doors and windows. The better your windows and doors, the better your energy efficiency will be. Storm doors and windows also can be beneficial, and some tax credits are even available. If you can’t afford new windows, doublecheck your insulation around doors and windows and use blinds and shades to help keep the cool weather out.
Check your heating and cooling system. There are many qualified HVAC businesses in our area, and it’s important to have your furnace inspected annually by a dependable technician. It’s also a good idea to have your home’s ducts cleaned and inspected for any leaks and to regularly change your furnace’s filter throughout the winter months. A professional HVAC technician will be able to assess your existing system and help you determine what may need to be done before the cold weather hits.
Reverse ceiling fans for better circulation. Using your ceiling fans in the winter helps to keep your house warm. On typical ceiling fans, there are switches to reverse the flow. This pushes warm air downward and helps it to recirculate throughout the rooms in your home. When warmer weather is upon us, don’t forget to switch the direction again.
Keep your house colder. Set your thermostat a few degrees cooler and you’ll be pleased at the lower energy bill. Wearing a sweater or layers while at home is one of the easiest ways to save money during the winter months on your utility bill.
Other things you can do as a homeowner to prepare for the cooler weather is to bring outdoor patio furniture and accessories inside for storing, also bringing any plants and flowering trees inside before the first frost. Another good idea is to clean and winterize any outdoor equipment like lawn mowers and trimmers, inspecting any of the winter tools you have during the process.
Even though there are still plenty of nice days ahead, winter will be here before we know it. A little planning will ensure that your home will be ready for the colder weather and you’ll be more comfortable, too. Have questions about living in the Metro-east or need some tips about home ownership? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
The home search is over! You have finally found the perfect home in the ideal location, negotiated the price, had your offer accepted, and are ready to make the big move. After the walk-through, appraisal, and some constructive “back-and-forth” with the agents, family members, and friends, the next step is finally here: it’s closing time! The closing is an exciting milestone in the overall home purchasing process and it’s the final piece of the puzzle when buying and financing a home.
Taken directly from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website, the closing, or sometimes referred to as a “settlement”, is when “you and the other parties in a mortgage loan transaction sign the necessary documents” so that the new, beloved home is finally your own! The closing documents make you responsible for the mortgage loan, so it’s important that you know what you are signing during the closing process.
One particular document, the closing disclosure, is a form that includes all final terms of the loan, closing costs, details of who pays and who receives any of the payments in the transaction. This document is a form that has replaced the previous HUD document (Department of Housing and Urban Development). Another document, the initial escrow statement (also called the initial escrow disclosure), lists what is going in the escrow account each month so taxes and insurance is paid on the homebuyer’s behalf. This document also shows the estimated balance in the escrow monthly as payments are made and how their account adjusts.
Contractual documents include the promissory note, which outlines clearly what you are agreeing to. It will include what you owe, interest rate of the mortgage loan, the dates when payments are to be made, total amount, length of time to repay, and more. Another form, a mortgage or security instrument, explains responsibilities as well as rights as a borrower. There are additional state and local government documents that are typically used to collect information about you, the new homeowner. Lender documents will also need to be signed at this time, too. When you receive the closing disclosure, you can ask your lender to provide a full set of all the documents listed here. This way, you can review them in advance and before the closing.
The closing process usually includes your real estate agent or Realtor®, the title company representative, also known as the closer, and potentially the lender. Your lender may or may not attend the closing. State regulations are different, so the closing meeting may include everyone at the conference room table while signatures are happening or it could take several days if signatures are being compiled separately. In some cases, a closing may even be via the internet or mail.
Regardless how the actual closing process happens, it’s important to understand that the paperwork has lasting financial implications. Before signing, make sure the documents have been reviewed and are understood. Don’t sign the documents if you’re unsure of making the payments or if there are errors. Ask questions if you don’t understand something involving the terms of the loan. Also keep in mind that over time, your payments may change. With an adjustable-rate mortgage, payments may increase over time so make sure you know when it will change and by how much. Even fixed-rate mortgages may change because of variations to taxes or insurance.
Being prepared at closing will help alleviate any stress and let you focus instead on this momentous event. Being a new homeowner is definitely a reason to celebrate! If you’re interested in a new home or want to learn more about selling your existing home, I’d love to help. I’ve assisted many families and individuals in the Metro-east area and beyond find their dream home. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
In between family vacations, sporting events, picnics, reunions and trips to the pool, how are you going to keep your kids busy this summer? In the Edwardsville and Glen Carbon area, we are fortunate to have many wonderful activities in our community (or just right next door), offering a variety of things for kids and families to enjoy all summer long.
Community Parks. If you live in one of our beautiful Metro-east communities, you know about our wonderful parks. Whether you spend an afternoon at Edwardsville Township Park (also known as “Airplane” Park) or the recently developed Leon Corlew Park and splash pad, you have fun only moments away. Township Park offers visitors a Boundless Playground™, an all-inclusive playground that lets children with and without disabilities play together in an accessible and nurturing environment. Learn more at https://edwardsvilletownship.com/.
The Leon Corlew Park and Splash Pad, located at 333 South Main Street in Edwardsville is another free, cool way to spend a hot afternoon. Offering a splash pad with features from gentle bubblers to a large dumping bucket, the park has pavilions, shady areas and even a dry playground to enjoy. Most of the parks in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon are also connected by area biking and walking trails. Learn more at the Edwardsville Parks and Recreation website by clicking on this link: https://www.cityofedwardsville.com/475/List-of-Parks-in-Edwardsville.
Arts in the Park. Beginning on Thursday, June 7, Arts in the Park is a 10-week summer series of entertainment for the entire family. Band concerts, events and art classes all take place at City Park in Edwardsville by the Public Library. Bands like the Soulard Blues Band and Spanky’s Dueling Pianos will entertain on Friday nights, while the Saturday morning art classes include activities like clay, sculpture and mural creation (grades K-4). To view a complete schedule, visit the website at: https://www.cityofedwardsville.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=28
Indoor options…to cool off in style. Altitude Trampoline Parkwas recently updated to include enhancements for kids wanting to take a break from the hot summer sun. Dodge ball, indoor trampolines, foam pit and more is a perfect place for the entire family or birthday parties. Located at 91 Fountain Drive in Glen Carbon, Altitudeis just one more option when making summer plans.
Edison’s Entertainment Complex, conveniently located across the street from Altitude, also offers a fun way to cool off. Offering food, bowling, game room, laser tag and more, take a break from the heat to visit Edison’s for “genius level fun”.
College for kids.
Southern Illinois University (SIUE) and Lewis and Clark Community Collegeoffers a plethora of classes for all ages, whether it’s in creative writing, art or a class about computer programming, it’s easy to enrich your child’s life this summer with a little education sprinkled with fun. Lewis and Clark classes in photography, horsemanship, theater and golf are offered in Madison, Macoupin and Jersey counties. Visit their website at http://www.lc.edu/c4k/.
The SIUE Summer camps are also amazing, with the Writing Camp celebrating its 36th year. Area youth ages 8 to 18 are able to combine learning with recreational activities like swimming, hiking and bowling. The writing development involves essays, creative forms of writing in drama and fiction, with spelling, grammar, punctuation and other basics taught. Call Adam at SIUE for more information at 618-650-2284.Other camps are available at SIUE, from jazz to science, softball to dance. Visit the SIUE website for a complete list of summer courses your kids are sure to enjoy.
There are a lot of fun, summer things to do and see in our many neighborhoods and this is just a sampling! As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help make your real estate dreams come true, offering tips to not only enhance your home’s beauty but to also share local news and advice about the many Metro-east communities you may call “home”. Looking to sell your home or relocate? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or contact me here or at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
As winter becomes more of a memory and the weather turns to sunnier days, it may be time to take a peek at your landscaping and start the plans for beautifying your yard. Does it require some TLC? Not sure what it may need to become that beloved, family-friendly space again? I can help! My next two articles will be highlighting yard beautification, including an interview with Tony Range next month. Range is the lead horticulturist for the St. Louis Zoo and will offer his suggestions on how to maintain a yard that will be the envy of your neighbors, all season long.
If you are looking to enhance the overall look of your home, a beautiful, outdoor living space also increases the value of your home. A relatively recent and increasingly popular trend for homeowners is the creation of a backyard retreat, turning a home into a wonderful place for entertaining, hanging out and enjoying when the weather is inviting and the days are longer.
Homeowners who add a deck to their property or enhance their custom deck prior to selling, usually recover the cost in the sale of their home. Decks that need repairs or seem neglected can often turn away buyers because they will see additional expense and future maintenance projects. If you have a deck, it may make sense to paint or re-stain it, add some new, brightly colored cushions to your outdoor furniture, and display some potted plants and flowers. Investing in your deck and outdoor living area also adds additional space to your home, making it appear larger for potential buyers.
Even if you own a home with no future plans on selling it, Consumer Reports indicates that today’s consumers are thriftier and stay home more to entertain and to spend family time. Homes with outdoor living spaces are cited as one of the most appealing ways to spend a nice evening with those you love! When weather is prime, many clients love the idea of “outdoor living rooms”. Turn off the iPad and head outdoors to toss a Frisbee in the backyard, sharing stories of the day with your kids. When you invest in your backyard, you are investing in so much more: time with family and friends.
Another way to enhance the beauty of your yard and create a more welcoming atmosphere for your guests is by adorning your entrance, driveway and more with assorted annuals and perennials. Flowers like Petunias, Snapdragons, and Knock out Roses are great additions to your landscaping. A Southern Living article cites putting a low fence between your house and the street to give an illusion that your house is farther away from the road than it truly is andit’s also a great space for planting flowers and vines.
If you have unsightly structures in your yard and you’re not sure how to hide them, strategic planting can help! Some sheds, garages, outdoor work spaces and utility boxes in subdivisions can be less than attractive. Adding window boxes and flowers to work sheds, setting attractive planters filled with flowers atop structures, and placement of potted ferns can be great additions to your outdoor ambience. Incorporating plants and flowers close to the structure, and incorporating planters onto the walls of the structure will make it seem like a seamless accompaniment to your landscaping.
As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help make your real estate dreams come true, offer tips to enhance your home’s beauty, and share my knowledge of our local market. The real estate process can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be with my guidance! And don’t forget – next month’s blog will offer additional landscaping tips from Tony Range, St. Louis Zoo horticulturist. In the meantime, you contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
The real estate industry is bustling in the spring months, beginning as early as February! With even the thought of temperatures rising, people in the market for a new home or looking to sell begin to become motivated. Homes are hitting the market and in our area, if the home is priced right, they can have an offer that same day. If you are looking to make a change or looking for your next “home sweet home”, Spring can be a perfect time to find the perfect match.
We’ve focused on tips to sell your home in the past, but if here are some Spring time tips for buyers in real estate.
Hire a real estate professional to help in your next real estate adventure. In today’s market, a professional Realtor® is experienced in many, many transactions. If you want to find a home in your ideal location, using a Realtor® can make your entire buying process easier. A Realtor® does a lot, going beyond just the home search. We help with contracts, negotiations, inspections and any other unforeseen obstacles that may pop up. An agent understands trends in the market today and can help you navigate this fast-paced buying/selling season. Keep in mind that it costs nothing to hire an agent because the seller of your new home will pay the commission.
Pre-approval for a home mortgage helps.
So, your budget is prepped and ready to go. If you know exactly what you can spend and what you may consider a “comfortable” budget for that next home, you’re heading in the right direction. You can also meet with a mortgage specialist to determine an accurate budget for that new home, and then take steps to obtain loan pre-approval. Of course, it’s okay to go to open houses and scan the web for homes for sale, but there are benefits to getting a pre-approved loan. When buyers are already pre-approved, sellers are more likely to take notice of an offer because they know you are serious at making a purchase.
Know what you want in a new home.
If you are ready to buy, it makes sense to sit down with family members and discuss your needs as well as your wishes. Whether it’s finding a new home in a certain school district or having an unfinished basement so you can add your personalized touch, what you want in your new home should be listed and prioritized. We’ve all watched House Hunters on HGTV when a couple can’t seem to agree on their perfect home! One wants a big back yard in the outskirts of town, while the other wants no yard in an urban environment. When buying a home, you should have a strong understanding of your requirements, and if there’s any conflict among other family members make sure you rank them in order of importance.
Keep in mind, it’s helpful to be flexible because your wants may shift based on availability in the market, market trends and budget, but the better you understand the most important features you desire of your new home, the smoother this process will be.
Be prepared to compete when buying a home.
In today’s market, it’s not unheard of that buyers compete for their dream home. You may need to prepare yourself to either back down during negotiations or pay more than you had originally anticipated paying. Bidding wars have been on the rise for a while. By working with your agent, you can think of unique ways to stand out from the other buyers, going beyond just price. Maybe you offer the sellers an extra week to move out? Or honor other stipulations when looking to close the deal? I can help you find ways to create incentives when making an offer on your next home.
If it’s time to buy or sell that new home, I can help! As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help make your real estate dreams come true, sharing my knowledge of our local market as well as offering recommendations during the real estate process. Now is a great time to buy a house that your entire family will love! Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com
As a Realtor®, it’s my job to find the perfect home for my clients. Over the years, I’ve learned helpful tips in regards to real estate for beginners that I like to share. Whether you’re a buyer, seller or both, here are some things that will come in handy that many Realtors® wish you already knew.
The Preapproval Letter is Just the First Step. Keep in mind, the preapproval letter is just the start of the process. Before closing, a lender re-examines a prospective buyer’s finances which also includes recent credit history. If numbers have changed (decreased due to salary or spending) the applicant could end up with a higher interest rate or even lose the loan. It’s best to continue frugality in your spending even after you’ve been preapproved for the mortgage. Homebuyers sometimes want to start buying, running up credit cards for their new home. What this means: it’s best to not open new loans or increase your credit spending.
Selling a house can take longer than you think. The selling process can take time and it’s important to have realistic expectations on the timeframe for selling a home. Different markets and different home prices move at different speeds, so you can’t always base your schedule on what happened to a friend in a different neighborhood or state. Negotiations after an offer can take 24-72 hours, and typical closing preparations can take 30-45 days. I can help price your home for the right amount so that the entire process flows smoothly and in a realistic timeframe.
“Buyers” may not all be able to buy. Just because you have an open house with many, many people walking-through, it doesn’t always mean the buyers are ready to purchase. Keep in mind, people walking through homes during an open house may all be at a different stage in their home search. It’s true that pre-qualification letters are used to confirm buyers have good credit and give salary information, but a serious buyer will have already applied for a loan and the bank has verified their finances, giving a specific dollar amount to the loan. Most agents will also call the lender and verify the buyer is pre-approved for that amount. If a buyer has already applied for a loan, they are ready to make that move into a new home.
It’s the whole package. Buyers need to walk through a home and feel good about what they are seeing, and that even includes the home’s smell. As a buyer, it’s also important to look at the new space and be able to imagine your own personal style in the prospective home’s layout. For sellers, it’s always beneficial to pay attention to the little things. Clean carpet, a fresh-smelling home, and lack of knick-knacks around the house really does help sellers present their home in a more desirable manner for buyers…and buyers will notice.
As a buyer, think about your needs for today and long term. Buying a house can be a big financial commitment, and as a buyer it’s important to think about your long-term plans when searching for a new home. Are you planning on staying at your current job or is there a chance you may relocate? Will you be starting a family soon? Depending on the market and the terms of your mortgage, you may not actually pay down any real equity for several years. Keep this in mind if you aren’t sure about the prospective new home fitting within your long-term needs. If not, you may want to keep looking.
If you aren’t entirely sure of the details necessary to get your house “showroom ready”, I can help. As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help make your real estate dreams come true, sharing my knowledge of our local market as well as offering recommendations during the home buying or selling process. Now is a great time to buy! Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
Are you familiar with the term “escrow”? It has several meanings in real estate, but the most simplistic definition is that an escrow account is set up for you by your lender to pay for homeowner’s insurance and property taxes when home ownership costs are due during the course of any given year.
Basically, escrow is when an impartial third party holds on to something of value during a transaction, and in the case of real estate, buyers write an earnest money check when making an offer that is then placed in escrow. The impartial third party holds on to the check until the buyer and the seller negotiates a contract to hopefully close the deal. When in escrow, the buyer and the seller can’t touch the money. It’s in a sort of “real estate limbo”.
The reason the check is handled by a third party is to protect both parties involved. If you put down earnest money and that money goes directly to the seller, what if the seller decides to hold the earnest money as a way to negotiate? When the money is in escrow, you know that everyone involved in the transaction is treated fairly and gets what is due at the same time.
When talking with your mortgage lender, the term escrow will come up again. Terms like escrow, impound or reserves may come up. All terms mean the same thing: they are funds held by the lender to make payments for your homeowner’s insurance and property taxes. Another term, prepaids, is money collected in advance for bills to make sure there’s enough money on hand to pay when due.
What’s escrow and closing mean?
When the agreement has been made and the purchase is complete, the term “closing of escrow” will be used. Closing officers or escrow officers will sit with you and oversee the final paperwork and make sure the transfer of funds happens smoothly. During the closing, the officer wants to make sure the recording of deeds, money disbursement and all paperwork has been properly signed and recorded. The closing process does take a little bit of time, but it’s important that all conditions are met to make sure the transaction is accurate and complete.
When does a hold-back of funds happen?
Sales can still be completed with a transfer of ownership when funds are still in escrow. One example of this is if you’ve made an agreement with the seller to stay in the house for an agreed upon amount of time while their new home is completed. When participating in this “rent back” agreement, a real estate agent will advise you to have the escrow agent hold back some of the seller’s proceeds until vacating the premises entirely. The reasoning? Your new home should be left in the condition specified in your real estate contract with no damage, etc.
Sometimes during a final walk-through of the new home buyers find something wrong. Also in some cases, work cannot be done prior to the move-out date. If this happens, it’s a good idea to keep money in escrow to help with the expense. Hold-back of funds is also used in new construction, keeping money in escrow until work is completed and the paperwork is signed.
After escrow is closed and all funds have been distributed, the buyer and seller will receive a final closing statement and completed documents in the mail. Make sure the statement is reviewed carefully and if you see anything incorrect or have a question, contact the closing agent as soon as possible. Next, file the statement with all of your other important papers. When tax time comes, you’ll need to have the documents easily accessible for income tax return season.
Let me help you with your next home adventure! As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help make your real estate dreams come true, sharing my knowledge of our local market as well as offering recommendations during the home buying or selling process. Looking for a new home in 2018? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.