What Happens After Making an Offer on a House?

Making an offer on a house feels like a reason to celebrate. You’ve applied for financing, worked with your agent to search for available listings, put in time attending open houses, and have found the place you’re ready to call home. However, celebrating at this stage in the buying process could leave you heartbroken if your offer isn’t accepted.

So, what happens after you make an offer on a house? Revealing what goes on behind the curtain in this critical stage of the buying process will help you understand what to expect next. First, let’s take a look at the three ways a seller can respond to your offer.

What Happens After Making an Offer on a House?

The seller rejects your offer:

If a seller rejects your offer, your agent may be able to relay information from the listing agent as to why it was insufficient. This can serve as a learning opportunity for the next time you prepare an offer.

The seller makes a counteroffer:

Counteroffers can make buying a home feel like a chess match. This is an indication that your offer has piqued the seller’s interest. Once you receive a counteroffer, it’s a matter of ironing out the finer details to reach a deal. Sellers will typically request alterations like a higher price, a modification to your contingencies, or an adjustment of closing dates.

You can accept or reject the counteroffer or come back with a counteroffer of your own, which may continue for multiple rounds until the two parties reach an agreement. Prepare for counteroffers ahead of time with your agent by discussing your price limit, how much you’re willing to budge on your contingencies, your flexibility around closing dates, etc.

The seller accepts your offer:

The smoothest result after submitting your offer is the seller accepting it, but that doesn’t mean you’ve crossed the finish line yet. Once the seller formally accepts your offer, you’ll be “under contract,” meaning both parties have agreed to move forward with the deal. Before closing, any contingencies attached to the offer must be met.

This explains why you’ll occasionally see properties listed as “under contract.” It means the seller has accepted an offer and there’s a good chance the deal will go through, but because the sale is not yet final, the property is technically not off the table. Other interested buyers will make backup offers in case the first offer falls through.

 

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After your offer has been accepted, you’re officially in the homestretch of the buying process. Once the purchase agreement is signed, it becomes legally binding. Backing out of a real estate transaction has varying consequences, depending on the timing of the withdrawal and its level of compliance with the attached contingencies. Learn more here:

If you intend to move forward with your purchase, finalizing the deal is a matter of completing the following steps before you can claim your new home:

The Home Buying Process: Closing

  • Next, you’ll deposit your earnest money in an escrow account. This deposit of funds lets the seller know you’re serious about closing on the home. In return, the seller agrees to take the home off the market. When the sale closes, the money goes toward the down payment or closing costs.
  • The timeline for inspections during the closing process vary state to state. Getting the home inspected allows you to ask the seller that certain repairs be made, request seller concessions, and renegotiate your offer. If you included an inspection contingency in your contract, you could walk away from the deal with your earnest money if you decide the property’s issues are too much to handle.
  • Contact your mortgage lender to relay the final details of the purchase so you can go about securing financing. Getting pre-approved early on helps to streamline this part of the closing process.
  • A title search will generate a report for you and your lender detailing the history of the home you’re buying to ensure there are no legal barriers against purchasing it.
  • Now you’re ready to close! Several legal documents are prepared, leading to the transfer of ownership from seller to buyer. You’ll also pay closing costs at this time. Once closing is finalized and the funds in escrow have been distributed, the home is yours!

For helpful information on the buying process from start to finish, tips on working with an agent, moving checklists, and more, visit our home buying guide:

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Managing Expectations as a First-Time Home Buyer

There’s a first time for everything. As a first-time home buyer, navigating the uncharted territory of the home buying process can be challenging to say the least. Although every home purchase is unique, there are certain knowns that can help you manage your expectations. Once you’re ready to buy, knowing a bit more about how to approach the market will have you well on your way to getting the keys to your first home.

Managing Expectations as a First-Time Home Buyer

Local Market Conditions

Your local housing market conditions will loom large in the buying process. In a competitive market (i.e. a seller’s market), prices are being driven up by demand, sellers have the leverage during negotiations, and it may take a long time to find the right home. In such a market, you can expect to compete against multiple buyers where everyone is trying to sweeten their offer to make it stand out. This usually takes the form of waived contingencies, escalation clauses, and all-cash offers. Buying in a competitive market is challenging for any buyer, let alone a first-time home buyer. Having greater buying power and getting pre-approved for a mortgage are two key paths to bolstering your financial standing and improving your chances of submitting a winning offer.

Though finding the right home is never a cakewalk, the conditions of a buyer’s market will be in your favor. In such market conditions, sellers are competing for the attention of a limited pool of buyers and are more flexible during negotiations. With less competition around you, you can afford to be more patient and selective when pursuing available listings.

7 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Home

Which homes can you afford?

It’s easy to fall in love with a home based on its listing photos, but one look at the price tag can break the spell. By knowing which homes are in your budget, you’ll be able to focus your time and effort on listings that are financially feasible. And remember, there are a myriad of costs to buying a home beyond the listing price to include in your budget.

To get an idea of what you can afford, use our free Home Monthly Payment Calculator by clicking the button below. With current rates based on national averages and customizable mortgage terms, you can experiment with different values to get an estimate of your monthly payment for any home price. By using the Home Monthly Payment Calculator, you can make a well-informed estimation of whether it’s the right time to buy.

 

A young woman does paperwork on the floor of her living room.

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Working with Your Agent

Fortunately, you don’t have to take on the home buying process on your own. A buyer’s agent will help to manage your expectations from start to finish by helping you look for homes, make an offer, negotiate with the seller and their agent on your behalf, and provide clarity on the closing process. Beyond their ability to get down to brass tacks and help you purchase a home, your agent will be there to answer your questions, validate your emotions, and connect you to their network of helpful resources.

To begin the process of buying your first home, connect with an experienced, local Windermere agent today:

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When is the Best Time to Buy a House?

There’s a factor of the home buying process that can often be the catalyst for everything that follows. That factor is timing. Much of the dialogue—rightfully so—around buying a home is focused on the “what.” However, it’s often the case that the “when” is just as important.

So, when is the best time to buy a house? The answer is simple: the best time to buy is the right time for you. Fortunately, knowing when the time is right isn’t some sixth sense, it’s much more concrete. It’s a matter of understanding local market conditions, your financial situation, the status of mortgage rates, and how those factors fit in with your lifestyle changes and your motive for moving.

When is the Best Time to Buy a House?

With so much subjectivity in the decision-making process, it can be helpful to look at cold hard facts to determine whether it’s the right time to buy. Although every real estate transaction is different, your local market conditions will give you a good sense of how to approach the housing market. There are two basic categories: a buyer’s market and a seller’s market. In short, the characteristics of a buyer’s market—high inventory, fewer buyers, lower competition—favors buyers, and the characteristics of a seller’s market—low inventory, many buyers, high competition—favors sellers. You may be in a position where you’re able to wait for favorable buying conditions or you may be thrust into a highly competitive market due to external factors pushing the agenda of your move, such as a career change or starting a family. Regardless of the market conditions you face as a buyer, it’s critical to work with a buyer’s agent to efficiently navigate your local housing market and, when the time comes, prepare a winning offer.

 

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Which homes can you afford?

Your financial situation also looms large in deciding whether it’s the right time to buy a house. Before you start looking for homes, assess your buying power. Having greater buying power will show the seller that you’re fully capable of purchasing the home and may vault your offer over others.

To get an idea of what you can afford, use our free Home Monthly Payment Calculator by clicking the button below. With current rates based on national averages and customizable mortgage terms, you can experiment with different values to get an estimate of your monthly payment for any listing price. By using the Home Monthly Payment Calculator, you can make a well-informed estimation of whether it’s the right time to buy.

 

The Home Buying Process

Moving often goes hand in hand with lifestyle changes. As you’re preparing to buy a house, you may be juggling an employment change, the birth of a child, or any combination of other life-altering events. Buying a home takes time, and although an agent will streamline the buying process, it will inevitably impact your day-to-day schedule. Here’s a quick glance at the steps in the home buying process.

  1. Find the right agent
  2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
  3. Search for homes
  4. Attend open houses and showings
  5. Make an offer and negotiate
  6. Put down earnest money
  7. Appraisal/Inspection
  8. Closing process
  9. Move into your new home

For helpful resources on the home buying process from start to finish, visit our website:

Buyer Basics – Your Guide to Buying a Home

 

Seasonality

You’ve undoubtedly heard the age-old real estate maxims about buying in different seasons and how to use the calendar to your advantage to score a good deal on your next home. There’s an element of truth to these sayings, but the best way to get a firm grasp on the effects of seasonality in your area is to work with an experienced, local real estate agent. Their expertise and access to data and tools will be your ultimate resource in tailoring your buying strategy to your local housing market. Connect with an experienced Windermere agent to begin your home buying journey:

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What to Consider When Buying a Second Home

In some ways, the process of buying a second home is like buying a primary home. However, there are several key differences that require consideration before you make an offer. Whether you have visions of curating your ideal vacation home, are planning for retirement, or view the property as an investment opportunity, a second home can be the answer to your real estate ambitions. Owning two homes, however, means your responsibilities as a homeowner will double. Keep the following information in mind as you work with your agent toward purchasing a second home. 

What to Consider When Buying a Second Home

Costs of Buying a Second Home

Purchasing a second home will typically come with all the expenditures you encountered during the process of buying your primary home. However, you may have to pay more up front for a second home, since loans for a secondary residence are riskier for lenders. Consider how making a lump sum payment may affect your financial health before beginning the buying process.

To get an idea of what you can afford, use our free Home Monthly Payment Calculator by clicking the button below. With current rates based on national averages and customizable mortgage terms, you can experiment with different values to get an estimate of your monthly payment for any listing price. By adding your resulting figures to your current monthly mortgage costs, you can make a well-informed estimation of your total monthly mortgage costs for both homes.

 

 

Financing Your Second Home Purchase

Finding the right financing for your second home purchase will depend on how you intend to use it. You and your lender will explore the different home loan types available to you to find the one that best suits your needs. Your lender’s rates and qualification requirements will vary based on how often you plan on living there and whether it’s an investment property, among other factors. If you plan to rent the property periodically, talk with your lender about what parameters would result in it being classified as an investment property. You’ll need to obtain a landlord insurance policy as well, on top of your existing homeowners insurance. These additional costs—along with rental maintenance expenses—need to be accounted for, even though renting out the property will help generate income. 

Other Factors that Influence a Second Home Purchase

Besides being financially prepared, how will you know you’re ready to buy? For starters, finding and buying the right secondary residence is a matter of timing. It’s vital that the purchase of your second home aligns with your life goals. If you’re planning on purchasing the home for retirement, take time to investigate the area’s assisted living resources. If the area is a popular vacation destination, talk to your agent about how seasonality affects the local market conditions, whether you’re buying in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, and how you can formulate your best offer.  

If you aren’t familiar with the area, get to know the locale before you start sending offers. It’s helpful to schedule your visit off-season to get the clearest picture of what everyday life is like there. Plan to stay for enough time that you can get a sense of the atmosphere beyond a tourist’s first impression. Your experience there will help inform whether it’s the right time to buy.

For more information on second-home ownership, read our blog post on renovating your vacation home, with a seasonal breakdown of common home improvement projects.

Renovating Your Vacation Home

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A Guide to Understanding Escrow

The process of buying a home is made up of several stages. After preliminary stages like getting pre-approved, searching for homes, and finding a buyer’s agent, various contracts and buyer-seller agreements will enter the fold as the purchase of a home is finalized. Escrow is a pivotal point in the buying process that will ultimately lead to you, the buyer, receiving the keys to your new home. Here is your guide to understanding escrow and how it works.

A Guide to Understanding Escrow

What is escrow? 

Escrow is a vehicle for temporarily holding the funds in a real estate transaction and making sure they distribute properly when the deal goes through. The funds and documents are held by a third party “in escrow” until the terms of the agreement have been filled. Escrow accounts protect the buyer’s “good faith deposit” (also known as “earnest money”) to ensure it goes to the seller as outlined in the real estate contract. These funds show that the buyer is serious about staying true to their offer and does, in fact, intend to pay the seller.

The seller accepting your offer is your cue to begin the escrow process. Your first step is to open an escrow account. Then, you’ll go about securing a mortgage and obtaining insurance for the home. When the deal goes through, the funds in will go towards your down payment and closing costs. Sometimes, the escrow funds are held in the account after the sale of the home has been finalized. This is known as an “escrow holdback.” This situation can often arise if a buyer discovers an issue with the home in their final walkthrough that wasn’t present during an earlier inspection. If the home is in a worse condition than what shows in the contract, then the good faith deposit will go back to the buyer, and they are released from the contract.

 

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How does escrow work?

Once all the I’s have been dotted and the t’s have been crossed, an escrow officer will issue a deed with you listed as the new property owner. Then, you’ll order a wire transfer for the funds to be allocated. Once closing is complete, the third party holding the escrow funds will distribute them per the terms of the agreement. This distribution of funds make up a part of the total closing costs for buyers, which include, among others, real estate agent commissions, title and insurance fees, and any HOA dues that may apply.

Escrow evolves after the purchase of a home. Once you’ve bought your new house, your lender will open a mortgage escrow account, through which you’ll pay for your property taxes and homeowners insurance. Held by your lender, the money in this account is added to your monthly mortgage payment.

To not get overwhelmed during the escrow process, it’s important to read your documents carefully and ask questions to make sure you understand them. When it comes time to close on the home, read through everything carefully to make sure you haven’t missed anything before the deal goes final. For more information on the required financing throughout the home buying process, read our blog post on the different types of home loans available to buyers:

The Different Types of Home Loans for Buyers

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The Different Types of Home Loans for Buyers

Financing terms are the nuts and bolts of a successful home purchase. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to buy a house, it’s a matter of making the numbers work. So, which home loan is the right one for you? Knowing the different types of mortgage loans available to you will allow you to pinpoint the one that best fits your needs and is financially viable.

The Different Types of Home Loans for Buyers

Conventional Loans

Conventional loans are the most popular type of home loan issued to borrowers. Offered by private lenders, they are not backed by the government. Conventional mortgages divide into two subsets: conforming loans; which adhere to Federal Housing Financing Agency (FHFA) guidelines, and non-conforming loans; which do not. Due to the added risk taken on by the lender, non-conforming loans typically have higher rates. A jumbo loan is an example of a non-conforming loan, due to its loan amounts being higher than the amount limits laid out in the underwriting guidelines. The two most common conventional loans are 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages.

15-Year and 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgages

The terms of your loan will drastically impact all aspects of your mortgage. With a 30-year mortgage, you’ll have lower monthly payments and a higher interest rate than you’d have with a 15-year mortgage, meaning you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan. With a 15-year mortgage, you’ll pay less interest, but you’ll have a higher monthly payment. Compared to a 30-year mortgage, a 15-year mortgage can save you money over the life of the loan, simply because you’re in debt for half the time; however, the higher monthly payments may be unaffordable for some.

 

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Government-Backed Loans

Whereas conventional loans are not backed by a federal entity, there are several unconventional loans that are backed by the U.S. government. These unconventional loans can often provide a path to homeownership for borrowers who don’t have the credentials to qualify for a conventional loan.

FHA and USDA mortgages are two common types of government-backed loans. Instead of having to make a 20% down payment on a conventional loan to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), an FHA loan allows buyers to qualify for a mortgage with a down payment as little as 3.5%. USDA loans enable buyers to purchase a home with reduced interest rates. VA loans offer several benefits for active service personnel and veterans looking to buy a home, including not having to purchase mortgage insurance.

Fixed-Rate vs. Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

Fixed-rate mortgages allow you to lock in a specified interest rate for the life of the loan. With an unchanging monthly mortgage payment, a fixed-rate mortgage makes financial planning easier. Adjustable-rate mortgages’ interest rates will go up and down based on market conditions. Many ARMs will start with a fixed-interest rate period followed by a variable interest rate until the loan amount is paid off. Keep in mind that a sudden change in your financial situation could make your monthly ARM payments unaffordable, which could result in a loan default.

Other Home Loans

There are other more niche financing options available for prospective home buyers. For example, a construction loan can be useful if you’re planning on building a home. Balloon mortgages and sub-prime mortgages can make homeownership feasible for those who aren’t financially prepared for the typical repayment structure of a mortgage. These loans, however, come with greater risks. Talk to a mortgage broker to understand the terms of these agreements before making a final decision.

 

For more information on financing your next home purchase, read our blog post on bridge loans:

What is a Bridge Loan?

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What are Closing Costs?

The closing process in a real estate transaction finalizes the terms of an agreement between the buyer and seller, leading to the transfer of the property’s title. This step of the buying/selling process comes with its own set of costs. Before a buyer can hold the keys to their new home, and before a seller can celebrate the sale of their property, closing costs must be paid.

What are closing costs?

The term “closing costs” refers to the various expenses, taxes, and fees paid by both the buyer and the seller to finalize a real estate transaction. The purchase agreement—signed by both parties—will dictate the terms of how the closing costs are paid, but there are some standards about who pays what.

In general, buyers can expect to pay about 2-5% of the total purchase price in closing costs, while sellers’ costs can range anywhere from about 6-10%; the difference being that buyers are using extra cash to pay for their closing costs while the amount sellers owe is typically deducted from the proceeds of the sale of their home. Note—these percentages may vary depending on property taxes, insurance rates, and other factors involved in the transaction.

Closing Costs for Buyers

Typical mortgage-related closing costs for buyers include an application fee, an underwriting fee, and prepaid interest (the accrued interest cost between your settlement date and first monthly payment). If you make less that a 20% down payment on the home, you can expect to pay your lender for private mortgage insurance (PMI), as well.

Two main property-related closing costs for buyers are the appraisal and the home inspection. Lenders will require an appraisal to double-check that the value of the property matches your mortgage loan amount, which will typically cost you a few hundred dollars. A home inspection provides the buyer with a clear understanding of the home’s condition and what repairs need to be made, either in the future or before closing. In competitive markets (a seller’s market), it’s more common for sellers to conduct pre-listing inspections and for buyers to waive the inspection contingency to make their offer more appealing. Buyers will also pay a variety of title, insurance, attorney, escrow, and property tax fees to finalize the home purchase. Usually, your lender will require you to purchase homeowners insurance before settlement to protect against insured disasters that may occur on the property.

These are just some of the costs inherent in the closing process for buyers, which are a fraction of the total costs of buying a home. Working with a Buyer’s Agent will help you stay organized as you navigate through these crucial final steps of your home purchase.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: PeopleImages

 

Closing Costs for Sellers

The seller will pay the agent commissions on the sale, typically to both the buyer’s agent and the listing agent. Agent commissions usually come in at around 4-6% of the sale price of the home. Other closing costs for sellers may include attorney fees, title insurance, a transfer tax, and the home’s property taxes for the current year if they have not yet been paid. The terms of the agreement will spell out what the seller is additionally responsible for, including HOA fees if applicable and any escrow money promised to the buyer.

Typically, escrow fees are shared between the buyer and seller, which cover the costs of distributing the funds involved in the transaction. In buyer’s markets, it’s more common for sellers to agree to pay for a portion of the closing costs—what is known as “seller concessions.” A common example of a seller concession is when the seller agrees to pay for repairs discovered during the buyer’s home inspection. 

 

So, whether you’re buying or selling a home, it’s important to remember that a series of fees and payments must be completed to finalize the transaction. Learn more about the costs of buying and selling a home here:

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7 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Home

Making the leap from renter to homeowner doesn’t happen overnight; it requires steady planning to put yourself in a good position to buy your first home. Prospective first-time home buyers can often feel like they’re waiting for a sign to indicate they’re ready to start making offers, when really, it’s a combination of factors. Here are seven signs that you’re ready to buy a home.

7 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Home

1. You Know Which Homes You Can Afford

To know whether you’re ready to buy, you need to identify your price range. If you’re unhappy with your pre-approval, or need more money for your desired location, there are ways you can increase your buying power. Once you know which homes you can afford, you can work with your agent to find the right home and prepare an offer.

2. You Understand Your Local Market Conditions

The dynamics of the market in which you’re buying will play a role in determining whether you’re ready to buy. The local market conditions will dictate what kinds of offers you can expect to compete against, what tactics other buyers may employ, and whether the buyer or seller will have the leverage during negotiations. Therefore, it’s important to understand the difference between a buyer’s market and a seller’s market so you and your agent can strategize accordingly.

3. You’re Comfortable with the Responsibilities of Being a Homeowner

Having a mortgage instead of paying rent isn’t the only difference between owning a home and renting. You’ll be responsible for maintaining the property, making repairs, and completing remodeling projects. That doesn’t always mean you can’t predict a future need. The best way to prepare for unexpected projects on any home is to get a home inspection before you buy so that you know every inch of the property and can start to save for larger expenses that might come down the road.

4. You Have Funds Available for Home Buying Costs

The costs of buying a home are more than just your down payment and monthly mortgage. Before you move into your new home, you’ll have to pay closing costs, moving expenses, and appraisal and inspection fees, to name a few. Property taxes can sometimes be part of the mortgage and depending on the time of year may need to be paid before you move in. Once you’re settled, homeowners insurance will enter the fold. If you can afford these costs, it’s a sign that you are ready to buy.

5. You’re Making Progress on Your Debt

Having zero debt is not a realistic expectation for every first-time home buyer. But, if you have a plan in place for paying off your outstanding debt and can show evidence of the progress you’re making, it will strengthen your buying credibility. Lenders will factor this into their assessment of your financial health during the pre-approval process.

6. You Have a Strategy for the Down Payment

It is true that lenders view a twenty percent down payment as favorable and won’t require you to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI), but it’s not game over if you can’t make a lump sum payment of that size. With a lower-than-twenty percent down payment, you may incur higher interest and fees over the life of the loan, which could put a greater strain on your finances long-term than waiting until you can pay more principal down. Whichever route you choose, make sure you have a solid plan in place to repay your loan.

7. Your Life Aligns with Buying a Home

Buying a home means you’ll be putting down roots, so it’s important that you and your household are ready to establish yourselves in one area before you buy. There’s financial logic behind this line of thinking, as well; in general, the longer you stay in one home, the more equity you’ll build. Career and income stability also play a role in determining whether you’re ready to buy. Landing a job with long-term prospects may be just the thing you need to green-light your decision to buy your first home.

To learn more about buying your first home, connect with an experienced Windermere Real Estate agent today by clicking on the button below.

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Must-Haves and Nice-To-Haves Lists

Finding your dream home may not be easy, but there are things you can do to make it easier, like creating a “Must-Haves” list and a “Nice-To-Haves” list. These lists allow serious homebuyers to save time, energy, and ultimately, money as they prepare to buy a home.

A Must-Have List is exactly what it sounds like, a checklist of the details that are non-negotiable for your new home. It’s essential to sit down and think about the things you need in order to feel comfortable there for the next 7-13 years.

Your “Nice-To-Haves” list is a checklist of details that you’d like to have, but you can live without. This list is great for those things that you’ve always dreamed of but may be out of reach for reasons such as your budget or location. This list may include things like fireplaces or gas appliances, a pool, or other non-essential items.

Your “Must-Haves” list focuses your search and helps your agent narrow down which homes are worth your time. Your “Nice-to-Haves” list will help you determine what you’re willing to sacrifice, which will ultimately solidify your must-haves.

These lists can also help manage your expectations regarding price. Take your lists to your real estate agent, along with your pre-approval from a lender, and you’ll be able to work together to determine what is a reasonable ask within your budget and your desired location.

Creating Your “Must-Haves” List

The first step is to think about the essentials. If things like location and number of bedrooms and bathrooms are a priority, then you’ll want to include them in your must-haves. Consider where you live now and use that as a starting point; what do you love and what are you missing? You may need more storage space, or an extra room to work remote, or a larger backyard for the newest member of the family.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you build your “Must-Haves” list:

  • Where do you want to live? (Be as specific as you can.)
  • What do you have now that you can’t live without?
  • What are you missing now that you may need for the next several years?

If you’re struggling to determine what it is you need to have, you can start working on your “Nice-To-Haves” list. This can also help you determine what is essential. For example, it may be nice to have five bedrooms when in reality, a three-bedroom house with a flex space that works for an office or guest room would do the trick.

Creating your “Nice-To-Haves” List

While you’re working on your “Nice-To-Haves” list, you’ll be thinking about the parts of a home that would be great to have but aren’t as important for you. You might also want to take into consideration what is reasonable in your area and if it’s a common amenity.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you build your “Nice-To-Haves” list:

  • What home upgrades are you willing to make?
  • What is something you’d like to do in your house more often?
  • What do you have in your current home that you love, but don’t need?

Searching for Your Next Home

These lists will help guide you and your real estate agent as you search for your next home. During this process you might realize some aspects aren’t as important to you as you thought, and vice versa. Keep your agent in the loop as you update your lists so they can continue to search for the perfect home for you.

Looking for a real estate agent who can help guide you through the home buying process? Connect with an Agent:

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Simple Tips to Make Your Move Easier

Your needs as a homeowner change over time, and you need the right home to fit those needs. Accordingly, it’s highly likely that at some point in your future you will experience another moving day. While moving can be challenging, there are resources to make it easier. If you are remaining in your current area, your Windermere agent can continue to be a valuable resource on communities, schools, utilities, transportation, recreational opportunities, and more.

If you are moving out of the area, your agent can help you with a referral to another reputable agent in your new community. Many agents also have relationships with real estate-related service companies in their area whom they can call upon for information regarding title, escrow, mortgages, temporary housing, and moving services. They can also help guide you in your search as you learn more about new communities and relocation services.

You’ve decided to move. Now what?

Once you have reached your decision, it’s time to gather information, start making decisions and get organized. Begin by creating a “move” file to keep track of your estimates, receipts, and other information. If you’re moving for a job, some expenses may be deductible, so you’ll want the paperwork when tax time comes.

If you are moving out of the area, start researching your new community and ask your agent for help in finding a referral agent in your new area. You’ll also want to determine whether you want to rent first or buy immediately. Your new agent should be able to help you with your decision. Once you know where you’re going, you’re also ready to get estimates from moving companies.

Closing one door, opening another

After you have chosen a moving date and either hired a moving company or reserved a rental truck, it’s time to wrap things up in your old neighborhood and start establishing relationships where your new home is located. This is particularly important if you are moving to a new town/city. You may want to ask your current doctors, dentists, etc. if they have any referrals on care providers in your new location. Be sure to check their recommendations on your insurance company’s online provider search list. Once you arrive, you may also want to ask new coworkers, friends or the school nurse for their recommendations.

Contact your children’s school and/or day care and arrange for their records to be sent to their new school district or day care. Call your insurance agent about coverage en route to your new home and also arrange for insurance in your new home. Remember to contact utility companies to disconnect, transfer or end service in your current home and turn on service in your new home.

You’ll want to file a change of address form with the U.S. Postal Service, either online or at your local office. If you don’t know your new address, have them hold your mail at the post office in your new locale. Don’t forget to cancel or transfer magazine and newspaper subscriptions as well.

If you belong to a health club or other association, contact them about ending or transferring your membership. Some clubs require written notice before cancellation. Finally, contact your bank or credit union to transfer or close accounts; if you have a safe-deposit box, don’t forget to clean it out before you leave.

Starting the countdown

With moving day in sight, it’s time to get organized. Here are a few items to check off your list before you start packing:

  • Tie up loose ends. Be sure to send out an email or change of address cards with your new contact information to family, friends, and associates. Return library books and any other borrowed items you may still have.
  • Triage your possessions. Determine what you are taking with you; what you are giving away to friends, family, or a favorite charity; and what is going to the dump or recycling center.  If you have time, you can hold a garage sale or post items on craigslist.org or ebay.com.
  • Clean up. Drain all gas and oil from your mower, other machinery, gas grills, kerosene stoves and lamps, etc., before loading them onto a moving truck. Empty, defrost, and clean your refrigerator at least 24 hours before your move, and prepare other appliances for moving as well.
  • Have your car serviced. This is especially important if you are driving to your new home.

Packing strategies

If you are doing your own packing, start collecting boxes and/or buy them from your movers. It may take a few days to do your packing, so be sure to pack non-essential items first and label them carefully. If you have any valuables, it’s recommended that you take them with you as opposed to packing them. You risk the chance of losing those items if they’re packed away in boxes. It’s also smart to take along a box of essentials, including items such as toilet paper, paper towels, tape, soap, scissors, pens, paper, and your toiletries. That way you won’t have to track these items down once you’ve arrived in your new home.

For more information on how to make your move easier, visit our Moving Tips page here: How can I make moving easier? 

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