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Congratulations, you’ve made the decision to purchase your first home and it’s an exciting time. You’re about to embark on one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime so it’s important you understand what it is you’re about to take on. 

 

Information is power and educating yourself on one of the most important purchases beforehand will give you a clear understanding of what you’re getting yourself into before you actually do. The home buying process has a language of its own and taking the time early on to understand will put you ahead of the game when you officially begin your search. Don’t wait until it’s time to sign the contract to educate yourself on the process. 

 

Even if you’ve purchased before, it’s still a good idea to re-educate yourself and discover any new changes that have taken place in the real estate market. It’s a lot to wrap your head around but if you know what to expect then it doesn’t have to be as scary as you may think. 

 

Before you begin the search, it’s a smart idea to start saving early. Having a strong down payment is important. Not only does it lessen the amount of the loan, in some instances, the stronger the down payment, the better your chances of your offer being accepted, especially in such a competitive market. 

 

It’s also a good idea to find out your credit score and clean it up if need be. Credit scores typically range from 300 to 850 and while you don’t need a perfect score to get the best mortgage rates, there are certain credit score requirements you will need to meet in order to obtain a mortgage.  

 

To qualify for the best interest rates, prospective home buyers should aim to have a score of 760 or greater. However, the minimum credit score requirements vary based on the type of loan you’re going for along with who is insuring the loan so speak to your loan officer to find out where you need to be in order to secure funding.

 

Along with putting money aside early and cleaning up your credit, there are additional things to keep in mind as you prepare to jump into the home buying market. 

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How much can you afford? – A common mistake potential buyers make is house-hunting before knowing how much they can actually afford. 

 

“First they should get pre-approved so they know what they can afford,” explains Barbara LaBarca, Director at Brooklyn MLS and Broker/Owner at Coldwell Banker LaBarca.

 

Obtaining a pre-approval ahead of time is essential to the process. Why? Because you need to know the maximum loan amount you qualify for. You don’t want to have your heart set on a house only to find out you’re unable to afford it. Knowing the maximum amount you can spend will allow your agent to search for the homes in your range and save your time from viewing the ones that aren’t.  

 

And second, without a pre-approval in hand, it’s difficult to make an offer. Most real estate agents will not accept an offer to purchase without an accompanying pre-approval, especially in this competitive market. You need to come in strong, and that includes providing the documentation needed to show you can back up the offer you’ve made. 

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Choosing the right realtor – Chemistry is key.  You’re going to spend a lot of time with your agent so you need to mesh. You’re about to embark on one of the biggest purchases of your life and you want to have a trusted real estate agent by your side. Your agent should be able to explain the ins and outs of the home-buying process, be familiar with the area(s) you’re looking to purchase in, as well as understand exactly what it is you’re looking for. Overall, they need to be immersed in the local market.

 

Referrals are a great way to find an agent. Ask around, talk to people you know who have already gone through the real estate process and ask them to give you an honest opinion on what their experience was like. 

 

And mostly importantly, you need to find an agent you can trust. Are they honest, and do they have your best interest at heart? It’s always a good idea to speak to at least three agents before choosing someone to work with. Once you find the right agent, remember to be honest and transparent about what it is you’re looking for so that from day one they can being finding you the right options.

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There is no perfect home – It’s your first home and you’ve more than likely dreamed about the ideal place to put down roots. You don’t want to settle but before you start looking, it’s a good idea to write down the things you want out of your new home. 

 

What are non-negotiables and what are the aspects you can compromise on? No home is perfect and going into your search understanding that will make things easier. 

 

Maybe the home you fall in love with isn’t in the specific neighborhood you had hoped to move to, or the home in your chosen area is a bit smaller than you originally planned. Knowing what your deal breakers are ahead of time will make it easier to accept that the home buying process, and the home you choose, may not be 100% perfect, and that’s ok. 

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Do your homework – Ask yourself, what type of home fits your needs, what are your homeowner goals, and what type of property will best fit your lifestyle. Once you have the answers, start reading up on the different neighborhoods, taxes, schools, local attractions. Anything that is going to impact your life in a direct way once you settle down in a specific home / area, should be a part of your overall search. 

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Understand the buying process – There are a lot of moving parts to the home buying process so having an understanding of each is important. Even before you start looking, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the different financing options available. Being informed could help you save money on interest, fees, and even your down payment. 

 

Knowing the different types of loans available will prove helpful when you sit down with your lender. Along with the conventional mortgage most people know about, other types of loans include the FHA, VA, USDA, Jumbo, and Adjustable Rate Mortgage loans. Each one has its pros and cons, and while they may not be right for everyone, understanding what is available will be helpful to the process.

 

“Besides their mortgage payment, buyers should consider that they will need to pay bills like 

their water bill, electric, and gas,” explains LaBarca. “Taxes and insurance are included in the mortgage.”

 

Choosing the right loan officer is as important as choosing the right agent. After your offer has been accepted, they will become the person you talk to often as they guide you through the next phase of the home buying process.

 

Whether you are obtaining funding directly from your bank, or working with a mortgage broker who serves as the middleman between lenders and borrowers, they should be able to help you in understanding the loan best suited for you, along with providing you the guidance needed when the application process begins. 

 

After you find a home, there are multiple steps (i.e home inspection, appraisal) that need to be completed before moving forward. This is when having a knowledgeable real estate agent is important. They will be able to explain these processes and continue to put your best interest first while these next steps take place. 

 

Buying a home can be overwhelming with many first time buyers dropping out of the market because they believe it’s going to be too difficult. The process does have its challenges, but with the right team in place, it doesn’t have to be as stressful as you envision. Working with the right people and educating yourself right from the beginning can make all the difference. 

In this digital world we live in, it’s difficult to grow your business without implementing some form of social media marketing. Harnessing the power of social media allows real estate agents to create a digital footprint and connect with their audience on a personal level. 

 

Effective networking is all about building powerful connections, and the goal for agents is to become well-known within their respective communities as the go-to source for all things real estate.

 

From a marketing standpoint, social media platforms, whether it be Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, should be a part of your business toolbox. Leveraging social media allows an instantaneous connection with the audience. It opens up your sphere of influence and referral base and allows you to connect with an unlimited number of people. That includes existing clients, potential new clients, and industry peers. 

 

Social media should be the tool you use on a consistent basis to promote your business and build your reputation. Just like the housing market itself, which is competitive, so is the real estate business. Within any city, you’ll find hundreds of agents which is why it’s important to position yourself as an industry leader. 

Maris Callahan, founder and CEO of Social Broker, a full-service content membership based platform that helps entrepreneurs build their brands and grow their business with social media strategies, knows firsthand the importance and power social media has for real estate agents. 

 

“Social media is no longer optional in the real estate industry,” explains Callahan. “As a real estate agent, there is nothing more important than staying top of mind among your sphere of influence so that your clients, friends, and contacts remember that you’re in real estate before they even need you.”

 

Having worked in a real estate brokerage firm as the director of communications, Callahan saw the impact social media could have on individual real estate agents and small teams. Passionate about connecting through social media and recognizing a need for more education and resources in the real estate space, is one of the reasons she decided to launch a business that would help agents grow their business organically by using social media platforms more meaningfully to acquire new business.     

 

Ask any agent and they’ll tell you, a good deal of their business comes from referrals. Reaching out to current and past clients is one way to get referrals while using social media to network is highly effective in generating new business. The more you market yourself, the better your chances are of being successful. 

 

And while every agent should use this type of self-marketing, it is only as effective if you do it correctly. You want to keep your followers interested and engaged so that they will look forward to the next piece of information you share.   

That also includes networking with professionals and peers within the industry. Following other real estate agent’s social media pages and engaging on posts allows you to see how they’re marketing their business, opens up the opportunity to ask questions, as well as gain additional knowledge about the business as a whole. 

 

The use of social media in the real estate business is not new, and many agents have already been utilizing these platforms so standing out can be a challenge. Create a social media plan before you start randomly posting. Map out what you want to share and then look for a social media scheduling tool that will allow you to schedule your content in advance. There are many different ones available so do a little homework before getting started. 

 

Next, decide on a realistic schedule. How often will you be able to post? Is it two, three, or even four days a week? Once you decide, stick with the pattern. Keep in mind, you can always increase the number of days you post content but you don’t want to decrease. As Callahan points out, “As with so many things, you’ll get out of social media what you put in.” 

 

Now, think about your followers. Before you decide on what type of content you plan to share, ask yourself, is it useful to them? Not all of your posts should be listings. You want to be a resource to buyers and sellers in your local market and you can do so by sharing relevant information. 

 

“Social media doesn’t work if you’re only posting your listings, or if you ‘ghost and post’ once a week,” says Callahan. “Social media is a long-term strategy that relies on consistency – posting regularly, having variety, posting different types of content, and a balance between business and personal content.” 

 

A good rule of thumb is to follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your social media should contain something of interest to your client. Think of it as establishing yourself as an expert. The remaining 20% of your posts can be about your business. 

 

So exactly what type of content should you be posting to garner the most engagement from your audience? Think of the following three pillars when creating something of value for your audience. 

 

Educate – Answer popular questions potential buyers and sellers might have, share a quick tip or a customer review. 

 

Entertain – Pose a fun question to your audience to try and get them engaged in the conversation, create a holiday -themed post, or share a meme that’s relevant to the real estate industry. 

 

Inspire –  Share an accomplishment or an inspirational quote, as well as give your audience a behind the scenes look at what you do. 

 

To help get the creative juices flowing we’ve listed a few types of content you’ll want to start creating. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These types of posts are also conversation starters so be sure to follow up with any comments or messages you receive from followers on your posts. This kind of engagement can lead to a valuable connection with a buyer or seller. 

 

We know that getting in the social media game can feel overwhelming. It’s a full-time job and as a real estate agent, chances are you don’t have the time to commit to social media. If that’s the case, don’t let it be the reason why you don’t have one. 

 

If you lack the time or skills to create a polished and professional presence that’s where Callahan and her team come in. With three different membership plans to choose from, they assist real estate agents with the content and strategies needed to excel in the social media space. “If you follow our strategies, use our content and incorporate your personality into your social media presence, you will, over time, generate leads on social media,” says Callahan. 

 

If you still haven’t fully committed to establishing yourself on social media, remember this, you are your best billboard!

It’s finally here, moving day! Whether you’re heading into a new home or apartment, the excitement, and stress that comes along with the process is one that cannot be avoided.

Did you know that moving is consistently rated as one of life’s most stressful events? It ranks right up there with death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, etc. Even if your move is a happy one, it doesn’t lessen the stress that comes along with it. It is still a massive disruption of your routine, combined with all that is familiar to you. And no matter how well you plan, that feeling will not change.

Now, you’ve spent weeks (maybe even months) planning and packing, so when the actual day arrives, you’re bound to be in overdrive. Along with all of things you’re going to have to take into consideration, if you’re a pet owner, add another item to your pre-moving check list.

If you think the process is tough, imagine just how stressful it can be for your pet. Dogs especially can easily become stressed out when there is unexpected activity in the home, or even when introduced to a new environment.

Animals are creatures of habit, and for them, change, no matter how big or small we think it may be, can be both confusing and stressful.

So while you’re planning out the specifics for moving day, it’s important to also plan ahead for your pet. In order to ensure he or she is relaxed, and safe, on the big day, we’ve compiled a few top tips to help make the move a success for all members of your family.

Contact your vet

If you’re moving out of state, or out of the local area, contact your vet to obtain your pet’s medical records along with any current prescriptions. Part of relocating involves finding new doctors and that includes a new veterinarian. Ask your current vet if they can recommend a new doctor before beginning to do so on your own.

Plan Ahead

Prior to moving, it’s a good idea to visit your vet. According to Dr. Rachel Barrack, Founder of concierge veterinary practice Animal Acupuncture, you should make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations. If you’re traveling by air, Dr. Barrack stresses the importance of checking with the airline beforehand to confirm all necessary paperwork prior to the day of departure. If traveling by car, make sure your pet is used to their crate and plan ahead for bathroom and water breaks.

Pack An Accessible Bag for Your Pet

Included in your pet’s to-go bag should be a leash, bowls for food and water, food, medications, wee-wee pads or litter box, bed, and favorite toys so when you get into your new home you won’t be rummaging through boxes, Dr. Barrack points out.

Keep pets away from the action

One of the best ways to help your pet remain calm is to keep them in a quiet area although that might not be possible on moving day. You don’t want them getting underfoot or accidentally getting out. A good idea to consider is either boarding for a night or two or doggy daycare. If that’s an option you’d like to explore, Brooklyn is home to a variety of options. A few local places include:

Keep in mind, before your pet is able to board or spend the day in daycare, most animal facilities require the animals go through an evaluation to ensure they’re a fit, and to protect the safety of all the animals already at the facility. All vaccinations will need to be up to date as well so make sure to find out from your veterinarian which ones your pet will need. And lastly, some months may be more popular than others at the facility, so once you have your moving dates, call to reserve your pet’s spot.

Move the house before you move your pet

Set up as much of your new home as best you can before introducing your pet to his or her new digs. Let them slowly adjust to their new surroundings. Re-introduce familiar objects and make sure to give your pup lots of attention in the process. You can even walk them from room to room to take in the new scents they’re sure to pick up on.

Update information

Once you’re settled, make sure to update your new contact information. That includes notifying your vet, ordering new ID tags, and if your dog is microchipped, calling the company and ensuring they have all of the new and most current information.

Stick to a Schedule

Dr. Barrack stresses the importance of sticking to a schedule once the move is complete. Even though you’re in a new place, sticking to their usual eating, exercise, and sleeping schedule as best as possible will help to minimize the stress.

Most pets love predictability and routine, so a move can throw them into a tailspin. Change can be confusing and stressful so be mindful of their needs as you prepare your move.

And most importantly, Dr. Barrack stresses the importance of being patient. Once you arrive at your new home, it will often take even the most well-behaved pets a few days to adjust to their new surroundings.  Consult with your vet as well on the best ways in which to ensure a smooth transition.

After a long, cold winter, springtime is back and bringing with it bright sun, breezy filled days, and a breath of fresh air. People feel energized and ready to tackle the tasks of cleaning and decluttering.

Spring is long considered the best time to sell a home, but before contacting your local real estate agent, you’ll want to ensure your home is squeaky clean. This goes beyond the general housecleaning chores—you’re going to want to do a deeper dive which is sure to make a huge difference to potential buyers.

Like the saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” and when it comes to your home, you’re going to want to “wow” potential buyers from the moment they arrive.

The outside of a home is just as important as the inside and oftentimes, buyers will have already formed an opinion before they’ve made it to the front door. Which is why landscaping, even if it’s minimal, of the front and back property should be on your to-do list.

Whether you’re looking to put your home on the market now, or just want to clean away winter’s mess, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you get started.

 

Outside Cleanup 

Stage the Backyard

Steam Clean Carpets

 

Let in the Light

Deep Clean Kitchen and Bathrooms

Declutter & Organize

 

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