Whether this is your first, second, or maybe even third home purchase, each experience likely feels like the first. Regardless of how many times you’ve actually done it, the home buying process creates an array of feelings and emotions. 

 

From excited to scared and everything in-between, buying can be intimidating. That’s why it’s important you’re working with the right realtor who will be able to guide you through each step of the way. 

 

The home buying process really begins before you even step foot into a home, and continues all the way up until the day of closing. There are numerous steps you’ll take with each stage which in turn creates a whole new set of questions. Keep in mind, nothing you ask is silly, if you are unsure about anything, speak up. 

 

Buying a home is one of the largest purchases you’ll make in your life which is why it is important to feel as comfortable, and informed as possible. Part of your real estate agent’s job is to help make the experience as stress-free as they can.

 

We know things can get overwhelming with all of the information you need to know beforehand, so to help alleviate some of it, we’ve put together a list of common questions buyers ask to help you navigate the process a bit easier. 

 

What’s the first step of the home-buying process?

Before you even get started in your search, it is important to have your mortgage pre-approval. Some agents will not begin working with potential clients if they don’t have an approval in hand. 

 

Why is this piece of paper so important? Because it tells you, and your agent, just how much you can afford. There is no reason to look at properties that you are unable to afford. It’s not fair to you, your agent, or the seller, to waste time looking at properties out of your price range. Knowing how much money a lender will approve for a loan is an important first step. 

 

How long does it take to buy a home? 

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as this timeline varies greatly from person to person. On average, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to find a home. It also depends on the timing, as well as the circumstances. Do you need to move ASAP, or is this your first home? 

 

Once you find your home, it usually takes an additional 30-45 days to close after you’re in contract. Keep in mind this timeline can change for a variety of reasons. 

 

How much do I have to pay my real estate agent to help me find a home?

Great news–nothing! The seller pays the realtor fee/commission on their end. 

 

How much money do I need for a down payment?

The more you put down upfront, the less you will have to borrow from a lender. Generally, 20% of the purchase price is an ideal number for a few reasons. First, it lowers the monthly mortgage payments, avoids paying private mortgage insurance commonly referred to as PMI, improves the nature of your offer, and can help you lock in a better interest rate. 

 

That’s not to say you must put down 20%. The minimum amount depends on the type of loan you are obtaining to finance the purchase. Lower down payment loans, like an FHA loan, requiring a minimum down payment of 3.5%, were designed to make homeownership possible for first-time buyers. 

 

When it comes to the different types of loans available, this is where your mortgage broker steps in. It’s a conversation you should have even before the actual house hunting process begins. Knowing how much you can afford and the type of loans available are all part of the initial conversation you should be having when obtaining your pre-approval.

 

What additional fees are there besides the down payment?

Additional costs include the loan origination fee, which is not a single fee, but a set of lender-specific fees that are part of closing costs, as well as the closing cost itself. These are the fees paid at time of closing to complete the purchase. They may include the survey, underwriting fees, title search fees, documentation fees, legal fees, pre-paid property taxes, HOA, etc. Your mortgage broker will review these with you. While you do have these additional expenses, the down payment is usually the largest cost associated with buying a home. 

 

Do I really need to work with a real estate agent when buying?

It is strongly recommended that you work with an agent for many reasons. First, they have your best interest. Their goal is to help find you a home that fits your needs, and they will advocate on your behalf when needed. Real estate agents are skilled negotiators, and have access to a network of different people you will need throughout the process. Plus, it doesn’t cost anything to work with one.  

 

Can you recommend…..?

Whether you’re in need of a mortgage broker, appraiser, lawyer, moving company, or any other type of professional service associated with the home buying process, your real estate agent should be able to offer some recommendations. Mostly all real estate agents have a network of people they trust to provide the best possible service to their clients. 

 

While every home is different, the steps, especially in the early stages of purchasing, are generally similar. The same holds true for the questions you are more than likely to have. Remember, don’t be afraid to ask, it is part of an agent’s job to provide you with the information needed in order to make the most informed decision. 

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For both sellers and buyers, working with a real estate agent is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. Depending on what side of the transaction you’re on, the reasons why you should work with an agent will differ. What doesn’t change is the invaluable experience a good agent brings to the table. 

 

When it comes to selling, many people think they can save time and money by going at it alone, without a realtor. What’s interesting is that FSBO (For Sale By Owner) sales often are less than the homes sold by real estate agents. Granted, the homeowner saves on paying the realtor’s commission, but that comes with a cost (literally). 

 

Statistics show that only 11% of sellers actually succeed at selling on their own and for the ones that do, their sales are about 26% less on average than properties represented by an agent. 

 

A lot goes into selling a home that you may not even realize. There are many challenges and if you’re going at it on your own, navigating all of the moving parts can be difficult. 

 

Real estate agents do a lot more than just bring potential buyers. They know the in’s and out’s of both buying and selling and are invaluable for a multitude of reasons. Michele Haas, President of the Brooklyn Multiple Listing Service (MLS), points out the following ways in which real estate agents are instrumental in the overall process.

 

Agents have:

Extensive knowledge of the market

Professional networks

Negotiating skills

Understand required documents

Fiduciary responsibility

Can readily find and identify comparable sales

Can recognize possible issues with a property

Must live up to the standards required by their license 

 

Based on the above, we dive a bit deeper into just how working with an agent is beneficial. 

 

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Time Consuming – Selling your home is a full-time job. Between fielding calls and messages for showings, hosting an open house, advertising, and all of the other minutiae that comes with listing a home, it’s an agent’s job to make sure it is taken care of. 

 

Experience – Real estate agents are trained for the job. They’ve studied and taken exams to become an agent and continuously refresh that knowledge with continuing education classes. They know how to navigate the market better than someone who isn’t in the business and their knowledge and experience can be the difference in getting a home sold quickly. 

 

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Pricing Advice – Agents understand the real estate market – they know the value of homes, they know the areas, and how to compare properties, all of which factor into pricing a home correctly. While you may have a certain number in mind, the price may not be reasonable. That’s why having an agent to research the comparable sales can help confirm if you are in the right price range. They know where to look and have access to this type of invaluable information. 

 

What they don’t possess is an attachment. As a homeowner, you’re attached to your home in one way or another. Maybe it is your first home, or where you raised your children. Because of reasons like these, it can be difficult to be objective and for many homeowners, it’s not easy to separate the two. That’s why having a real estate agent is important as they can help you to focus on the bigger picture and not get caught up in the emotional side. 

 

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Professional Negotiators – As hard as it can be to price your home correctly when you have an attachment to it, so can negotiating its worth. Real estate agents are removed from all of that. Their main goal is to get your house sold and if negotiations are involved, they aren’t going to hold onto emotional ties that will prevent them from making a good deal. Being removed allows agents to give you better guidance and advice. 

 

When it comes to negotiating, attention to detail is key. Your real estate agent knows what details need to be written into the contract. There are numerous documents involved in the process and having an agent to help navigate all of the paperwork is important, especially when questions or concerns arise, they can advise. This invaluable knowledge is helpful regardless of whether you are the seller or buyer. 

 

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Fiduciary Responsibility – Agents have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients, they must put your best interest first. Whether they’re working on your behalf to sell your home, or help you purchase one, their loyalty remains with you. 

 

Network of Professionals – It takes a team of various professionals to get you to closing day. From home inspectors, to mortgage brokers, to attorneys, etc, a real estate agent has a trusted network of other professionals to help you every step of the way.  

 

If you are on the other side of the real estate process and are looking to purchase a home, working with an agent is just as important. Buying a home is one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make and you want to have an expert on your side. Real estate agents are tapped into their network and have access to various sites, like the MLS, to get the most up-to-date listings. 

 

Whether buying or selling, either side can benefit significantly from hiring a real estate agent. The reasons may be different but the end goal is relatively the same, to ensure as smooth and stress-free process as possible. 

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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!

At the beginning of every New Year, most people make resolutions that involve some form of change. Whether that be professionally or personally, it’s a chance to give ourselves a goal to start anew. 

 

For anyone who has had their sights set on jumping into the real estate market then you know how crazy it’s been these past two years as the pandemic turned the home buying process completely upside down. It may be a New Year but is it a new market? 

 

With mortgage rates hitting a historic low, coupled with an inventory shortage, the red-hot real estate market saw homes selling within hours of being listed, bidding wars ensuing, and sale prices closing over asking price.  

 

When it comes to the real estate market, we know anything is possible, but housing experts predict that in this New Year, buyers will likely see similar trends to the last two years which included elevated prices, low-inventory, and fast turnaround. 

 

Another contributing factor fueling home buyers were the extremely low interest rates which hovered near historic lows for an extended period of time, a result of the Federal Reserve buying mortgage backed securities to support the economy. But in 2022, the Fed plans to lessen those purchases to curb rising inflation. As a result, mortgage rates are expected to rise.

 

How much they will increase is not entirely clear, but economic predictions estimate the Fed may raise interest rates three times in 2022. This potential change will have an effect on the home buying process although the new policy isn’t likely to “hurt” buyers in the next few months. Regardless, it’s safe to say anyone looking to purchase are encouraged to act sooner rather than later.

 

While the buyers are out there, it’s the sellers who are slowing down a tad bit.  When the pandemic started, the demand increased and pushed the home prices to an all-time high. And although we have rounded the corner when it comes to the pandemic, the 2022 housing market will likely continue to be costly, with home prices and rents remaining on the higher end of the spectrum.

 

Along with the demand for homes comes an increase in demand for rentals, especially as we head into the first quarter of 2022. The previous discounts that landlords had been giving out during the height of COVID are practically gone. As these concessions disappear, many renters are finding it difficult to afford their current apartments and will have to move. 

 

As a result, there will be an increase in availability with inventory opening up. The demand for rentals in the neighborhoods chock-full of amenities will also be greater. The areas most desirable are the ones with shopping, restaurants, and nightlife, especially as these sectors have re-opened their doors and welcomed back their customers. For many people, these amenities are an important factor when it comes to deciding where to live. Being close to all of these things, as well as transportation, is a luxury many potential renters, and even buyers, seek out. Areas such as Dumbo, Fort Greene, Bushwick, Gowanus, and Red Hook, will be some of the more attractive places to live for these reasons. 

 

Finding a place to call home, whether buying or renting, is never as easy as we hope it will be. The real estate market will always go through highs and lows, and this upcoming year is no exception. Keeping that in mind, here are a few things to consider for anyone planning to make a move in 2022.

Prices will remain high 

According to economists at Realtor.com and Zillow, the competition isn’t likely to die down this year. Economic trends such as low inventory, elevated demand, and low mortgage rates will continue to give sellers leverage in the market.

 

Buyers will continue to see potential bidding wars, particularly when the market picks up in the spring and summer months. Although it’s hard to predict exactly what’s going to happen, Zillow predicts home values will rise by 11% in 2022. While not as high as in 2021, it’s still a substantial increase. 

 

Increase in interest rates 

With the likelihood of interest rates rising multiple times this coming year means mortgage rates are likely to increase as well.  Home experts predict a 30-year fixed mortgage rate will reach 3.60% by the end of 2022 compared to the average of 3.30% as of now. The upside to an increase in mortgage rates is that buyers scooping up property for investment purposes may lessen, giving the people who buy homes to live in more of an advantage. 

Inventory will remain low 

The number of homes actively for sale fell to a record low at the end of last year, and the etnrance of new listings has been slow moving into 2022. Spring has generally been the time when the market picks up and while there are likely to be more listings come spring and into summer, there may not be enough to meet the demand. It will continue to be a strong sellers market. 

Home buyers, be prepared 

With the way the market is trending, it’s important for buyers to be on their A-game. That means doing research ahead of time, having the proper documents readily on hand, and being ready to act quickly. That includes making an offer almost immediately. For some buyers, purchasing out- of-state has them relying on photos and showings being done via computer and over zoom.  

 

From the realtor side, agents not only have their eye out for new listings, but listings that are “coming soon” to the market. Knowing what a client wants and how much they’re willing to spend allows agents to hone in on the right properties. There’s no sense in taking potential buyers to properties that don’t meet their needs or are out of their price range when the market is this competitive.

 

And while the 2022 real-estate market may not reach the incredible heights it did in 2021, don’t expect it to slow down anytime soon. In the meantime, do what you need to be prepared for when the right home comes along and work closely with your real estate agent who can guide you through the entire process. 

As we prepare to wrap up a record-breaking year for real estate, potential homebuyers are wondering if 2022 will bring more of the same.  Despite the fact there were sellers a bit apprehensive to make a move during the pandemic due to economic volatility, the real estate market in 2021 saw a record setting boom.

Sales were at an all-time high while mortgage rates were at an all-time low. The combination of the two created a favorable sellers’ market with tighter competition amongst buyers. With interest rates expected to remain low in the upcoming year, homebuyers looking to make a move in the coming months should start preparing sooner rather than later.

Being one step ahead of the competition is a good idea especially if inventory remains low. While the housing market may pick up with additional inventory right after the new year to satisfy buyer demand, there’s no guarantee.

One way to stay on top of the real estate market is to work closely with an agent. Buying a home is not as simple as we’d like it to be, but the process doesn’t have to be as stressful as you might believe it will be. While buying a home is no simple task, working with a real estate agent offers you overall support each step of the way. Their knowledge of the local market coupled with the skills to get you where you need to be will alleviate some of the stress that often comes along with buying a home.

Before starting the home search and teaming up with a local real estate agent, there are a few questions to ask yourself so that when you do find the right place to call home you’ll be ready to move forward.

Credit Score

Ask yourself, is my credit score in good shape? If it isn’t, take the necessary time needed to boost it up to where it should be before you begin applying for a mortgage. Your credit score is an important factor when it comes to obtaining a loan. Not only does it affect whether you’ll get approved, it also affects the rate at which you’ll qualify.

The higher the score, the more likely you are to get approved at a more favorable interest rate. There are different types of mortgages, each with their own credit score requirements. It’s a good idea to talk with a mortgage lender ahead of time to gather information on all of the various loan requirements. That way, once you obtain your credit score, you’ll know exactly where you stand.

Boost your credit

Once you obtain your credit score, there may be a chance you’ll need to boost it up. Make sure all bills are paid on time and if possible, pay down as much of your existing credit card debt (if not all) before starting the mortgage process.

If you plan to purchase a home in the near future, resist opening any new lines of credit as this will affect your credit score. While the discount many stores offer with the opening of a new credit card may sound enticing, resist the urge to apply. You may save a few dollars today, but long-term this can hurt you when applying for a mortgage.

And lastly, when looking over your credit report, check it carefully for any potential errors. If anything looks incorrect or even suspicious, you’ll want to correct and/or rectify it before starting the mortgage application process.

Save, save, save

With home prices being on the higher end of the spectrum, agents and their buyers are seeing sales for over asking price, whether it be the result of a bidding war or anxious buyers offering higher to secure an acceptance.

To remain in the game in such a competitive market, having a strong down payment shows a strong interest in the property and a commitment to get the deal done. While there isn’t a specific number required to put down, many times buyers hope a larger number will help them get their offer accepted over the competition.

Plenty of lenders will allow you to put down less but on a conventional mortgage you’ll be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI).  While mortgage insurance isn’t a bad thing, it’s an additional expense homebuyers tend to try and avoid especially with home prices being falling on the higher side. Why add to your monthly payment if you don’t have to?

Research different neighborhoods

Before heading out with an agent, conduct a bit of research on home prices in the different neighborhoods. This will give you a better idea of which areas are more feasible. Together with your real estate agent you can create a game plan and focus on the properties that fit within your budget. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a home that exceeds your finances.

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

 

After almost three months of sheltering in place, many people have had quite a few realizations about their lives and what’s most important to them. Certain aspects that were once high on the priority list are no longer the case, and things that were at one time “a must have” are being replaced by different wants. COVID-19 brought about an unexpected clarity and many people are now jumping into one of life’s biggest changes and moving out of larger cities to settle down in more suburban areas. The pandemic and the thought of what life will be like post-COVID has finally convinced city dwellers to give up on big-city living.

 

The reasons for moving vary; some people are looking to be closer to family, others are in search of more space, and for some, it’s more of a necessity due to the high cost of city living. Some moves have been temporary but it seems as if those short-term stays are becoming more permanent.

 

Now, in the wake of the pandemic, nearly one-third of Americans are considering the move to less populated areas. Crowded cities are no longer as appealing as they once were and living amongst millions of people in such close quarters no longer offers the same romanticism it might have even a year ago.

 

Gone are the days of squeezing into packed elevators, crowded subways, cramming into small neighborhood bars and restaurants, or even the bustle of walking closely next to each other down the street. In today’s era of social distancing, the ways of city living that residents took as “normal” will likely never be normal again.

The things that originally attracted residents to “city life” are currently unavailable and even as they start to reopen, people are still hesitant. They want to stay away from confined spaces and refrain from sharing common areas and amenities in order to continue social distancing.

 

Not being able to access those luxuries that once were attractive brought about a clarity and changed people’s perspective on where they want to live. For some, the allure of the trendier neighborhoods is waning. Instead of stepping out onto a small balcony for a breath of fresh air, they’d much rather step into a more spacious backyard, especially as family and friends these days find gathering at home a much more viable choice.

 

Another big change has been for the employees working from home, many whom have never experienced remote working up until now. Instead of working out of a cramped, small space, if you’re not required to be on premise in the foreseeable future, why not seek out a home that offers enough square footage to potentially create your own separate home office? That appears to be the question many work from home employees are asking themselves right now.

 

These past few months have shown many companies that employees can indeed work successfully off-site. If remote working becomes the “new norm,” then the desire to live close to the office will no longer factor into one’s decision on where best to reside.

 

And while many residents are packing up and heading out of the city, that doesn’t mean one has to completely leave the state (unless that is you want to). There are many surrounding areas outside of the larger cities that offer more spacious living without having to completely forfeit some of the comforts you’re used to and still hope to one day enjoy.

 

What’s unique about Brooklyn is the fact that in addition to the neighborhoods that give off that “city” living vibe, areas like Dumbo, Williamsburg, and Cobble Hill, there are also neighborhoods such as Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Windsor Terrace, and Dyker Heights, which offer residents an environment that is more residential. With both one and two-family homes on the market, potential buyers have the option of purchasing a home that will allow for family members to move in for that additional rental income.

 

Without moving too far, residents of Brooklyn who do not want to leave the borough but want the luxuries that come with owning a home can find the best of both worlds here. At times, certain areas may have been overlooked for the trendier neighborhoods, but with people looking for larger living space that is no longer the case.

 

Sadly, COVID-19 has instilled in people a sense of dread when it comes to being close to others, and with the uncertainty of what the future holds, along with the changes cities are experiencing, residents are making the conscious choice to head out and purchase now when interest rates are low.

Technology has impacted as well as revolutionized the way in which we do business. Not only has it changed what we do and how we do it, it has brought about new and exciting ways for just about every industry, and real estate is no exception.

 

These days, no matter where you are, the majority of people you encounter can be seen with their heads down, looking at their smartphone or some other type of device. That’s because technology has given us access to information right at our fingertips and made it simple to perform just about every necessary task right online. From paying bills, shopping for clothes, food, even a home, it’s as easy as the click of a button.

 

Generally speaking, people spend about 7.6 hours online, with 1% of the time being spent browsing. Whether it’s surfing social media, checking email, watching videos, teaching yourself how to do something with the help of sites like Youtube, shopping online, or reading up on the latest news, a person’s attention is digitally focused.

 

When it comes to real estate, technology has proven to be a powerful tool for the industry. Brokers and agents continue to perform the most essential functions of the business, but with the help of technology, it has made certain areas faster, smoother, and much easier to navigate.

 

In essence, it’s changing the way in which real estate professionals do their job, to a degree. People still want a human connection with expertise in the field and that is something that will not change. The expert advice and knowledge provided cannot be replaced, only enhanced, by the use of technology.

 

With the use of the Internet, it has reshaped the way in which real estate is delivered to the consumer. Between the numerous websites, professional photography, and now virtual property tours, buying and selling a home looks a lot different than it did even 10+ years ago. These days, home buyers are tech-savvy and well-informed, they know exactly what they want, making it the job of the professional, regardless of the sector, to help deliver.

 

 

A few of the most obvious ways in which technology has been impacting the real estate sector include:

 

Transparency

Many websites that provide information to the consumer are free, allowing for the opportunity to educate oneself even before the process begins. These sites provide tools such as data, inventory, availability, and pricing for a potential buyer to browse through. Sly Symons, founder of the Syms company said it best, “An educated consumer is our best consumer.”

 

Marketing

With the aid of technology, marketing just about any type of product has become instantaneous. Broadcasting messages over multiple platforms allows professionals to reach a much wider audience than before. The visibility is not only easier to achieve but more cost-effective. With the use of technology, getting your product out to the marketplace can happen in mere seconds. The easier the platform to navigate, the quicker homes can be listed, which in turn allows potential homebuyers to find what they’re looking for faster. The end result is greater market activity and a pleasant experience for everyone involved.

 

Real-time data

Previously, much of the research and data comprised was focused on what happened in the past as opposed to what was happening in the current marketplace. With the use of technology, outdated data is no longer the case. Now, it’s never been easier to find out information such as pricing and availability in real-time.

 

Virtual Reality

One of the most important steps in the home buying process is the visual inspection of the property, both inside and out, along with the surrounding area. With the use of drone video, it’s possible to not only see the complete exterior of a home but the surrounding neighborhoods as well. Virtual reality (VR) is a relatively newer form of technology used in the real estate industry although there are agents who have already implemented it into their business.

 

Up until now, VR has been a great tool for buyers looking to relocate further away from their current location as well as for people who may be unable to view a property, such as an open house. But now, with the current climate of our country, the chances of VR being used to sell homes is even greater.

 

As we continue to move forward, virtual touring of a home right from a device will allow faster access to a property and the opportunity to narrow down selections. Instead of multiple in-person visits, clients can now scan through places without having to physically be there, making it possible to view numerous homes in a day and make decisions sooner than before.

 

Rich Schulhoff, CEO of the Brooklyn MLS, has also noticed an uptick in the number of listings being posted, which in turn results in using virtual tours. “People are also getting more creative with virtual tours,” says Schulhoff.

 

Social Media

The power of social media is strong and can be felt over a multitude of sectors. The days of buyers opening up a newspaper to look for a home or flipping through a phonebook for a sales agent are long gone. Instead, social media has become the place to go when it comes to finding just about anything you want, including a home, and are a great way for real estate professionals to grow their business. The ability to connect with others is instantaneous; whether it’s connecting with existing clients, potential new ones, or others in the industry, social media sites have made it possible to do so and are important tools to have in your real estate toolbox.

 

Facebook – With more than 2 billion users, creating a Facebook page can help attract an audience on a much larger scale than any marketing plan of yesterday could possibly ever do. Facebook posts should focus on both business and the consumer. Along with sharing your listings, share information that is focused on the home as well as the process. Everything from mortgages to DIY tips for decorating is helpful knowledge to an owner or a potential buyer. Share information on your borough or city; establishing yourself as a thought leader in your community is helpful in attracting new clients and followers.

 

Instagram – More than 700 million users can be found on this social media platform, making it another great resource for real estate professionals. Posting photos of available properties can help generate leads as well as showcase listings to available buyers. Another excellent way to engage potential buyers is by sharing short video clips of your listings. In addition, content you’ve published elsewhere can also be shared by providing a direct link in your bio. This is another great way to direct followers to any additional social media accounts you may have.

 

While there are a multitude of social media platforms and technologies available to real estate professionals, it’s important to remember that the tools are only effective if they are used correctly and consistently.

 

As technology continuously changes and reshapes the way in which we live, it’s imperative that businesses follow suit. Customers will find new and exciting ways to use it, that’s why it’s imperative to stay ahead of the curve in such a competitive market. If everyone else is moving forward and your business remains the same, then you’re actually falling behind. Change can be scary but embracing it will help take your business to new heights.

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