7 Questions to Ask When Browsing Homes for Sale

homes for saleBuying a house is a big undertaking, and it can be a stressful one. Not only do you have to ensure that your future home fits your taste, family size, and budget, there are a variety of unknowns that might impact the value of the home you’re purchasing.

The key to keeping stress down and sidestepping future problems? Ask questions. The more you know about a house’s real situation, the fairer a deal you can get and the more stress-free your experience will be. Here are 7 questions to ask.

1. What’s nearby?

It’s a famous real estate adage: location, location, location. The location of your house is the number one thing to consider before buying it. You can always add or subtract amenities, but if your home is located near a sewage plant, power plant, busy highway, or noisy train station, you’re in trouble. Make sure to scout out the area ahead of time so that you know what’s there and what isn’t. On the positive side, you may discover that the house is located in a good school district—a great advantage, even if you don’t have kids, as it bumps the home’s value—or near a park, lake, or community center. While you’re exploring, be sure to find out what essentials are nearby, like the local bank, gas station, pharmacy, and grocery store.

2. Why is the owner selling?

This is the kicker, and though there usually isn’t some scary secret reason behind an owner’s move, it’s important to ask anyway. If the owner is moving overseas, he or she might be under pressure to sell quickly, and therefore be more willing to accept a lower offer. You might also want to ask if the new owner has found another home yet. If they themselves have a new house set up and ready to go, they might be willing to negotiate a lower price; if they haven’t, it might mean a longer sale period and more uncertainty for potential buyers. The real estate agent isn’t required to answer these questions, and may genuinely not know the answers, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Woman With Finger In Ears3. What’s the recent history of the house?

Again, most homes don’t have secret, shady pasts—but it’s a good idea to find out as much as you can about a house’s timeline, anyway. Start off with the recent history under the current owner: how long have they lived there? Has the property changed hands a lot? How long has the property been on the market? If the owner hasn’t lived there for a very long time, it might indicate problems prompting them to move, such as noisy neighbors. If the house has been on the market for a while, the owner might be more willing to accept a lower price.

4. What’s the earlier history of the house?

Though unlikely, there’s always the possibility that you could be moving into what realtors call a “stigmatized house”. This is a home that has been the site of something unsavory, like a murder, suicide, accidental death, or notorious crime. You may even be investigating a house that has been accused of paranormal activity! None of this is necessarily a bad thing, depending on the type of person you are. A stigmatized house gives you great negotiating power, as typically these houses sell for as much as 25% below market value. Whether good or bad, you can find out more about the home’s history by consulting police records, reading news reports, and speaking to the locals.

5. Exactly what are you buying?

Make sure to ask what’s included in the sale, even if it seems obvious. Have the real estate agent indicate the exact lines of the property, including features that might be shared with neighbors, like a driveway. If the home has a garden shed, greenhouse, or garage, ask if it’s included in the sale—it usually is, but you don’t want any surprises.

Couple Meeting With Realtor6. Is it priced fairly?

Of course, you’ll want to know if the house is at a fair asking price for the location and condition it’s in. You can easily find out what other nearby homes are selling for by looking at online listings or visiting houses in person. If you’re working with a buyer’s agent like those at Ed Price, he or she will be able to give you a fair answer as to what the house is truly worth. (Remember, a real estate agent is working for the seller, not you, and the answer you receive may be less honest.)

7. Are there any maintenance issues?

It’s not unusual for homeowners to encounter maintenance issues within the first couple of months of living in a home—in fact, it’s unusual when they don’t. An official assessment by a home inspector is the smartest way to go, but in the meantime, there are things which you can look for as a layperson. Try the taps in the bathroom to check for leaks and water pressure. Search around appliances and under cabinets for signs of water damage or mold. Ask questions about the age and condition of the water heater, septic system, wiring, and heating systems. For a more complete breakdown, check out our Home Inspection Checklist.

Get Started Today

Now that you have a simplified list of what to look for when browsing homes for sale, it’s time to start searching. Contact Ed Price Realty today to speak with an agent who can guide you through the process of buying your perfect home.

8 Steps to Buying a House

 

buying a houseBuying a house is among the biggest commitments a person can make in life. Whether the home you will be purchasing is your very first, or your last, you may be intimidated by the enormous investment you are about to make.

Read on to learn how to buy your perfect dream home in 8 easy steps.

Review your finances.

Before you do anything else, take a careful look at your finances. You don’t want to make the mistake of falling in love with a home you can’t afford! Before checking out listings, look at your savings. Ideally, you want to have saved at least five or six months of living expenses before committing to a move.

Set up a budget.

Additionally, look at your expenses. Establish a clear understanding of where your money is going, from utilities, bills, and gas, right down to coffees and packs of gum. Then, decide on your ideal mortgage payment. Most realtors recommend buying a house that is no more than three times your gross annual salary.

Meet with a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage credit.

Now that you’ve determined what you’re willing to spend, it’s time to meet with a lender who can examine your credit score and determine the amount you can qualify for on a loan. He or she will also discuss your savings, 401(k), and local programs that may be available for payment assistance. Such programs are usually available for first-time home buyers, so if this will be your first home, be sure to investigate your options.

Find an agent.

Real estate agents are valuable partners when buying a home, because they can provide you with information that isn’t available to the general public. A real estate agent can provide you with information on the neighborhood, the home’s history, and the home buying process. However, remember that most realtors aren’t working for you. They work for a percentage of the overall cost of the home–usually around 5 to 7 percent–and therefore have a vested interest in encouraging you to pay as much as possible.

For this reason, consider investing in an “exclusive buyer’s agent” like those at Ed Price. This is an agent that is paid directly by you on an hourly or contracted fee. He or she will be able to help you find a home at the lowest possible price, because s/he prioritizes your interests, not those of the seller.

Search for your dream home.

Finally–the fun part! Look at online listings or real estate guides to decide on a home that fits your desired location, style, and budget. As you visit homes, feel free to take notes, pictures, or video recordings to help you keep track of which home is which. Organizing your notes in a binder or notebook may help you narrow down your decisions when it’s time to make a final choice.

Buying a House BudgetSelect a loan

When you have decided on a potential home, it’s time to meet with your mortgage broker to select a loan program. Whether you want to ensure your mortgage is as low as possible, or ensure that it never increases, your broker will help you choose the program that best meets your priorities.

Home inspection

Before the deal is sealed, a mortgage lender will make an appraisal of the home to check for signs of structural damage. However, it’s a good idea to hire your own home inspector to conduct a more thorough investigation. The home inspector will determine the home’s overall condition, as well as that of its construction materials, wiring, and heating systems. If the inspection reveals significant damage, you can either ask the seller to fix it before you move in, or deduct the cost of the repair from the final price.

Make an offer and close the deal

Finally, make an offer. From here on out, there is a lot of negotiation and paperwork involved. Your lender will arrange for a title company to handle all of the paperwork, including ensuring that the seller is the rightful owner of the house you are buying. You will also receive a statement from your lender that lists all the charges you can expect to pay at closing.

When all’s said and done between your real estate agent, your mortgage broker, and you, you will finally be able to move into your hard-won dream home.

Get Started Today.

Now that you understand the basics of buying a home, it’s time to get the ball rolling. The experts at Ed Price Realtors have been providing professional real estate guidance to residents of the Triad for more than a decade. Call us today to find out why we’ve been voted the Triad’s Top Realtor for 10 years running.

Local Elementary School Ratings

local schoolsEven if you don’t have kids, it’s a smart idea to consider the quality of local school districts when hunting for a new home. While a well-ranked school can often drive up the price of homes in the surrounding district, its presence can help preserve a home’s value and ensure faster resale when you’re ready to move.

Buyers often find that a pricier home in a district with a strong public school is actually a better bargain in the long run. Of course, for buyers who do have children, it’s a win-win situation—a home whose price will remain stable even in a down market, and access to a high-quality education for the kids.

To see which school ratings in the Forsyth, Davidson, and Guilford counties make the grade, check out our comparison below.

Forsyth County Schools

Meadowlark Elementary, in Winston-Salem, has the largest elementary school in the Forsyth school district with over 890 students. In 2015 it ranked 41st of elementary schools in N.C. on Schooldigger.com, better than 91.7% of elementary schools. The student/teacher ratio is 15.9 with 56 full-time teachers on staff.

Whitaker Elementary is among the best schools in Forsyth County and North Carolina. Ranked the 13th best elementary school in N.C in 2015, it performed better than 99.1% of North Carolina elementary schools. Its average standard test score was 96.78, and its student/teacher ratio is 16 to 1 with 37 teachers on staff.

Davidson County Schools

With over 850 students, Wallburg Elementary is the largest elementary school in the Davidson school district. In 2015, it was ranked first among 18 ranked elementary schools in Davidson County. The average standard test score was 81.34.

Friedberg Elementary, in Winston-Salem, was ranked 3rd among 18 ranked elementary schools in Davidson County. It has 464 students, and a student/teacher ratio of 18 to 1. It employs over 25 full-time teachers.

Midway Elementary, in Lexington, was ranked 4th among elementary schools in Davidson County. It employs over 29 teachers, with a student/teacher ratio of 17.9.

Guilford County Schools

Jefferson Elementary is among the highest-ranked schools in Guilford County, with a 5-star rating on Greatschools.org and Schooldigger.com. This public school serves children in grades 1-5, with a student body of about 600 students. In 2015 it ranked better than 97.9% of schools on Schooldigger.com. The student to teacher ratio is 13 to 1.

Southwest Elementary, in High Point, has more than 680 students in grades PK-5. In 2015, it ranked better than 91.4% of elementary schools in N.C. on Schooldigger.com, or 6th out of 69 ranked elementary schools in Guilford County. The Average Standard Test Score in 2015 was 87.73. The school employs about 40 teachers.

Florence Elementary, also in High Point, ranked better than 81.2% of elementary schools in North Carolina. In the ranking of 69 elementary schools in Guilford County, it ranked 10th. The Average Standard Test Score in 2015 was 77.9, and it employs about 41 full-time teachers.

Look at the Long Run

Of course, when buying a home, you should always focus on size, condition, and price before other considerations. But when you’re looking at location, location, location, don’t forget the surrounding school ratings. In ten or fifteen years, you may be thankful that you did.

 

Do’s and Don’ts of Staging a House for Sale

staging a houseWhen it comes to selling your home, preparation is everything. Staging a house sets the scene for prospective buyers and makes potential new owners feel welcome from the very first moment they walk through the door. As you prepare your house for the market, here are a few important things to keep in mind.

Do: Focus on Curb Appeal

Potential buyers begin to judge your home before they even enter it, so making a positive first impression is essential. Be sure that your yard looks well-kept, plant flowers and trim hedges, put out a neutral welcome mat and make any obvious external repairs. You don’t want dead leaves and broken gutters to deter a prospective buyer.

Do: Keep It Clean

This may seem obvious, but you should begin with a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning – and keep your home in that condition. Dusting, vacuuming, cleaning windows and mopping floors is absolutely essential. Get your carpets shampooed or rent a carpet cleaner and do it yourself. A home that is clean and odor free can keep prospective buyers interested.

Do: Get Rid of Clutter

It is important to throw away or pack up any unnecessary items that may detract from the overall impression of your home. Knick-knacks and collectibles may mean a lot to you, but they can easily put off a potential buyer. Keep up with mail, newspapers and magazines; file away any papers; and make sure that coats, shoes and other items are out of sight.

Do: Stay Neutral

Potential home buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in your house. You should remove or store all personal items including family pictures, hand-made articles and/or religious symbols; get rid of any overly bright colors or accent pieces; and be sure that your house, especially the master bedroom, is as gender-neutral as possible.

staging a kitchenDo: Focus On the Kitchen

The kitchen is known as the heart of the home for a reason. Most prospective buyers will focus first on that room when deciding whether or not your home is where they want to live. Try adding some stainless steel elements for a modern look. Simple steps like updating the hardware on cabinets and drawers can make an impressive difference.

Don’t: Make Major Renovations

Major changes you make may not be to every buyer’s tastes. Limit the amount of time and money you invest to essentials like replacing old flooring or stained carpets, updating old appliances, painting walls and replacing outdated fixtures. These can be immediate buyer turnoffs which are worth correcting.

Don’t: Leave Minor Repairs Undone

While major renovations aren’t necessary, there are a number of minor repairs that can be made which will make a difference. Over time, walls collect nicks and dents that are simple to correct. Burned out bulbs, broken or stained fixtures, loose doorknobs and other small problems can mar the image that your home leaves in the mind of a potential buyer.

Don’t: Buy New Furniture

Before you go out and make any new purchases, consider simply rearranging or storing pieces that don’t seem to present the perfect image. It’s also easy to update furniture or hide imperfections with new throws or pillows. Simple changes like these can make a room appear larger and more welcoming.

Don’t: Hesitate To Ask For Help

It’s not an admission of failure to call in a professional stager, consult with your real estate agent or ask a friend or family member for assistance in making your home look its best. Selling your home is a major endeavor, and it makes sense to take advantage of all the help you can so that potential buyers are willing to pay top dollar.

Real Estate in High Point: High Point University Brings Growth to the Area

Woman Reading BookIf you drive through High Point, you will see many stores that boast flags, banners and signs that say “We Love High Point University!”

There is a great reason for this. High Point University and Nido R. Qubein, the seventh HPU president, have encouraged a lot of growth to the real estate in High Point.

Because of them, High Point has seen many transformations such as:

  • A significant growth in academics
  • 197% increase in undergraduate enrollment
  • 152% increase in faculty
  • 313% increase in college acreage
  • Being ranked the #1 Regional College in the South for 2015

This is just a few of many that have been achieved since Qubein took over.

Qubein’s Effect on High Point

Over one billion dollars has been invested into the university, of which $225 million was raised without a formal campaign.  Another $2.1 billion will be invested in order to make further improvements by 2020. When Nido Quebin began expanding on HPU’s campus, he helped to expand the rest of High Point as well, even during difficult economic times.

Because the campus expanded in size and in population, there were many new jobs that were created. This lead to a significant boost to High Point’s economy. More people have been encouraged to settle down as a result of the growing job market.

This also leads to more visitors to the town and more opportunities for tourist attractions. Cultural and sporting events bring in those who may not have even attended the school and has been giving the members of the town something to bond over.

Qubein is helping to put High Point University on the academic map, which is making the town of High Point stand out as an up and coming town. The growth of the surrounding area will bring many advantages to those looking to settle down.

Venture Off the Campus

There is more to love in High Point! This town is conveniently located in the middle of the state, equal distance from both the mountains and the beach. This is the perfect setup for those who like both climates and don’t want to choose just one!

Education is something that is important to High Point, NC. There are four community colleges and 13 colleges and universities within 25 miles of High Point. High school graduates will have many local choices available to them.

If this wasn’t enough, you will also know your family’s health will be in good hands because nearby are the High Point Regional, Moses Cone and Wake Forest University health centers. Combines this network boasts over 20,000 health care professionals that are ready to help take care of you.

Whether you’re buying or selling a home in High Point, NC the knowledgeable staff at Ed Price Realtors can make your process an enjoyable one.

10 Tips to Sell Your Home Faster

sell your houseSelling your home is not always an easy endeavor. However, we have ten great tips that can help you get your house sold quicker and relieve some of the stress that comes with it.

1. Light Up Your Home

The more light that you can use to showcase your home, the better. Shadows give the impression that the room is smaller than it truly is, so use lighting to create an illusion of a lighter, bigger room.

2. Light a Fire

If you have a fireplace, light a fire in order to give a cozy atmosphere. This will make potential buyers feel welcome. Also, fireplaces are a plus to many looking to buy a house, so don’t be afraid to make it a focal point!

3. Inviting Aromas

The sense of smell can really make an impression on someone’s memory. This is a quick little cheat that sellers can use in order to make their home more inviting. If you’re a coffee drinker, brew some coffee right before your open house or a visit. Some have even had success with putting a small amount of vanilla in a heated oven- a delicious smell that travels across the home.

4. Keep Your House Showing-Ready

Stay on top of your cleaning and laundry when you’re trying to sell your house. You never know when a potential buyer might want to drop by, and you only have one chance to give your buyer a good impression.

5. Keep Your Kitchen Updated

This one will take a little more work and money, but out of any room in the house, the kitchen would be the place to see a return. Potential buyers will try to bring the price down if they think the kitchen is outdated. Take a good look at your cabinets and counters; could they use a little work?

6. Depersonalize Your Home

We know you love that family photo that you like to set on top of the mantle. But, when you’re selling your home you want to allow others to envision the thought of living in the home, not see how you do it. The more neutral you can make the room, the easier it will be for someone else to take over the space.

7. Put Away the Pets

When it comes to the pets of your home, Fido doesn’t always warm the hearts of visitors. Not everyone is a cat or dog (or gerbil or snake) person. Not to mention they can shed and produce undesirable smells. Whenever possible, have the pets elsewhere when there is a showing. If you don’t want to board them for the day, consider taking them to the park or letting them hang out with extended family for a while.

8. Work on Your Closets

Not only will you want to have your house clean, you will need to consider the fact that potential buyers will be looking through bedroom and linen closets. They’re not trying to peek at your stuff, but closets can be a selling factor for storage. Keep this in mind and organize your closet. Consider taking half the stuff out, to let the potential buyer see just how big it is.

9. Curb Appeal

The outside of your home is the first impression that you give the potential buyer. If they see the lawn is in horrible shape the and siding is falling off, they will be less likely to think be impressed with the inside of the home. Painting the door and replacing the mailbox are easy ways to spruce things up.

10. Be Available

The more flexible you can be about showing times and visits, the more people you will get to view the house. This will give you better chances at selling the home at the price you want. However, that means you need to be prepared at all times to show the home.

Selling your house can be stressful. Let the knowledgeable agents at Price Realtors help you sell your home today!