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Buyers

Buying a home can be an enormous undertaking, so be sure to retain the services of a qualified real estate agent or broker. You can trust Joe McCain to always keep your interests first and foremost. As a qualified professional, he’ll guide you through the entire home buying experience and assist you in being an educated buyer.

It is highly rewarding to buy, own and maintain your own home. Whether this is your first home or you have experience with the home buying process, Joe can help. When you have the tools at your fingertips, you can be confident in your ability to search, finance your home, negotiate terms and be prepared at closing.

Lay down some basic guidelines such as what features do you require in a home to satisfy your lifestyle now and in the future? How much can you afford to pay? Which of the Houston areas would you like to live in? Once you know the answers to those questions Your realtor will help you explore your possibilities from design preferences to schools to neighborhood choices.

Evaluate the homes as you drive though a community Consider the following questions as a basis for determining your location needs:

  • Where is the nearest shopping center, bus line, police station and library?
  • What schools are available and school district are you in?
  • What types of homes (single family, apartments, condominiums) are in the neighborhood?
  • How far apart are the homes?
  • How far is it to your work?
  • What community resources are available?
  • Generally, where are the cars parked (driveways, garages, street)?
  • Do you notice a lot of noise, traffic or pollution?
  • Are the homes in good repair and the landscaping well kept?

What are your needs as a home owner? Keep your eyes open and your notebook in hand as you walk through a potential home. Consider the following questions as a basis for determining your needs as a homeowner:

  • How long has the home been on the market?
  • Why is the home being sold?
  • What is the asking price of the home?
  • Has the price been lowered?
  • Is the price comparable to other homes in the neighborhood?
  • What is the down payment required?
  • Is the house structurally sound?
  • Is there room enough for the present and the future?
  • Do you like the floor plan of the home?
  • What condition is the yard in?
  • What improvements must be made?
  • Will the seller repair or replace any items that need repair or replacement?

Think carefully about each house you see and don’t be in a hurry. Your realtor can point out the pros and cons of each home from a professional standpoint.

Making an offer to buy a home entails many factors. You and your realtor will discuss the following factors prior to putting the offer on the table:

  • Amount of earnest money
  • Down payment
  • Price you are offering
  • Details of financing
  • Proposed move in date
  • Proposed closing date
  • Details of the sale
  • How long the offer is valid

The seller will either accept the offer as presented, or make a counter offer and either you will agree to the terms in counter offer or you will submit another proposal. When all the parties involved have agreed upon the details, initialed any revisions, and signed the final agreement, then an offer becomes a contract.

Sales contracts may differ significantly yet all should clearly set forth the responsibilities and privileges of all the parties involved. It is a legally binding document that protects each party. Carefully review the terms of the contract. The sales contract should include the following:

  • Legal description of the property and the exact street address
  • Selling price of the property
  • Amount of earnest money and who is holding it – Often it is held in an escrow account by a third
    neutral party.
  • Amount due at settlement
  • Specifics of the mortgage (amount, rate and terms) Title or Escrow company – Either a title
    company, escrow company, or attorney must be areed upon by buyer and seller
  • Details W of the closing – when and where
  • Home inspection – Recommended to ensure against structural and unknown defects, and
    must be completed by a specific date set forth in the contrct and completed by a certified
    home inspector
  • Inclusions and exclusions – Examples would include washers, dryers, drapes, etc.
  • Pest Inspection – Who is responsible if there is damage or an infestation
  • Repairs – Unless you are accepting as-is, state who is responsible for repairs, with a
    date for a walk-through inspection
  • Well and septic – They must pass a test, if applicable
  • Date of possession – When you take possession of the property
  • Acceptance date – Either an acceptance or counter offer must occur by a
    specified date

Once the contract is signed, your realtor will continue to be your advocate and ensure that your best interests are served. Some of the details they will be available to handle are:

  • Assist with scheduling all necessary pre-closing inspections
  • Check finances are deposited according the contract specifications
  • Keep you informed of any unseen problems that may arise and offer solutions
  • Present a list of utility companies available for service
  • Schedule and attend-the pre-closing walk through
  • Prepare for and attend the closing

Closing happens once you are completely satisfied with your choice of home and all negotiating is complete. The closing is usually facilitated by a title or escrow company that holds your earnest money in escrow. After furnishing the down payment and other applicable fees that have been agreed upon prior to closing, final papers will be signed. The deed and mortgage will be recorded in the state Registry of Deeds, and you will be a homeowner!


Sellers

To simplify the experience of preparing your home for sale, setting the price and showing your home, use a realtor. The right agent is often the key to a successful real estate transaction. We are there to guide you through the entire process.

Pricing your property correctly is critical.
Price your home too low and you’ll lose money; price it too high and buyers will shy away. As your realtor, I will be able to give you a Competitive Market Analysis for your home that will help you determine the value of your property, as well as give advice on the condition of the present market.

Promoting your property effectively is essential. From descriptive, colorful ads to internet options, realtors are able to attract potential buyers. Promotional campaigns are most successful when the home is priced right and shows well. Competition and current interest rates can also affect the success of a promotional campaign.

The presentation of your home is vital. Buying a home is an emotional process and your realtor can advise you on simple and inexpensive ways to prepare your home for a successful showing.

How do I price my home? Most home owners feel that it is better to entrust the sale of their biggest investment to a professional. There are a number of complexities of modern Real Estate transactions that should be considered, not to mention the access to the MLS, advertising, marketing, and the screening of buyers which are available to assist the seller. Your realtor will know the condition of the market at the time you are selling and will also be able to help you determine the value of your property with a Competitive Market Analysis. Today’s buyer is well informed and price sensitive. A property that is priced over the market can often deter buyers who are serious about finding a property. If the property is under-priced, it will most likely sell quickly – to the detriment of your net proceeds. Care and research should be taken when establishing the original listing price. There are many factors that will affect the selling price. The following should help you determine the price you can expect to receive:

  • What are the prices (listing and selling) of similar homes in your area?
  • What is the size, layout and condition of your home in comparison to others on the market?
  • What is the location of your home, are you in a desirable area that is in demand?
  • Does your home have amenities that are currently popular in the marketplace?
  • Is it a buyers’ market or a sellers’ market?

Before selling your house, you must look objectively and unemotionally at your home. Look at it no longer as your home, but as a product to be marketed. Be aware of what you can and cannot change about your home. This knowledge will allow you to concentrate on those items that will bring the highest rewards.

The first thing a potential buyer sees is your home from the street – this called “curb appeal.” Take care to:

  • Remove any junk or clutter from the yard.
  • Have a clean, crisp lawn (a bit of fertilizer makes for a greener lawn).
  • Trim shrubbery and hedges.
  • Flower beds should be cultivated. Add some colorful annuals if necessary.
  • Wash decks and porches and make sure they are stained or painted.
  • Clean and paint or stain your front door.
  • All exterior lights should be operational.
  • Exterior windows should be clean and operational.
  • Clean out gutters and downspouts.
  • Walkways should be swept.
  • Clear away all bicycles, sports equipment. Make sure swings and play equipment are neat and in good repair. Clean up after your pets.
  • Make sure the garage door is closed.

Present your home dressed in its best! Most buyers do not have a vision – so help them. Here are some minor investments which may have some major returns:

  • Paint – When it comes to preparing a house, fresh paint gives you the best return for money spent.
  • Flooring – At the very least, all carpeting needs to be steam cleaned. Any worn, stained or foul smelling carpet should be replaced. Any flooring that is cracked or damaged should be replaced, if possible.
  • Clutter – If something is not necessary for your day-to-day life, box it up and store it or throw it out! The overall affect of your home should be warm and comfortable but not cluttered.
  • Closets – Closets need to be neat, clean, and organized.
  • Garage – sweep the floor and tidy up any clutter.
  • Cleaning – The cleaner, the better. Dusting, washing, waxing, and polishing everything will always make a good impression.
  • Lights – Clean the fixtures and make sure the bulbs work. Windows – Replace any cracked windows.
  • Windows – Replace any cracked windows. Clean the windows.

At the very least you should prepare the interior of your home. Remember your potential buyers will be seeing your property for the very first time and first impressions matter :

  • Entryway: Clean and polish everything. Make sure it is well lit. Make sure it is clutter free.
  • Bedrooms: Arrange the furniture for the flow of traffic. Make sure they are clutter free.
  • Living Room/Family Room/Den: Arrange the furniture for the flow of traffic and to give the illusion of space. Remove ashes from fireplaces and woodstoves. Make sure all light switches work. Clean the drapes. Polish/ mop the floors.
  • Storage Areas: Basement, Garage, Attic. Remove all junk and clutter. If the basement is damp or musty, try a dehumidifier. Make sure these areas are well lit.
  • Kitchens undergo close scrutiny: Clean the exterior of all appliances, including the stove hood filter. Clean counter tops and cabinet faces: the shinier, the better. Remove magnets and messages from the front of the refrigerator. Clean the floor and consider replacing it if it is worn. If you have ceramic tile, make sure the grout is clean and white.
  • Bathrooms are also extremely important: If faucets drip, repair or replace them. Remove stains from all fixtures. Make sure all lights have the highest wattage that is safe for each fixture. Put out fresh, clean towels. Check ceramic tile, make sure the grout is clean. Remove any mildew. Make sure drains are clog free. Shower doors should sparkle.

Before a showing of your home add these small but important finishing touches:

  • Light and Bright – Whether day or night, a lit house gives a “welcome home” impression. So turn on all the lights, indoor and outdoor. Open all curtains, shutters, and blinds to let in maximum light. Your home looks more cheerful and it also prevents harsh shadows.
  • Out of Sight – Prospective buyers may feel like intruders if you are home during a showing. Allow your realtor the opportunity to speak freely with buyers and emphasize your home’s best features. If possible, take a walk, visit the library, go shopping or take the kids to the park. If you cannot leave, try to remain out of sight and do not accompany the buyers from room to room.
  • The Scent of Success – Scented sprays are too obvious and may be found offensive. For a pleasing fragrance, add a few drops of vanilla extract on a stove burner or boil water and add some cinnamon. Refrigerator cookies are quick and easy to bake, as well as lighting a scented candle prior to a showing. Both will make your home more attractive.
  • Waste Not – Empty the trash in the kitchen and any other waste baskets before a showing. Garbage does not send a positive message, even in small amounts.
  • Comfort Counts– Make sure the thermostat is set such that the house is at a comfortable temperature. Turn off the television and turn soft, melodious music on.
  • Pets – It is best to try and take your pets with you while your home is being shown. If that is not possible, at least keep them outside. Animals under foot will put a damper on a showing.

Once an offer is made, if you intend to accept the offer, or make a counter offer, do it as soon as possible. Realize that at any time prior to accepting or countering, a buyer can withdraw their offer. When you make changes to an offer, they require written approval of all parties for the contract to be enforceable. Know that even minor changes facilitate the opportunity for either the seller or buyer to change their mind.

The last part of the home selling process is closing. It is the time between signing the purchase contract (once an agreement on price and terms has been reached) to the day the deed is actually recorded transferring title. Once everything is signed, then escrow closes and your home is sold.

Moving On… it doesn’t matter if you have moved once or several times, it is never an easy task. There is a lot of emotion associated with selling a home. So on to a new adventure. The following are some tips you may find helpful.

  • Notify the post office of a forwarding address.
  • Cancel subscriptions that would not be forwarded.
  • Arrange for new checking account if needed.
  • Arrange for utilities and telephone at your new location.
  • Plan for needs of children and pets during the move.
  • Plan for sufficient cash/travelers checks during the move.
  • Are you packing/moving yourself or will a professional mover handle the move?
  • Once you are reasonably sure you will be proceeding with the sale, begin weeding out your possessions.
  • Pack one room at a time.
  • Keep the weight of your boxes reasonable.
  • Start packing and marking every box according to contents and room it will go in.
  • If bubble wrap is not available, use towels and blankets to wrap fragile items.
  • If possible, pack audio-video and computer equipment in their original boxes.
  • Do not pack valuables, carry them with you.