These 4 Negotiating Tips Can Help You Sell for Top Dollar

Receiving your first offer is one of the most exciting parts of selling your home. And while it might seem like the hard work is finally over, the negotiation process is actually just getting started. 

Even in a seller’s market, negotiating with a buyer can require quite a bit of time, skill, and guidance from your agent. However, with the right strategies, you can remain in the driver’s seat and maximize your profits.

Here’s How to Negotiate with Potential Buyers

When buyers submit an offer, they’re trying to get the best possible price, secure specific contingencies and financing, and close on their ideal timeline. As a seller, you’ll want to take their needs into consideration—but that doesn’t mean you have to give in to every concession.

Ready to hone your negotiation skills? Here are four easy tips to help you leverage a deal that gets you the price you want while keeping your buyer happy.

Review every offer with your agent

Agent helping with a contract

Even if you have some home selling experience, it can be hard to decipher all the elements of an offer. Most offers are just a small part of a purchase and sale agreement, which includes everything from price to contingencies to deadlines, so it’s important to review every detail with your agent.

While it might be tempting to decline any offers below your asking price, you still want to consider the bigger picture. It may be worth sacrificing some equity for fewer contingencies or a cash deal. Your agent can guide you through the pros and cons of each offer, as well as answer any questions.

Don’t compromise on your must-haves

Talking at a table

Fortunately, low inventory and rising prices have given sellers a distinct advantage in today’s market. That means you probably won’t have to give up a lot of your must-haves—like a certain price or closing date—to secure your sale. 

While it’s okay to drive a hard bargain, you don’t want to appear unreasonable to buyers. In some situations, it’s common courtesy to agree to certain contingencies (such as a home inspection), offer credits for repairs, or even pay a portion of their closing costs.

Make a clear counteroffer

Making an offer

If you receive an offer that isn’t quite what you want, you have a few options. Most sellers choose to respond with a counteroffer, which proposes modified terms that are more beneficial to them. 

The biggest factor to consider is price—if a buyer offers less than you’re willing to accept, try countering with a more realistic number. However, you’ll also want to take financing, contingencies, and timing into account. For example, you may want to ask a buyer for a different closing date or say no to excessive contingencies, as they can slow down the transaction. Ultimately, the ball is in your court, so it’s worth weighing different options with your agent.

Don’t be afraid to say no

Signing paperwork

Generally, you should always submit a counteroffer to every reasonable offer. However, if it becomes clear that a buyer isn’t willing to budge on your deal-breakers, don’t be afraid to say no. It’s also best to automatically decline any lowball offers that are around 30% less than your list price.

While it may seem counterintuitive to turn down an offer, it’s not worth negotiating with someone who isn’t serious about your home. And because the market is extremely competitive right now, it probably won’t take long to find a buyer who’s willing to pay the right price.

Thinking of Selling Your Home Soon?

If you’re looking for the right agent to guide you through the negotiation process, we’d love to lend a helping hand! Get in touch with us today to learn the ins and outs of selling your home—we’re always on hand to answer any questions you might have.

Buyer Beware: 6 Red Flags That Could Spell Trouble for Homebuyers

Picture this: you’ve found a seemingly perfect home in just the right neighborhood. It has every single one of your must-haves, plenty of space, and even all of the features you want. But on the tour, your agent spots a few big problems, like a crack in the foundation or signs of water damage. Should you walk away from what seems like your dream house?

Unless you’re looking to tackle a fixer-upper, you may want to proceed with caution if you run into any of these red flags during a showing.

Watch Out for These 6 Red Flags During a Showing

As you tour homes, it’s important to remember that a seller may not always disclose (or know) the whole truth about their house. If you ever have any questions about a home’s condition, make sure to ask your agent. They’ll often be able to spot problems that you may not see yourself, and they can also help you decide whether or not a certain issue is a dealbreaker. 

And even though a property may appear well-maintained, there could be some lingering imperfections that aren’t visible to an untrained eye—here are a few examples.

Foundation issues

Foundation crack

A faulty foundation is one of the biggest and costliest problems you can encounter in a home. If you spot any foundation cracks (both outside or inside) bigger than one third of an inch, it could mean a property has major structural defects.

Other signs of potential foundation issues include sticking doors, gaps around window frames, or sagging floors.

Outdated electric and plumbing systems

Tools and electrical supplies

A leaky faucet or ungrounded outlet may seem like a quick fix, but they could signal a much larger problem. If you’re touring an older home, have your agent ask about the age of the plumbing and electrical wiring. It’s essential (and expensive) to bring these systems up to code to prevent potential floods or fires.

An old roof

Old roof shingles

Typically, roofs should be replaced every 12 to 15 years. So if you notice some missing or curling shingles, it could mean that a home’s roof has reached the end of its lifespan. If you’re not sure about a roof’s age, be sure to ask your agent—they can get in touch with the seller’s agent for more information.

Water damage

Water damage on a ceiling

Take a look at a home’s ceiling and floors—do you see any dark spots? If so, this could be a sign of water damage, which is often a pricey fix. Be sure to check out a home’s drainage situation, too. A yard that isn’t properly graded could cause water to seep inside after a heavy rainstorm.

Homes that have basements are more prone to leaks than those that don’t, so don’t forget to head downstairs to look for water damage!

Unwelcome critters

Mouse trap

Bugs, mice, and other pests can spell big trouble for a house, especially if the infestation is widespread. Termites in particular should be a huge red flag, as they can destroy a home’s entire structure before being detected.

If you see an overwhelming number of critters wandering around during your tour, you may want to move on right away. You should also check for mud tubes, hollow or rotting wood, and bug droppings, as these are common indications of termites.

Unpleasant odors

Spraying air freshener

Notice a less-than-pleasant scent during a showing? These aromas could be signs of mold, mildew, water damage, pests, improper ventilation, and countless other issues. You should also be wary if a seller seems to be covering up smells with heavily scented candles or air fresheners.

Bottom line: Always have a home inspection

Home inspection report

Even if you don’t spot any of these problems, it’s always best to have an inspection after your offer is accepted. A qualified inspector can spot problems both large and small and will provide a detailed report of everything that needs to be fixed.

From there, you can try to renegotiate the price of the home with the seller or ask them to complete the repairs. However, if a home is being sold “as-is,” you may be stuck doing the work yourself. 

Thinking About Buying Your Next Home?

When it comes to finding the right home, it pays to have an expert agent on your side to handle all the details. Give us a call today to learn more about the premier services we offer to our buyers. We’d be more than happy to answer any of your real estate questions, and we can also help you sell your current home, too!

How to Handle Getting Multiple Offers on Your Home

If you’re thinking about listing your home, you’ve probably heard that we’re in a seller’s market right now. As inventory dwindles and buyer interest intensifies, it’s not uncommon to see properties sell just hours after they’re listed, sometimes even tens of thousands above their original asking price.

This may seem like an ideal scenario, but navigating a multi-offer situation can be difficult for even the most seasoned sellers. And sometimes, selecting the right offer doesn’t always mean going with the highest bidder.

Your Guide to Choosing the Right Offer

As a seller, you’ll quickly find that not all offers are created equal. In addition to price, there are a few other factors you should consider, such as contingencies, financing, closing dates, and plenty of other extras that buyers can attach to an offer. 

Feeling a little overwhelmed? This advice can help you streamline, and get the most out of, your home sale.

Keep your agent in the loop

Talking with an agent

First and foremost, you’ll want to include your agent in every step of the negotiation process. They’ll be the main point of contact between you and a buyer’s agent, but they can also talk you through your options and help you decide which offer best suits your needs. Additionally, your agent can educate you on common contingencies, as well as other terms that are often added to an offer (more on that later!).

Compare contingencies and financing

Hand holding cash

Aside from price, you should look at the contingencies and financing options included within any offers you receive. Contingencies are conditions that must be met before a sale—common examples are home inspections, appraisals, and loan approval. As a seller, you want to see as few contingencies as possible, as they can make it harder to close the deal.

Additionally, it’s important to consider how a buyer will be paying for your home. Cash offers are usually considered the best, as you won’t have to deal with appraisals or lenders. There’s also no chance of losing the sale if the buyer’s loan application doesn’t get approved. If you’re looking to close fast, it may even be worth accepting a lower offer if it’s in cash.

Consider any extras

Signing a contract

In a hot market, some buyers will do anything to stand out against the competition. However, before you fall for any seemingly enticing offers, you’ll want to know which terms will actually benefit you as a seller. 

It’s almost always worth giving special consideration to pre-approved buyers, because they’ve taken an extra step to secure their financing ahead of time. Buyers who want to close quickly, pay any closing costs, or even set an escalation clause to outbid other offers may also be more serious candidates.

Remember your home’s value

Money house

If you end up receiving quite a few offers on your home, you might even find yourself in a bidding war. This can drive the price up quite substantially, but you should probably think twice before accepting the highest bid.

If a buyer is financing their purchase, your home will likely need to pass an appraisal before the sale. And if the price was inflated in a bidding war, a bank may not approve the buyer for the full amount of their loan, which could jeopardize the deal. Be sure to keep your home’s value in mind as you review offers with your agent. They can help you filter out any outlandish bids while still maximizing your profit.

Gearing Up to Sell Soon?

Selling a home doesn’t have to be a stressful process—at least not when you work with a top-rated local agent! Feel free to give us a call and let us know how we can help with any of your real estate needs. We have the resources and expertise to get your house sold quickly and for top dollar!

A Pet Lover’s Guide to Buying a Home

If you have dogs, cats, or other pets in your home, you probably consider them to be part of your family. And if you’re thinking about making a move soon, that means you’ll want to take their needs into consideration, too. Here’s our ultimate guide to finding the perfect place you and your furry friend will love!

The 4 Factors to Consider When Buying a Home with Pets

According to a recent survey by CNBC, 79% of pet owners who recently purchased a home said they would have passed up a seemingly perfect property if it didn’t fit their pets’ needs. So it’s no surprise that pet-friendly features—like large, fenced-in yards and proximity to parks—are now in high demand with today’s buyers.

Are you searching for a home with Fluffy or Fido in tow? If so, here are four factors you should consider before making a move.

Local Pet Laws

Dog in the grass

Believe it or not, every state, county, town, and even some neighborhoods have specific rules about pets, so you’ll need to read up on any local laws before committing to a home. You’ll often find regulations regarding pet types, breeds, vaccinations, and leash requirements.

If you choose to move to a condo or community with a homeowners association, pet restrictions may be a bit tighter. Some neighborhoods place limits on the number of pets allowed per residence, and they often have noise ordinances to curtail more boisterous animals. If you have any questions about what is and isn’t allowed, don’t be afraid to ask your agent or the HOA for more information.

The Neighborhood

Cat in the grass

Choosing a location is one of the most important parts of the home buying process, especially if you have a pet. Some neighborhoods are more pet-friendly than others and may even have special amenities for four-legged residents, so you’ll want to spend some time scoping out the area to see what’s around.

If you have a dog, consider moving to a community with plenty of sidewalks or a nearby park. You may also want to steer clear of busy streets, especially if your pet likes to sneak out on unchaperoned adventures. Don’t forget to track down the closest pet supply stores and veterinarians, too!

Outdoor Spaces

Puppy running in grass

For most pet owners, having a large, fenced-in yard is a must if your furry friend loves to spend time outside. However, you’ll want to be sure that your outdoor space offers more than just room to roam. Make note of any potential safety risks, like poisonous plants, water features, and holes in or under the fence. If the house next door also has animals, confirm that they won’t be a hazard to your pets.

If a home doesn’t already have a fence, you may need to factor that cost into your budget. Some neighborhoods have restrictions on fences (or don’t allow them at all), so do your research first!

Interior Features

Cats looking out the window

When it comes to finding a new place for you and your pets, the inside matters just as much as the outside. As you tour a potential home, start by taking a look at the floors—hardwoods usually fare better with pets, as they’re easier to clean and restain. You’ll also want to ensure that your new home has ample room for all of your pets, as well as their litter boxes, toys, and crates. Bonus points if a space has some pet-approved upgrades, like doggie doors or built-in feeding stations!

If you plan on staying in your next home for more than a few years, consider your pets’ changing needs as they age. Common features like stairs or a closed-in floorplan can become obstacles for older animals, but if your pet has specific needs, you may be able to make accommodations.

Making a Move with Your Pets?

Buying a home with pets doesn’t have to be hard if you work with the right agent! Contact our team today to learn more about making a move with Fluffy and Fido. We’d love to help you find a place that suits you and your companions’ needs!

Essential Outdoor Maintenance Tips for Showing Your Home

You’re probably aware that appearance means a lot when selling a home. Maybe you’ve already started working on cleaning, decluttering, and staging. But have you considered the exterior of your home yet? You might be missing out on some essential outdoor maintenance tasks.

These Essential Outdoor Maintenance Tips Can Transform Your Home

a home for sale in albuquerque

Before you get too caught up on the interior of your home, remember that the first thing a buyer sees is actually the exterior! And if they don’t like what they see from the curb, they might not bother to continue on inside. So take a little time to spruce up the outside of your home—front and back—to give your buyers something to fall in love with at first sight.

Here’s how to get started.

Mow the lawn (if you have it)

mowing the lawn

One of the simplest things you can do for your home is to say on top of the mowing! An overgrown yard looks messy and can be a haven for weeds and other unwelcome plants. Regular mowing will keep your grass healthy and looking well maintained.

Work on your landscaping

a house with good landcaping

Many homes in the Albuquerque area don’t have a lot of lawn, thanks to the dry climate. But you probably have some kind of plant life out in your yard, so pay attention to it. Does it need to be trimmed back? Watered? Weeded? Is it lacking all together?

Spruce up your entry

a home with a nice entryway

Your entry should welcome visitors into your home. If yours is empty or in ill-repair, it might not make buyers too eager to come inside. Consider some simple improvements like painting your front door, replacing your doorknob and house numbers, and adding a new seasonal wreath and welcome mat.

Inspect your roof

inspecting the roof

Next, take a glance upwards. How does your roof look? Can you spot any missing or crooked shingles? Is there any growth or rot? Is there any rust or cracking on the caulking around your flashing? If you’re not sure what to look for, consider having your roof inspected. While completely replacing your roof might be a costly project, minor repairs could be worth the expense to avoid deterring buyers with deterioration.

Powerwash your home

powerwashing a home

Next, take a look at your siding. Is it looking dirty, dingy, or a little worse for the wear? You might benefit from some powerwashing. You may also want to inspect your siding for any cracked, mildewy, or missing siding. Minor repairs or even a paint job might help to bring some new life to tired siding.

Clean and/or refinish your deck

a pool deck at night

If you’re pressure washing your siding, you might as well wash your deck, too! If your deck is made of wood, consider whether it would benefit from being refinished or repainted. Refinishing doesn’t just improve appearances; it can actually prolong your deck’s longevity, too.

Thinking of Listing in Albuquerque?

Are you thinking about selling a home in the Albuquerque area? We’d love to help! Contact the Feils today to learn more about how we can get your home looking fantastic, price it accurately, and list it for top dollar.

15 Home Selling Terms to Add to Your Vocabulary

Even if you’ve sold a home before, deciphering real estate jargon can still seem impossible. There’s a lot of unique terminology you should know if you want to make the most of your sale, which means it’s crucial to be well-versed in some of the most common home selling terms before you list. If you’re still confused by contingencies or trying to decode disclosures, our glossary of real estate terms is here to get you on track.

15 Home Selling Terms, Explained

Here’s our A to Z list of the most important home selling vocab every seller should be familiar with. If you don’t see a specific term listed here, feel free to give us a call—we’d love to answer your questions!

Appraisal

House with coin stacks

The estimated market value of your property. Oftentimes a buyer will need to have a home appraised in order to secure financing.

As-Is

Listing a home “as-is” means that you’re selling it in its current state. This term tells buyers that you aren’t willing to make any changes or take money off the price—they will be responsible for handling all repairs.

Closing Costs

Calculating closing costs

This blanket term describes all the extra fees that come with closing on a home, which are usually deducted from the profit you make on the sale. Common closing costs include agent commissions (for you and the buyer), title fees, loan payoff costs, and any outstanding taxes or expenses.

Commission

This is what you’ll pay your agent (and the buyer’s agent) for their services. Commission is often negotiable and tends to be 5 to 6% of a home’s sale price, with around 3% going to each agent. 

Comparative Market Analysis

House figure on top of a calculator

Often abbreviated as CMA, this detailed evaluation of your home’s value is based on similar properties that have recently sold in your neighborhood.

Contingency

A contingency is a certain condition that must be met before a home is sold. If a contingency is not met, the buyer or seller can exit the deal, typically with no penalties. Financing, home inspections, and appraisals are just a few common contingencies.

Disclosures

Signing paperwork

Disclosures refer to any specific defects in a home that you’re legally obligated to share with a buyer. Required disclosures vary from state to state and even town to town, but your agent should be familiar with the most common types in your area.  

Earnest Money

This is a security deposit submitted by a buyer after they’ve put in an offer to show that they’re serious about purchasing your home. The money is typically applied towards their closing costs if the sale moves forward. 

Escrow

Agent chatting about an escrow account

An escrow account is normally set up by a lender to hold earnest money until the sale of a home. However, escrow accounts can also be used by lenders to hold real estate taxes and insurance premiums as you pay off your mortgage.

For Sale by Owner

Sometimes abbreviated as FSBO, this is when a homeowner tries to sell their property without the help of an agent, usually to avoid paying commission.

Real Estate Agent

Real estate agent helping a client

A real estate agent is someone who has passed a real estate exam and possesses a license that allows them to buy or sell homes in a specific area.

Real Estate Broker

Real estate brokers are agents who have received additional education, passed a broker exam, and completed a certain number of transactions. Most agents work under the supervision of a broker.

Realtor®

Realtors talking to each other

A Realtor® is an agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. Realtors® are required to follow a strict code of ethics and pay annual membership dues.

Staging

Staging is the process of styling and updating your home for potential buyers. It can involve cleaning, repainting, decluttering, making repairs, and moving around furniture to make your space look its best. 

Under Contract

Under contract sign

When a home is under contract, the seller has accepted an offer from a buyer, and that buyer has the exclusive right to purchase the property.

Thinking About Selling Soon?

If you’re getting ready to list your home, we can help you navigate every step of the process. Just reach out to us to learn more about the services we offer to our sellers, and let us know if you have any questions. We’d be happy to lend you our expertise! 

The Pros and Cons of Living in a Neighborhood with an HOA

As you search for your next home, you’ll probably encounter more than a few neighborhoods that have their own homeowners associations. Often abbreviated as HOAs, these groups usually consist of a few elected residents, although they may also be run by an outside management company or developer.

While they tend to get a bad rap, HOAs actually have quite a few benefits you might not have considered—but they aren’t always the right fit for everyone.

Should You Buy in a Neighborhood with an HOA?

In a nutshell, an HOA’s job is to act as a governing body for a neighborhood. They typically set rules, maintain the community, and may offer certain amenities, like pools or landscaping. However, these perks don’t come free—homeowners have to pay dues to cover an HOA’s services.

Not sure if you want to live in a community with a homeowners association? Here are a few pros and cons to keep in mind before making a move.

Pro: Increased resale value

Neighborhood with an HOA

Believe it or not, an HOA can significantly impact a home’s resale value when you move again. On average, single family homes that are part of a local association sell for 4% more than ones that aren’t—for a home worth $300,000, that’s a gain of $12,000.

Con: More rules to follow

Side view of a home

Perhaps the biggest gripe that many homeowners have about HOAs is having to follow certain rules, especially when it comes to your home’s appearance. In order to maintain property values and a uniform look to the neighborhood, HOAs often restrict personalizations like paint colors, fences, or landscaping.

Associations may also have certain limitations on pets, noise, yard signs, home improvements, or trash removal. Violating the rules can sometimes result in hefty fines, so be sure you read up on an HOA’s restrictions to avoid any penalties.

Pro: A beautiful neighborhood

A pretty community

All those rules may seem irksome, but they do serve a purpose. HOA regulations are designed to make your neighborhood a beautiful and desirable place to live. You’ll never have to deal with eyesores like an overgrown lawn or lingering litter anymore, either!

Con: Additional fees

Paying HOA dues

Most associations charge dues that vary depending on the services and amenities they provide. It’s not uncommon to see fees of over $1,000 per year—definitely an expense you’ll want to factor into your monthly budget.

Wondering what these dues cover? They usually go towards maintenance, an emergency fund, or amenities. If you live in a condo or active adult community, they can also cover utilities and exterior maintenance.

Pro: Extra amenities 

Community pool

If you want to live somewhere with plenty of amenities right at your doorstep, an HOA neighborhood may be a great fit. Many homeowners associations pay to maintain community pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, and much more. Larger subdivisions may even have their own golf courses, restaurants, or clubhouses that are for residents only! 

Con: Risks of poor management

Woman stressed by an HOA

Almost every HOA is governed by residents, sometimes with the help of a management company. Unfortunately, a poorly managed association can be a nightmare for homeowners, especially if the HOA is responsible for maintaining major aspects of the community.

Homeowners associations also have the authority to increase dues without warning—and if they don’t have the money to pay for a big expense, they may even order a special assessment to cover the costs.

Bottom Line: Do your research!

In a recent survey by the Community Associations Institute, a whopping 85% of homeowners said they had a positive experience living in a community with an HOA. However, it’s still crucial to consider your own individual circumstances before making a decision. 

Be sure to read an association’s rules or bylaws, and take a good look at the neighborhood before you buy. If you have any questions, just ask your agent!

Take Your Next Steps

If you’re ready to make a move, we’d love to guide you through every step of the buying process! Just get in touch with us today to get started—we look forward to teaming up and helping you find your next dream home.

Keep Your Home Ready to Show with These 4 Tips

As a seller, you have to be able to get your home looking fantastic at the drop of a dime if an interested buyer schedules a tour. And unless you have the time to constantly clean, keeping your space prepped for showings might seem like an endless (and stressful!) ordeal. Luckily, we have a few tips that can help you avoid any pre-showing panicking.

The Easiest Ways to Stay Ready for Showings

The biggest secret to keeping your home ready for buyers is to do most of the work ahead of time. It might be tempting to put off cleaning or wait until the last minute to add your finishing touches, but all that procrastinating can easily backfire right before a showing! Here are some easy ways to keep your home looking spotless at all times…without any added headaches.

Declutter and reorganize

Decluttering a living room

Before you even think about listing, take some time to declutter and reorganize your belongings. This can help decrease the amount of stuff you have to put away before a showing, as well as reduce how much you’ll pack when you inevitably move. Remember, you want buyers to focus on the best parts of your home, not your clutter.

Not sure where to start? Try sorting your possessions in “keep,” “donate,” and “throw away” piles so you can narrow down what you really need. And if you have items that don’t get used every day that you’d like to keep, you can always rent a storage unit until you move into your new place.

Do an initial deep clean

Cleaning a kitchen

After you’ve thoroughly decluttered, you’ll want to do a thorough cleaning of every single room in your home, including your closets. It might seem like a lot of work at first, but it’ll be worth it when you don’t have to completely scrub down your house each time a buyer comes knocking on your door. Don’t shy away from getting into every nook and cranny—you want everything to look perfect!

Many professionals recommend using the top-to-bottom and left-to-right rule. That means starting by cleaning things up high, such as ceiling fans and bookshelves, and ending with your floors and carpets. Going from left to right can also keep you on task and make the entire process go by much faster.

Have a routine for tidying up

Making a bed

Let’s be honest—if you have kids, pets, or actually live in your home, it’s not easy to keep it looking like a showroom at all times. Establishing a regular tidying routine can help you maintain that initial deep clean you did before listing. Assigning tasks—like making beds or vacuuming the floors—to everyone in your household also allows you to divide and conquer! 

To minimize the amount of cleaning you have to do, consider keeping some rooms that you don’t use off limits. You can even designate a certain area, such as an ottoman or a storage bin under a bed, for everyday clutter that needs to be hidden right before a showing.

Create an escape plan

Family on a walk

Keeping your home ready for showings is only half of the battle—you also need to know where you and your household will be going before the buyers show up! Not every tour is conveniently timed, so you’ll want to have a few options in place for different times and days of the week. If you have kids or pets, don’t forget to make arrangements to accommodate their needs, too.

Don’t know where to go? Try using your time to run errands or plan some fun (and practical) outings with your kids, like an outdoor study session or afternoon at the pool. Your furry friend can also be included in the fun—just head to a pet-friendly park for a little sunshine and fresh air!

Want to Get Top Dollar and Sell Fast?

Selling your home might seem difficult, but working with the right agent can make all the difference! We’re ready to help you navigate every step of the selling process, so just give us a call to see what we can do for you.

5 Things First-Time Home Buyers Should Do Before Searching

Buying your first home is exciting! Finding a place to call your own, investing in your financial future, finding a niche in a community… There are so many perks to homeownership. But it’s a little intimidating, too; a mortgage is no small loan, and there are a lot of big decisions, confusing legal terms, and professional people involved with the process.

But before you start feeling overwhelmed, take a breath and learn more about our tips for starting the home buying experience.

5 Tips to Get Started as a First-Time Home Buyer

first-time home buyers search homes

Before you jump into the search process, there are a few things you might want to learn, know, or consider about buying a home. Here are some tips for first-time home buyers to get you started.

Talk to some mortgage lenders first

talking to lenders about mortgages

You might think the home search process starts with, well, a home search, or at least a real estate agent. But ideally, you should begin the process by talking to lenders. There are a couple of advantages to doing this. First and foremost, you get a professional in the industry to review your financial situation to determine how much loan you might qualify for—or whether you qualify at all.

Secondly, talking to lenders can help you to better understand your mortgage options. Contrary to common belief, there isn’t just one type of loan—there might be a few different options that apply to you, each with its own pros and cons. Your lender might even be able to recommend loans specifically for first-time home buyers.

While you’re talking to these lenders about your finances, they’ll also likely review their own particular charges, rates, and discounts, which you can compare between lenders.

Get prequalified for a loan

first-time home buyers getting prequalified for a loan

As your lender discusses loan options and asks you questions about your goals and financial situation, they may also urge you to get prequalified. Getting prequalified is definitely something you want to do if you’re serious about buying a home—for a few reasons.

Simply put, prequalification will show you exactly how much a particular lender is willing to loan you, and it’s an important step in the buying process. In fact, some agents won’t show homes to or even work with buyers who aren’t prequalified! An official prequalification letter from your lender also helps to show sellers you’re serious, and definitely makes your offer more appealing than an offer from a buyer who’s not prequalified.

Interview several agents

talking to a real estate agent

Picking the right real estate agent is always pretty important, but it’s especially important for first-time home buyers unfamiliar to the real estate experience. Not only do experienced agents know the details and nuances of the transaction inside and out, but a really good agent can also provide useful advice and recommendations. That might mean helping you narrow down your favorite neighborhoods, determine which home features are most important to you, or find local vendors, like inspectors, appraisers, contractors, or even lenders.

Because your agent is so vitally important, you want to do your research carefully. Ask for recommendations. Read Google, Facebook, or Zillow reviews. And of course, talk to the agents themselves to see how well they communicate and what they have to offer.

Know what you want in a home

listing out home preferences

It’s almost time to get searching, but before you let yourself fall in love with granite counters or a luxurious soaking tub, take some time to think about the features you actually need in a home. Understand, there are a lot of homes out there, and odds are, most of them aren’t the right fit. Rather than burn yourself out looking through homes that aren’t right, or worse, to fall in love with a home that doesn’t fit your needs, do yourself a favor and make a list.

List out the features you absolutely need, the features you really want, and features that are more like icing on the cake. Then, when it comes time to search, you can rule out any homes that don’t fit ALL of your needs and at least a few of your stronger wants!

Explore the area a bit

a park in albuquerque

The most important aspect of any home—in determining both its market value and its value to you—is its location. The perfect home in the wrong location will quickly grow irritating or inconvenient, and unlike an old kitchen or bathroom, a home’s location cannot be changed.

When choosing a location for your home, you want to think about what’s most important to you. Do you want to be close to work, or to shopping and attractions? Do you want a larger yard or more space? Is price a big factor? Are schools? Your agent can prove an invaluable resource in helping you find the right location for your home.

Ready to Buy Your First Home in Albuquerque?

If you’re thinking of buying a home in Albuquerque, NM, we’d love to help! Contact the Feils today to learn more about how we help first-time home buyers like you find the perfect home in just the right spot.

Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter: Which Home Buying Season Is Best?

You’ve probably heard that spring and summer are the best seasons for home buying. After all, there’s more inventory on the market, and the warm weather is ideal for showings. However, the ongoing global health crisis has shattered the idea of the “peak home buying season” and left many potential buyers wondering if now is still the right time to make a move.

The Merits (and Downsides) of Buying a Home During Each Season

Most real estate markets fluctuate from month to month, as do prices and inventory. Before you decide when to buy, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each season and ask a local agent about trends in your area. Here are a few benefits of buying during every season…as well as a few drawbacks.  

Spring: Gorgeous homes, but higher prices

House with landscaping

Traditionally, spring is one of the hottest seasons for home buying, and it’s easy to see why. As temperatures thaw out in March, April, and May, the number of new listings seems to multiply every day. Homes also tend to look their best during spring—after all, who doesn’t love blossoming flowers or lush landscaping after a long winter?

Although you’ll have more inventory to choose from during these warmer months, you won’t be the only one searching for a home. Spring buyers usually have to face more competition, which can result in inflated prices and bidding wars. If you’re getting ready to buy during spring, be prepared to make a quick offer and don’t expect many concessions from sellers.

Summer: Lots of listings, but more competition

Aerial shot of a neighborhood

Summer is another extremely popular home buying season, especially for households with children. Many sellers also decide to list during June, July, or August, which means you’ll benefit from an even broader selection of houses. To top it all off, you can even schedule evening showings as the days get longer.

Unfortunately, summer home buying often comes with problems similar to spring: tons of buyers, higher prices, more bidding wars, and less time to make a decision. And if you wait until July or August, you could actually see a dip in inventory as sellers go on vacation!

Fall: Motivated sellers, but inventory could dwindle

House in autumn

There’s so much to love about autumn: the falling leaves, the cooler temperatures…and the fantastic home prices. Fall is easily one of the most underrated times to buy a house, since you can take advantage of strong inventory, less competition, and lower prices. Many sellers will also be more motivated to make a deal, particularly if they weren’t able to attract buyers during the summer. 

As you plan your autumnal move, it’s crucial to time it just right. It’s not uncommon to see a slight dip in inventory at the beginning of a new school year, which is usually around late August or early September. If you wait until late October or November, sellers might also start pulling their homes from the market due to the impending holidays. 

Winter: Less competition, but fewer choices

Houses in winter

Historically, winter is the slowest season for real estate—but that shouldn’t deter you from starting your home search in December, January, or February. The most obvious benefit of winter buying is decreased competition, which often leads to some of the lowest prices of the year. Real estate agents will also have fewer clients during the colder months, so they can spend much more time helping you. 

Of course, buying in the middle of winter also comes with some challenges. It can be difficult to plan a closing around everyone’s schedules during the busy holiday season. Diminished inventory also means there are fewer listings to choose from, so your search may take a bit longer than expected.

Need Help Planning Your Move?

Whether you choose to move in spring, summer, fall, or winter, you can trust us to help you navigate every aspect of the buying process! Just give us a call today to learn more about our home buying resources, and let us know when you’re ready to take your next steps.