A Year in Review: Looking Back at 2013

Happy New Year! We covered a lot of ground in 2013, so I thought I’d review some highlights from the beginning of the year.

First, if you want to buy a house, you can catapult yourself to the top of a seller’s list by getting pre-approved for a loan. I recommend working with your realtor to find a local loan broker who will review all your assets, liabilities, tax returns, W-2s, credit history, and any other relevant financial information to begin the process of applying for a loan. Basically, the only difference between being pre-approved and applying for a loan is that when you’re pre-approved, you haven’t found your property yet.

If you don’t think you can afford a house, you may be surprised. If you have a good credit score, a stable job, and a decent income, call your realtor and see if you qualify. There are many loans out there that help first-time homebuyers with little or no cash down.

Getting through escrow (the process of transferring ownership from one person to another) involves lots of inspections, so be ready. My advice to buyers is to take advantage of as many inspections as you can. Yes, you will probably have to pay for them, but better to know what you’re buying, than to end up with nasty surprises after the property is yours. Unless you are buying a property and planning to tear it down and build from the ground up, order inspections! For a list of inspections, go to www.richardselzer.com/2013/05/06/getting-through-escrow.

Once you’re in your new home, it’s definitely worth keeping up with regular maintenance. When money is tight, you may think that choosing the lower quality product that saves a few bucks is a good idea. Think again. If you have your house painted, for example, you are mostly paying for the labor. If you choose the highest quality paint, you won’t have to hire painters again for a long time. If you need to replace your water heater, different heaters come with different warranties. As a property manager, I can tell you that if they say it’s a five-year water heater, it is. For the additional cost of the better quality product, it is usually a savings over the long term. Prevention doesn’t cost; it saves.

If you have questions about real estate, ask your realtor. It’s okay if you haven’t bought or sold a house in awhile. I’ve been asked, “When does an agent’s relationship with a buyer or seller end?” I said, “When one of you dies.” Smart realtors know that people typically stay in their homes for about seven years. After that, they need a good agent to help them buy and/or sell their next home, and if that agent has been helpful during those years, they’ll be the first person that the buyer or seller calls. So don’t hesitate to ask for help from your realtor even after the sale. They will be happy to be of service: it means you remember them.

Next time I’ll write about the Affordable Care Act and how it affects the housing market. If there’s something you would like me to write about or if you have questions about real estate or property management, feel free to contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or visit our website at www.realtyworldselzer.com. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.

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