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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. DO YOU REALLY NEED A REALTOR TO SELL YOUR HOME?

You might be wondering, “Do I really need a REALTOR to help me sell my home?” In 2020, the typical For Sale By Owner Home sold for $217,900 vs. $295,000 for agent-assisted home sales. That’s a $77,100 or 26% difference! REALTORS receive extensive training, and provide important services to their clients, including:

  • Pricing the home correctly and providing a comprehensive marketing strategy to ensure the listing is seen by the people most likely to buy
  • Listing the home in the MLS, which is the most accurate and up-to-date repository of homes for sale 
  • Negotiating contracts and protecting the sellers’ best interest
  • Hosting open houses for potential buyers to walk through the home
  • Presenting your home in the most professional way possible by hiring experts to provide staging, photography, drone videos, virtual tours, 3D models, and more
  • Coordinating the selling process and guiding the seller from pre-listing to closing and everything in-between

If you’re thinking about listing a home, I’d love to chat. I have nearly a decade of experience in the Central Ohio market and would love to be your advisor and guide.

2. YOU'RE READY TO BUY YOUR FIRST HOME. WHERE SHOULD YOU START?

When you’re ready to purchase a home, there are specific steps you’ll want to take to ensure a smooth process.

  1. Step One. Select a Licensed REALTOR. An experienced REALTOR with a proven track record will help you find the homes that best suit your needs and budget. REALTORS have access to the Multiple Listing Services, or MLS, which has the most up-to-date and complete repository of homes on the market. They will set up and accompany you to showings, guide you through the process of making an offer, preparing contracts, completing inspections, and closing on the home.
  2. Step Two. Get pre-approved. It is advised that you obtain a pre-approval BEFORE beginning your home search so that you know your purchasing power ahead of time. Most sellers will not accept an offer from a potential buyer without a pre-approval.
  3. Step Three. Remain Financially Stable. It’s important during your home search not to make any major purchases, to pay all of your bills on time, and to remain as financially stable as possible. Your lender’s underwriter will be monitoring your financial activity during this time, and any major changes could raise a red flag. 
  4. Once you find a house, your REALTOR will guide you through all of the steps, from making an offer to closing.

It’s important to have a trustworthy REALTOR on your team when you’re ready to purchase a home. If you’re ready to take that first step, I’d love to chat.

3. DO YOU NEED TO HAVE 20% SAVED FOR A DOWN PAYMENT?

The idea of having a 20% down payment in the bank can make home-ownership feel unrealistic for some people. The good news is, it is absolutely possible to purchase a home with less than a 20% down payment. 

Many lenders offer 0% down payment options to first-time homebuyers and veterans, and as low as a 3% down payment requirement for other borrowers. Buyers who pay at least 20% down typically receive better interest rates, a more competitive edge in a hot market, and avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). It’s not the only way to buy a house though. I work with a variety of lenders who are able to make home-buying an option for a wide variety of people who might otherwise think homeownership is impossible for them.

Let me connect you with a lender who can assess your financial situation and help you determine what kind of mortgage and down payment works for you.

4. YOU'RE READY TO SELL YOUR HOME. WHERE SHOULD YOU START?

When you’re ready to sell your home, there are specific steps you’ll want to take to ensure a smooth process.

  1. Step One. Select a Licensed REALTOR. An experienced REALTOR with a proven track record will help you price your home appropriately, provide guidance as you prepare your house for sale, list and market your home, and guide you through the paperwork and negotiations to sell your home.
  2. Step Two. Prepare your home for sale. Your REALTOR can help suggest improvements to your home that will make it desirable for a wide pool of potential buyers. Presenting your home to buyers as a clean, well-kept space that people can envision themselves living in is of utmost importance. Your REALTOR may also suggest contractors and home stagers who can help you accomplish this. 
  3. From here, your REALTOR will help you compare offers, select the best offer, and will walk you through the inspection, remedy, and closing process, as well as help you find your next home!

If you’re thinking of listing your home, give me a call. I’d love to provide a free Home Valuation, so you have an estimate of how much your home would sell for in today’s market.

5. WHAT'S INCLUDED IN CLOSING COSTS AND WHO PAYS THEM?

Closing costs vary by county, and are different for buyers and sellers, but here is a quick breakdown of what can be included.

In Franklin County Ohio, there are typically six components to closing costs.

  1. The first is title insurance. Title insurance assures the new owner that they have legal ownership of the property. 
  2. Another closing cost is the conveyance fee. This is a tax collected by each county on the sale of every home. 
  3. The next closing cost only applies if the home you’re buying or selling is part of a homeowners’ association. If it is, you may be required to pay a fee to transfer the HOA into the new owner’s name, or pay a “buy-in” fee to join the association. The amount due at closing varies from HOA to HOA.
  4. Another line item on a sellers’ closing statement can be a home warranty. Often a seller will provide the buyer with a 12-month insurance policy that covers the cost of replacing or repairing lower out-of-pocket expenses in the event something goes wrong in the first year of ownership.
  5. Tax prorations are another component to a sellers’ closing costs. Tax prorations are based on the current assessed real market value of the property being sold and can vary widely depending on location and value of the property.
  6. The final component to a sellers’ closing costs is title processing fees. These can include things like a closing fee, title exam, funding fee, wire transfer fee, etc. It’s important to note that these are fees that each individual title agency has control over. These fees can vary widely, so it pays to get a recommendation from your trusted real estate agent or lender. While it’s your decision which title company to close with, your decision should be based on an excellent reputation for title work, service, fraud protection, and cost.

Realtor fees are not technically closing costs, but it’s important to note that these are paid by the seller, and due at the time of closing. They will appear as a separate line item on the closing statement, most commonly with half paid to the seller’s agent and half paid to the buyer’s agent.

Working closely with a reputable lender and REALTOR can help ensure that you aren’t met with any unexpected costs at closing. 

6. WHAT IMPROVEMENTS SHOULE YOU MAKE BEFORE LISTING YOUR HOME?

You’re planning to list your home, but you know it could use some sprucing up before it’s on the market. Many homeowners are tempted to do one of two extremes – do a complete renovation, or do nothing. While every home and situation is different, here are some minor improvements that typically yield a positive return on investment and can help your home sell more quickly:

  1. One: Landscape. Clean up leaves, trim dead branches, plant some flowers, mulch and mow. A little curb appeal can go a long way.
  2. Two: Deep clean. Everyone has a different definition of what clean is, but the most important thing to many buyers is that the home they are considering is clean and tidy. Consider hiring a professional house cleaner to do a deep cleaning prior to having professional photos taken and scheduling showings.
  3. Three: Neutralize. You might love a bright pop of color on the walls, but your buyers may not be able to envision their things in the space if the decor and colors are very specific to your taste. Paint walls a neutral color like cream or light gray to appeal to a wider pool of potential buyers.
  4. Four: Update the kitchen and bathrooms. These are the rooms that usually yield the highest return on investment when minor updates are done prior to listing a home. Worthwhile investments can include having the cabinets painted a fresh white, updating hardware, replacing old light fixtures, and possibly installing new counters, depending on how worn or dated they are.

When listing a home, it’s important not to under or over-improve. An experienced REALTOR can help you determine the best updates to make based on the neighborhood, price point, and your individual goals for selling your home.

7. WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO LIST/BUY A HOME?

Two questions I’m often asked by clients are, “When is the best time to list my home?” and “What is the best time of year to buy a home?” 

Historically, spring is the busiest time for real estate, since many buyers don’t want to move over the holidays, nor do they want to tour homes in cold or rainy weather. With the warmer weather comes an increased demand for homes, which can mean more demand for people selling their homes.

On the flip side, winter can be a great time to buy, since many buyers will experience less competition.

That said, the “right time” to sell or buy is unique to everyone, and depends on the local market conditions, the goals of the seller or buyer, and sometimes constraints beyond control like lease terms terms or selling contingencies.

A REALTOR with a good handle on the local market can be the best resource to help you determine when to buy or sell.

8. HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH YOUR HOUSE IS WORTH?

There are many valuation calculators and tools available to consumers to help determine how much a home should be listed for.

A home valuation is most accurately determined when you evaluate comparative home sales (called comps), the current market conditions, and by closely inspecting the condition of the home being listed. 

An experienced REALTOR has access to in-depth reports and comparative data to help you make an informed decision on a listing price for your home.

If you’re thinking of listing your home, give me a call. I’d love to provide a free Home Valuation, so you have an estimate of how much your home would sell for in today’s market.

9. SHOULD YOU GET A HOME INSPECTION?

Homebuyers often wonder … is a home inspection really necessary? While a home may look well-maintained to the average person, a home inspection can reveal costly repairs that may otherwise be overlooked by the potential buyers. Even if a buyer chooses to waive the remedies, at the very least, they have a solid understanding of any potential problems.

Inspections typically cost the buyer $300-$500, but can save them thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs.

10. WHAT IS EARNEST MONEY AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

Earnest money is a term used frequently in real estate. But it’s also a term some clients don’t fully understand, especially if they’re first-time homebuyers. So, what does it mean, exactly?

To put it simply, once a buyer and seller are in contract, the buyer pays earnest money (typically 1-3% of the purchase price) to show they are serious about the home they are purchasing. 

Earnest money protects the seller if the buyer backs out and they have to re-list the home. If the deal falls through due to a failed home inspection or any other contingencies listed in the contract, the buyer gets their earnest money back. If all goes smoothly, the earnest money is applied to the buyer’s down payment or closing costs.