The year 2014 is just a few days old, so homebuyers and sellers still have time to make some practical resolutions for the new year. And remember to stick to them in the weeks and months ahead!
- Get your financial house in order. That means paying off credit cards and other debt so that you meet your mortgage lender’s qualifications. Anything you can do to improve your credit history and raise your credit score will help you get a better interest rate.
- Save as much money as you can for a down payment. This may be difficult if you focus all your efforts on the previous resolution, but both strategies are vital to save you money over the life of your home loan.
- Look at your finances and determine how much you can afford to spend. No matter how gorgeous it may be, you’re not going to enjoy a home you can’t afford.
- Educate yourself on the real estate market where you hope to live. What neighborhoods and homes can you afford? What parks, retail districts, and other amenities are nearby? If you have children, learn as much as you can about the local schools.
- Talk with a real estate professional who is familiar with your desired community. Learn the intricacies of buying a home — the paperwork, estimated timelines, making a bid (and multiple bids), and closing a sale.
- Strategize your moving plans far in advance. Familiarize yourself with moving and storage options. Eliminating household clutter now will save you moving headaches later.
- Finish any home-improvement projects you started but haven’t completed. Maybe you can live with bare drywall panels in that extra room upstairs, but it’s a total turnoff to a prospective buyer.
- Speaking of home-improvement projects, take a look around and determine what quick fixes and changes you can make that will add value to your home. A new stove? Fresh paint in the living room? A landscaping upgrade?
- Schedule a home inspection to help get your property ready for sale and ensure there will be no surprises.
- Talk with a real estate professional who is familiar with your community. Learn what your home is worth and what strategies will help it sell quickly. Familiarize yourself with the home-selling process.
- Learn the basics of home staging. If desired, your real estate professional can refer you to a professional stager.
- Plan your exit strategy. Are you buying your next home at the same time you’re selling your current one? Familiarize yourself with moving and storage options.
(Image: Flickr/Rochelle Hartman)