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Why Finding the Right Real Estate Agent is Important

When looking to make a major decision, how prepared are you?

When buying a new car, for example, do you do extensive research on the best makes and models to find cars that have the best features and specs for the best value? Or do you just wing it and go in haphazardly?

You probably are very cautious and go about such a big decision with a lot of prudence and deliberation. The same probably goes for when you buy or sell a home. Most people rightly view buying or selling as a major life decision, one that isn’t to be taken lightly.

And yet, people often fail to show the same level of care when it comes to selecting a real estate agent!

If you’re going to go through a lot of time and effort to find the perfect home, doesn’t it also make sense to go through the same effort to find the right real estate agent? Even in today’s age of digital information, it can be extremely helpful to have the right agent by your side as you go through a wide variety of crucial steps, such as:

–          Finding the perfect home

–          Learning more about a neighborhood

–          Digesting market trends and statistics

–          Making an offer that is appropriate

–          Pricing your home competitively

–          Negotiating with a buyer or seller

–          Fixing up your home’s curb appeal

–          Timing the sale of your home to fit the market

–          Understanding the competition

–          Dealing with titles, taxes, surveys, and the like

–          Dealing with paperwork

There’s a lot that goes into buying or selling a home – too much for the average family to handle by itself, no matter how easy it is to find certain pieces of information on the Internet. After all, there’s a difference between having information and having knowledge that is actionable – and it’s the second type that you’ll need in abundance.

Thus, finding a real estate agent who is knowledgeable, smart, communicative, and reliable – who understands the market intimately – is very important for your real estate success. Go into finding the right agent the same way you would finding the perfect car or finding the best house: with care.

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First-Time Homebuyer Tips for Southwest Florida Real Estate

Buying a home for the first time? Ready to jump with both feet into the real estate market? Congratulations- buying a home can and should be incredibly fun. But it can be daunting for the uninitiated.

Fortunately, you can learn to navigate the Southwest Florida real estate market with confidence, even if it’s your first time.

Know Your Budget Before You Search

The most important thing to get nailed down first is your budget, hands down.

So many first-time homebuyers fall into the trap of buying more home than they can afford. Sure, that luxury condo looks nice, but unless it fits in with your budget, you shouldn’t buy it.

The classic rule of thumb is you should spend no more than a third of your gross annual income on housing-related expenses. Factor in mortgage payments, insurance, and maintenance and then divide by 12. That’ll give you an idea of how much you should budget for on a monthly basis.

Resist the temptation to go over that mark for any reason.

Learn the Ropes about Being a Condo Owner

If you’re buying a condo, you’ll be a member of a condo homeowner’s association, which comes with its own unique rules and regulations. Speak to condo associations and learn what you can about what is expected of you, including fees and dues. This is something many first-time homeowners overlook, and it can come back and get you later if you neglect to learn as much as you can.

Scout Out the Neighborhood

When you go to search for homes, you should pay attention to more than just the home itself.

The neighborhood will be a major influence on how you enjoy your home. This includes the community itself – especially important if you buy a condo in a gated community – but also what’s nearby. Look for schools, grocery stores, shopping, restaurants, entertainment, and easy access to transportation to get to where you work.

A lot of first-time homebuyers just look at the home itself. Don’t make that mistake; consider the home as part of a package with the neighborhood as a whole.

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Two Questions You Should Ask Your Real Estate Agent

In search of a good real estate agent to represent you? That’s a decision you shouldn’t make lightly. After all, you want a good fit – someone who will listen to your needs and wants and help you meet your real estate goals, whether you’re buying a home or selling one.

It’s important to ask questions of each prospective agent to find the right one, even those who are recommended to you by friends, family and co-workers. Here are two great questions to ask a real estate agent who you are thinking of hiring.

Do You Have References?

This is an important question to ask because you want to make sure your real estate agent is easy to work with, available, and responsive. Every agent should have available references who you can call to see what the relationship was like. You should ask these references about the agent’s personality, style, and results.

Remember: just because an agent worked well with another person doesn’t mean he or she will work well with you. So, use this chance to see if the personality of the agent meshes well with your own.

Do You Specialize in Certain Neighborhoods?

This is always a good question to ask because sometimes, you will want specific experience with a specific neighborhood. After all, neighborhoods are unique, and an agent who has worked for years in a particular area could provide expertise regarding not only homes in that neighborhood, but the families who live in them and the general lifestyle for the area.

Of course, this isn’t a requirement, but regardless of whether you’re buying or selling, having an agent who knows the ins and outs of a particular area can be advantageous when it is time to list or to make a buying decision.

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Three Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Buying a Home

Are you planning on buying a home? If so, congratulations – buying a home is a momentous occasion. Before you get too involved in the process, though, you should take the time to ask yourself a few questions, questions that can help you pick the right home and make the right decisions.

Here are three questions that every soon-to-be home-buyer should ask themselves before moving too far forward.

What Can I Afford?

Keeping your home purchase within your budget is crucial. Buying a home that you can’t really afford is a common mistake that many fall victim to, mainly because buying a home is exciting and it’s easy to get caught up in the entire process.

All of your housing costs – your mortgage, insurance, etc. – shouldn’t cost more than a third of your monthly take-home salary. If your take-home pay is $6,000 per month, for example, your housing budget would be no more than $2,000. If your take-home pay is $4,000, it would be $1,333.

What Do I Want Most in a Neighborhood?

Neighborhoods matter. When you purchase a home, you’re actually purchasing entry into a community as well. So, make sure you know what you want in a neighborhood. Do you value peace, quiet, and privacy? Or, do you want to be around others who are around the same age as you, with children similar to your own?

Amenities factor into the decision as well. Being near amenities can be a powerful factor in choosing a home.

What Is the Absolute Most I’m Willing to Pay?

This goes along with the first question, but is so important I decided to emphasize it again. Have a price and stick to it – no matter what you see or what you encounter. Having a top price that is your absolute most you will pay will save you from overpaying for a home, plus it will help you make a decision with more confidence.

Ask yourself these three questions before you get too involved in the home-buying process and you’ll be more likely to make a strong choice for your real estate future.