New Year’s Resolutions in the Real Estate Arena

Every year right after the holidays the phones in the real estate offices start to ring off the hook. We call this the “the gym” effect. Right after New Year’s the gym is packed with people who have resolved to lose wight or get in shape, but as time goes on that crowd thins out and fewer and fewer people make the trip to the gym. The same is true in the world of real estate. At the beginning of the year, people are giddy with the thought of buying their first home or selling (and buying their second) or looking for an investment. But as the initial excitement wears off and the day to day responsibilities take their toll, a lot of folks lose sight of their real estate goals throughout the year. So in an effort to help you keep your real estate goals and actually complete your purchase or sale depending on your situation, here are a few guidelines.

If you plan to buy this year, here are few steps to add to your purchase plan:

  1. Get Pre-Approved: This is an absolute must and it needs to be your first step. How will you know what to look at if you have no idea what you can afford? Additionally talking to a lender ahead of time can you alert you to any issues that might be on your credit report allowing you time to correct any blemishes prior to submitting an offer.
  2. Think About How You Want to Live in Your House: Do you like to cook? Do you like to entertain? Will you be working from home? Do you need a quiet place to read? Do you need a place for a crafts or woodworking? Do you like to garden? Do you travel a lot and need a carefree oasis with little upkeep? The house you buy will affect the life you live. To make sure you are on the right track, it is a good idea to make a list of what you need in a new home.
  3. Look At a Lot of Pictures: Once you understand what you are looking for in a new home, it is important to check out the inventory in your area so you know what to expect. You can start by looking online. Pictures can’t tell you everything about a house, but searching online is a necessary early step and will help you stay on top of the all the inventory coming on the market. There are lots of websites out there that provide free access to listing inventory but real estate agents can give you direct access to the MLS and can set up a search that matches your criteria exactly and notifies you when a listing matching your criteria hits the market.
  4. Go to some Open Houses: Open Houses may not be the way that you ultimately purchase a home, but it does give you a good sense of the neighborhood and it’s a great place to meet people who already live in the area. Open Houses are generally held on Sundays between 12-4PM.
  5. Find a Buyer’s Agent: A Buyer’s Agent can save you time, effort and money. A Buyer’s Agent works for the buyer but is paid by the Seller’s Agent. There is no cost to the buyer for working with a Buyer’s Agent. It is important that you trust your Buyer’s Agent as you will be spending a lot of time together and your agent will be handling very important negotiations on your behalf . So make sure to conduct a thorough interview before selecting someone to represent your interests.

If you plan to sell this year, here are few steps to add to your sale plan.

  1. Go to Neighborhood Open Houses: This serves two purposes: One it is important to see what your competition is. Two: it is important to listen to what others are saying about the property. Getting your house ready to sell can be very daunting but it is important that it is “Show Ready” the day it hits the market. When you go to an open house, you see what people are doing to get the house ready and you hear how buyers are responding to the presentation of the home.
  2. Start Cleaning and Packing Now: Even if you don’t plan to sell until the Summer or Fall, start getting your house ready now. It is never too early to start cleaning closets, giving items to charity and having yard sales. Remember your ultimate goal is to pack and move. Getting a head start now will save you lots of time an energy later and will make your home more appealing to buyers in the meantime.
  3. Complete the Unfinished Projects: It’s time to get to work on the all the little projects that you intended to do for yourself. For instance, if you ripped up the carpet in the bedroom, but never got around to re-finishing the floor, now is the time to complete that project. Updating light fixtures, painting baseboards, painting the flaking paint around the exterior windows. All of those little projects need to be taken care of. Buyers have a lot of choices these days and they are not willing to take on anyone else’s problems.
  4. Visit Property Websites: Many real estate companies have elaborate web sites displaying their properties. By visiting company websites you can get an idea of how a company presents it’s listings and what kind of marketing they do. You can see an example of how our team markets on our listings page + check out Circa’s listing pages. Your home will get double exposure.
  5. Find a Seller’s Agent: When the time is right you are going to need some help listing the property. A Seller’s Agent can be your guide through the entire sale process. Seller’s agents offer advice on cleaning, staging and pricing. Once the initial process is taken care of, seller’s agents do all the marketing necessary to get your house noticed and shown and then when the offer comes in they help you negotiate the contract and manage the all the details required to close.

If you plan to buy an investment property this year, here are few steps to add to your investment plan:

  1. Make a Plan: What does your investment business look like? Do you want to purchase houses that need work, rehab them and sell? Or are you planning to make long term investments by buying and holding multi-families? Define your area. Are you only interested in St. Louis City or will you look in other municipalities. Write down your plan and your goals for the year. And make steady progress. Don’t deviate or get distracted by the next “Great Opportunity.” Fortune favors the prepared, know what you are looking for so that when that opportunity pops up, you can jump on it.
  2. Educate Yourself: If you are new to investing, it is important to learn from others. You can do this through investment books, blogs and joining groups. It is also important to become familiar with the area where you are planning to invest. What are home sale prices? Market rents? What are the average days on market?
  3. Assemble a Team: If you are planning to become a real estate investor, it is important to assemble a team. You will need a Realtor, a lender, an accountant and several good contractors. Even before you head out there to look at property, it is important to have the team in place. Start interviewing now!

Whatever your real estate goals are this year,  know that you can accomplish them with slow and steady progress. Writing down your goals and breaking them into action steps is a great first step.

Happy New Year and Here’s to a Successful Year!