5 Tips for Homebuyers Who Want to Make a Competitive Offer

Today’s real estate market has high buyer interest and low housing inventory. With so many buyers competing for a limited number of homes, it’s more important than ever to know the ins and outs of making a confident and competitive offer. Here are five keys to success for this important stage in the homebuying process.

1. Listen to Your Real Estate Agent

A recent article from Freddie Mac offers guidance on making an offer on a home in today’s market. Right off the bat, it points out how emotional this can be for buyers and why trusted professionals can help you stay focused on the most important things:

“Remember to let your homebuying team guide you on your journey, not your emotions. Their support and expertise will keep you from compromising on your must-haves and future financial stability.”

Your real estate professional should be your primary source for answers to the questions you have when you’re ready to make an offer.

2. Understand Your Finances

Having a complete understanding of your budget and how much house you can afford is essential. The best way to know this is to reach out to your lender to get pre-approved for a loan early in the homebuying process. Only 44% of today’s prospective homebuyers are planning to apply for pre-approval, so be sure to take this step so you stand out from the crowd. It shows sellers you’re a serious, qualified buyer and can give you a competitive edge if you enter a bidding war.

3. Be Ready to Move Quickly

According to the Realtors Confidence Index, published monthly by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average property being sold today is receiving more than three offers and is only on the market for a few weeks. These are both results of today’s competitive market, showing how important it is to stay agile and vigilant in your search. As soon as you find the right home for your needs, be prepared to work with your agent to submit an offer as quickly as possible.

4. Make a Fair Offer

It’s only natural to want the best deal you can get on a home. However, Freddie Mac also warns that submitting an offer that’s too low can lead sellers to doubt how serious you are as a buyer. Don’t submit an offer that will be tossed out as soon as it’s received. The expertise your agent brings to this part of the process will help you stay competitive:

“Your agent will work with you to make an informed offer based on the market value of the home, the condition of the home and recent home sale prices in the area.”

5. Be a Flexible Negotiator

After submitting an offer, the seller may accept it, reject it, or counter it with their own changes. In a competitive market, it’s important to stay nimble throughout the negotiation process. Your position can be strengthened with an offer that includes flexible move-in dates, a higher price, or minimal contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). There are, however, certain contingencies you don’t want to forego. Freddie Mac explains:

Resist the temptation to waive the inspection contingency, especially in a hot market or if the home is being sold ‘as-is’, which means the seller won’t pay for repairs. Without an inspection contingency, you could be stuck with a contract on a house you can’t afford to fix.”

Bottom Line

Today’s competitive market makes it more important than ever to make a strong offer on a home, and a trusted expert can help you rise to the top along the way.

5 Tips for Homebuyers Who Want to Make a Competitive Offer

Today’s real estate market has high buyer interest and low housing inventory. With so many buyers competing for a limited number of homes, it’s more important than ever to know the ins and outs of making a confident and competitive offer. Here are five keys to success for this important stage in the homebuying process.

1. Listen to Your Real Estate Agent

A recent article from Freddie Mac offers guidance on making an offer on a home in today’s market. Right off the bat, it points out how emotional this can be for buyers and why trusted professionals can help you stay focused on the most important things:

“Remember to let your homebuying team guide you on your journey, not your emotions. Their support and expertise will keep you from compromising on your must-haves and future financial stability.”

Your real estate professional should be your primary source for answers to the questions you have when you’re ready to make an offer.

2. Understand Your Finances

Having a complete understanding of your budget and how much house you can afford is essential. The best way to know this is to reach out to your lender to get pre-approved for a loan early in the homebuying process. Only 44% of today’s prospective homebuyers are planning to apply for pre-approval, so be sure to take this step so you stand out from the crowd. It shows sellers you’re a serious, qualified buyer and can give you a competitive edge if you enter a bidding war.

3. Be Ready to Move Quickly

According to the Realtors Confidence Index, published monthly by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average property being sold today is receiving more than three offers and is only on the market for a few weeks. These are both results of today’s competitive market, showing how important it is to stay agile and vigilant in your search. As soon as you find the right home for your needs, be prepared to work with your agent to submit an offer as quickly as possible.

4. Make a Fair Offer

It’s only natural to want the best deal you can get on a home. However, Freddie Mac also warns that submitting an offer that’s too low can lead sellers to doubt how serious you are as a buyer. Don’t submit an offer that will be tossed out as soon as it’s received. The expertise your agent brings to this part of the process will help you stay competitive:

“Your agent will work with you to make an informed offer based on the market value of the home, the condition of the home and recent home sale prices in the area.”

5. Be a Flexible Negotiator

After submitting an offer, the seller may accept it, reject it, or counter it with their own changes. In a competitive market, it’s important to stay nimble throughout the negotiation process. Your position can be strengthened with an offer that includes flexible move-in dates, a higher price, or minimal contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). There are, however, certain contingencies you don’t want to forego. Freddie Mac explains:

Resist the temptation to waive the inspection contingency, especially in a hot market or if the home is being sold ‘as-is’, which means the seller won’t pay for repairs. Without an inspection contingency, you could be stuck with a contract on a house you can’t afford to fix.”

Bottom Line

Today’s competitive market makes it more important than ever to make a strong offer on a home, and a trusted expert can help you rise to the top along the way.

Household Items You Should Sell and Not Throw Out

A cleaning binge or a simple walk through your house can turn up all kinds of items that you may want to toss in the garbage. Throwing them away, however, could be like throwing money away.

With a little effort, you could sell various household items online, at local consignment shops or during a garage sale, among other options. Below are some used items that probably take up extra space in your home, but could net you some cash:

Electronics
Old cellphones, computers, tablets and other electronic devices can have too short a lifespan and fill up a drawer or clutter a room fast.

Websites such as Amazon, Gazelle and Decluttr buy old electronics, possibly paying $100 or so to help you buy the next gadget you want. To get the best price, cellphones should be in working order with no major cracks or other damage and with only some light wear and tear.

Books
If youre not attached to your books and keep too many around the house, it can be worthwhile to try to sell them at your local bookstore. You might not get much money for them, but finding them a new home will help declutter your house and give you some cash to buy a new book to read. Consider having your children bring their old books, too.

Some books can bring in some real money. Textbooks, first editions and volumes from popular authors can be sold on Amazon, Decluttr and other places online. To find the best price for your books, try BookScouter. It searches dozens of buyback vendors to find the best price for a specific book you want to sell.

Appliances
If youre looking to upgrade your home appliances, try selling your old ones on Craigslist or eBay. Landlords in your area may be looking for affordable appliances that will be used in student housing, or new homeowners may be looking for a deal.

Toys
Craigslist and eBay are also good places to sell used toys, but a garage sale may be your best bet. No matter what route you choose, be sure to get your kids permission first.

Clothing and Accessories
Instead of giving away your old clothes and accessories to a thrift store, which is still a good idea if its a charity, you may be able to make some cash by selling them.

Popular accessories, such as designer handbags, that you no longer want can still be desirable to other potential buyers. For example, the website Bag Borrow or Steal verifies that handbags are authentic designer items (not knockoffs), and will either buy them outright from you or consign them.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

A 10-Point Guide to Healthy Meals

Most everyone knows a healthy diet is important for a healthy body. But eating the right foods every day might be easier said than done”especially with so much tempting junk food available! If youre looking to improve your diet, start by making some small changes and learning the keys to healthy eating.

Try to include all the major food groups”fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein”as part of your meals and snacks daily. Youll also want to limit added sugars, saturated fat and sodium. For further guidance, check out these 10 tips from ChooseMyPlate.gov for building healthy meals and meeting your eating needs throughout the day:

1. Make half your plate veggies and fruits. Vegetables and fruits are full of nutrients that support good health. Choose fruits and red, orange and dark-green vegetables, such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli.

2. Include whole grains. Aim to make at least half your grains whole grains. Look for food labels indicating the product is 100-percent whole grain or whole wheat. Whole grains provide more nutrients, including fiber, than refined grains do.

3. Dont forget the dairy. Complete your meal with a cup of fat-free or low-fat milk. Youll get the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk but fewer calories. Dont drink milk? Try drinking soymilk or include low-fat yogurt in your meal or snack.

4. Add lean protein. Choose proteins such as lean beef, pork, chicken or turkey, as well as eggs, nuts, beans or tofu. Twice a week, try to make seafood the protein on your plate.

5. Avoid extra fat. Using heavy gravies or sauces will add fat and calories to otherwise healthy choices. Try steamed broccoli with a sprinkling of low-fat parmesan cheese or a squeeze of lemon.

6. Get creative in the kitchen. Whether youre making a sandwich, stir-fry or casserole, find ways to make them healthier. Try using less meat and cheese, which can be higher in saturated fat and sodium, and including more veggies that add new flavors and textures to your meals.

7. Take control of your food. Eat at home more often so you know exactly what youre eating. If you eat out, check and compare the nutrition information. Choose options that are lower in calories, saturated fat and sodium.

8. Try new foods. Keep it interesting by picking out new foods youve never tried before, such as mango, lentils, quinoa, kale or sardines. You may find a new favorite! Trade fun and tasty recipes with friends, or find some online.

9. Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way. Indulge in a naturally sweet dessert dish”fruit! Serve a fresh fruit salad or a fruit parfait made with yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top them with cinnamon.

10. Remember that everything you eat and drink matters. The right mix of foods in your meals and snacks can help you be healthier now and into the future. Small, practical changes in how you eat can improve your diet and add up to big wins over time.

Published with permission from RISMedia.