Articles to Help YOU with Buying or Selling a Home Provided by Robb Spearman, RE/MAX West Des Moines Iowa Real Estate

May 8, 2017

Home Buying in Six Steps


1) Get Ready for Home Ownership

  • Build a good credit history
  • Get mortgage pre-approval
  • Find out what type of mortgages you quality for
  • Consider hiring an attorney to review all contracts and agreements associated with the home buying process
  • Save up for a down payment (typically 10-20% of property’s value; if FHA-qualified, then possibly less)
  • Consider closing costs which can include taxes, attorney’s fees, and transfer fees
  • Consider utilities and monthly bills, such as homeowner's assessments

2) Find a Real Estate Professional

  • Get a referral from friends, family, and work colleagues, or search® and look for real estate yard signs and advertisements
  • Ask the real estate professionals you interview about buyer's representation contracts and agreements; make sure you understand the terms
  • Explain your needs and expectations to the real estate professional you choose to work with

3) Find the Right Property

  • Determine what is important to you, such as particular schools, neighborhood amenities, monthly mortgage payment, public transportation, walkability, etc.
  • Make sure you include home owner’s assessments, utilities, and taxes when calculating the monthly mortgage payment

4) Finance the Property

  • Contact your mortgage broker or lender
  • The lender or attorney will run a title search to ensure there are no clouds on the title
  • Make sure you understand the financing terms—ask the lender for clarification, if needed

5) Make an Offer

  • Ensure the property is inspected by a licensed home inspector
  • Acquire title insurance
  • Make sure the title is clear, or make your offer contingent upon title clearance
  • Read all contracts before signing—make sure you understand all of the terms, ask questions
  • Place a competitive bid and be prepared to make a counter-offer
  • Keep your credit score stable and in-check by waiting to purchase any big-ticket items until long after the closing
  • Only one offer will result in a sale, so be prepared to move on if your offer is not accepted

6) Closing and Life After the Big Purchase

  • Protect your new asset by obtaining insurance such as homeowner’s, flood, disaster, and fire
  • Weatherproof your new home
  • Maintain files—digital or print—for all warranties, insurance documents, contracts, etc.
  • Keep original closing documents in a safe place, preferably outside the home (such as a safety deposit box)
  • Set up utilities bills in your name, maintain files
  • Implement desired aesthetic changes such as painting, minor construction, and re-flooring
  • Set a move date and hire movers or plan a move party with your friends
  • Get to know your neighbors and explore your new neighborhood
  • If you're happy with the work of your real estate professional, be sure to recommend her/him to friends and family
May 8, 2017

5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Working to get your home ship-shape for showings will increase its value and shorten your sales time.

Many buyers today want move-in-ready homes and will quickly eliminate an otherwise great home by focusing on a few visible flaws. Unless your home shines, you may endure showing after showing and open house after open house — and end up with a lower sales price. Before the first prospect walks through your door, consider some smart options for casting your home in its best light.

1.  Have a Home Inspection

Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. For $250 to $400, an inspector will warn you about troubles that could make potential buyers balk. Make repairs before putting your home on the market. In some states, you may have to disclose what the inspection turns up.

2.  Get Replacement Estimates

If your home inspection uncovers necessary repairs you can’t fund, get estimates for the work. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home and the repairs. Also hunt down warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for your furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items you expect to remain with the house.

3.  Make Minor Repairs

Not every repair costs a bundle. Fix as many small problems — sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, dripping faucets — as you can. These may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression your house isn’t well maintained.

4.  Clear the Clutter

Clear your kitchen counters of just about everything. Clean your closets by packing up little-used items like out-of-season clothes and old toys. Install closet organizers to maximize space. Put at least one-third of your furniture in storage, especially large pieces, such as entertainment centers and big televisions. Pack up family photos, knickknacks, and wall hangings to depersonalize your home. Store the items you’ve packed offsite or in boxes neatly arranged in your garage or basement.

5.  Do a Thorough Cleaning

A clean house makes a strong first impression that your home has been well cared for. If you can afford it, consider hiring a cleaning service.

If not, wash windows and leave them open to air out your rooms. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Wash light fixtures and baseboards, mop and wax floors, and give your stove and refrigerator a thorough once-over.

Pay attention to details, too. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, clean inside the cabinets, and polish doorknobs. Don’t forget to clean your garage, too.


March 17, 2016

Home Inspection Before You List Your Home

Consider having your home inspected before you list it. In doing this, you will learn if there are any major repairs needed and can address them before the house goes on the market. This also shows the buyers and their agent that you have been proactive.

When it comes to finding the right home inspector, your RE/MAX agent is a great source for recommending someone. Once the inspection is completed, you will be able to determine the next steps in preparing your home for sale.


Things to think about

  • What year was your house built?
  • Do your lights flicker, or breakers or fuses blow?
  • Do you have a fuse box or electrical panel?
  • Do you have aluminum wiring, or knob and tube?
  • What condition is your plumbing in?
  • How old is your furnace?
  • How often do you replace your furnace filters?
  • Do you have a water softener?
  • Is your roof in good condition?
  • Are your windows in good condition?
  • What condition is your foundation in?
  • If you have a deck or patio, what condition are they in?
  • Do you have any water problems?
  • Have you had problems with mold and mildew?
March 17, 2016

Pre-Packing Before You List Your Home for Sale

Your house needs to be neat, clean and orderly in preparing it for sale. Organizing and pre-packing items that are not regularly used will create a spacious feeling. Storage is one of the top items on a buyer’s list; therefore it’s necessary to show that your home has the space desired. 

Things to think about

Does each room in your house feel spacious?

Is your house clean from top to bottom?

Pre-pack all items that you do not need while selling your house

Pre-pack off-season clothing and items

Decide where you can store your boxes and extra items How does your garage look?

If your basement is unfinished and used for storage, how does it look?

March 15, 2016

Before You Sell Your Home - Flooring

Flooring is very important in preparing your home for sale. Buyers want a home that is move-in ready, and the flooring will reveal how well the home has been maintained. Up-to-date flooring is one of the most attractive features for buyers. 

Things to think about

  • What condition is your carpet in?
  • What color is the carpet?
  • What style is your carpet – Cut pile or Berber?
  • Take into consideration the rooms you are carpeting, as this will help determine what style to select.
  • If you need to replace your carpet, do you need to re-do every room?
  • If not, select something that will work with rest of the carpet in the house.
  • What style of vinyl flooring do you have?
  • Does it need to be replaced?
  • Do you have hardwood?
  • Does it need to be refinished?
  • Do you have hardwood under your carpet?


March 14, 2016

Curb Appeal Winter When Selling Your Home

Your exterior says a lot about how your home is maintained both inside and out. It creates a lasting impression when buyers drive by your home or view photos online, so show them that your property is well cared for. When buyers see an attractive exterior, they will be excited to view the interior as well. 

Things to think about

  • What major repairs are needed?
  • What minor repairs are needed?
  • Make a list of what needs to be done Sweep or shovel walkways, driveways, patio/deck (salt in the winter)
  • Maintain front, back and side yard
  • Place flowers or winter arrangements on your front porch and/or in front of the garage
  • Remove all festive lights and decorations
March 13, 2016

Before You Sell Your Home - Paint

Buyers want to purchase a home that is move-in ready, and this includes the paint color. If your house is painted in very bright or unusual colors, potential buyers may be turned off or feel they can negotiate on your asking price. Neutral colors are restful to the eye, and most buyers want to live in the home awhile before deciding if they want to change the paint color.

Things to think about

  • When was the last time you painted your house?
  • Do your walls need to be painted a neutral color?
  • If they are already neutral do they need a fresh coat of paint?
  • Determine whether or not your house has a warm tone or cool tone before selecting your paint color
  • Do you have wallpaper?
  • Remove all wallpaper and paint a neutral color
  • Do your doors and trim need a fresh coat of paint?
  • Repair any holes or cracks in the walls and ceilings
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling to give the entire room a clean look
March 12, 2016

Depersonalize Your Home to Sell

“Depersonalizing” is an important step in selling your home. Since you’ve made the decision to move, you need to commit yourself and remove your identity from the house. You need to let go emotionally, and this can be a tough process. Focus on turning your home into a ”model home.” By disconnecting yourself from your house, you enable prospective buyers to emotionally connect and envision themselves living there – and not feel as if they are guests in your home. 

Things to think about

  • Remove all personal and family photos
  • Remove all memorabilia
  • Pre-pack books and music that do not appeal to a wide range of buyers
  • Pre-pack your collections
  • Remove and pre-pack any items that could be potentially offensive or disagreeable
  • Store away and organize children’s toys, games and books
March 11, 2016

Prepare Main Selling Rooms

Buyers want to fulfill a wish list, not a to-do list. When they see a bunch of fix-up projects when walking into your house, they’ll turn away faster than you can say “water damage.”Oftentimes it’s not one big thing, but a lot of little things that turn buyers away. If there are problems and a significant to-do list, your house will drop to the bottom of their list, or attract an offer much less than what you’re looking for. Present buyers with a complete package that is move-in ready – a home they can be comfortable and happy in. 

Things to think about

Front Entrance
  • How do the rooms look from where you are standing?
  • Does your entrance feel spacious?
  • How does the kitchen look and feel when you walk into it?
  • Determine what needs to be done if your kitchen requires some updating How do your cupboards look?
Living Room
  • Does this room feel inviting?
  • How is your furniture positioned?
  • Are there any repairs or upgrades needed in this room?
Dining Room
  • Does this room show its function?
  • Are there any upgrades or repairs needed?
  • How is the furniture positioned?
Main Floor Family Room
  • What is the focal point in this room?
  • Is it apparent?
  • Are there any upgrades or repairs needed?
  • How is the furniture positioned?
Master Bedroom
  • Do you feel calm walking into this room?
  • How is your furniture positioned?
  • Are there any updates or repairs needed?
Master Bathroom
  • Are there any updates or repairs needed?
  • Do you feel relaxed when you walk into this room? 
March 10, 2016

Update and Repairs Before You Sell

Take an objective look at your house to determine what updates and repairs are necessary. Establish a timeline and budget to determine what needs to be completed to improve the overall presentation of your home. Buyers today are looking to purchase a home that does not require work. They are also willing to pay more for a house that has been taken care of, so show them that your home is in turn-key condition.

Things to think about

  • What is your timeline and budget?
  • What updates have you been putting off?
  • What repairs are needed?
  • Repair or replace even the smallest items
  • What condition are your windows in?
  • What condition are your permanent light fixtures in?
  • What condition are your doors and trim in?
  • Do you have any holes or cracks in your walls?