Tips

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Selling

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  • Make high-return improvements to your home before you sell. There are a number of improvements that you can make to your house that will provide a greater-than-100% return on your initial investment. Chief among these is having your house painted, but you should also consider kitchen and bathroom renovations, adding fireplaces and skylights, and attic or basement conversions. Contrary to popular belief, building a swimming pool is not a good capital investment, and will usually only add 33% of its cost to your home's final sale price.
 
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  • Don't buy your new home until you have sold your current home. This is generally sound advice unless you live in an extremely hot market and your Realtor is sure you'll be able to sell your home quickly. Timing is crucial, so start working with your agent to find a new home as soon as yours is listed. With a little bit of luck, the day you accept an offer on your home, you'll be able to make an offer on a new home and close both deals on the same day. At worst, you may have to live in a rental for a couple of months, but most people agree that moving twice is preferable to being stuck with two mortgage payments!
     

Buying and Selling

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  • Understand the process.Buying real estate is a complex matter and can be especially confusing for the first-time homebuyer. Do yourself a favor and learn as much about the process as you can before you begin. There are plenty of resources on the Internet, and most real estate offices will have pamphlets to explain things in plain language. You may also be able to research the real estate process by attending community-sponsored classes, or you can take a look at books like Home Buying For Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown, (IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.)
 
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  • Let your agent know what you expect.It's up to you to tell your agent what you want and how you want to be involved in the home search process. Some buyers prefer their agents to handpick properties for their consideration; others want to receive the hotsheets on a daily basis so they can comb through the new listings themselves. You should listen to your Realtor's advice, but always remember that you're the boss. And speaking of bosses, it's a good idea for ALL decision-makers to visit the properties your Realtor shows you.
 
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  • Don't buy your new home until you have sold your current home. This is generally sound advice unless you live in an extremely hot market and your Realtor is sure you'll be able to sell your home quickly. Timing is crucial, so start working with your agent to find a new home as soon as yours is listed. With a little bit of luck, the day you accept an offer on your home, you'll be able to make an offer on a new home and close both deals on the same day. At worst, you may have to live in a rental for a couple of months, but most people agree that moving twice is preferable to being stuck with two mortgage payments!