Have you ever visited someone’s home and thought to yourself, “Their living room seems really cluttered” or “Those counter tops look like they haven’t been updated since the 1960s!”

Many people quickly notice decorating flaws or home maintenance issues in other people’s houses, but when it comes to their own homes — well, that’s another story!

Why is that the case? Two reasons: You’re emotionally attached to your own home environment and you’re also “too close to the trees to see the forest.” It’s hard to step back and see your home through a fresh set of eyes — which is exactly the way prospective buyers are going to look it.

Curb appeal — or a lack, thereof– will be the first thing they notice, followed by positive or negative first impressions of your home’s interior — if they get that far! So if you’re preparing to put your home on the market, you don’t want to be like the person who tries to represent themselves in court. As Abraham Lincoln once said, they have “a fool for a client!”

Since first impressions are so vital when selling your house, it makes sense to confer with someone who really knows the ropes when it comes to home staging. Typically, that would be one of the following professionals:

  • An experienced real estate agent: Real estate agents are in the business of helping people sell their homes as quickly and profitably as possible — it’s a win/win situation. In all likelihood, they’ve conducted hundreds of house tours and listened to a massive amount of feedback from prospective buyers. One thing they’ve invariably noticed is that a lot of people react the same way to the same issues. Based on experience and a trained eye, most real estate agents can quickly spot and point out cost-effective ways to make your home more marketable and visually appealing.
  • A professional home stager: Although not all communities have access to professional home stagers, there are talented and knowledgeable experts in that field who can offer valuable advice. If you’re working with an experienced real estate agent, however, it probably would not be necessary to pay extra to hire a professional staging consultant.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median amount of money spent on staging a home is $675, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be ultra-expensive. In a survey of its membership, Realtors ranked living rooms and kitchens as the most important rooms to stage. Also considered important are the master bedroom, dining room, and bathrooms.

Thirty seven percent of Realtors® representing sellers believe that buyers most often offer a 1 to 5 percent increase on the value of a staged home. A smaller percentage say the potential increase is in the neighborhood of 6% to 10%. However you look at it, you’re tipping the scales in your direction when you make your home look its best prior to putting it up for sale.

As a homebuyer, entering the real estate market with insights into what it takes to find the perfect house is essential.

Becoming an expert homebuyer, however, may seem impossible at times. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to make your homeownership dreams come true.

What does it take to become an expert homebuyer? Here are three tips to help you do just that.

1. Look at Real Estate Market Trends

The housing market ebbs and flows. Therefore, a seller’s market today may transform into a buyer’s market tomorrow.

Ultimately, the real estate market fluctuates constantly, and you’ll want to learn as much as possible about the housing sector to ensure you can map out your homebuying journey accordingly.

In a buyer’s market, there are usually more home sellers than buyers. This means homebuyers may be better equipped than ever before to secure a top-notch house at a budget-friendly price.

On the other hand, a seller’s market features an abundance of homebuyers and a shortage of sellers. For homebuyers who operate in a seller’s market, they may be forced to submit competitive offers on homes quickly, or risk missing out on a dream residence to a rival.

When you study the housing market, don’t forget to check out the prices of residences that recently sold. By doing so, you can gain a better understanding of how much you’ll likely need to pay to acquire a first-rate house based on the current state of the housing market.

2. Learn How a Mortgage Works

What differentiates a fixed-rate mortgage from an adjustable-rate option? An expert homebuyer will know the ins and outs of assorted mortgage options and select one that corresponds to his or her finances.

To learn about mortgages and how they work, you’ll want to meet with credit unions and banks. These lenders can describe the different types of mortgages and the pros and cons associated with them.

Also, an expert homebuyer will get pre-approved for a mortgage. With a mortgage in hand, this homebuyer will be able to stick to a price range as he or she searches for the ideal home.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

Let’s face it – no homebuyer can afford to make mistakes. Fortunately, you can work with a real estate agent to receive expert guidance as you navigate the homebuying journey.

A real estate agent boasts the skills and know-how needed to streamline the homebuying process. He or she may have many years of housing market experience and is happy to teach you about the opportunities and challenges associated with buying a house.

Furthermore, a real estate agent will help you accelerate the homebuying cycle. He or she can set up home showings, negotiate with home sellers on your behalf and much more. That way, you can focus on what’s important – finding a terrific house at an affordable price.

Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can become an expert homebuyer.

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