NEIGHBORHOOD OF THE WEEK: Summer buying season — taking the first steps

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  • TYLER WILSON/Press Even before you’re an active buyer, open houses can be a good way to get some ideas on what you want out of your next property.

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    In the early stages of a new home search, check out a few neighborhoods before individual properties. TYLER WILSON/Press

  • TYLER WILSON/Press Even before you’re an active buyer, open houses can be a good way to get some ideas on what you want out of your next property.

  • 1

    In the early stages of a new home search, check out a few neighborhoods before individual properties. TYLER WILSON/Press

If you thought the real estate market was hot already, just wait and see what summer brings.

Even in slow markets, more people think about buying and selling when the weather gets warmer. But if you’re thinking about listing your home and/or buying a new one in June, then there are things you should do before Memorial Day rolls around.

Earlier this week, I spoke to one of my go-to Realtors when it comes to good advice on buying and selling in this current market. Since I don’t play favorites at Neighborhood of the Week, I won’t reveal the person’s name, but I will share the advice for taking those first steps on the market.

1. Visit some open houses

More than simply looking around online at available inventory, walking around an open house can provide a ton of insight into the kind of home you’re looking to purchase. Go to a few each weekend, even if your current home isn’t near ready for the market yet. You likely won’t be making an offer on anything you see, but you will get a sense of the market activity and begin to develop a better sense of what you want from your next property. A real-life walkthrough is much better than glancing at pictures on a smartphone.

2. Schedule a home assessment with an agent

Assuming you’ve already selected a Realtor to help you sell your home, schedule a time for them to check out your current property. They will help you determine a good listing price for your property, which will then likely factor into the price range you’ll be looking at for your next purchase.

A big thing most good agents will say is, “A home will sell if it’s priced properly.” With all the crazy high prices out there, it’s important to determine a realistic price. Some agents like to price high and reduce later if nobody bites, and that’s fine as long as you’re willing to be patient. But many other good agents get more immediate results by targeting what a home is truly worth.

3. Ask the agent about strategies on staging, repairs

A well-staged home tends to be more appealing to buyers than homes with messes or damaged amenities. In some cases, adding new carpet or painting a few walls and doors can make a property more attractive. At the very least, you want your interiors to photograph well so people take the extra step of seeing the property beyond its listing on Realtor.com.

Agents have great experience on what will help your property vs. what might not make much difference in asking price. Ask questions, and ask your agent what has helped their previous clients most.

4. Start crunching those numbers

Once you determine a reasonable asking price for your property, you can then start comparing your cash situation against the purchase price of your next home. The Internet is littered with mortgage calculators that can help you get a broad idea of your monthly mortgage payments based on a number of scenarios, including interest rates and how much you put down on your next property.

Before you get excited about being able to afford Property X, remember that things almost always cost more than they seem. Nothing is certain until the actual numbers get crunched by a lender. But if a mortgage payment already turns out to be too expensive just by running a quick guestimate, then you should be more realistic about your buying range.

5. Pick up a little bit, you slob

Staging a home to be sold takes work, especially if you live with children who constantly want to wreck your living space with toys, art projects and sloppy food. Even if you aren’t listing your home until summer, give yourself time to pack up the clutter around the house. It takes much longer than you think.

6. Be prepared for selling fast

If your current home is priced right, there could be a situation where you sell before you even have a chance to make a proper offer. For example, in Spokane especially, existing inventory moves so fast, Realtors are telling clients not to even make offers on new homes until their current home has an accepted offer. Often times you can arrange to rent your previous home for a month or two while you search, but be prepared to stay with family or take on a short-term rental if you think there could be a gap between the sale of your current home and the purchase of a new one.

Even though this is a real possibility in a busy market, my Realtor friend says that things “tend to work out, usually.” Since “usually” definitely doesn’t mean “always,” be prepared to be the exception.

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Let us know about standout neighborhoods and developments to feature in an upcoming Neighborhood of the Week. Contact Tyler Wilson at twilson@cdapress.com.

Real Estate Agents, take advantage of Neighborhood of the Week by sending in your suggestions for featured areas, including sites outside the confines of Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum and Hayden.

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