What to Do Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

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If you’re new to the home buying and selling process, you might think that your real estate agent will handle everything. While they will certainly be your right hand throughout the transaction, there are some steps you can and should take before hiring your real estate guru. Check out the following tips.

Buyer’s Guide

Take a Course

If this is your first time buying a home, or it’s been a while, you could really benefit from taking a homebuyers education course so that you know what to expect. The course will cover topics such as applying for a mortgage, the importance of your credit score, costs you’ll incur, and how to work with a real estate agent. Some classes are free while others charge a small fee, but the information and knowledge you take away is invaluable. Do a search online to find an online or in-person course, or ask an agent in your area for recommendations. 

Get Your Documents In Order

Before you apply for a mortgage, there are a couple of things you can do to prepare, including gathering important documents. Getting mortgage pre-approval requires more than simply filling out an application; the lender will want to see documents that accurately portray your financial position, such as bank statements and two years’ worth of tax information. You’ll also need to provide your credit score. Work on improving it if necessary by paying off credit cards, miscellaneous bills, and making bill payments on time. Once you’ve gathered the right documents and improved your credit, you’re ready to apply for a mortgage. Shop around before deciding on a lender, and go into it knowing how much home you can comfortably afford (if you aren’t sure, check out one of the many available home calculators online).

Seller’s Guide

Clean and Declutter

Home showings won’t always be scheduled with days to prepare; sometimes, you might only have a few hours to tidy up and get out the door. To avoid a last-minute scramble, take a day or the weekend to clean your home from top to bottom. If you don’t have time to complete a deep cleaning of your home, opt to spend the money on a professional

Doing a huge, initial clean provides you with the framework for a quick tidy-up before a showing. Create a checklist to go by before you leave so that you can remember to turn on the lights, take out the trash, make beds, put away the dishes, etc. In addition to cleaning, you’ll also want to declutter and de-personalize so that potential buyers can get a feel for what their life will look like in your home. Put away personal items such as photos and knick knacks, and use this as an opportunity to get rid of stuff you don’t want, use, or need.

Hold Off on Major Improvements

If you want to get ahead of the game, focus on making small improvements to the exterior of your home by adding curb appeal. Clean the windows to let in natural light, repaint doors and shutters, apply fresh stain to the porch, and make sure your yard is looking its best. If you’re not sure what to focus on, have a look at local listings to get an idea of how other homeowners in your area are tackling curb appeal. You may be tempted to make major home improvements to up your resale value, however, talk to your real estate agent first as they will be able to advise you on what improvements will recoup the costs. Both buying and selling a home requires many steps, and your agent is there to assist you every step of the way. However, there are steps you can take before hiring a real estate agent. Buyers can take an educational course and sort through financial documents, while sellers can get their home showing-ready and add curb appeal to make a good first impression.