Questions to ask at an Open House or Showing

By Maddie Ogden

Open houses and house showings can be overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers. It is the first opportunity for you to see your potential new home. While these events are exciting, it is also the perfect time for you to ask important questions about the house.

You may be wondering, what sort of questions should I be asking? That is exactly what we are here for! Here are some questions you should ask both before and during an open house.

Questions to ask before the Open House or Showing

  1. How long has the house been on the market?
  2. Have there been any price reductions?
  3. Is it vacant? If so, how long has it been vacant?

Go over the following questions with your chosen real estate agent since they can be indicators of how desirable the property is.

  1. Why are the owners selling?
  2. Have there been any offers?
  3. When does the seller want to move?

Questions about the sellers expectations are also important to go over with your chosen real estate agent before an open house or showing. The answers to these questions hint at what the negotiation process will be like and how quickly the seller wants to close.

Questions to Ask During the Open House or Showing

  1. What are the house’s biggest problems?
  2. Has the house been tested for mold, radon, lead, and/or asbestos?
  3. When was the last time the roof was replaced?
  4. Is the house in a flood zone?
  5. How much do the utilities cost?

If you are seriously interested in purchasing the property, here is additional information about the community you may want to know. The answers to these questions will help finalize your decision to make an offer.

  1. What is the neighborhood like?
  2. What’s within walking and driving distance?
  3. Is there a Homeowner’s Association?
  4. What is the crime rate in the neighborhood?
  5. Where can I get information on the local schools?

Knowing information about the neighborhood is just as important as knowing information about the house.  If you don’t like the neighborhood the house is in, then chances are you will not be satisfied with the house.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making Your Offer

  1. Will my furniture fit here?
  2. What’s the cell signal like?
  3. What updates would I make, if any?
  4. Can I picture this house becoming my home?

Open houses and showings are an excellent way to gather information about a particular home that has caught your interest. Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide whether a house is right for you, or not.  We are here to help you find a home that is a perfect match for you!

Mortgages and Credit Repair

Mortgages and Credit Repair

Buying a home is a major purchase and having bad credit is an obstacle. Your ability to obtain a mortgage is contingent on your credit score, employment, and overall financial picture, often heavily influenced by your FICO score. Your FICO score will influence your interest rate and subsequently your loan payments. However, if your credit isn’t perfect at this time, don’t let this deter your goal of buying a home. Instead, the desire to purchase a home can be a motivator to attend to your credit repair.

In a competitive Real Estate market, home sellers and REALTORS®, will be unlikely to consider your offer if it doesn’t include a pre-approval letter from your Mortgage Lender. Before you make your offer, improving your credit score can greatly affect the interest rate of your mortgage loan and ultimately the cost of your new home. We recommend embarking on a credit repair at least one year before you are ready to make an offer on a property. Talk with your REALTOR® to help you locate a great Lender that will work with you to repair your credit history.

Likely you will want to consider a twofold approach:

1) Dispute any negative information on your report; and

2) Rebuild positive credit and good financial habits moving forward. 

The following are tips for improving your credit score:

  • Pay your bills on time. Set up payment reminders to ensure you pay all your bills on time. Missing credit payments is one of the biggest contributors to bad credit. 
  • Reduce your debt. Come up with a realistic plan to reduce any debt you have, whether it’s credit card debt, student loans, etc. Even if you close an account, the debt will still show up on your credit report. If your debt is significant, consider meeting with a financial planner. 
  • Manage your credit cards responsibly. Credit cards can actually improve your credit as long as you pay your bill on time and keep your balance below 30%.
  • Pay off debt instead of moving it around. It’s better to pay your debt on each credit card you have open rather than lumping it into one payment. Paying your debt and managing your debt ratio can actually lower your credit score.

We have many excellent lenders in the Columbus area and The Columbus Team REALTORS® will be happy to help you choose a Lender to help you obtain a mortgage. A lender will take an in-depth look at your household income and expenses, and they can tell you what mortgage payment would be best based on your current debt-to-income ratio. 

What Does a REALTOR Do When I’m Buying a Home?

What Does a REALTOR Do When I'm Buying a Home?

You know your Buyer’s Agent searches homes for sale on the internet, schedules appointment to see them, and drives over to the viewing, right? So, aside from that, what does a REALTOR do?  Why should you engage one?

REALTORS do so much more for you than simply searching for homes based on your criteria and driving you over to see them!

Here’s some of the many hats your REALTOR will wear during your real estate journey:

Location expert. As your Real Estate Agent, we will listen closely to your needs and desires when it comes to your dream home and your ideal neighborhood. The Columbus Team knows Central Ohio, and we can help you identify neighborhoods that meet your expectations, and we have tools that allow us to search for homes that match your list of must-haves.

Market expert. We’ve spent years getting to know the Central Ohio real estate market. Using comparable home sales in the neighborhood you desire, we can tell you if a home is priced accurately, and give you advice on sales in that area. You can buy and sell with confidence, knowing you’re getting the right price.

Network connections. As an experienced team, we often know about homes coming up for sale which haven’t been listed, plus, once you’ve identified your dream home we can put you in touch with trusted service professionals from inspectors to contractors.

Advocate. As your agent, we represent your best interests in every transaction.  We are your long-term advocates.

Negotiator. In negotiations, we listen to what you have told us is important to you and represent your interests in the process. We help take the emotional component out of negotiations over price and repairs, so that you can simply get the best deal possible without making it a personal conflict.

Guide. We know the selling and buying process. We keep you and your home sale or purchase on schedule and moving forward.  We manage the contract process, from start to finish. From inspections to paperwork, whether buying or selling, REALTORS manage the details so you don’t have to. Experienced, we can also tell you where the pitfalls are and help you avoid them.

If you’re looking for an professional to guide you through a real estate purchase, an expert on the market, an expert on Central Ohio neighborhoods, and a large network of expert and reliable contractors, professionals, and real estate agents, contact The Columbus Team today!

In Real Estate, Timing is Everything!

Real-Estate-Timing

You’ve heard people say that real estate is all about location, location, location…we agree, but we’d also add that in real estate, timing is everything!

Buying and selling real estate is time sensitive from beginning to end.

Here is a list of ways that timing is critical to real estate sales and how both you and your agent can affect both the finances and the stress level of a sale simply by managing the timing.

Timing the market.

Your Realtor can give you up-to-the-minute advice on the best time to sell or buy in your specific real estate market. The Columbus Team knows each Central Ohio neighborhood well, and we can tell you if it’s a good time to buy, sell, or wait.

Are you ready?

It’s important to be ready to sell or buy when the market heats up. Look on our website for tips about getting your home ready to sell or organizing your finances to be ready to buy. We are happy to consult with our clients to let them know exactly what steps they should take to get ready in time! The faster you can act in a hot market, the better.

Show time!

If you’re selling your home, it’s important to have your home ready to show when potential buyers want to see it and for open house sessions. A home that is uncluttered, clean, and ready to show is more likely to attract buyers, more likely to bring in multiple offers, and will sell for a higher price than an untidy home…or one with the owners still there. It’s worth the effort to have your home ready on time and to be elsewhere while it’s being shown. The effort to manage your time as a seller can pay off in real dollars and cents.

Timely responses.

Whether you are buying or selling, it’s important to respond to offers and counter-offers in a timely manner. Delays can convince either party that the offer is not sincere, and make negotiations that much more difficult. We’ve seen buyers move on to make an offer on another home when sellers delayed a response, and buyers have lost their dream home to a competing offer from someone who responded quickly during negotiations. Keeping an eye on the time limit for responses is important to a smooth sale.

Deadlines.

You need a Realtor who stays on top of the buying or selling process and ensures deadlines are coordinated, tracked, and met for offers, lenders, inspections, repairs, and more. It’s more than good customer service, it’s vital for a smooth transaction and an enjoyable buying and selling experience.

The Columbus Team knows that in real estate, timing is everything, so we keep a close eye on the market and manage transaction deadlines so that your sale proceeds as smoothly as possible. Our Team members are also experienced in guiding you on how to manage your time during your purchase or sale so that your stress levels remain low and your satisfaction with the sale is high.

Do you have any questions about timing? Contact The Columbus Team today, we would love to hear from you!

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Top 6 Tips for Buying a Home with VA Financing

For our neighbors who are serving on Active Duty, and our retired veterans, here are our top 6 tips for buying a home with VA financing. Most veterans and military families opt to use VA financing, as it offers many benefits such as: No down payment needed, no mortgage insurance required, lower interest rates, and no early payoff penalties. Those are great reasons to use VA financing for your new home.
Man in U.s. Marine Corps Uniform Saluting American Flag
1. Check your credit report, and ensure it doesn’t contain errors.
If it does, take steps with the three credit reporting agencies to update and correct your report. This is a standard home buying preparation tip, but it’s a good one for active duty military, spouses, and veterans, too. Most lenders require a 620 credit score or higher for VA loans, so if you need to do some credit score improvement, now is a great time to start.

2. Choose a lender.
We strongly recommend choosing a lender with a local office. Ask around for recommendations from friends and family or review our lender contacts and talk to the lenders about their requirements and process for VA loans. This will help you feel comfortable and confident in your choice.

3. Verify your eligibility for a VA loan.
You can do it through your lender, or you can obtain your Certificate of Eligibility on your own. Applying for it yourself ensures you’ll have it with you if you change lenders mid-process. Many lenders will offer to help you get your COE later in the homebuying process, but starting out with your COE makes it simple to get pre-qualified and pre-approved!

Doing it yourself? Go online to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website and apply online OR download a COE request form (VBA form 26-1880). Fill it out and mail it in to the VA. They’ll mail your COE to you upon processing and verifying your request.

4. Be ready to present proof of service to your lender.
You will need one of the following:

  • Active Duty or Guard or Reserve Service (Current Statement of Service)
  • Honorable discharge (DD 214 showing items 24 and 28, or NGB 22 or 23 with proof of character of service showing)
  • Proof of your spouse’s death in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related disability (VBA 26-1817 or VBA 21-534 and DD 214 (if available)), and a death certificate or DD 1300.

Need help wading through the system? Call 800-983-0937, Monday-Friday from 8am-8pm EST.

5. Gather documentation of your income.
Pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns and W2s, as well as an employment history (use your resume if you like), and documentation of any other Real Estate you own. Contact your lender of choice to find out exactly what they require, but these are the basics.

6. Get pre-qualified and pre-approved for your loan.
Knowing the exact amount of the loan you have been approved for makes house-hunting so much easier. You know exactly what you can afford, and your Realtor can negotiate for the best deal for you with confidence!

With our top six tips for buying a home with VA financing, you’ll be ready to search for your new home with all the information and confidence you’ll need. Even better? You will be in an excellent bargaining position once you find your dream home. Happy home buying!