10 Mistakes Home Buyers Make

Sigal D. Waters, REALTOR RE_MAX Professional Realty Mobile_ 484.888.4804 Office_ 610.

We hear a lot about “buyer beware” but sometimes, we are our own worst enemies. Unfortunately, this also applies when buying a home which is the biggest financial decision you will make. Therefore, education, planning & setting up expectations are key for a successful experience.

So, here are 10 major mistakes that buyers make:

1. You start looking at homes before getting pre-approved for a mortgage
Your first step in the complicated process of buying a home is to talk to a mortgage loan officer. For a lot of people discussing their finances is extremely stressful, uncomfortable & invasive but you need to know your buying power before you start looking at homes. Why is it so important?

  •  You don’t want to fall in love with a home only to find out when you are ready to put an offer that you cannot afford it.
  • We are in a ‘seller’s market’ and homes go quickly so you want to make sure you are ready to put an offer in ASAP. Being pre-approved makes you a stronger buyer and may allow your agent to be creative if you end up within a multiple offer situation.
  • Some real estate agent won’t take you to look at homes before you know what & how much you can afford.
  • A nice surprise may happen as well when you find out that you can afford more than you thought.

2. You choose to work with the seller’s agent
You need your own representation. An agent that will be 100% by your side, keep your information confidential and will have your best interest in mind. In court, you wouldn’t use the lawyer who represents the other side, right?

3. Focusing on cosmetic upgrades only vs. condition
It is important to look for good bones & updated mechanics vs. updated kitchens & bathrooms. Make sure the roof, HVAC system, windows, electric & such are in good condition and don’t fall in love with a house that has granite counter tops but requires everything to be replaced. Focus on material defects and not cosmetic ones.

4. Don’t compromise on important things
What is important for one is minor to another. However, there are some major factors that you can change like the location & size of the house so for an example, if you know that living on a busy road is something that bothers you, don’t compromise or you will have major regrets in no time.

5. Ignore re-sale value
You finally decided to start looking for homes why on earth would you be thinking about what will happen when you decide to sell, right? Wrong! Don’t say things like “oh, this is my forever home” or “I am not worried about it” because if something happens and you need to sell the house and move ASAP, you need to remember that the market is not always seller’s market. You want to have a home that has a better chance to sell quickly even when the market conditions are not ideal.

6. You decide to skip inspections 
Home inspections give you detailed information on the home condition at that specific moment. It is not foolproof but it identifies material defects and problems with the house. Make sure you attend your home inspection because this is your way to learn about your home and what type of maintenance will keep your home in good condition. Deciding to skip home inspection may leave you in the dark on the home condition & might even cost you a lot in repairs of issues you had no idea existed.

7. You don’t understand the home buying process & extra expenses
When I meet new buyers I take time during our first meeting to discuss the home buying process, their timeline, expectations, finances and any concerns they have. Then we build a plan of action that will work for them. You need to know what happens at every step of the home buying process or it will turn into a big confusing monster.

You also need to understand how much money will you need to buy the house. What is the difference between down payment & closing costs? When do you pay for inspections or appraisal and why?

8. You are being too picky or can’t decide what you want
You feel like you know exactly what you want and you refuse to compromise. Well, that is nice on paper but in reality, like dating & marriage, you end up compromising on something (if he can only close the cabinet doors after taking a plate, right?). Only you can decide what you are willing to compromise on but within the current market condition of low inventory, you might have a hard time finding what you want. Make a list of “need” vs. “want” to help you.

Another issue is when a couple can’t agree on what they want; location, size, or even condition. Before meeting with a real estate professional discuss your needs & wants and if that doesn’t help after seeing a few homes revisit the list until you are in agreement.

9. Fall in love with the first house or take too long to decide
There is nothing wrong with knowing exactly what you want and making immediate decisions, however, it is good to compare a couple of options to make sure that is the best option for you.
On the other hand, if you cannot decide on a home and need to time to discuss or sleep on it, chances are that you will be missing out on quite a few homes in a seller’s market.

10. Making big purchases & opening new credit cards prior to settlement
So you found the home that is perfect for you & applied for a mortgage loan. The mortgage company will run your credit as part of the approval process. Opening new credit cards or making large purchases (for an example using credit cards to buy new appliances or taking a new car loan) will change your credit score and as a result, will change your eligibility. The last thing you want is to lose your home over this.

By avoiding these mistakes, you will find the process of buying a home less stressful and end up with a home you love & no buyer’s remorse.

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a Home?


The current market condition is a seller’s market. What does it mean? It means that there are a lot more active buyers than inventory. As of January 2018, there was 8% less inventory than January 2017.

Sellers control the market so buyers must do their due diligence and educate themselves so they don’t end up with buyer’s remorse. Ask for help with understanding the inspection reports, market comparables, resale value, the age and condition of utilities (HVAC, roof, septic, and such)  and educate yourself about school districts (greatschools.org is a great place to start) & crime levels (contact the local police and ask questions).

Buying a home during a seller’s market is for those who NEED to move rather than for those who WANT to move. Who are those who NEED to move?

* Renters who are looking for the stability of their own place and are sick & tired of paying other people’s mortgage, no be allowed to have pets, or make changes in the property.
* Relocation/move due to a change of job, schools, high taxes, etc.
* Life events – those who need to find other accommodations due to a divorce, death or marriage.
* Downsizing – why pay so much when you don’t use over 50% of the house but pay for it.
* Upsizing –  when the current home is just way to small and they need more space ASAP.

What other obstacles do buyers have to take into consideration these days? Interest rates are going up. I know, we heard that since 2011 but unfortunately, it is truly happening. Interest rates went up from 4.1% to 4.5% and higher in the last 3 months. That means that you need to shop around for lenders that might offer you a great deal. A difference of 0.25% doesn’t sound like a lot but over a period of 30 years, it is!. However, just because interest rates are going up and you want to try and get a good deal doesn’t mean you need to compromise on the house you buy.

Before you start looking for a home know your purchasing power by getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Remember that just because you are pre-approved for a million dollars home does not mean you need to buy one. Decide on a monthly payment that you are comfortable with and work with your real estate professional to stay within that number. The reason I am mentioning this is that most current buyers will end up in a multiple offer situation at least once. When you get into a bidding war the emotions start controlling the situation so you must have a plan ahead of time.

  1. Just because other people want that house doesn’t mean it is the house for you.
  2. Before putting an offer, discuss with your real estate professional the following:
    1. How much do you truly want the house (if you find out tomorrow that you lost it to another buyer, how will that make you feel?)
    2. What is the highest you are willing to go and stick to it.
    3. What are the pros & cons of buying this house.
  3. Remember that it is JUST a house and if you lose the bidding war you WILL find another home.

At the end, if you know what you need vs. want, willing to compromise a bit and understand your purchase power, you will find a home you love. It might take longer than you thought, hoped or planned but you will get there.

Happy house hunting 🙂


The Importance of a Pre-Listing Inspection

I asked Aaron Cunningham, Owner & Certified Home Inspector at Pillar To Post Home Inspectors to share his wisdom on the importance of a pre-listing inspection…enjoy!:

You invest a great deal of time, money, and energy to market your listings, and you need to get a good return on that investment. Don’t be caught unaware of problems that could seriously undermine your dedicated efforts to sell a home, or that could keep a property from selling at its highest potential price. One of the best steps you can take to avoid this is to recommend a professional home inspection prior to listing.

A pre-listing inspection can uncover previously unknown problems – major and minor – allowing sellers the opportunity to make repairs, updates, or replacements as needed or as they wish. By addressing these issues before the home goes on the market, you can list a home with greater knowledge of its condition. This can result in cleaner offers and a smoother transaction for both parties. Having well-informed sellers and buyers will work to everyone’s advantage, including yours.

Be sure that the home inspection is comprehensive and that you will get the report immediately upon completion of the inspection. This will allow your sellers to get the information they need right away, so they can decide on their next steps prior to listing. Photographs should also always be part of a professional report so that full documentation of conditions is available to both the sellers and potential buyers. This is especially important when it comes to issues that might not be addressed or repaired prior to sale.

With a pre-listing inspection in hand, you can market your home with greater confidence.

Aaron Cunningham

Owner/Certified Home Inspector

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors

Tel 610-322-6130

Cel 610-322-6105






7 Repairs to Make Before Selling Your Home via the Council of Residential Specialists

Excellent article by Michelle Huffman for the Council of Residential Specialists which is a high designation I proudly hold.

You want to sell your home quickly and profitably, but you may have a few repairs to make first. But how do you know which repairs are worth doing, and which ones are better left to the buyer? Here are a few tips:

Focus on the exterior. First impressions are lasting impressions, so be sure the outside of your home is clean and inviting. Paint or replace shutters that are faded or worn, update landscaping and make sure your front entrance is welcoming to visitors.

Play it safe. Fix items that are a clear safety risk or environmental issue, such as broken steps, electrical issues, water damage, rotten or chipped flooring or a leaky roof, which can spook buyers. You can save money on large repairs by getting competitive bids from businesses in your community, then your CRS can strategically include the repairs in your home’s listing.

Think small. Minor flaws can be seen as huge problems when potential buyers are examining the space—for every $1,000 of perceived defect, the buyer will ask for a $3,000 to $5,000 reduction of the asking price. Replacing or repairing worn woodwork, caulking in bathtubs and showers, faded wallpaper, marred walls and stained ceilings, loose knobs, sticking windows and broken light switches are all ways to make your home more appealing.

Decide when to go big. Once you know what repairs or upgrades are needed, it’s time to decide what’s actually worth fixing. For example, if your kitchen cabinets are very beat-up or outdated, it may be worth replacing them. However, since buyers tend to tweak cosmetic details to their own tastes, cabinets that are in relatively good shape can be resurfaced instead. Upgrades that are almost always worth it are hardwood flooring, roofing and insulation, which reap 95 percent returns on investment or higher. When in doubt, talk with your real estate agent about features that maximize your ability to sell in your area.

Keep it clean. Buyers may see the surface condition of your home as a sign of what’s underneath. Keep windows, floors, walls and other surfaces clean. Steam clean carpeting and other fabrics, and, if needed, hire a cleaning service to ensure the place is always tidy.

Provide quotes. Items such as energy enhancements or major appliances are best left to the buyer, but you can provide quotes to help them budget if they want to replace or upgrade in the future.

Inspect it. If you are still unsure about some features of your home, consider getting a pre-inspection or talking to a real estate agent about a pre-listing inspection.

When deciding to selling your home, guidance from a qualified real estate agent is invaluable. Not all agents are created equally though, so when you turn to sell, contact a Certified Residential Specialist. These agents have advanced education, training and experience and are certified as the best real estate agents in the business.

Sigal D. Waters, CRS


What Every First-Time Homebuyer Needs To Know


Being a first time home buyer is exciting, scary and overwhelming all at the same time. It’s like driving in a wooded area with no GPS trying to make it to the other side alive. Make sure you find an experienced REALTOR that can guide you & prepare you to the upcoming obstacles.

Here are a couple of things I think you should know as you start your journey to find a home:

  1. Choose a REALTOR that you are comfortable reaching out to & asking ANY question. One that is available to you and can work with your schedule. Also, if you choose one that is a member of a team – find out how does that really work; will you see your REALTOR while showing homes and then work with someone else once under contract? – how do you feel about that? Be honest with yourself on how much you need hand holding and understand that it is PERFECTLY normal to NEED help 🙂
  2. Get PRE-APPROVED! Reach out to at least one mortgage loan officer and find out what your buying power is. This will allow you to stay within your budget and when need be, you are prepared to put an offer.
  3. You started looking at properties online and the first thing you go by are PICTURES. Well, I am here to tell you that PICTURES LIE!!!. What do I mean? If you see pictures and the house looks gorgeous – Ask your REALTOR to schedule a showing for you. If you see a house with horrible pictures (or none at all) but the details make sense (location, size, number of rooms, etc) – Ask your REALTOR to schedule a showing for you. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t avoid seeing home just because the pictures are bad…which leads me to the next point.
  4. Choose GOOD BONES…You can always add granite counters in the kitchen and hardwood floors but if the structure of the home & size don’t fit you – move on. Don’t fall for a home that is ‘pretty’.
  5. LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION! – You cannot move a house no matter how hard you try. If you don’t like the location – keep looking.
  6. Do your homework – Don’t just rely on online school ratings (GreatSchools.org) Schedule time to visit the school and meet the staff. Establish YOUR OWN opinion.
  7. Remember that there is NO perfect home…but there is one that is perfect for you and what you need or at least very close to that.

Have fun!!! I am here to help if you have questions.

Happy house hunting ~ Sigal

Home Buying Seminar – Chester County Library January 2016

Home Buying Seminar 1-23-16

Did you know that 25% of home buyers have BUYERS’ REMORSE (according to Redfin.com)? How sad is that?

For more information and to sign up:

We’ll have a REALTOR, a Mortgage Loan Officer, a Home Inspector & a Home Insurance Agent to guide & answer your questions & concerns.

FREE Admission – Space is limited.

Light lunch will be served.
Child care is available upon request.

The 10 Sins Of Selling-Avoid these selling mistakes via Trulia Blog

checkmate in chess

Avoid these selling mistakes and you could save thousands, or even tens of thousands, on your home sale.

When it comes to Miami, FL real estate, Seattle, WA real estate, and just about everywhere in between, sellers aren’t immune from paying for their mistakes, and buyers are far from forgiving. On average, home sellers commit up to five of these home-selling “sins” and lose thousands of dollars on their home sale as a result. The good news? All of these mistakes are easily avoidable — if you know how to identify them.

1. Not hiring a professional to sell your house. Trying to sell your home by yourself is sheer madness, and many sellers who try it soon discover this. Even if you’re in a competitive market such as Boston, and you think your home will sell easily, you need the expertise of a real estate professional to score the best deal.

2. Neglecting necessary repairs prior to sale. You will lose money if you don’t take care of repairs before your house goes on the market, because they will most likely be discovered during the home inspection. Do necessary repairs before listing and save yourself the last-minute headache of trying to quickly fix issues such as a leaking roof or botched caulk job.

3. Refusing to remove your clutter and junk prior to the sale. Clutter eats equity and kills deals. With all that extra stuff in the way, homebuyers can’t see the home for its true potential, and the offer will reflect that.

4. Selling your house empty. While clutter is bad, selling an empty house makes buyers feel the same way — empty. They need to be able to visualize how the home looks with furniture and how functional it will be for their own family.

5. Mispricing your home. Overpricing or underpricing your house is a huge money-losing mistake. Work with your agent to list your home at the perfect price to make sure it doesn’t sit on the market for too long, or worse, make you forever wonder if you could have gotten more money.

6. Not setting the stage for sale day.Remember: Buyers purchase with their hearts and not their heads. Create a showplace for your buyers on sale day (but don’t go overboard with music or too much potpourri).

7. Letting your ego get in the way when negotiating. Too many sellers become emotional while negotiating and lose out on creating a win-win deal.

8. Neglecting to complete a full set of disclosures prior to closing. This one’s simple. Be honest and reveal everything (plus, what you don’t reveal will be discovered by the buyer).

9. Mistiming the sale for maximum tax benefits. Even one day can cost you tens of thousands in extra taxes. Don’t be left a day late and many dollars short.

10. Overlooking junk fees and extra expenses at closing. Home sellers throw away thousands by not requesting and confirming a list of fees and expenses long before closing day.

Face it: You can’t afford to lose money through neglect, indifference, or ignorance in the selling process. Keep these 10 “sins” in mind as you sell your own home for a clean home-selling process!