Debbie Magnusen

Debbie Magnusen


Buyer/Seller Tips

My Tips for Selling Your Home

One of the keys to success in today's ultra-competitive real estate market is to position your home as the most desirable property at a given price in a given area. Obviously, the most important variable in that equation is price. But making sure your home is in optimal showing condition will set it apart from the competition and could be the difference between a timely and productive sale and a long, drawn-out process.


Here is a checklist of preparations to make before showing your home. Be sure to consult me to find out what improvements I may recommend.


De-Clutter. Go through your home room by room and ask yourself what you can throw away and what you can box up and put in storage. Pay extra attention to areas like closets, bookcases, shelves, and kitchen and bathroom counters.


Organize. Lack of storage space can be a deal-breaker. Go through your closets and pantries and throw away, give away or put away anything you don't need. Clean out bedroom closets so that hanging clothes are aligned and have ample space. Remove items from closet floors. Reorganize and clean out your kitchen cabinets and line up dishes and glassware. Make sure bathroom and kitchen drawers are neatly organized - even your junk drawer.


Clean. Give your home a deep clean from top to bottom, including windows, upholstery and carpet, and the refrigerator and oven (yes, buyers actually open them).


Paint. A fresh coat of paint is the least expensive, most effective way to enhance the appearance of your home. Be sure to use neutral colors. Consult your agent for recommendations.


Brighten your home. Light gives the impression of space, so it's important for every room in your home to have ample light at any time of day. Prior to showings, wash windows, raise blinds and turn on lights. Add floor and table lamps to brighten dark rooms or corners.


Maintain the exterior. If you live in a single-family home or townhome, maintain your lawn and landscaping. In winter, shovel and de-ice walkways. In a condominium, pay attention to the area in front of the doorway. Keep it neat and inform the superintendent of any problems, such as burned-out lights. Make balconies, decks and patios inviting with potted plants and flowers.


Make repairs. Consult with your agent prior to undertaking a large-scale home improvement project, but go ahead and make easy repairs such as touch-up spackling and painting, replacing a cracked window or torn screen, fixing a leaky faucet and changing burned out light bulbs.


Remove personal property. If you do not plan on including personal property such as window treatments or light fixtures as part of a sale, then remove them prior to your first showing and replace them with attractive alternatives.


Remove pets. Keep pets out of the home during showings. Also be sure to conceal food bowls and litter boxes. If pet odors are present, have the home professionally cleaned.


Hire a home inspector. Hiring a professional, licensed home inspector prior to putting your home on the market allows you to spot potential problems and make repairs before buyers make them an issue.


Disclose everything. By law sellers must disclose existing structural and mechanical problems, flooding, the presence of lead paint, information on radon hazards and other known defects to potential buyers. Withholding this information can have much more serious repercussions than the problem itself.


My Tips for Buying a Home

On the surface, buying a home may seem like a relatively straightforward process. However there are dozens of variables in any transaction that can make home-buying quite complex. Being prepared and organized makes the process that much easier and
more enjoyable. Here are some steps to take before beginning your search:


Create a wish list. Almost every home purchase involves some degree of compromise, which is why it is important to prioritize your
wants and needs before you begin your search. There are many variables to think about depending on your lifestyle, budget
and future plans, but some universal considerations include: location, type of home, and features and amenities.


Get pre-approved. In today’s home-buying environment, a mortgage pre-approval is not only essential; it is also incredibly easy to obtain – whether online, over the phone or in-person. A mortgage pre-approval lets you know exactly what you can afford to buy. It also demonstrates to a seller that you are a willing and able buyer. And it gives you a head start in getting an actual loan commitment.


Start your search. Using the guidelines you set forth, I will present you with available listings. In addition to price and property attributes, pay close attention to data like property taxes, market time and monthly assessments for condos and town homes. When you walk through a home, some things to consider are: how the space functions for your lifestyle; what’s included in the total square footage (balcony, basement or garage); and, in new construction, which features are standard and which are upgrades.


Writing an offer. Chances are, when you find a home you absolutely love, someone else may love it too. So it’s important to act quickly and make an educated offer based on a rational approach to pricing and negotiating that you and I have discussed. To start the
process rolling, I will draw up a contract that includes your offering price and other terms and contingencies. Buyers often focus on price, but there are other important terms to a real estate contract. You can include any terms you like, but the more you add, the more likely the seller is to object. The most common elements of a real estate contract are: price, mortgage contingency, and home inspection contingency.


Earnest money. Is a deposit given by the buyer to the seller, which secures the contract until the closing. An initial deposit, usually in the form of a check, must be given to the seller or seller’s agent along with the contract, and the balance of the earnest money is usually due upon attorney approval. Earnest money is typically held in an escrow account until the closing, when it may be applied to the down payment and/or closing costs. If the sale does not go through due to contingencies covered within the contract, then the earnest money may be returned to the buyer. However, if a buyer is in breach of contract, then a seller may be entitled to keep all or a portion of the earnest money.


Under contract. Once the contract is accepted by both parties it is in what is called the attorney review period. This is generally a one-week period, in which your attorney can review the contract and suggest alterations. In most transactions, the seller is also represented by an attorney. Alterations will usually focus on the language of the contract in an attempt to protect you from any undue obligations. Your attorney will also add language to address points that were agreed to as part of the negotiation but that aren’t a part of a
standard contract.


Contract to closing. In a real estate transaction, there are dozens of loose ends to tie up between signing the contract and closing the sale. I will pay strong attention to detail during this important phase in which I will coordinate and oversee the following steps:


* Deliver earnest money with the seller or seller’s agent

* Recommend and schedule a home inspector and accompany the buyer on the inspection

* Recommend real estate attorneys

* Obtain important documents, such as property disclosure forms and condominium documents (budget, declaration, condo association 

   minutes), and deliver them to the buyer and buyer’s attorney

* Recommend mortgage brokers and help expedite the loan-application process

* Monitor all contingencies to ensure that they have been met

* Recommend service providers for moving, home-improvement and repairs

* Schedule a final walk-through

* Coordinate and attend your closing