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Buying and selling a home during the off season

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(BPT) - While cold weather causes many people to stay snug and cozy indoors, it provides a great opportunity for home buyers to get out and find their dream home. Fall and winter are typically considered the off season in the housing market, but actually buyers can potentially find better deals and sellers may find the most serious buyer. To take advantage of the benefits of off-season real estate, consider these important areas of advice.

Use strategic elements of the season The off season is a great time to buy because you’ll have less competition with other buyers and a reduced chance of getting in a bidding war that drives up a home’s price, something that still occurs frequently. When you’re not fighting with other bidders, you can make a sound decision and have a better chance of getting the seller to pitch in on concessions, such as closing costs or funds for improvements like appliance upgrades.

Prepare yourself from the start Today’s unique real estate market can be confusing for even the most savvy folks. That’s why it’s important to work with a real estate agent who can answer all your questions. Not all real estate agents have the same training and experience, so find one who has the background necessary to navigate complex situations.

“RE/MAX agents, on average, have more real estate experience than those at other agencies. Plus, many have special training in the short sale and foreclosure process, so you know which home you decide to buy, you’ll have the expert guidance you need,” says RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly. “In addition to finding a real estate agent you trust, be sure to meet with a lender to get prequalified, so when you find the home of your dreams, you can bid with confidence and present an appealing offer.”

Look beyond the first impression During the fall and winter seasons, it might be easy to overlook subtle home issues. Outside leaves pile up, snow drifts form and they may cover up problems with the siding, foundation or landscaping. A home that is currently vacant, whether it’s a foreclosure or the homeowners already moved, may have internal issues due to freezing temperatures. Empty houses are typically heated less, and some, unfortunately, not at all. If a house you’re interested in is vacant, make sure that it has been properly winterized or maintained so that you can be confident there are no issues with frozen pipes or a malfunctioning furnace.

“Always get a professional home inspection before making a purchase,” advises Kelly.

Strategic points for sellers For sellers, the off season doesn’t have to be a detriment to making a sale. Remember, staging your home so it looks organized, stylish and modern is a smart move. Take cues from the season in your decor choices, creating a clean yet homey feeling that will help potential buyers visualize their future in the space. Also, remember potential buyers may want to drive by your home before they schedule an official showing. With fewer daylight hours, it’s important to keep lights on in the evening, so if they drive by, your home isn’t completely dark.

“The off season means opportunity for both home buyers and home sellers,” concludes Kelly. “By acting now you might be able to get an incredible deal on your dream home or sell your property in record time.”

To find a professional real estate agent and search property listings, visit www.remax.com, the most visited real estate franchise website.

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