Buying and selling real estate is a complex matter. At first it might seem that by checking local picture books or online sites you could quickly find the right home at the right price.

But a basic rule in real estate is that all properties are unique. No two properties – even two identical models on the same street – are precisely and exactly alike. Homes differ and so do contract terms, financing options, inspection requirements and closing costs. Also, no two transactions are alike.

In this maze of forms, financing, inspections, marketing, pricing and negotiating, it makes sense to work with professionals who know the community and much more. Those professionals are the local REALTORS® who serve your area.

How Do You Choose a REALTOR®?

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While it may be acceptable to snap up a pair of shoes on an impulse, buying a home requires thoughtful planning and decision making.

Whether you’re becoming a homeowner for the first time or you’re a repeat buyer, buying a home is a financial and emotional decision that requires the experience and support of a team of reliable professionals including a Realtor, a lender, a lawyer and a range of other individuals.

Why Do You Want to Buy?

The emotional part of the decision comes into play when you think about why you want to move. If you’re a first-time buyer, you need stability in your career and the desire to commit to living in the same community for five to seven years. You should want to establish roots in a neighborhood and look forward to decorating as you please without requiring a landlord’s permission.

Purchasing a home is a lifestyle choice that requires you to think about how you like to spend your time and the type of community where you want to live, such as a rural area without nearby neighbors, a highrise building in a city or a home within a planned community with recreational amenities. The more you understand your priorities for a home, the easier it will be for you to narrow your real estate decisions.

Homeownership can also be a powerful way to increase your personal wealth for you and your family, since you’ll be building equity in your home as you pay off your mortgage.

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Selling a vacant home has some benefits: you don’t have to negotiate move out versus move in dates, for example.

But there are also challenges.

When prospective home buyers view photographs of vacant homes in their internet search, it’s hard for them to get a sense of room sizes, how the room is used, and the actual layout of the home.

The buyer also may have these questions about why the home is vacant:

Those questions and others mean many vacant properties are passed over by buyers. You may have a perfectly valid reason for moving that has nothing to do with your on-the-market house—for example, a job change—but buyers don’t know that.

Even if a vacant home snags a few visitors, buyers often make higher offers on properties that are furnished and occupied. Buyers entering an unfurnished home struggle to imagine their own furnishings within the space of the rooms.

They also will assume if a property is vacant, the seller is desperate.

But there are these staging solutions for a vacant home on the market.

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Timing really is everything when it comes to home sales. Getting your asking price, and even attracting multiple buyers, can simply be a factor of the time of year when the home is sold.

Spring brings rain and flowers—and possibly extra green in the final sales price of your home. Families like to move during the summer when there’s a break in the school calendar so they don’t have to pull their children from class, and so they are well-settled before the new school year. Plus, it’s often easier to move in the warm spring and summer months than during winter snows.

REALTORS® say 50% of homes are sold during the summer.

Maybe your employer notified you of a job relocation in the fall and you missed the peak selling season for your home. Don’t despair. If you are selling your home in the fall, you can stage your open house with the warmth of the turning season to add to the appeal. Accentuating your landscaping with seasonal decorations, such as pumpkins and gourds, will appeal to the potential homebuyers.

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