If you are a first time homebuyer, there are several things you
should know. After all, purchasing a home is a major
investment, so you want to make sure you have as positive of an
experience as possible.

For most people, the home buying experience begins with select
a real estate agent. When selecting a real estate agent, make
sure he or she is a Realtor and not just an agent. You can
easily recognize a Realtor by looking at his or her business
card, which will contain the capital letter R with a circle
around it. An agent that is a Realtor has taken additional
coursework and has agreed to abide by a certain code of ethics
that will be beneficial to you, so don't settle for someone that
has not taken this extra step.

The next step in the home buying process is to get a good idea
of the type of home you are looking for. The more information
you can give to your Realtor, the better he or she will be able
to narrow down your choices and find a home that will suit your

Once you do find the house that you think you want to purchase,
you need to make certain to have the home properly inspected.
If you are planning on getting a mortgage loan, the lender will
require an appraisal. Keep in mind that an appraisal is not the
same as an inspection. Whereas an appraisal helps the lender
determine whether or not your home purchase is a smart
investment, an inspection will help you find out if there are
any problems with the home that need to be addressed before you
complete the transaction.

If you do discover that there are problems with the home, these
issues should be addressed before you sign any agreements to
purchase the home. For example, you might negotiate a lower
price for the home because of the problems it has. Or, you may
negotiate to complete the purchase only after the current
homeowner has remedied the problems.

There are several different types of additional inspections
that will need to be completed before you can close on the
house. For example, the house will need to pass a termite
inspection, a structural inspection, and an inspection of the
well and the septic if you do not receive city services. If the
home does not pass these inspections, the lender likely will not
go through with the loan.

Before the transaction can be finalized, the lender will also
require you to get house insurance in place. The house
insurance must be in place in order to protect the lender's
investment in the event that a disaster should strike. Of
course, it keeps you protected as well, so it is certainly worth
getting the best homeowner's insurance possible while still
staying within your budget.

When you purchase a home with a mortgage loan, you need to be
prepared to make the pre-determined payment each month. This
payment will include repayment of the loan as well as payment
towards your homeowner's insurance and your property taxes.
When making your monthly payment, the lender will make sure
these additional expenses are paid on time.

Paying for a Pre-Inspection Can Save You Money

For years now, we’ve been recommending that home sellers pay for a professional home inspection when they list their home for sale so that both parties know the home’s strengths and weaknesses before an offer is ever made. With current market conditions favoring buyers, savvy home sellers understand that paying for a professional home inspection can help them better position their home within the current market.

The large inventory of homes currently for sale provides buyers with more options, and buyers tend to prefer homes that are in move-in condition. A professional home inspection is one more tool that a seller can use to determine how close their home is to move-in condition and to prioritize improvements and upgrades to best compete with the other homes for sale.

The home inspector evaluates the home’s major systems and provides a report identifying areas of concern. The inspector’s job is to point out both the good and the bad about a property. Then it is up to the home seller, with advice from their Realtor, to identify a strategy for improvements and positioning. A copy of the home inspector’s report, along with copies of receipts for any improvements and upgrades, can be made accessible to potential buyers.

A thorough home inspection often uncovers problems unknown to the sellers. By having an inspection up front, the seller has an opportunity to address minor problems that might seem major once a contract has been signed. Plus, the home will show at its best.

Buyers may be more interested in a pre-inspected home because there shouldn’t be any big surprises after the contract is negotiated. An uninspected home may have the buyer coming back within a week or two (following their own inspection) requesting upgrades, allowances, or price reductions, all of which are a hassle and inconvenience to both parties.

The buyer still has the option of obtaining their own professional home inspection, but there is less likelihood of unexpected surprises and a greater chance the sale will go through as originally negotiated.

Copyright © Shawn Buryska.

Rochester, MN Real Estate agent Shawn Buryska specializes in home real estate, buying a new home, selling your old home, or helping you search Southeastern Minnesota MLS Listings.

A Little Interest Pays Handsomely When It Comes to Selling Your Home
With interest rates still at an all time low, many people are considering selling the home they are in to make a move up. Others are going from renter to buyer. Regardless of whether someone is buying for the first time or he or she is a seasoned buyer, if you are the seller you will want to make sure your property will show the best it can. The following tips will give you an edge over other sellers in what can be a very tight market.

1) First Impression is so important. Curb appeal is vital. Your lawn should be trimmed, sidewalks swept, front door clean, doorbell working.

2) Painting for a Better Sale. A minor investment in paint will pay dividends in the form of a better price and/or quicker sale.

3) Here Comes the Sun! Open the curtains and clean the windows so a prospect can see how bright and cheerful your house is. Dark, dreary rooms are not appealing to homebuyers.

4) Don't be a Drip! Fix leaky faucets. Dripping water suggests faulty plumbing and major repair bills. Discolored, rust stained sinks are also warning signs – they should be clean and sparkling.

5) Little Things Mean a Lot. Loose doorknobs or cabinet pulls, sticking doors and drawers, wobbly hinges, stuck windows – are negative factors. Check and repair all these minor flaws.

6) Safety First. Keep stairways and corridors absolutely clear. Clutter is unattractive and can cause accidents.

7) Bathrooms Sell Homes. Make bathrooms sparkle. Clean sinks and toilets and repair any damaged or discolored caulking.

8) >From Top to Bottom. Let prospects see the full value of your basement, attic, garage and closets by removing junk and cartons. Rent a short-term storage space if necessary.

With a bit of TLC you will realize greater interest from buyers when selling your home. For a small investment of time and money often the return can be incredible.


Debbie Dahmen is a member of the Distinctive Properties team, a unique personalized real estate agency serving the south end of the Salt Lake valley including Draper, Riverton and Sandy. Family owned and operated, Darlene Dipo, Debbie Dahmen and DeAnna Dipo pooled their 60 years of experience to offer their clients flexibility and individualized attention. All three women have achieved the coveted designation of Certified Real Estate Specialists, a designation held by only 3% of real estate agents. Offering services including buying, selling, and relocation, Distinctive Properties offers relocation services throughout the United States. Visit www.distinctivepropertiesSLC.com for further information.


Attention: For Sale By Owners!
Why People Are Afraid To Buy From You!
Many homeowners believe that to maximize their profit on a home sale they should sell it themselves. At first glance, they feel selling a home is simple and why should they pay a broker fees for something they could do themselves? In fact, close to 25% of all the homes sold last year were sold for sale by owner (FSBO).

However, close to half of the FSBO’s said that they would hire a professional next time they sold. Thirty percent said they were unhappy with the results they achieved by choosing FSBO. Why?

Many FSBO’s told us that the time, paperwork and everyday responsibilities involved were not worth the amount of money they saved in commissions. For others, the financial savings were even more disappointing. By the time they figured the amount of fees paid to outside consultants, inspectors, appraisers, title lawyers, escrow and loan officers, marketing, advertising... they would have been better off having paid the broker’s fee which would have included many of these charges up front.

Selling a home requires an intimate understanding of the real estate market. If the property is priced too high, it will sit and develop a reputation for being a problem property. If the property is priced too low, you will cost yourself serious money. Some FSBO’s discovered that the lost money as a result of poor decisions outweighed the commission.

Before you decide to sell FSBO, consider these questions and weigh the answers of assuming the responsibility versus employing a professional. A little time spent investigating up front will pay off tenfold in the end.

Questions To Consider:

Do I have the time, energy, know-how, and ability to devote a full forced effort to sell my home?

One of the keys to selling your home efficiently and profitably is complete accessibility. Many homes have sat on the market much longer than necessary because the owner was unwilling or unavailable to show the property. Realize that a certain amount of hours each day is necessary to sell your home.

Am I prepared to deal with an onslaught of buyers who perceive FSBO’s as targets for low balling?

One of the challenges of selling a home is screening unqualified prospects and dealing with lowballers. It often goes unnoticed... how much time, effort and expertise it requires to spot these people quickly. Settling for a lowball bid is usually worse than paying broker commissions.

Am I offering financing options to the buyer? Am I prepared to answer questions about financing?

One of the keys to selling, whether it’s a home, a car... anything, is to have all the necessary information the prospective buyer needs and to offer them options. Think about the last time you purchased something of value, did you make a decision before you had all your ducks in a row? By offering financing options you give the home buyer the ability to work on their terms and open up the possibilities of selling your home quickly and more profitably. A professional real estate agent will have a complete team, from lenders to title reps for you to utilize...they’ll be at your disposal.

Do I fully understand the legal ramifications and necessary steps required in selling a home?

Many home sales have been lost due to incomplete paperwork, lack of inspections or not meeting your states disclosure laws. Are you completely informed of all the steps necessary to sell real estate? If not, a professional would be a wise choice.

Do I have the capability of handling the legal contracts, agreements and any disputes with buyers before or after the offer is presented?

Ask yourself if you are well versed in legalese and if you are prepared to handle disputes with buyers. To avoid any disputes it is wise to put all negotiations and agreements in writing. Many home sales have been lost due to misinterpretation of what was negotiated.

Have I contacted the necessary professionals....title, inspector (home and pest), attorney, and escrow company?

Are you familiar with top inspectors and escrow companies? Don’t randomly select inspectors, attorneys, and title reps. Like any profession there are inadequate individuals who will slow, delay and possibly even cost you the transaction.


The original author is not known. It is not our intention to infringe upon copyrighted material. If you are the original author of any of these articles, please let us know so that we may provide appropriate credit.


Set Your Home Apart -- Listing vs. Marketing

When you list your home for sale, the objective is to get the most money in your pocket as possible. It seems intuitive that you would get the most money by paying the least money to get it sold. Reality, however, is that you get what you pay for.

Your listing options run the gamut from putting a “for sale by owner” sign in your front yard to signing with an agent who will list your home in the Multiple Listing Service and possibly online to choosing a Realtor who will market your home. Any of these approaches can get your home sold, but how quickly it sells and how much you ultimately receive for the sale of your home can vary widely.

I used to have an income tax preparer named Bill who had been doing taxes for individuals and businesses for many years. In other words, Bill had a lot of experience. Best of all, Bill was cheap, and I enjoyed the value I thought I was getting every year when he did my taxes, particularly since I have a fairly complicated tax situation with two businesses, employees, retirement accounts, etc.

One year I happened to take a tax planning seminar that gave a lot of advice in those areas. When I asked Bill about some strategies recommended at the seminar, he told me that those strategies really wouldn’t save me any money in the long run. I decided I should get a second opinion on my overall tax situation, so I had my return processed by both Bill and a local accounting firm. Bill processed pretty much the same return he had done for me for years.

The accounting firm, however, had me bring in a lot more information than Bill ever had requested. I had several meetings with a CPA for my businesses, a tax attorney for my retirement accounts, and their respective assistants. Needless to say, when I got their bill I wasn't happy (they bill by the hour)..... until I saw the tax return they prepared for me. To my delight they found several areas where I was overpaying. They were able to save me so much money that all of a sudden their fee seemed reasonable.

At first I was upset with my old friend Bill. But then I realized that I pretty much got what I paid for. Bill was doing the best he could with his available resources and charged me accordingly. My new accounting firm, however, had a vast amount of resources and were able to really spend the time my situation demanded. In the end, yes, they cost me more to prepare my taxes, but they also saved me money.

I mention my tax experience because selling a home has many similarities to preparing a tax return. Marketing a home involves so much more than just picking a price and sticking a sign in the front yard. The more resources employed in marketing the home, the faster it will sell.

When a home sells faster the owner almost always gets a better price since the market has not had a chance to beat that price down. The owner does not get worn out after months of showings, nor is the owner paying interest, taxes, insurance, and utilities for this home month after month waiting for the sale.

So what is the difference between one real estate firm and another and what is the difference between one agent and another? And how can that affect your financial and emotional outcome when selling a house? I will discuss in depth many different ways a home can be effectively marketed in the next article "Lack of Effective Marketing" - Part 3 of Why Listings Expire.
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New business?
However small
it may be,
success requires
proper planning,
preparation and

RIGHTS In business, there are no
guarantees. There’s simply
no way to eliminate risks
associated with starting an
enterprise. But you can improve
chances of success with good
planning, preparation and insight.
Find out what to consider when
starting a business.
Drawing up a business plan
It’s important to draft a
comprehensive and thoughtful
business plan. Much hinges on
it: Outside funding, credit from
suppliers, management of your
operation and finances, promotion
and marketing of your business,
and achievement of your goals
and objectives.
Creating a business plan will
force you to think about key issues
before you start your enterprise,
such as raising money and your
projected start-up costs and
marketing strategies. This will help
you figure out if your idea is
a winner.

The core of naming a business lies
in understanding the trademark
law. Trademarks help consumers
identify the makers of the goods
or services. Often, the name of
your company may also be used
as a trademark to identify your
company’s offerings. What’s in a
name, you may wonder. But if you
choose something too similar to a
competitor’s name, you might be
accused of violating the their legal
rights, and you could be forced to
change it and even pay monetary
damages. A good business name
should be:
■ Distinctive
■ Memorable
■ Easily spelled and
■ Suggest the products or
services you offer
■ Distinguish you from your
Many people opt for partnerships
with their friends or relatives for
doing business, because they
feel very comfortable dealing with
people they have known for a long
time. But before you do, create
a Partnership Agreement which
should include the following:
■ Amount of equity invested by
each partner
■ Type of business
■ How profit and loss will be
■ Each partner’s pay and
■ Distribution of assets on
■ Provisions for changes or
dissolving the partnership
■ Dispute settlement clause
■ Settlement in case of death or
■ Restrictions of authority
and expenditures
Financing A new business
Money can be raised either by
borrowing it from a friend, family
member, bank or selling ownership
interests (equity) in your business.
There’s no hard and fast rule on
the best way to raise money; you’ll
have to evaluate your situation
and decide what kind of loan or
investment you’re willing to take.
If you are going beyond family
and friends for loans or equity
investments, you’ll definitely need
a business plan.
If you take a loan, you will
have to repay the money over
time (usually monthly), with
interest. The lender won’t receive
an ownership interest in your
business, and you won’t have to
share any of your future profits
with the lender. On the other hand,
if you raise money by selling equity
(ownership interests), you will
not have to make these monthly
payments or repay the investment
at any particular date. L e g a l
All about you
The business of
doing business
your business is profitable, you’ll
need to share the profits with your
investors, generally in proportion
to the percentage of the business
they own.
Licences and permits
Business licences and permits
can range from the general (a
basic trade licence to operate
a business within a city), to the
specific (a permit to sell alcohol/
firearms/food items). Bear in mind
that regulations vary by industry.
Investigate into the licensing
and permit requirements that
affect your industry, and avoid
any temptation to ignore these
important regulatory details.
Being out of licensing and permit
compliance could leave you
unprotected legally, which may
lead to expensive penalties, and
can jeopardise your business.
Location of workplace
There is no universal rule for
choosing a business location.
The biggest consideration is
sometimes not where it is but
what it is. The building facilities
need to be appropriate for your
business whether you are working
from home, a business centre or
a rented space. Or you could take
up space in a market with similar
businesses or consumer groups.
Entering into agreements
Be mindful of employment
contracts as these take different
forms. All employees at a
company may be asked to sign
the same form of contract, or
each employee may have a
contract with the employer that
is exclusively applicable to his
or her employment agreement.
It mentions the kind of work the
employee will do, for how long,
and at what rate of pay. Please
consult an attorney who can
advise you about Confidentiality
and Non-Competition Agreements,
and clauses pertaining to
ownership of inventions, exclusive
employment, termination,
minimum wages, bonus,
arbitration and jurisdiction.
In almost all business dealings,
every time you or your company
agrees to take some action or
make a payment in exchange
for anything of value, a legal
contract is created. Make sure
that you and the other party
agree on the meaning of any
potentially ambiguous words or
phrases. Even a misplaced (or
unnoticed) punctuation mark can
dramatically change the scope of
your rights and obligations under a
contract. Watch out for commonly
misused words. When you agree to
bimonthly payments, for instance,
do you understand that you will be
paid every other month? Or do you
expect to be paid twice a month?
Some business agreements may
be simple enough for the regular
person to draft, while others may
require the help of a lawyer.
If your advertisement is deceptive,
you’ll face legal problems even
if you had the best intentions
while framing it. In addition, if
your advertisement contains a
false statement, you have already
violated the law. The fact that you
didn’t know ‘the information was
false’ is irrelevant. Advertisements
should conform to laws and
should not go against morality,
decency and the religious
susceptibilities of people.
Business Advisors
Finally, the key to success for any
entrepreneur is to have the best
set of advisors, not necessarily
the most expensive but the
ones you can trust totally. These
may includes lawyers, chartered
accountants, insurance advisors,
and bankers among others.

Decide on the meaing of potentially
ambiguous phrases. Even a misplaced
punctuat ion mark can change the
scope of your rights and obligations..