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6 Reasons You'll Need a Real Estate Agent in this Market

Real Estate Tips

Over the last couple of years, we've seen record low inventory, significant demand, and low-interest rates, which have created an unprecedented seller's market. While rising rates are expected to cool things off a bit, sellers are still very much in the driver's seat.

However, our real estate agents say buying a home in this market isn't impossible. Buyers just have to adjust their approach. It's also never been more important to have an experienced real estate agent in your corner. An agent is critical for navigating the complexities of today's market and avoiding costly pitfalls. Here's why:

  1. See Listings As Soon As They Hit The Market
    Properties aren't sitting on the market very long these days, which is why you'll want to get in to see them as soon as possible. Your agent can let you know the minute a property hits the market. The multiple listing service (MLS) website, which is only available to real estate agents, can be configured to send you an email the moment a listing matches your criteria. Speed is essential when it comes to booking home tours, and you can rely on your real estate agent to battle for an appointment time. Your agent may even be in the loop on new properties before they hit the market and can get you in ahead of the competition. For example, if you'd like to schedule a tour of one of these Bradenton homes for sale, a good agent can get you in to see one today.

  2. Help You Spot Potential Pitfalls
    It's hard to spot potential problems during a 15-minute home tour. As a buyer, you'll likely spend the time trying to envision yourself living in the space. Therefore, you can rely on your agent to be an experienced second set of eyes that can help you spot problems, costly pitfalls, or other elements of the home that you may overlook.

  3. Draft A Competitive Offer
    To win a bidding war these days, buyers often have to get creative. Your agent can help you draw up an offer that stands out from the competition. Whether it's waiving inspections, increasing earnest deposit, or determining the right offer price, an experienced agent likely has a good sense of what it'll take to "win" the home.

  4. Administrative Tasks
    There is a lot of documentation involved in the home closing process. It's important that you have an experienced real estate professional in your corner to help you wade through the paperwork. Your agent can take the time to walk you through the various documents, so you know exactly what you're signing.

  5. Coordinate Inspections
    Your real estate agent has a wide network of industry contacts, so they can refer you to reputable inspectors, contractors, and other service providers who can help support the transaction. They'll also work to schedule these appointments on your behalf.

  6. Negotiate On Your Behalf
    Most real estate transactions involve some negotiating. Whether it's contingencies, repairs, or the final sale price, negotiating terms takes time and energy. If you're in the market for one of these Sarasota homes for sale, you want someone in your corner who knows what they're doing.

Buying a home is challenging in today's market, but a good agent can help you find success. Contact us today to start exploring local listings.


7 Tips for Saving Up for a Down Payment

down payment

Saving up for a down payment can be one of the most challenging parts of buying a home, especially for first-time buyers. Here are seven tips our real estate agents recommend to help you save for a down payment on your dream home!

  1. Set a Goal
    First things first: It's important to know how much you need to save. Research Bradenton homes for sale, for instance, to see average home prices in the area. It might be a good idea to talk to a lender, not necessarily to get pre-approved right now but to get an idea of what kind of a loan you will likely qualify for and how much you'll need to put down. Once you know how much you'll need, you can set a goal and start saving!

  2. Reduce Your Spending Money
    There's one place you can always cut back, and that's your "fun money." It might not sound like fun to cut back on trips to the movies, coffees to go, and impulse buys, but putting that money into savings instead is an easy way to save. If that new TV seems too tempting to refuse, browse Sarasota homes for sale to keep yourself motivated!

  3. Lower Your Expenses
    You may be able to save money on your expenses, too. Make a list of your monthly expenses and look for two different things: expenses you can reduce, such as by changing the deductible on your car insurance or even eliminate entirely, such as a cable subscription or gym membership that you don't use often enough to justify the expense. The money you save each month can go straight into savings.

  4. Save Any Unexpected Money
    Any extra money you get, above and beyond your usual income, can also go straight into savings. This includes bonuses from work, gifts from family, and pay for side jobs. If you want to be really ambitious, you could deliberately take side gigs or even a second job on a temporary basis to generate some extra money for your savings.

  5. Start a Dedicated Savings Account
    When you're saving for something specific, such as a down payment on a house, it's a good idea to create a brand new savings account, separate from your regular savings account. Make sure your regular savings account has enough money in it to cover you in an emergency, but having a dedicated account for your down payment savings will help you to save better and see at a glance how you're doing.

  6. Transfer Money Automatically
    Out of sight, out of mind applies here! Add up how much money you're saving each month on reduced expenses and spending, and set up an automatic transfer to happen every month with that base amount. You can always add to it as you can, but this way, you'll have a minimum amount going straight into savings every month.

  7. Seek Help
    No matter how good you are at saving, you could benefit from looking into various programs that will get you into a home sooner rather than later. For instance, many employers offer the ability to borrow from your 401(k) to pay a down payment. There are also many grants and other programs available for homebuyers, especially first-time homebuyers.

Saving for a down payment may seem daunting, but having a solid plan in place can put your dream house within easier reach than you might think. Ready to start your search? Contact us today.


Home Improvement: How to Prioritize All Your Projects

Home Improvement

Do you feel overwhelmed at the idea of tackling home improvement projects? If you're like most homeowners, you can just walk through your home and see so many tasks awaiting your elbow grease. If you're thinking of listing your home among Sarasota homes for sale, you may want to get a handle on prioritizing projects.

One of the first steps is to decide how you want to categorize your repairs and renovations. You might jot down categories such as these, and then under each one, list projects that fall under that heading:

  • Safety
  • Damage prevention
  • Cosmetic
  • Updating to increase home value

Here are some additional tips for organizing your thoughts and knowing which projects to tackle first.

  1. List Projects that Affect the Safety of the Home
    Safety should always come first. Maybe there are electrical problems that threaten the safety of the home's occupants. Do you need to install security lighting and cameras outside the home and replace failing door hardware and locks? Is the HVAC on its last leg, and does it need replacement, or will some repairs get it into good working order? In most of these cases, you will likely need to call an expert, so plan your budget accordingly. 

  2. List Projects that Prevent Damage to the Home
    After you worked on projects causing an immediate safety hazard, look for ones that prevent potential damage. Do rain gutters need repair to save the roofline? Are there severe drafts in winter because of structural problems or because the windows need weatherstripping and caulking? Is the plumbing or roof leaking? Do trees need to be cut back, so they don't damage the roof? Once again, some projects you can likely tackle while others will need an expert. 

  3. Consider Cosmetic Changes
    Once you prioritize the must-dos for safety's sake, assess the cosmetic changes you think you'll need to sell your home, or if you're not going anywhere, to make you feel better. Cracks in the wall? Do the bathrooms need new tile? Could some of the rooms use a new coat of paint? Tackle one room at a time. You'll feel encouraged to move to the next project once you complete the first one on your list. If you're able to do it yourself on some of these, so much the better. 

  4. Consider Projects that Increase Value
    Exercise caution when it comes to initiating renovations to increase home value. Some will do just that, and some won't. Some projects that will add value: bathroom remodels; kitchen renovations; replacing old appliances with matching, energy-efficient models; remodeled attic or basement; adding a deck; boosting curb appeal by cleaning, trimming, and planting some color in the front yard; and increasing energy efficiency by air sealing your home, adding insulation, and installing efficient windows. Projects that won't increase value include luxury upgrades, garage conversions, and swimming pools. Before starting one of these projects, consider whether you plan on being in your current home for a long time. 

Do you need advice on prioritizing your home improvement projects before listing your home among the Bradenton homes for sale? Our real estate agents can help. Contact us today.


5 Reasons You Should Move to Sarasota in 2021

Move to Sarasota

Would you like to wake up every day and feel like you're on vacation? Then a move to Sarasota may be just what you need. Our real estate agents love welcoming new residents to Sarasota. Even those who have lived in Florida their entire lives are wowed at the beautiful beaches, spectacular shopping, and laid-back lifestyle of this Gulf Coast city. There are dozens of reasons you should move to Sarasota in 2021; here are five of our favorites.

  1. The Weather
    You don't need to ever step foot in Florida to know that it's home to some of the most preferable weather conditions in the country. Although the summer highs always tempt a trip to the beach or an afternoon by the pool, the winter months are just as comfortable in their own ways. Limited rainfall and highs in the mid-70s allow you to spend as much time outdoors as you wish. Imagine spending New Year's Eve strolling the beach with only a light jacket.

  2. The Culture
    When most picture Florida, a beachy vibe comes to mind. What many don't realize, however, is that Florida is home to a wealth of diversity. Sarasota itself is a haven for the arts, often referred to as Florida's Cultural City. Museums, such as the Ringling Museum of Art, galleries, music festivals, food festivals, and hundreds of other seasonal or year-round events offer the opportunity to explore diverse arts and cultures without venturing far from home.

  3. The Houses
    How do you envision your perfect Florida escape? Whether you're looking for a bungalow near the beach, a condo in the city, or something in between, you'll find it in Sarasota. It's an affordable city for real estate with median home prices just above $349,000. If you're searching for brand-new homes, the new master-planned community Lakewood Ranch was rated one of the best-selling communities in the country. One look at our Sarasota homes for sale, and you'll see why Sarasota's population is growing year after year.

  4. The Proximity
    Dining, shopping, entertainment, relaxation… it's all just outside your front door in Sarasota. Fine-dining at five-star restaurants and seaside cafes mix with fresh yet cheap eats at roadside diners. World-class shopping lets you peruse luxury brands and homemade boutique goods in a single trip. Sports fans are only an hour away from live games in Tampa, while nature lovers can reach the gateway to the Everglades in just over two hours. Of course, you can always take a five-minute drive from home and relax on Siesta Key Beach, voted the best beach in the country.

  5. The Lifestyle
    With sunny skies, vibrant culture, and a short drive from the best Florida's Gulf Coast has to offer, living in Sarasota is the ultimate experience for every lifestyle. You'll enjoy equal parts excitement and relaxation in effortless ways. In a single day, you can enjoy a resort-like beach experience, savor prime seafood, and attend a renowned event, all within a few miles of home.

Would you like to call this Southwest Florida gem home? As one of the top-rated places to retire in the United States, now is the perfect time to put down roots in the Sunshine State for the long-term. Contact us today to see our latest listings for Sarasota homes for sale.


Budgeting Your Way into Your First Home

First Home Buying Budget

Buying a new house can be a long, costly process, and preparing as much as possible will make it easier. You can avoid unexpected expenses and find a place to live that's affordable and comfortable for your family. Here are some tips from our real estate agents to help you budget your way into your first home.

Tips for Making Home-Buying Dreams a Reality

Save for a Down Payment

You should make your down payment as large as possible to save on mortgage interest. If you put at least 20 percent down, you can avoid paying for mortgage insurance. This type of insurance protects the lender and guarantees payment for people who choose lower down payments. According to Investopedia, it usually costs about 1 percent of the mortgage balance per year. That would be $1,500 for a $150,000 loan, more than $100 per month. Recent tax cuts eliminated a deduction for mortgage insurance and increased costs further.

Even if saving 20 percent isn't possible for your family, you can reduce costs by making your down payment as large as possible. Also, a larger down payment will give your home immediate equity and help you increase your credit score. That way, you can easily qualify for an additional loan for a new car or fresh decor for your home.

Prepare for Buying Expenses

Closing costs usually include fees for:

  • An appraisal
  • A survey to verify property lines
  • A wire transfer to send funds to the seller
  • Loan underwriting
  • Document preparation
  • Credit reporting
  • Recording fees for changing property records
  • Title insurance to protect you if the seller doesn't have the full deed to the property

Our agents can help you negotiate with the seller to reduce these costs as much as possible. We can also assist you with persuading sellers to replace old appliances and take care of repairs before you move in. That way, you can save time and money.

Decide How Much House You Can Afford

The cost of the mortgage isn't the only thing you need to consider. Other recurring expenses include homeowners insurance, maintenance, and landscaping. The rent for many apartments includes water, sewer, and trash pickup. In most cases, you'll need to pay these fees if you own your own home. Some homeowners' associations (HOAs) include some of these services in their fees, but you may end up paying more than you would in a house without an HOA. You'll also need to pay for property taxes and larger utility bills.

Budgeting for your first home can help you and your family make buying a house and moving less stressful. It can also prevent unexpected expenses. Contact us at Wagner Realty for help with creating a budget for your first home. We can also assist you in finding a place in your price range that meets your needs and help navigate the closing process.


There's No Place Like a New Home for the Holidays

New Home for the Holidays - Wagner Realty

So you have decided it's time for a new home, and are eagerly counting the days until spring to begin the search. But should you really wait that long to get started? While spring is one of the most popular times for buying a house, there are some advantages to making your purchase in the off-season, particularly around the holidays. So, perhaps it is time to talk to our real estate agents about finding your new home. After all, there's no place like a new home for the holidays.

Here are some advantages of making your home purchase over the holiday season:

  • Less Competition
    Off-season home shopping generally means less competition with other buyers, which means that there is a smaller chance of there being multiple offers on a home you're interested in purchasing. Fewer buyers to compete with can also translate to more room to negotiate with sellers, providing the potential to get a better price and better terms than you might if you were purchasing in the spring or summer. Finally, with fewer buyers shopping for homes, there will be less competition for the time of real estate agents, allowing yours to put a lot more time into helping you find your dream home than might be possible in the peak buying season.

  • Motivated Sellers
    People who put their homes on the market during the holiday season tend to be very motivated to sell. Often, they are selling at this time of year – rather than the peak season – because they need to. Perhaps they have a job in another state or need to move for family or financial reasons. Maybe their home has been on the market for a long time, and they want to make a sale before the end of the year. If you're buying a house from a seller that needs to sell quickly, the chances are good that you can get a better deal than might otherwise be possible.

  • Potential Price Advantages
    Research has shown that buying a house during the holidays can save you money. A study that looked at the best days to get a price discount on a new home found that seven of the ten best days were in December. The highest discounts were secured by people who bought homes on the 26th of December, having put in offers for those homes around Thanksgiving.

  • Quicker Closings
    Generally, everyone involved in a holiday-season home purchase wants to get the deal signed, sealed and delivered by the end of the year. Buyers and sellers want the moving wrapped up, given the hassles of relocating during the holidays. Lenders wish to wrap up loans posting them to the current year's book, and real estate agents want their commission recorded as income for the current year. What that means is that deals are made, and the closing process completed more quickly than would happen during the busy spring or summer seasons.

These are just a few of the potential advantages that can be gained by buying your new home during the holiday season. To hear more about how you can benefit from buying a home in the off-season, please contact Wagner Realty. We're always ready to help you make your best deal on a new home – no matter what time of year you choose to buy.


8 Great Holiday Gifts for the First-Time Home Buyer

Holiday Gifts for First-time Buyers

Decking the halls in your new home for the first time is a cause for celebration. If you've got a first-time home buyer on your holiday gift-giving list, you'll want to spend some extra time choosing the perfect item. Whether you decide to take the sentimental route or opt for something more practical, you'll want to give a memorable gift that they will love for years to come.

Our real estate agents spend plenty of time with first-time home buyers, so we have some insight into the things they need. Here are eight of the best ways for you to help your loved ones turn their new house into a home. 

  1. Smart Home Electronics
    Smart home technology is all the rage now, with good reason. Not only are smart upgrades cool and convenient, but they can also make your home safer and more energy efficient. Video doorbells, programmable thermostats, and smart lighting technology all make excellent holiday gifts.

  2. Kitchenware
    First-time homebuyers aren't likely to have full sets of matching dishes, a variety of wine glasses, nice knives, or quality pots and pans. Try to think back to the things you needed when you moved into your first home, and it's a good bet that the person you're shopping for needs the same things.

  3. Towels and Sheets
    Let's face it, towels and sheets are expensive, and they aren't much fun to buy. If you're going to take this route, make sure to choose quality items that will last for some time. Plush, absorbent towels and high-thread-count sheets are both excellent gift ideas. 

  4. Gizmos and Gadgets
    Want to give a fun gift that will get a lot of use? Consider a robot vacuum, one-cup coffee maker, or electric wine bottle opener. Essential appliances like a slow cooker, stand mixer, or a quality blender is also likely to become household staples.

  5. Practical Tools
    Most first-time homeowners don't know what tools they need until they're in a situation where they need them. You can be the hero by setting them up ahead of time with a versatile toolset, a good tape measure, or a quality flashlight (with batteries!) Don't be surprised if one day you hear a story about how your gift saved the day.

  6. Safety-Savvy Items
    Safety items like fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, and security cameras all make excellent gift ideas. Some less expensive ideas include a first-aid kit, heating pad, and ice packs, or motion-sensing nightlights.

  7. Personalized Gifts
    Commemorate this special occasion with a personalized gift like a monogrammed doormat, custom holiday ornament, or upscale home décor. Taking the time to have an item specially-made shows how much you care and is sure to tug on the heartstrings of the recipients.

  8. Store Gift Cards
    Gift cards might not seem like the most thoughtful choice, but they're often a lifesaver for new homeowners. There will always be times when they need something right away, and the ability to get it without spending their hard-earned cash is a gift they'll appreciate. Choose cards from home improvement stores, big-box retailers, or even your local grocery store. 

Is a Sarasota Home on Your Holiday Wish List?

If a new home is on your holiday wish list, you're in luck. Now is the perfect time to start checking out some of the beautiful Sarasota homes for sale. Don't let the hustle and bustle of the holidays get in the way of making your dream a reality. Contact Wagner Realty today to learn how we can help.


Buying a House When You Have Kids

Buying a House When You Have Kids
Buying a home is often a time filled with both excitement and anxiety, and if you are a family with children, those feelings can be even more intense. With kids, your house hunting strategy will be different than that of a single person or a retired couple. Our REALTORS® in Sarasota understand the ins and outs of the housing market, and we've put together a checklist of things to consider as you prepare to find your family's dream home.

  • Get the Kids Involved 
    You might not bring your children to every home tour; however, making them part of the decision-making process can be an advantage. Children can provide a different perspective during a house hunt, and they may bring features of the house to your attention that you hadn't considered. Of course, you won't want to put the ultimate decision-making power in your kids' hands, but letting them experience the process and voice their opinions will make them feel included and allow them to learn a little as well.

  • Education and Your Family's Future
    Most families with kids who are shopping for a home make looking at the school district a priority, and for a good reason. Quality education is essential for all families, and you want your children to have access to schools with high marks. Besides checking online resources and visiting with schools in your desired neighborhood, consider speaking with other parents in the area as well to gain their feedback on area schools. Keep in mind that some communities with highly desirable schools also have higher home prices and property taxes, so you'll need to weigh the benefit and determine if you're planning on living in the home long term.

  • Perfect for Now, But How About Later?
    When you're looking at Sarasota homes, it's easy to picture how well its size and layout will work for your kids at their current age, but it's also key to factor in how it will suit your family's needs as your children grow. Bedrooms and bathrooms are particularly crucial as children transition into their teenage years and want more privacy and space of their own.

  • Yards and Beyond
    Outdoor space is many times considered a must for families with children. Not only do they want a place to play, but parents also want that place to be safe and comfortable. While touring potential homes, consider both the size and layout of the yard to see if it will be ideal for your family. Note whether the yard is fenced or can be quickly and if it borders a busy street or intersection. Many parents also want their children to have neighborhood buddies, so take some time to get a feel for how many other families with children of similar ages live nearby.

Wagner Realty wants nothing more than to see your family's dream of owning your own home come true. We provide personal, results-oriented service to you from our first meeting to closing day for your perfect home. For more information about Sarasota homes for sale, contact Wagner Realty today.

Contact Wagner Realty


Buying Your First Home? Learn These Lessons Today.

Home Buying Lessons
Buying a home is a huge deal especially for first-time home buyers. Apart from being the single biggest purchase you will ever make, the process itself can be complicated. When you work with one of our real estate agents from Wagner Realty, we will always be on hand to help guide you through the entire process. Below are the key lessons to learn today to help make your home-purchase journey a little less stressful.

Put Aside Your Down Payment Money

It's common for lenders to require you to put down 20 percent as down payment for your new home. Although many lenders allow as little as 3 percent for first-time home buyers, committing anything less than 20 percent will mean higher loan costs and additional private mortgage insurance fees. Save enough money for your home's down payment using several savings schemes such as setting aside work bonuses and tax refunds or having an automatics savings plan.

Explore All Your Down Payment Options

As a first-time home buyer, you have several down payment options available to you if you cannot raise the deposit money. These are:

  • Federal mortgage programs offer loans with only three percent down
  • Federal Housing Administration loans permit 3.5 percent down payments
  • Veteran Affairs loans sometimes require little to no down payment at all
  • Crowdfunding or asking family members to pitch in

Check Your Credit

Your credit is a key factor in determining whether or not your home loan is approved. Moreover, it will determine your loan terms and interest rate. Therefore, work to improve your credit score in advance and offset outstanding debts early.

Pick the Right Home

Always consider everything you are looking for in your dream home when shopping around for one. Here:

  • Pick the right location and neighborhood
  • Consider crime and safety statistics
  • Check out noise, traffic, and activity levels
  • Look out for the nearest hospital, grocery store, pharmacy, school district, and other amenities

Budget for Closing Costs

After making an offer and starting the process of closing the deal, you need to account for closing costs that can run from two to five percent of your loan amount. Here, our real estate agents can help you shop around for affordable options to minimize some of your closing expenses such as title searches, home inspections, and homeowners insurance.

Take Your Time

Perhaps one of the hardest lessons on this list, but taking enough time to look for your dream home and shop around for all the services you will require throughout the buying process is essential. Try to minimize your frustrations and manage your emotions because making rush decisions can easily lead to buyer's remorse.

Be Prepared to Compromise

Making a strong offer is not a guarantee that you will close the deal. As issues arise from the home inspection and appraisal processes, be prepared to make compromises with the seller on certain things. However, too many compromises may result in high renovation costs.

Find a Great REALTOR®

When looking for homes for sale in Manatee and Sarasota Counties, it is important to hire the services of a professional buyer's agent to help you through the buying process from your home search through moving day.

Contact Wagner Realty today to get started buying your Flordia dream home.

Contact Wagner Realty


Buying a Home vs. Renting: Which is Right for You?

Buying a Home v. Renting
Buying Your First Home. 3 Reasons Why It Could be Right for You.

If buying your first home has been on your mind lately, maybe it's time to escape the rental trap that so many people have fallen into and begin the search for an investment in your future. There are many advantages to being a homeowner, and it might be easier to purchase your perfect home than you think!

Invest in an Asset

Buying your own home is effectively ensuring that you have invested in your own future. Falling into the cycle of putting your hard earned money towards rent may keep a roof over your head, but the only one making a profit is your landlord or rental agency. A well-maintained home will retain and usually build value as time passes, so you are virtually saving for years to come when you make a mortgage payment. A home purchase is a solid way to enhance your long-term net worth and even build your credit. You can't recoup the money you've been spending for rent payments, but you can take the first step today in making a solid investment in your new home.

Do the Math

Many people don't realize that buying a home vs. renting might actually save them money. Rent prices have been on the rise and in many cases, may actually exceed what you would be paying for a monthly mortgage installment. You're likely footing the bill for the rental property insurance and maintenance in your rent payment. If you own your own home, you have the advantage of being able to shop around for the best prices and services for these extras.

More Control Over Your Environment

As a prospective buyer, you are able to research and ultimately decide on your surroundings. You might be tired of less than thoughtful neighbors surrounding you on all sides, and a nice quiet neighborhood could be just what you're seeking. Want to make improvements or updates to your living space? Often, that's not possible when you're renting. Even getting basic repairs performed sometimes proves to be a hassle if your landlord isn't ideal. Owning your own house gives you the freedom to make your home uniquely yours without the hassle of having to ask permission or haggle over upkeep with a landlord.

If you're ready to break free from the rental trap, contact Wagner Realty and let's discuss your goals as a future homeowner. Our real estate agents are known for their personal and dedicated service to their clients and are waiting to hear from you!


Make Them an Offer So They Know You Mean It

5 Tips for Making an Offer to Buy a Home

Tips for Making an Offer to Purchase

So you've fallen in love with the perfect house. Your dream home is waiting, and now the ball is in your court. Knowing how to make the right impression with the seller is an important element in negotiating an agreeable selling price and ensuring that your prospective new home doesn't slip away and into someone else's hands. Our real estate agents have the experience and know how to help you make an offer that's hard to refuse, and we've put together a few suggestions that could give you the advantage in sealing the deal.

1. Straight to the Heart

Many home sellers have an emotional attachment to their home and may be a bit reluctant of letting it go to a virtual stranger. If you are ready to make an offer, consider taking the time to write a cover letter to send with it. Of course you'll want to introduce yourself and perhaps give the seller a little bit of personal background, but more importantly, you'll want to let them know why their home is so appealing to you. Giving the seller insight as to why you love their home may just give you the upper hand, especially if there are multiple offers on the table.

2. Build Trust and Confidence

An offer is one thing, but documentation that backs up your offer in black and white is almost certain to get the seller's attention. Proof of financing terms from your bank as well as an underwriting approval indicates that you are ready and have the financial resources available to purchase the home.

3. Think Twice Before Asking for Extras

Asking for seller concessions such as closing costs may put your offer in line behind other buyers who aren't requesting such credits. Furnishings and fixtures are not always included with the home, and no matter how much you fancy them, it might be wiser to wait and purchase comparable items on your own instead of giving the seller a reason to hesitate in considering your offer.

4. Know Your Budget and Use It to Your Advantage

If you are in a position to do so financially, you might give some thought to making an offer over the seller's list price. There's no doubt that an offer that exceeds the seller's expectations will be taken seriously.

5. Sweeten the Pot

Want to let the seller know that you mean business? Here are a few other ideas that might sway the seller to accept your offer:

  • Propose a quicker than normal closing date. This may work especially well if the seller is motivated and wanting to move quickly.
  • Increase your Earnest Money Deposit. By willingly putting more down to begin with, you send a message to the seller that you are committed to obtaining the financing needed in order to purchase the home.
  • Offer a month of free occupancy for the seller. Some sellers may actually need more time to complete the move from the home they're selling. Giving them the luxury of a little added time after closing might be a winning move on your part.

You know what you're looking for, and now you know some of the best secrets to making a successful offer. Your dream home is out there, and we want to help you find it Contact Wagner Realty today, and let our team of experts show you a world of possibilities!

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Secrets from the Pros for Finding the Right Neighborhood

Secrets for Finding the Right Neighbhorhood
You may be looking for your dream house, but have you given any thought to your dream neighborhood? The location of your home is at least as important as those four walls and a roof -- perhaps more so. The right neighborhood can offer not only amenities that are important to you, but an investment that will pay off in years to come. 

It's easy to browse Sarasota homes for sale, but harder to shop for a neighborhood directly. Without MLS listings for neighborhoods, how should you determine where to look for your dream home? Here are a few tips to get you started.

Identify Your Priorities

Before you even start shopping for a home, you should have a good idea OF what you want in a neighborhood. Sit down and make a list, ranking them in order of priority. If there is something you can't live without, such as good schools for the kids or walking distance to work, school, shopping, or public transit, put that at the very top of the list and mark it off from the rest.

Some of the factors you might consider in your search for a neighborhood are:

  • Schools
  • Urban vs. suburban
  • Accessibility
  • Ease of commuting
  • Security and safety
  • Amenities such as shopping, restaurants, parks, and more

Balance Price and Investment with Quality of Life

Financially speaking, the best investments are where you buy in during the beginnings of a period of growth, when a neighborhood is just starting to improve itself and grow in popularity, so that your home's value will accrue quickly. Look for areas that are adjacent to popular neighborhoods that have already gone through that period of growth and improvement. As rising values price out young, new buyers, they'll look to recreate the same experience nearby.

This being said, there's still a balance to achieve between a good investment and quality of life. Look for neighborhoods that offer the opportunity for rising values, but also those qualities you ranked as most important. This might mean that the best investments don't make the most sense for you and your family, but that's okay!

Start Your Research Online

The Internet is good for more than just browsing Bradenton homes for sale at 1am. As you browse, make a list of the neighborhoods you see in the listings, and then use Google, municipal websites, and a variety of other online tools to:

  • Read reviews of local schools online
  • Check crime statistics
  • Locate and read reviews for grocery stores, gas stations, coffee shops, etc.
  • Track traffic during peak times in Google Maps
  • Look for community information, such as local organizations, rec center and library event schedules, etc.

Visit the Neighborhood

If your preliminary research online checks out, it's time to go to the neighborhood and check things out.

  • Visit the neighborhood during various times of the day and on different days of the week. What's it like during the day? How does it change in the evenings and on weekends?
  • What is the foot traffic like through the neighborhood?
  • How do the homes look? Are the houses and yards well-maintained?
  • Is the school well-maintained? How do the facilities look?
  • Are there bars on the windows? Graffiti or other signs of mischief?

Ask Your Agent

Don't forget about one of the most important resources at your disposal: your real estate agent. Our REALTORS® are knowledgeable about the neighborhoods they cover and can help you more easily navigate the process of finding the right neighborhood for you and your family. Contact Wagner Realty today to consult with one of our experienced agents about your search.

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5 Tips for Sarasota Newlyweds Buying Their First Home

Newlyweds Buy First Home
Finding the right first home is much like finding the right life partner. Will it be love at first sight or a determined search? Are you looking for a fixer-upper to call your forever home--to have and to hold, to shape and to mold? It's a serious endeavor often fraught with pitfalls. First, you'll need a map and a good compass. Yes! A map of Sarasota homes for sale and a seasoned guide from our REALTORS® to point you in the right direction with these five tips for buying your first home.

1.  Love Nest Wish List

Your love nest wish list is a compilation, using pen and paper, of all the things you are looking for in your first home. This is important. Don't wing it. Certainly, compiling a list of "things" is a rather broad task. Shorten it. Define what "things" means to you and your spouse. However, for the sake of buying your first home in Sarasota, the term "things" refers to quality, not quantity--what you need now with room to grow.

  • Floor plan: Write down all the rooms you need and want (e.g. bedrooms, baths, kitchen size, family room, home office and bonus rooms).
  • Square footage: How much square footage does your floor plan require?
  • Landscape: Do you want to take advantage of Sarasota's year-round beautiful weather in an outdoor kitchen and pool?
  • Location: Are school districts important to you?

2.  Budget For Today, Tomorrow and # Years

Don't fudge the math or misplace a decimal point--it's number-crunching time. Yippee! Don't fret. You have a good plan in place, and you know where you're going. You have dreams. Absolutely! You also have a budget to map out for today, tomorrow and # years in order to make your dreams a reality.

  • Credit report: Are you applying for a joint mortgage loan? What is your budget if only one spouse is carrying the note?
  • Today: What is your price range today with a mortgage payment at 25% to 30% of your gross income?
  • Tomorrow: If you choose to sell down the road, will it be desirable to potential buyers regarding local property values?
  • Forever: Are you planning a family? Will you build out, convert unfinished attic space or undertake a different remodeling project?

3.  Pre-Approved Mortgage

Not that long ago, you simply found the home you wanted, submitted an offer and went to the bank for financing. It is now customary to secure a pre-approved mortgage before a seller or agent will show you a home. However, you are not bound by the letter. Once you find the perfect home in Sarasota, shop different financial institutions for the best interest rate available to you.

4.  Home Inspections

The last thing you want is to move into a beautiful first home only to discover problems with essential systems. Are there signs of roof leaks, uneven room temperatures, plumbing issues and/or electrical problems?

Don't be shocked after the fact if you come across system problems regardless of a home's age. Moreover, make sure a home inspection includes the age of HVAC systems and the roof--two major expenses should they need replacing.

5.  Hiring A Real Estate Agent

As newlywed first-time home buyers, work with a real estate agent familiar with the communities that interest you. Our REALTORS® know the subtleties of Sarasota markets and will craft a realistic offer on your dream home substantiated with comparable statistics. We do the footwork and guide you through the entire home-buying process.

From your love nest wish list to closing, speak to a real estate agent with extensive experience in Sarasota homes for sale by contacting Wagner Realty.

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First-time Buyers Guide: Buying a Home in 2018

Buying Your First Home in 2018
2017 has been a busy year for home buyers and 2018 seems like it will be booming too. 

While some people will shy away from getting involved in such a busy housing market, first-time buyers should be excited! First-time buyers have some major home-buying advantages.  There are many state, county and municipal assistance programs available for first-time home buyers.  In addition, time is also on the side of the first-time buyer. Since you don't have to worry about selling an existing home before you move, you can gather information and take action on your terms.

Let's focus on the top ten things you can do to get off to the right start.

  1. De-mystify Your Credit
    Authorized by federal law, Annual Credit Report provides a free credit report once per calendar year. Good credit means a better mortgage loan, so this is the place to get started. Follow up on any errors to raise your credit score fast.

  2. Pay Any Debts You Can
    Outstanding debt is another big part of your credit score and, thus, your mortgage options. If you have any debts you can pay off in the next few months, focus on them. Avoid opening new credit lines or canceling existing ones.

  3. Work on a Household Budget
    A sound budget helps you save for your home and transition smoothly to mortgage payments. It's the perfect time to gather the bills, figure out where money is going, and see if you can cut a hundred or two in expenditures.

  4. Determine What You Can Afford
    Knowing how much house you can afford will save you time and help you focus on the best homes for you. There are several home affordability calculators available on the web to help you zero in on the right home price based on annual income, debts, and down payment.

  5. Get Pre-approval – Ideally, Before April
    Pre-approval is a written commitment by a lender to issue a loan with certain terms. Although pre-approval does expire, it's best to get it done before April – that way, you know if your tax refund needs to go to housing expenses.

  6. Start Choosing Your Neighborhood
    If you can find the ideal neighborhood for you, you're halfway home! Most buyers start by deciding what amenities they need in a home and neighborhood. Then, they visit neighborhoods at different times of day and talk to local residents.

  7. Save for That Down Payment
    The bigger your down payment, the less you'll have to finance and the more money you'll save in the long run. It's also important to put some money aside for closing costs, which often can't be financed fully. Even a few thousand dollars can make a difference.

  8. Research First-Time Buyer Programs
    The government offers a number of mortgage loan programs, many offering special incentives for first-time buyers. Each one is overseen by a different federal agency, which creates guidelines lenders must follow. Programs include the USDA, VA, and FHA loans.

  9. Check Out Houses
    It's never too early to get a sense for what you want in a house. Online listings are available at the click of a mouse any time of the year. Don't forget to attend some open houses to see your options live and in person.

  10. Find a Real Estate Agent
    Wagner Realty is the #1 agency for first-time buyers. Our REALTORS® have helped thousands of people get first homes in Bradenton, Longboat Key, Lakewood Ranch, and Sarasota.

Contact Wagner Realty for expert help to get the search for your first home started.

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Top Tips from the Pros For First-Time Home Buyers

Tips for Buying Your First Home

First-time buyer tips from the pros

Buying your first home is an important life milestone. The process requires your patience, dedication, and financial commitment. You must think differently and consider factors that may not have been important before now.

The good news is that our REALTORS® know what it takes to find a home that's right for your family. When it's time to search for your new home, we'll help you through the process. Our Real Estate Guide for Buying Your First Home provides a to-do list to help you prepare for your home buying experience.

Build Your Bank Account

You should stop spending and start saving long before you begin touring homes for sale. You'll need the money when you close on your home and cash to cover a wave of home-related expenses.

  • Down Payment
    Traditionally, home buyers put down 20 percent of the sale price. A higher down payment will be even more beneficial in the long-run. It will lower your finance costs and your monthly payment.
  • Closing Costs
    The day you sign your closing documents, you'll pay title fees, taxes, homeowners and mortgage insurance, and other expenses that could add 2 to 5% to the home sale amount.
  • Ongoing Home Expenses
    You will need a financial cushion to cover recurring home operating costs, unanticipated repairs, and planned remodels. You'll have a home full of appliances, home systems, a roof, and a yard to maintain. You must also pay for trash services, water and sewage fees, and higher energy costs.

Start Thinking Like a Buyer Instead of a Renter

If you have no idea about the kind of home you want, look at home listings, attend open houses, and drive by homes for sale. Even if you're not quite ready to buy, you can get an idea of communities, home prices, amenities, and how much you're willing to pay for what's available.

Check out the Local Schools

If you have children or plan to someday, you must make sure you're in a thriving school district. Visit a non-profit school rating website like to see community school ratings.

Determine How Much You Can Afford

The FHA Mortgage Calculator and similar online apps and websites make it easy to calculate monthly mortgage costs. You input the mortgage amount, down payment, terms, rates, and other factors and the calculator shows you the monthly payment and income you need to afford it.

Get Your Credit in Order

You can pay the three major credit bureaus for a copy of your credit reports, but you can access them for free at Viewing your reports allows you to uncover problems that may make it difficult to get your home financed. You can eliminate inaccurate information and contact debtors to correct, resolve, or dispute problematic credit entries.

Get Pre-approved

When you find the home of your dreams, your pre-approval letter will save some delays. Your mortgage company will review your debt, credit rating, and financial standing to determine if you're mortgage-worthy. When they issue an approval letter, it tells potential home sellers that you're ready to buy.

Consider Mortgage Assistance Programs

You may qualify for mortgage assistance from Veterans Administration, HUD, and other government programs. They offer low mortgage rates, minimal down payments, and reduced qualifications.

Let Us Help You Find Your First Home

If you're ready to buy your first Gulf Coast of Florida home, you need a realtor to provide professional guidance. Contact Wagner Realty if you're buying or selling a home, or simply want information about the communities we serve.

Contact Wagner Realty

Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 01/28/2023. The listing information on this page last changed on 01/28/2023. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of Stellar MLS (last updated Fri 01/27/2023 9:14:02 PM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Wagner Realty may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --

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