Does the thought of buying a new home put more fear in you than a three-headed dog coming to your door to trick-or-treat?  Not to worry. Here are steps to take to help you decide whether you're ready to take the plunge.

1. Check the selling prices of comparable homes in your area. Web sites such as Zillow and Homegain can give you a general idea of what you should expect to pay. You can also do a quick search of actual MLS listings in your area on a number of Web sites, including the site of the National Association of Realtors.

2. See what you can afford. Use Bankrate’s  mortgage calculator to see what your payment would be. 

3. Find out what your total monthly housing cost would be, including taxes and homeowners insurance. To get a feel for the maximum amount you should spend, including taxes and insurance, use MSN Real Estate's home affordability calculator. In some areas, what you'll pay for your taxes and insurance escrow can almost double your mortgage payment. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average yearly premium can range from $477 in Utah to $1,372 for unlucky Texans.

What's your home worth?
4. Find out how much you'll likely pay in closing costs. The upfront cost of settling on your home shouldn't be overlooked. Closing costs include origination fees charged by the lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid items such as homeowners insurance or homeowners association fees. You can see what closing costs average in Wisconsin by looking at Bankrate.com's annual closing cost survey.

5. Look at your budget and determine how a house fits into it. Fannie Mae recommends that buyers spend no more than 28% of their income on housing costs. Go much past 30% and you risk becoming house poor.

6. Contact us here at HouseReward.com to help you through the process.  We can recommend a great lender and work hand-in-hand with you and your lender to get you approved and into your new home.

7. Remember to look at the big picture. While buying a house is a great way to build wealth, maintaining your investment can be labor-intensive and expensive. When unexpected costs for new appliances, roof repairs and plumbing problems crop up, there's no landlord to turn to, and these costs can drain your bank account.

So consider whether you're ready for the expense and effort of homeownership before pulling the trigger.  But also remember, "homeownership" sounds a whole lot scarier than it really is.  Happy Halloween!

1. DEPERSONALIZE...  Staging your home to help potential buyers picture themselves living in there is a huge aspect of the home selling process overlooked by many home sellers. If you don't have the knack, hire a professional stager for a few hours. They will give you some great ideas to transform your home for very little cost.

2.  Price it Right!  It may go without saying, but a well-priced home gets buyers in the door and your home sold quickly. Overpricing causes potential buyers to overlook your home and eventually, it becomes a stagnant listing.  

3.  Be Prepared to negotiate the offer and repairs.  Besides doing a little bargaining over the final purchase price, many sellers forget that post-inspection home repairs may cause them additional costs.  To remedy this, a homeseller can fix all them items they are aware of before listing the property or make sure to acknowledge "issues" you don't intend to fix on the Real Estate Condition Report.  

4.  Closing.  Working with a great Realtor should help your closing go smoothly.  Part of the Realtor's job is to act as a facilitator between the parties, the lender and title company to ensure a seamless closing.  Look for a Realtor who has the time to talk to you and makes you feel confident he or she will be along for the whole home selling "ride." 

If you are preparing your home to sell, it is never too early to talk us at HouseReward.com  We would be happy to assist you with finding a professional stager, walk you through the listing and marketing process and give you a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) so you know what to expect when you are ready to list your property.
Happy Selling!

Who's ready for winter?  If you are thinking of selling your home soon, HouseReward.com has a "WINTER" flat fee offer if you plan to do it yourself.  For $99, we'll put it on the MLS and major real estate websites.  Check out HouseReward.com/flat fee services for more details.  

This week, I came across this lovely cottage that is close to everything.  The home boasts a fireplace, screened porch, garage and a cozy firepit area in the backyard.  Walk to Maple Bluff's great beach. Call and let's go look at it today!  273 Kensington Drive.