When it comes to buying or selling a home, it can be both an exciting time and a stressful one. If you’re the seller, you might be excited to move onto a new adventure in life. Maybe you’re finally relocating to the city of your dreams, or you’ve found your forever home. If you’re the buyer, you might be elated to get into your new home and make it your own. Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or a seasoned vet who has seen your fair share of transactions, it’s an exhilarating occasion.

But what about the opposite end of the spectrum? The home buying process can be taxing on both the seller and the buyer. The seller, for instance, is probably worried about getting the most value out of their home, or perhaps how long the home will take to sell. The buyer wants to get the best deal they can because they’re worried about whether or not the home will depreciate.

In either case, it’s critical to be well informed to reduce the amount of stress throughout the entire affair. Of course, the real estate professional that you’re working with will be able to help guide you through any questions or concerns you may have. With that being said, let’s get into some of the most frequently asked questions in real estate.

What is a real estate agent and why should I use one?

A real estate agent, in the most basic of terms, is a licensed professional acting on behalf of the buyer or seller in a real estate transaction. Agents have a fiduciary obligation to their clients and adhere to an often strict code of ethics. Working with a real estate professional is always a smart choice, as it is part of their job to know the current market. As a seller, your agent will be able to list your home on the MLS, or Multiple Listing Service, which you would not be able to do otherwise. This creates more exposure for your home, thus bringing more potential buyers to the table. Your agent will also handle the costs of photographing and marketing your home. As a buyer, your agent will have access to every property listed on the MLS. When a new home comes on the market that fits your search parameters, you will know about it right away. In some cases, you may even know about it before the listing is on Zillow or Trulia.

Can a home’s value depreciate?

Real estate is a significant investment. Whether or not a home depreciates is determined by many factors, including how a home is cared for and the way in which surrounding areas are developed. It’s not common that you will see the value drop; however, it can happen.

What is my home worth?

Multiple factors will determine what your home is worth, such as upgrades you’ve made, as well as the surrounding area. A real estate professional will be able to do a comparative market analysis, also known as a CMA, to give you a better idea of the price in which to list your home. Often, the suggested list price will be based on comparable homes in the area that have recently sold. Ultimately, though, neither the agent nor the seller can decide on a home’s value. The home’s real worth will be what a potential buyer is willing to pay.

Should I talk to a mortgage company before looking at homes?

In short, yes. Getting prequalified for a loan is a smart decision. If you get prequalified, you’ll know exactly what you can afford to buy. Not only does it help with your finances, but it also shows sellers that you’re a qualified buyer. A homeowner will be much more willing to accept an offer if they know there will be no problems with the buyer obtaining a loan.

Is there a best time to list my home?

The spring and summer months are the best times to list if you’re a seller. With school letting out and parents wanting to get into their home before a new school year starts up again, they may be willing to pay a premium. These months are also when a home typically sells that fastest. Buyers prefer to look at homes when the weather is nice, so you can expect your home to sit on the market for far fewer days than in the fall and winter months. If you’re a buyer, however, you may want to consider holding off. If you can afford to wait until the fall and winter months when the demand isn’t as high, you may get a home for a lower price than you would if you were buying in the spring.

Should I price my home higher to account for negotiations?

While this is always an option, it may not be the best one. You could get lucky and get an offer quickly, but the more likely scenario is that you’ll end up losing money. In the event that you do receive a tender, the potential buyer could face financing issues if the home doesn’t appraise for the increased price. If your home is listed at a higher price than other comparable homes, you might indirectly help your competition sell quicker. Your home would likely sit on the market longer, causing qualified buyers to lose interest. If your home sits on the market longer than expected, that means additional mortgage payments and possible unforeseen maintenance costs. To draw the attention of the buyers that were lost, the price would have to be reduced to under market value. Pricing a home above market value isn’t recommended unless the demand for your area is high.

You’re on your way to a brand new adventure in life, and whatever your adventure may be, it’s important to enjoy it. That being said, the home buying and selling process can be extremely stressful. Being well informed and working with a real estate professional can help substantially reduce that stress. Consult with Jeni DiVirgilio, a local real estate expert, to figure out what the best course of action is for you and to ease your mind of any concerns. She can be reached at (908) 477-4907 or by email; Jeni@WelcomeHome123.com