Heather Fitzgerald | North Haven Real Estate, East Haven Real Estate, Branford Real Estate

Shopping for a house is a high-stakes game. If you’re a first-time buyer, it can be difficult to gauge the value of various components and features of a home. Appraisals are designed for just this reason.

However, an appraisal is a subjective tool to determine a rough estimate. Furthermore, there are a number of things you can’t learn from an appraisal--such as how convenient the home would be for your work commute.

In this article, we’re going to help you, the homebuyer, determine the true value of a home as it would mean to you in your everyday life. Read on for tips on finding out the value of that home you’ve been dreaming of and deciding whether it’s really the best home for your budget.  

Appraisals are a baseline

When lenders are in the process of approving your home loan, they’ll want to decide whether the home you’re buying is worth the amount you’re paying. To achieve this, they’ll typically hire a third-party appraiser.

Find out from your lender which appraiser they use and read their online reviews. This will ensure that they’re a trustworthy source of information. Also be sure to check that the appraiser is certified and that they work with a diverse range of clientele (not just your lender!).

Since you’ll likely be paying the appraisal fee as part of your closing costs, make sure you’re happy with the appraisal and appraiser.

Key appraisal factors

After the appraisal, consider getting a second opinion or inspection of any of the key components of your home that may impact the appraisal. Some of these factors include:

  • The roof, HVAC system, and septic systems

  • The energy-efficiency of the home

  • The current market value in the area

  • The general upkeep of the home--a few cosmetic problems shouldn’t affect the home value much, but serious neglect can cause long-lasting and expensive issues like mold, water damage, pest invasion, and more

What an appraisal can’t tell you

Now that we’ve discussed the nuts and bolts of home value, we have to venture into what value means to you and your family. You’ll need to ask yourself a series of questions, and some of them won’t have a cut-and-dry answer.

First, how well does this home fit into the work life of you and your spouse? Will it mean a shorter commute, and therefore lower transportation costs and more free time? Putting a dollar value on an extra thirty minutes not spent in traffic can be difficult, but it’s a worthwhile exercise to take part in.

Furthermore, does the house have features that will make it a better asset in years to come? Energy-efficiency, proximity to in-demand schools, businesses, etc., can all be selling points for future buyers that are willing to pay more for your home.

Using a combination of a certified appraisal and some introspection, you should be able to come to a confident conclusion as to the value of the home as it means to you and your family.

If you intend to buy a house in the foreseeable future, it pays to prepare. That way, you can enter the real estate market as an "extraordinary" homebuyer, i.e. someone who knows exactly what it takes to find a great house at an outstanding price.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help any homebuyer go from ordinary to extraordinary.

1. Learn the Ins and Outs of the Housing Sector

The real estate market is complex, particularly for someone who is pursuing a house for the first time. Fortunately, plenty of housing market data is available that can help you gain the insights that you need to make an informed home purchase.

Take a look at homes that are currently available in your city or town. By doing so, you can better understand the prices of houses that match your expectations. Then, you can tailor your home search accordingly.

Furthermore, don't forget to assess the prices of recently sold residences in your area. This housing market data will help you determine whether you're about to enter a real estate market that favors buyers or sellers.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Meet with banks and credit unions to learn about your mortgage options – you'll be glad you did. If you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can begin your home search with a budget in hand, thereby reducing the temptation to spend too much on a house.

Lenders are happy to provide you with information about a broad range of mortgage options. Also, if you ever have mortgage questions, lenders employ friendly, professionally trained mortgage specialists who are ready to respond to your queries.

In addition, it usually is a good idea to evaluate your credit score prior to applying for a mortgage.

You can obtain a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). If you review your credit report closely, you can identify and resolve any potential credit problems and increase the likelihood that you can obtain a favorable mortgage.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to becoming an extraordinary homebuyer, it is important to note that it can be difficult for even the most diligent homebuyer to succeed on his or her own. However, if you employ an expert real estate agent, you can streamline the process of acquiring your dream residence.

A real estate agent is committed to your homebuying success, and as such, will do everything possible to help you find the perfect residence.

Typically, a real estate agent will set up home showings, negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and provide honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations. This housing market professional will even help you alleviate homebuying stress and ensure that you can quickly go from homebuyer to homeowner.

Ready to embark on the homebuying journey? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can become an extraordinary homebuyer in no time at all.

If you want to buy your dream house, you'll likely need to submit a competitive offer from the get-go. That way, you can boost the likelihood of receiving a "Yes" from a home seller and proceed along the homebuying journey.

Putting together a competitive homebuying proposal can be simple. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prepare a competitive offer to acquire your ideal residence.

1. Look at Your Homebuying Budget

Entering the real estate market with a budget in hand generally is beneficial. This budget will enable you to narrow your house search to residences that fall within a certain price range. Plus, your budget can help you define exactly how much you can offer to acquire a residence.

When it comes to mapping out a homebuying budget, you should meet with several lenders. These financial experts can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage. And with a mortgage in hand, you'll know exactly how much you can spend on a house.

2. Review Housing Market Data

Housing market data can make or break a homebuying proposal. If you assess real estate market data closely, you can uncover a variety of patterns and trends. Then, you can use this information to craft a competitive offer that accounts for the present real estate market's conditions.

Of course, it helps to evaluate the age and condition of a house as well. Learning about all aspects of a house will help you determine whether to submit an offer at, above or below a seller's initial asking price for his or her residence.

The more information that you obtain about a residence and the current housing market's conditions, the better off you will be. Because if you take a data-driven approach to buying a residence, you can define a competitive offer for any home, in any housing market and at any time.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a difference-maker, particularly for a homebuyer who is uncertain about what differentiates a competitive home offer from a "lowball" proposal. In fact, a real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that you can acquire a great house at the lowest-possible price.

Typically, a real estate agent will provide you with a wealth of housing market insights. He or she also is happy to teach you about the real estate market and respond to any of your homebuying concerns or questions.

A real estate agent can offer recommendations about how much you should offer to pay for a house too. He or she will provide honest, unbiased homebuying suggestions to help guide you in the right direction throughout the homebuying cycle.

If you want to purchase your dream house as quickly as possible, there is no reason to delay any further. Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can prepare a competitive offer to purchase your dream residence.

In today’s world, everything is online. You probably have started your home search online as well. It’s plain fun to look at real estate. You can dream of living in a place you can’t afford. You might never see any of those listings that you’re browsing in person. Should you?

No matter when your home search may become a reality, there are a few benefits to seeing houses in person. 

You’ll See What Your Money Can Get You

What you want and what you can afford may be far apart. You won’t understand the reality of the housing market unless you see it firsthand. By looking at what’s available on the market at a given time, you will be able to see how much house your dollars will buy you. Knowing what you can afford will help you to keep your expectations in check when you do head out to search for a home. Looking at what homes are on the market can actually help you to help your real estate agent find you something that will suit your needs. There’s nothing worse than telling your agent that you want a home that’s impossible to find.

You’ll Meet Real Estate Agents

By going to open houses, you’ll be able to meet different real estate agents. Through this process, you could very well meet the agent who will help you to find your dream home. If you like the way an agent is helping to sell a home, you’ll very likely get along with them as a buyer. 

You Will Know How Much Competition You Have

If you’re attending open houses and find that there are many other people there the same time as you, it could be a sign that the market has tight competition. A lot of open house attendees means that prices are higher because the competition is fierce. You may have to offer above asking price in order to secure a deal on a home.

You’ll Learn Different Areas

Open houses can bring you to places you may have never thought of living before. You’ll get a sense of what different neighborhoods are like if you spend some time exploring through attending open houses. 

You’ll Learn What You Can Live With

It’s easy to have a concrete picture in your mind of what you want in a home and what you can deal with. When you see houses firsthand, you may be able to open your mind a bit as to the type of home you’re seeking.  


Ready to make your homeownership dream a reality? In some cases, you may need to submit a home offer that surpasses a home seller's initial asking price, and these cases include:

1. You've fallen in love with a house.

Once you've found your dream residence, you'll want to do everything possible to secure this home as quickly as possible. Therefore, if you fall in love with a house, you can submit an offer that exceeds a home seller's initial asking price in the hopes of streamlining the homebuying journey.

Of course, before you submit an offer on any house, it is paramount to understand what differentiates an average home from a great one.

A great residence is one that you can enjoy both now and in the future. It likely will require minimal initial repairs, and as such, will be worth your time and resources.

2. You are facing steep competition.

For homebuyers who are competing for a high-quality residence in a buyer's market, it often pays to submit a home offer that surpasses a homebuyer's initial asking price. By doing so, you can guarantee your offer will stand out from others and boost the likelihood of securing your dream residence.

In a competitive real estate market, there is no need to hesitate to submit an above-average home offer, either.

A home offer that impresses a homebuyer may set the stage for a quick home sale. And if you put your best foot forward with a home offer, you should have no trouble acquiring a terrific residence, regardless of the current housing market's conditions.

3. You have substantial financial resources at your disposal.

A diligent homebuyer may choose to get pre-approved for a home loan. As a result, this homebuyer may be better equipped than others to submit a home offer that is higher than a home seller's initial asking price.

For example, a homebuyer who receives pre-approval for a home loan can start the homebuying journey with a budget in hand. This homebuyer then can check out houses that fall within his or her price range. And after this homebuyer discovers the perfect house, he or she can make an above-average proposal to acquire the residence.

To get pre-approved for a home loan, a homebuyer should meet with multiple lenders. Next, this homebuyer can review various home loan offers and select one that corresponds with his or her finances.

Lastly, if you need extra support during the homebuying journey, it pays to collaborate with a real estate agent.

A real estate agent will help you evaluate a broad array of houses in your city or town. In addition, this housing market professional can help you put together the right offer on a house to ensure you can secure your dream residence in no time at all.

Take the next step to acquire your ideal house – reach out to a local real estate agent today, and you can move closer to finding and purchasing your dream residence.