Joni Miller   ABR, SFR, Realtor®                 
Buyer & Seller Guides
For Buyers...

Step 1: Defining What You Want

Start by creating a prioritized list of features you want in your next home and the reasons why. Use it as your search guide, but remember that depending on your funding, you will probably need to make some compromises. In addition, talk to your real estate professional about where you want to live. Location is a huge part of any move.

Step 2: Figuring Out What You Can Afford

Now that you know what you want, it's time to see what you can afford. You can start by crunching the numbers yourself using our mortgage payment calculator.

When you're ready to move to the next step, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage. This process can often be performed in under an hour and it accomplishes two important goals. First, it will tell you how much house you can afford and what your monthly payments would be. Second, it tells the seller that you can afford to buy their home.

By definition, a pre-approved buyer has an approved mortgage subject to an appraisal of the property. Many times a buyer can use this pre-approved status as leverage during the negotiation process.

Step 3: Shopping For Homes

Once you know what community you'd like to live in and have an idea of how much house you can afford, its time tostart checking out actual properties. Beginning this search online can help save you time since it can help you target homes that meet your search criteria. Our real estate professionals can even email you when properties that meet your search criteria come on the market.

Next, begin visiting homes in person. Ask your local real estate professional to arrange visits and attend open houses that are in your target area and price range. When comparing homes, make sure to look at all aspects of the property. Is the property tax approximately the same? Are both the houses renovated? Do they both have the same amount of bedrooms and bathrooms? Are both houses located on the same or similar streets? Does either house have any encumbrances?

Step 4: Making An Offer

Once you find the home you want, you need to make an offer for the house. Typically this is a very difficult and trying time since both parties have totally different goals. In most cases it is better to have a third party, such as one of our real estate professionals, negotiate the offer. If you have any personal interaction with the homeowner, don't give out any information about your move, your current housing status, financial status or your feelings about their property - positive or negative. This could hurt you in future negotiations.

Step 5: Inspection & Insurance

After your offer is accepted you will need to set up, coordinate and interpret various inspections, including insect, radon, building quality, oil tank, title, etc. You will also need to arrange for homeowners insurance and finalize the mortgage.

This is a major step in the buying process and there are many potential problems that can be discovered during this period. These include a leaky roof, radon gas, termite damage, a foundation problem, and wall cracks, to name a few. These problems happen all the time. The difference between closing on your dream home and starting the process all over again is what occurs during the negotiations between you and the seller.

Step 6: The Final Closing

Before you arrive at the closing, make sure all the necessary paper work and deposits have been completed. If the mortgage, title work, homeowners insurance and other items necessary under local and state laws are not completed and brought to the closing table, the closing may not happen on time. And, depending on what the contract says, this could result in further action including financial penalties and even the loss of your rights to the home.


For Sellers...

"You never get a second chance at a first impression."  ~ Will Rogers

Suggestions to help sell your home:

Tidy up the grounds-porches-garage.  Keep lawn trimmed and edged.  Make sure that your yard is clean of refuse.  Trim overgrown shrubs.

Your front door gives a vital first impression while a REALTOR® and prospect wait for you to answer the bell.  Be sure it is scrubbed clean or painted if necessary.  Make certain the mailbox is clean.  Get an attractive mat for people to wipe their feet. 

Clean windows and dress them up in freshly laundered curtains.

If any decoration is needed (especially kitchen) do it now!  $100 worth of paint may balance $500 in a price cut.  Bathrooms help sell homes.  Make this room sparkle.

- Keep all steps clear of hazards.

Don’t forget to have all light sockets filled with bulbs.  Illumination is like a welcome sign.  The potential buyers will feel a glowing warmth when you turn on all your lights for an evening inspection.

Wash dishes, put away clothes, straighten up newspapers, etc.  Rid all closets, cabinets, and drawers of unnecessary clutter.  Take out the trash if necessary.

Make up beds with clean, attractive spreads.

Keep pets out of the way when showing.  (One type of prospect is annoyed-another’s attention is diverted.)  Air out your home if a pet odor is evident. 

Avoid having too many people present during inspections.  The potential buyer will feel like an intruder and will hurry through the house. 

Leave showing to the salesperson.  It is his/her business to sell; the salesperson knows the buyer’s requirements and can best emphasize the features of your house.  You will be called if needed.

- Don’t discuss anything concerning the sale with customer.  Let the REALTOR® discuss price, terms, possession, and other factors with the customer.  He/she is eminently qualified to bring negotiations to a favorable conclusion.  

- Never apologize for appearance.  It only accentuates or distracts.

Never try to sell furniture to a customer before the deal is completed.

Please cooperate with the agents when they call for an appointment.  It may be inconvenient for you to have the house shown, but you may never get another opportunity for that particular person to look at your home again. 

Showing Checklist:


Remember, first impressions are everything!
Clean front door, windows and shutters (repaint if necessary).
Keep the lawn and shrubbery trimmed and well watered
Replace torn or missing window screens and splurge on a new doormat.
Wash garage door (repaint if necessary).
Store lawn/gardening equipment out of sight (hose, lawnmowers, etc).
Oil and squeaks.
Clean out gutters.
Keep front of property free of clutter to increase curb appeal.


Arrange furniture so rooms look and feel spacious.
Remove clutter (use your attic if necessary).
Wash all light covers and replace burned out bulbs.
Organize closets to look spacious
Get out the toolbox to tighten door knobs, drawer pulls, and oil hinges.
Repair any faucet drips.
Vacuum/sweep/mop often.
Keep temperature comfortable.
Clean and deodorize carpets.
Free home of bad odors (pets and smoke)

Day of Showing:

Store all valuables out of sight.
Open shades and draperies.
Turn on all lights.
Store pets safely out of the way.
Cultivate smell appeal (bake cookies, use potpourri).
Put out fresh flowers.
Use your “best” towels, table and bed linens.
Set your table as if you are having a dinner party! 

-  Put out fresh flowers.
-  Use your “best” towels, table and bed linens.
-  Set your table as if you are having a dinner party!