Making Sure Your House Bid is the Winning One

Sometimes you find the ideal house for you and your family only to find out that there are other parties interested in purchasing it. If this happens, you may become embroiled in a bidding war, which can quickly drive the price of the perfect home up. If you’re worried about being the winning bidder, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your offer is the winning one:

Get Pre-Approved

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage at a price higher than the current listing on the house is a great way to get an edge over the competition. Sellers are always wary of buyers with bad credit, and pre-approval takes care of that. It also means you can close more quickly on the house because you won’t have to wait as long to get your mortgage in place.

Keep in mind that pre-approval and pre-qualified are two different things. Pre-qualification isn’t as strong and doesn’t guarantee that the lender will give you the full mortgage amount you want, it just means they will consider making the loan. If you want to be pre-approved, you’ll need to fill out a complete mortgage application and provide extensive documentation.

Offer A Strong Down Payment

The larger your down payment, the more seriously the sellers will take you. If you come in with a lower figure on your down payment, the sellers may assume that you’re struggling financially or they may fear that you won’t be able to come up with the funds when the time comes to close. This can be particularly helpful if the seller needs to close on the house quickly because they are in financial difficulties.

Understand the Sellers and Help the Sellers Understand You

Regardless of whether the seller is putting their home on the market for personal or financial reasons, you can tap into their feelings with the right letter. If you know they’ve raised their children in the house and you have young children of your own, the personal connection can make a real difference. Having a career as a doctor, firefighter, nurse or some other altruistic pursuit may also help.

43077981 - money wallet
You may need to make a strong offer to get the house you really want in today’s market.

If money talks, however, skip the warm feelings and aim straight for their wallet. If you find out that the seller is in foreclosure or is behind on their own mortgage payments, they will want to close as quickly as possible so that they can move on with one less debt to worry about. If you have the means to make a cash offer to a homeowner in foreclosure, you could make an offer that’s up to 20% less than other buyers who have to take out a mortgage.

Be Willing to Negotiate on the Details

If you’re in a bidding war for a house, you’ll need to be extremely flexible on the terms of the offer. Don’t put in any clauses that will slow down the sale of the house. Stating that you’ll only close once your own house sells is a recipe for losing your dream home. You may have to carry two mortgages for a short time, but it may be preferable to losing out on the home you’ve dreamed about. Also don’t include a mortgage contingency clause that allows you to back out of the sale if you don’t get the financing you need. (If you’ve been pre-approved, this won’t be a problem.) Sellers hate losing potential home buyers because the current deal falls through.

Bid High

In the past decade, houses have mostly sold for less than their asking prices, but that’s changing. It’s now a sellers’ market, which means the days of offering a low-ball figure and getting a counter-offer from the seller are over. Make a strong offer from the start. This might mean

Respond Quickly

It’s usually a good idea to “sleep on it” when you’re buying a house, but if there are multiple bidders or the seller wants to close as soon as possible, respond quickly to any counter-offers. Don’t ask for a few days to think it over; the seller may move on to the next buyer while you’re mulling over your options. Try to respond by the end of the day (or sooner if possible).

Don’t Fester Over Small Details

Five years ago, a home buyer could ask the sellers to do minor repairs before they would sign. This gave buyers a move-in ready home and put the expensive of minor facelifts on the seller. Today if you ask the current owner to cut down a few trees, repaint the exterior or fix the leaky faucet in the sink, the seller will probably move on to a seller who is willing to buy the house “as is.”

Signing Mortgage
Being ready to sign and having all the documents you need in place will help you close on the house you love sooner.

Finally, be ready to close as soon as possible and make the closing itself as painless as possible. Have all your documents ready in advance, schedule a time that is convenient to the seller, and make the process as smooth as possible for everyone.


April May 2016 Look At My Homes’ Homeowners Newsletter

Just click here for the complete issue of our April/May newsletter:  April May 2016

816 Western Street, Ellwood City, PA is Family Ready

816 Western Street
816 Western Street

You’ll fall in love with the details in this house. A spacious layout and completely finished attic bedroom gives you lots of flexibility and storage. A spacious kitchen with oak cabinets, updated countertops and beautiful architectural details are just a few of the reasons you’ll want to move right in. Hardwood floors and a neutral color palette mean you can move right in. It even has central air to keep you cool on those hot summer days. You won’t find a five bedroom house in this great condition anywhere else that’s priced to sell at $76,900!



Contact Look At My Homes at 724-333-4114 to schedule an appointment or get more information.

Seller Disclosures When Buying A Home

termites-damageAny time you buy a home there is the chance that a problem could arise shortly after you’ve purchased the house and moved in, but Pennsylvania Seller Disclosure Laws help protect you if the problem was apparent to the seller before he or she sold you the house. But what does a seller have to reveal to you before you sign on the dotted line?

Pennsylvania’s 68 Pennsylvania Statutes Section 7304 requires all sellers to provide potential buyers with a Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement. This document should including the following information:


  • Contents of the house (such as dishwashers and other appliances) and their condition, including whether they need to be repaired or replaced
  • The location and number of working smoke detectors
  • Whether there is a known problem with sewage lines, septic systems, etc.
  • Any additional costs the homeowner will incur on a regular basis, such as Home Owners’ Association (HOA) fees or any restrictions on the deed to the property, such as whether mineral rights are included with the sale of the property.
  • Specifics such as the type of sewer system used on the property
  • If the house was constructed prior to 1978, the seller will need to provide Title X disclaimer stating whether there is lead-based paint in the home and how it has been treated.

At Look At My Homes, we always strive to give you all the information you need to make the an informed decision about your next home purchase. If you have questions, ask us and we will give you the unvarnished truth. We want your home buying experience to be so good that you will recommend Look At My Homes to your friends and family!


Perfect First Home in Ellwood City!


Front of house from left

Take a look at this attractive house 729 First Ave, Ellwood City, PA.  On a quiet residential street lined with mature trees, this is a starter home with plenty of updated features and lots of natural light. A neutral color scheme, fresh paint, newer carpeting and an oak kitchen all translate to the ideal palette for you to make this home your own. Two spacious bedrooms, one bathroom and upgraded ceiling fans and light fixtures mean this is a move-in ready home. A cute front porch includes coach lights on either side of the front door and a railing that makes it kid-friendly for play or simply relaxing and greeting your neighbors. A sliding glass patio door on the back opens to a concrete pad that’s ideal for a patio table or your grill. A laundry room on the first floor makes laundry day more convenient.

Located in an established, family-friendly neighborhood, 729 First Ave. is a just a few minutes from Route 18 and access to the Turnpike and highways. This is 1,704 square feet of convenience and style!

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Looking for something different in Ellwood City, PA? Be sure to visit Look At My Homes and check out the many home buying and rental options we currently have available!


2016: For Homebuyers, It’s a Very Good Year

The New Year always brings new plans, including plans to move to a new address. A fresh start in a new (or new to you) home is always exciting, but it can be particularly exciting when everything falls into place for home buyers, and 2016 promises to be one of those years. Some recent changes in the industry as well as positive financial indicators all mean that if you’re considering buying now, you’ll be able to take advantage of a great market. There are several reasons that this may be the time for you to start shopping for your home:

  1. Mortgage interest rates are still low

Although flexible mortgage rates do flutter up and down, they are as a whole still quite low and will probably remain that way throughout 2016. If you have decent credit, you can find a fixed rate mortgage with interest rates as low as 4-4.5%.  This gives buyers more flexibility on what they can afford to purchase since they will be saving thousands over the life of the loan compared to the higher mortgage interest rates of just a decade ago, when typical rates were 6.5-7% or higher. And there is no comparison to the awful interest rates of the 1980’s, when many homeowners were strapped with interest rates of 15% or more!

  1. The Price of Homes Is No Longer Climbing

Although housing prices plummeted during the housing crisis in 2008, they have been steadily climbing since, and you won’t have to contend with the high interest rates of a subprime loan. The stabilization of housing prices is good news for buyers, who can do more comparison shopping and negotiate more strongly with sellers.


  1. You Don’t Need a Huge Downpayment

The days of needing a downpayment equal to 10-20% of the value of the house are long gone. If you have a decent credit score, many lending institutions will offer you a thirty year mortgage with a downpayment that as low as 3% of your home’s value. One excellent program to look into is the Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage program. Their website outlines the criteria and answers common questions about this innovative home buying program.

  1. You Can Afford Mortgage Insurance

One of the caveats of buying a home with less than 20% is that the mortgage lender will almost always require mortgage insurance when buying a home to protect the lender if you fail to keep up your end of the mortgage contract. There are several ways to get this insurance, with all providers offering impressively lower rates than just a few years ago. One of the best places to get this is the FHA (Federal Housing Administration), which is currently offering mortgage insurance for less than one percent of a house’s value in many cases.

  1. Homeowners Get a Substantial Federal Tax Break

Unless your mortgage is for more than a million dollars, you can deduct all your monthly interest payments on your Federal income tax return. You will also be able to deduct any points you had to pay to the lender at closing. There are a variety of additional home buyer’s tax breaks such as real estate taxes and other home buying expenses that you can learn more about from the IRS or your local tax preparer.

With so many good reasons to buy a house, it’s a great time to take advantage of the reasonable housing prices in Ellwood City, PA and the surrounding area. Take a moment to visit Look at My Homes and take a look at some beautiful homes well within your budget!