house with a question mark

In my decades of real estate experience in Santa Barbara, I have heard many repeated real estate questions.

Real estate markets have buyer and seller markets, but no two markets are the same. Some questions will be specific market reality in the area you’re buying while others will be related to county, state, and national trends. Client questions often surround topics like closing costs, interest rates, home pricing, and common practices.

As my favorite teacher used to say, there’s no such thing as a bad question! Let’s dive into some.


Marsha Gray has worked with countless buyers and sellers, and she can help you too!


Buyer’s Questions

What fees are there when buying a home?

Nobody said home buying was easy, and they certainly didn’t say buying a home was cheap.

There are many fees covering services offered to reports drawn up. But a buyer’s realtor will often warn you to prepare for closing costs, homeowners insurance, appraisal fee, credit report fee, home inspection fee, title searches, origination fee, earnest money, HOA fees, and property taxes.

Finding the right real estate agent who can help guide you through what to expect and ways to cut costs on fees will improve your homebuying journey,


Should we buy a home that’s been on the market for a long time? How do we know if it’s priced fairly?

You have been approved for a mortgage, but how do you even know if the house is priced fairly? Especially because the seller’s price of a home includes a lot of speculation.

When I see a home sitting on the market for longer than a few weeks without offers, I always suspect it’s overpriced and may see a price drop. If you’re searching for homes, consider how long the home has been on the market and whether you can expect a drop in price soon.

Because of the danger of seller negotiating strength disappearing over time, realtors will try to sell their inventory as soon as possible by pricing it fairly for buyers and sellers.

How long is the homebuying process?

One of my most common real estate questions is helpful for buyers and sellers. The process of buying a house lasts an average of 50 days — from reviewing the contract to closing. There are many steps included in purchasing a home including:

  • Getting pre-approved for a mortgage,
  • Finding a trusted real estate agent,
  • Finding a home,
  • Making an offer,
  • Put down earnest money with your contract,
  • Home inspection,
  • Wait for closing,
  • Get the keys.

If you need help finding a trusted realtor in Santa Barbara County, contact Marsha Gray today


Should I sell my home before buying a second home?

The answer to this question is a balance between convenience and practicality.

By selling your home first, you will be able to place that equity toward your home purchase. However, living in a rental, with a family member, or in a hotel with all your things in storage is not an option for some. Try to consider the cost of living with temporary housing versus paying for two mortgages as you switch homes.

Bridge loans can be helpful for homebuyers in this scenario because it allows them to buy a second home using the equity of the first home.


Do I need a home inspection?

As a rule, I recommend my clients order a home inspection.

Clients might skip this step to save some money, but I never recommend it. A home inspection can save you money by spotting unseen fixes missed and not listed in the appraisals. Unless you have a family member or an expert background in home building, I always recommend clients schedule an inspection.

Nothing a home inspector tells you is a mandatory fix, but it will give your realtor ammunition to negotiate a lower price.


Seller’s Questions


What is earnest money?

In the real estate world, earnest money is considered a good faith deposit when you’re putting an offer on a house. When the seller takes the home off the market while processing your transaction, earnest money shows the seller that the buyer is invested in the purchase.

Earnest money is a homebuying tactic often used in competitive markets, buy that money is always subject to contingencies. If the buyer pulls out for any reason not listed in the contingency agreement, the seller keeps the money. If the seller cannot sell the house for an unforeseen reason, the buyer has their good faith deposit returned.

These deposits can range in price but vary from 1 to 3% of the cost of the home. Contingencies are outlined in the purchase agreement, but can include financing, appraisal, and home inspection contingencies.

Marsha Gray will stick around until you’re satisfied with your purchase.


What is the selling price of my home?

There are many home value calculators on the market to get a sense of what your home might be worth.

However, these will all be estimates. When getting your home appraised, your appraisal will be a concrete value of your home compared to value calculators or speculative estimates.

Consider making home improvements to the exterior and interior and staging your home to increase home value. There are external forces like supply and demand that can change the value of your home.


Is staging at home to buy worth it?

Staging your home is a home-selling tool involving replacing current furniture to entice buyers to purchase a home.

The goal of staging is to help sellers envision themselves in your home and increase the perceived value. According to the National Association of Realtors, staging the space with luxury or trendy furniture impacts most buyers. In fact, 58% of buyer’s agents said home staging impacted buyer perception.

Additionally, the costs are small compared to the selling price of your home. The median dollar spent for staging services was $600 or $400 when the seller’s agent personally staged the home.

Should I hold an open house?

Holding an open house can work for certain sellers, but it’s become less reliable for my clients in the digital age.

Many home buyers start their property buying journey on the internet, regardless of their geographic location. Depending on the type of buyers in your community, open houses may only attract your local market. This means that beyond potential homebuyers you may find nosy neighbors and people without the means to buy your home attending your open house.

While an open house can be a viable strategy for certain sellers, it shouldn’t be relied upon as the only strategy to find someone who wants to buy a home.

How long does it take to sell a home?

There are many steps included in selling a home, and many things that can go wrong during that process. We often expect a 50-day average from reviewing the contract to grabbing the keys. But here are some common problems:

  • A homebuyer loses financing,
  • There’s a gap in appraisal,
  • A home inspector identifies major, needed repairs,
  • A problem with the title or deed
  • Issues with your hazard or flood insurance,
  • The buyer or seller doesn’t meet contingencies.


Should I sell before or after the holidays?

The holidays are a wonderful time to put your home on the market.

Today, there are no buying seasons, especially in sunny California. Selling during the holidays often means homebuyers will be busy but are serious about getting their home sale completed.

You can often ask for extended escrows, instead of the typical 30 to 45 days, your contract could be reviewed for 60 days. Why? Because it’s the holidays!

Marsha Gray is now accepting new clients, contact her today!

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