We all make mistakes, but the best thing about mistakes, is they teach us valuable lessons - if we heed them. Being up-to-date on your rent is certainly a good place to start. If you have some "not so good" paying history on some other things, the best thing to do is to make sure those are all in the past. Make sure every payment from this day forward is paid on time, even early. If you have trouble remembering them, set them up as automatic payments or withdrawals from your account. Then, your paying history becomes flawless with little effort. Of course, you must be careful with other financial decisions so there are always funds available for those automatic payments. Your 9 year old will also get a great lesson in preparation and appreciation for making sure each action has a positive affect on the future. There are some great lenders and credit counselors out there glad to help potential clients setup a roadmap for solving credit issues. Good luck. The sooner you start your credit repair, the sooner you'll be in your own home paying off your own mortgage rather than that of your landlord.
Since the worth of a property is decided by what a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to accept, we don't know that yet. I imagine you want someone to give you a realistic expectancy as to what the seller is willing to accept. That can only be determined by studying the MLS data. That's where your Personal Buyer's Agent's worth becomes the most important question you can ask. A Professional Buyer's Agent will provide you with sales data from the most recent comparable properties that have closed within the last 6 months to a year. They may also show you comparable competing properties. They'll likely provide you with a copy of the local Tax Card, so you'll know what the county believes is a taxable value for the property, which isn't necessarily even close to the market value. They may assist you in comparing figures concerning the acreage, square footage of living space, amenities, updates/upgrades, condition, etc. That's a lot of information, that can only be provided by your Buyer's Agent. You'll likely find the WORTH of the information and guidance provided by that person, who'll help you pursue the right property at the right price, is invaluable. Before you even consider the worth of a property, consider the worth of the professional who'll be working on your behalf to guide you through each step of the buying process. Good luck and make sure your first search is for a Buyer's Agent who will help you determine the value of any property you want to consider.
I agree with the answers from Sarah & Jamie and wetdawgs, which are currently the only posts to this question. I might suggest moving the curb appeal up to the top of the list because many local buyers drive by a property long before they decide to schedule an inside showing. That true first impression, which can never be made again, relies on that curb appeal. Cut weeds, trim bushes, trim or take down dangerous trees or limbs hanging over or on the roof, clean out gutters and downspouts. I strongly suggest getting a landscaper out to take over the task, just like I agree to turn the cleaning over to professionals. Let's face it, if the Seller could do it, they would have already done so. We often don't always see what we live in every day, so call in the professionals. They'll be in and out and leave the Seller to start packing.
I'm not sure if you're trying to get an agent to lower their rate at listing or after a buyer has made an offer and you're in the negotiating process. A lot of expenses go into the setting of commissions. It's not only your personal listing agent that gets paid from the commission. Half of it goes to the Buyer's Agent's firm and they pay the Buyer's Agent. The other half goes to your listing agent's firm and their agency pays them. So don't operate under the misconception that your agent or their agency get the entire commission - it's typically split in several directions. So any time a commission is changed after an offer, both agencies and both agents have to agree, which could be construed as a "bait and switch" situation, which you don't want to get into. At the listing appointment is the appropriate time to negotiate the commission. Make sure your agent provides all the services needed for aggressively marketing your property. If you're asking your agent to lower their commission once an offer has been made, I really don't understand why you would ask the person who has done what you asked (brought you a ready, willing and able buyer for your property) to then take less for it. To give you a point of reference, let's switch the situation. How would you like it if your agent said "well, now that I've found you a buyer, I'm going to 'up' my commission?" You have an agreement. Stand by it.
You bet it is. In today's market it is worth every cent to a seller to compete with other properties in their price range. Buyers and Sellers are very savvy now, due to the many home selling TV shows. So if one property has taken the effort to have it properly presented to appeal to as many buyers as possible, it's definitely going to be more likely to sell quicker and at a higher price than its competitors.
In today's market, it is probably the easiest, cost effective way to put your property in a "1st choice" position. Buyers are very savvy today, in part due to the many home selling programs on TV. They know what to expect and its value. For the same reason, more sellers are getting with the program and doing what it takes to make their property memorable. If you don't use all the resources available to you in selling your house, giving the buyer what they're looking for, another seller will. Staging typically provides a quicker sale and/or higher sales price. Staging can only improve on the best points of your home.
If you've priced the home consistent with other sold comparables, then I suggest doing the work. If one property doesn't offer what the buyer wants, another will. Having the house in its best condition will likely help sell it quicker and at a higher price. Lenders today tend to frown on "credits" for work to be done after closing. They expect to see properties pass to the buyer in the condition reflected by the loan amount. They might accept it toward closing costs, but the Buyer still needs to come up with the money to do the updates. Maybe you could do the work through a company who carries no interest for a year and pay it off at closing. Then it won't be as painful to your pocketbook now.
To help you find a Buyer's Agent, to to http://www.rebac.net, which is the sight for Accredited Buyers Representatives. Then click on "Find A Buyer's Rep" at the top right of the link bar. Put in the name of your town, etc. and find several names. That will give you a good start.
Obviously you're not working with a Buyer Agent, because NC agents work with both Buyers and Sellers, either exclusively or through Dual Agency. The question you've asked is a typical question a Buyer's Agent will supply to you to assist you in making an offer. Talk with friends, or interview some Buyer Agents. See if they are Accredited Buyer Agents. See if they have their GRI. Both of these designations means they have gone over and beyond the standard education requirements to get and/or maintain their license, and have spent hours taking additional classes to help them better serve their buyer clients. Spread the word - we NC agents do, in fact, work with Buyers and will represent them in a purchase - if you sign a Buyer Agency Agreement, which protects YOU - the Buyer as well as the Agency. Best of luck and if you need the names of potential Buyer Agents in your area, give me a yell at Debo@HomesOfWilkes.com. But referrals by previous Buyers are always the best way to find a good agent.
Glad it was helpful. I'm in NC and not sure where you are, but townhouses and condos can go up anywhere and if there not on public sewer and water, you owe it to yourself to mek every effort to make sure you're not going to be at a disadvantage once you move in. Have them inspected. We have an 8 unit facility here that's on shared well and septic, so Buyers have to be sure they feel comfortable that there are enough gal/minute from the well and they have regular maintenance (particularly pumping) which will typically be a part of your Owner Assoc. fees, but check and make sure. If you're working with a Buyer Agent, I'm sure they'll advise you to do all the inspections typical in your area. If you're not working with a Buyer Agent, run don't walk, before signing anything, and get a qualified Buyer Agent by your side. An ABR after their name means they're an Accredited Buyers Representative and have taken the initiative to get further education over and beyond what is required for their licensure, to be better prepared for their buyer clients. Here, it's typical to do a whole house inspection, pest, radon, and septic and water for any property on septic and/or well or spring fed system. If the heat/air is questionable, have it inspected by an HVAC professional. Hope this helps. Good luck and if you have a Buyer Agent working with you, they'll take a lot of the "just luck" out of the equation.