Buying a home can be an emotionally challenging task for many people. It doesn't matter if it's your first home or your seventh, buying a home is a major under taking. What follows is a list of tips to make it a little easier for you home buyers.
- Find the right real estate agent. If you call on a house being advertised on the internet or go to an open house, you are working with the seller's agent. You never want to work with the seller's agent because his or her fiduciary responsibility is to the seller. What you want to do is find a good match for your needs. The best approach is talking to family and friends that have bought a house in the last couple of years. They can tell you about their experience with the agents they bought through. You also want an agent specializing in the neighborhoods you are interested in and who can tell you about neighborhoods you that haven’t considered. Try to come up with a short list and set up interviews with each one. Make a list of what you want in an agent. It could be showing homes in the evenings or in the way they communicate with you or in their dedication to following through with the paperwork once you decide on a home to buy.
- You need to be preapproved for a mortgage. You need to know how much house you can afford. Unless you are paying all cash for a house, you need to have a financing source. It could be private financing or a traditional mortgage or seller financing. Whatever it is, before you start making offers, you need to know how much your financing source is willing or able to finance.
- Create a "must have" list. It's easy to get caught up in the time consuming process of looking at every house on the market. Instead, let your agent filter the showings down to your "must have" list. You can include a "wish" list to find your ideal house. However, you want to look at all of the houses on your "must have" list but there is no point in looking at houses that don't meet your minimum requirements.
- Be open to suggestions. Go over your "must have" list in detail with your real estate agent. As a professional, he or she might point out that the amenities you're looking for are not typically found in the ranch style house that you said you want. Instead, you should be looking at split-levels that have been remodeled within the past ten years.
- Learn about the neighborhood. Once you find your ideal home, take the time to learn about the neighborhood in-depth. Walk the streets during different times of the day and on the weekend. Try to talk to a few neighbors. Also, visit the local businesses that you are likely to be customers of. If you have kids, learn about the schools. This is going to be your new home, you want to make sure the entire neighborhood is a good fit.
- Always have a home inspected. Your walk through won't reveal all of the problems with a house, even if you have experience working on houses. Always have a professional inspection of the house. Inspectors will crawl into the attic and under the house looking for problems that aren't visible during your walk through. A general inspector may recommend a more detailed inspection by a specialist. Maybe he or she has a concern about the electrical system and recommends you have an electrician inspect it. It could be a foundation specialist or someone else. Follow through on recommendations.
- Understand the process and paperwork. Your agent should have talked you through the process in the beginning. However, the process and paperwork can be overwhelming to many buyers. Before signing any paperwork, make sure you understand what you are signing. Especially any special clauses that have been added to a standard contract. Have a real estate attorney review paperwork if needed.
- Submit a reasonable offer. Understand your local market. Have your agent explain what is happening at the time you make an offer. In some markets, there is ample inventory and you want to start with a low offer. At the other end of the spectrum are low inventory markets where new listings quickly receive multiple offers. In these markets, your first offer should be your best offer if you want the deal to close.
- Don't expect the seller to throw in too many improvements. Worn carpets and damaged counter tops should already be built into the selling price. If the seller wanted to make these improvements to get a higher price, they would have made the improvements before listing the house for sale.
- Stick to your predetermined price. Try not to let emotions drive your decision to make an offer above what you can reasonably afford. A good strategy is having a second house that you like almost as much that you can fall back on if negotiations for your preferred house don't go the way you want.
What suggestions do you have for homebuyers in today’s market?
Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for ten years. He also draws upon 37 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. In the Olympic Mountains with the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.
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