Quick Tips on Buying...
1. ALWAYS HAVE AN ADVOCATE!
The law in most states has been updated to allow for buyer representation in the real estate transaction. Previously, the agent worked only for the seller. As a buyer, you were on your own. In this age of consumer advocacy, you now have the right to your own representation to help protect your best interests. Insist on a "Buyer Broker" or a "Buyer Agent" relationship with your agent.
2. INVEST A FEW HOURS FOR FUTURE DIVIDENDS
Here's your chance to keep the stress level down in the transaction. Preparation for a purchase can save hours of worry later. Sit with the lender, banker, or mortgage broker of your choice before you start looking at properties. Ask to have a full pre-approval for a mortgage loan so you can shop "stress free" for the home of your dreams. If you are an investor, have multiple properties, or are trying some "creative financing", it is particularly important to get the loan approval up front. Caution: some lenders will issue a "Pre-Qualification" statement to a purchaser; this is NOT what you want. Insist on full pre-approval conditional only upon the receipt of a ratified contract and an acceptable appraisal on the property!
3. INSIST ON A HOME INSPECTION
Unless you are purchasing the home "as is" with the understanding that what you see is what you get, always insist on a professional home inspection. For a small investment of time and money, you can learn about the new property and be alerted to any potential problems with the structure or systems in the property. This request for an inspection can be made a part of the contract or the contract can be contingent upon your approval of the results of the inspection.
4. DON'T SHUT OFF A CONTRACT NEGOTIATION
One of the most difficult times of the entire purchase process is during the contract negotiation. The key is to try and remain calm, unemotional and keep focused on the logic. You need to evaluate each step carefully, with the question, "How does this option affect me?", always at the top of mind. Frequently, contracts are sent back and forth between buyer and seller several times before all the issues are addressed and solved in a manner that is mutually agreeable to all parties. Be patient, and let your professional buyer agent keep things moving forward toward a successful purchase.
5. THINK RESALE
Unless you are planning on occupying your home forever, it is very important that you ask your agent if there might be a problem with reselling the property you have selected at a later date. While I don't have a crystal ball, I do have lots of experience in the marketplace and can advise you on what sells in the local market.
6. ASK FOR THE NUMBERS UP FRONT
Before you sign the contract, ask to see the estimate of closing costs for that particular property, and the calculation of your approximate total monthly payment (sometimes referred to as PITI). Make sure that you have the cash required to close and that you qualify for the monthly payment before you make the offer. Once you have a baseline established, it's very easy to adjust the calculation if a counter-offer is made by the seller.
7. LIGHTEN UP
Turn on the excitement and enjoy the experience of purchasing a new property. It is a special time in your life, and you should feel special about the process!
8. AVOID CROWD SCENES
When you are buying a home, keep the company present to a minimum. You may be excited about making a purchase, but too many opinions often cloud issues. The parties financially responsible for making the payments and coming up with the closing costs should be the ones making the selection. You can invite all your other friends, acquaintances, etc. to a housewarming party to show off your new property after you close the transaction.
Be friendly, but don't try to force conversation when you are inside someone else's home. View the properties with a minimum of distraction.
10. KEEP A LOW PROFILE
Nobody knows your needs as well as you do. Your agent will have an easier time articulating the virtues of your contract offer if you stay in the background.
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