Tips for the Buying Process
When the time comes to buy a house, a million things are running through your mind. Is this the right time to buy; how’s the market? Is this this neighborhood on the up and up, or is it stagnant? Will my kids make friends in the new area; how are the schools? How negotiable is the listing price? Are there any hidden problems with the house?
The list of worries is seemingly endless. However, one part of the process can certainly amplify, or subdue those concerns. That’s right, we’re talking about choosing the right real estate agent. Your real estate agent can truly make or break your home buying experience. Today we’ve got ten tips to help you navigate the waters as you go through the buying process!
- Review before signing: Before signing any contracts, make sure that you review them very carefully. Many times buyers are totally baffled by how little a contract protected them from ending up in a bad situation. Perhaps there was a verbal agreement that the seller would repaint the exterior, replace a bad window, or something else. However, if the signed contract says otherwise, it’s likely to trump what you spoke about. The absolute best way to ensure that you’re protected is to have a lawyer read the contract thoroughly and explain it all to you.
- Hire your own inspector: Sure the home has been inspected, but by whom? Folks aren’t generally malicious, but this is not an area where you want to take any chances. Instead of relying upon the word of an inspector hired by the seller or real estate agent, bring in your own inspector. While it may cost you a bit of out-of-pocket money, you don’t want to be left wishing you did so a few years down the road, when you’re knee deep in costly repairs.
- Beware of warranties: If you are entering into an arrangement to have a new house built, be careful of how much stock you put in warranties. Many construction companies will attempt to assuage any doubts or fears you have about the building process by presenting a warranty. However, often times these warranties are so stringent that they can end up being of little or no value to the consumer. Ensure that you have the warranty carefully reviewed, so in the unfortunate event of a mishap, you are protected to your satisfaction.
- Ask about zoning: If you’ve come upon a property that needs a bit of work, and you’re okay with that, ask about zoning. While you may have been saving for years in order to construct your dream home, the reality is that zoning boards, home owners associations, and other governing bodies can have a lot of say over what you can do the property. As such, before making signing any papers, make sure – or have a lawyer make sure – that you’ll be able to easily make the changes you want. Otherwise, you could end up with a home you’re not happy with, and little to do about it.
- Make sure they work for you: No matter how helpful they are, the seller’s real estate agent works for them. In order to make sure that you’ve got someone who is 100% looking out for your interests, consider enlisting a buyer’s broker to represent you.
- Be reasonable: Now, we’re not going to make blanket statements here, but some folks really are set on getting too sweet of a deal. While a buyer’s market certainly means that you hold a bit more power and leverage in the situation than the seller, it does not mean that you’ll get that rock bottom, dream price. Make sure that you take a step back, considering everything at stake, and assess whether or not you’re being offered a fair price. Hindsight is always 20/20, and you don’t want to look back wishing you’d closed on a house you thought was just a little bit too pricey!
- You can deal with the owner: Though it is generally uncommon, the advent of the internet has made selling one’s own property easier than ever. By dealing directly with the owner, both parties stand to save versus having the transaction mediated by a broker. Consider using sources like Craigslist, Trulia, and others to get a feel for what’s out there, and understand the process before getting started.
- Commission percentages are standard: If you’re familiar with signing contracts, you know that there is no such thing as a “standard” contract. Every situation is unique. As such every contract is unique. This logic also applies to commissions from real estate. While you might be told there is a “standard” commission fee, don’t be afraid to negotiate. This is money coming out of your pocket, and the goal is always to keep it there!