Buyers Next Steps
You have pre-approval and the down payment money. What next?
Shop smart. With your pre-approval in hand and proof of funds to cover a down payment and closing costs, you hire a buyer agent who represents YOU alone. If you think you are going to get a better deal using the selling agent – or worse, going it alone, you are wrong. Selling agents work for the seller. They will woo you, but using the seller agent is like using your husband’s divorce attorney. Only one in a million has the integrity to pull it off.
Listen to your gut. When interviewing buyer agents, listen to how they work and choose the one whose style appeals to you. A professional agent will conduct an in- depth interview with you and your family before physically looking at properties.
Stay in your price range. If the 3/2 with a pool is going to put a big strain on your monthly budget, the stress can take away your joy of ownership. Too often, buyers set a price range and then fall in love with something that costs more. In 2015 with the rates and property prices still low, buy something smaller and trade up in a few years. Don’t continue to pay top dollar renting the perfect home. Rent or buy something that gives you an opportunity to save enough cash in the near future.
Your lender is your friend when it comes to value. You will pay for a professional appraisal to be sure you are paying what the home is worth. But making a high offer and thinking the seller will agree to lower when it doesn’t appraise is a time and money waster. Your agent should be keeping you away from overpriced listings. They always lower eventually.
LOOKING FOR A HOME
Remember that when you are out looking at properties, you are a GUEST in someone’s home. Be on time and be polite. The seller’s bad taste in colors and materials do not give you a license to make offensive comments. Of course you are always told not to act too excited about the place either. The best strategy to use if the sellers or their agent is present while you are looking at the home is to say little and take notes. Keep in mind that you can always change the paint color or the flooring or even install a pool. You can’t change the view, the neighborhood or the schools. Know your priorities.
Contract dates are set in stone. When making the offer, give the seller 48 hours to respond and make sure the closing date is doable. If you have a mortgage, figure 45 days from contract to close. Once your offer is signed, and you have submitted your good faith deposit, get an inspection before you do anything else. You are paying a few hundred for one of the biggest investments you will make. Hire an expert and be prepared to compromise. Pick your battles. Big ticket items are the ones you want fixed; roof, A/C, termite or mold remediation, etc. Don’t nitpick over a torn screen or a leaky faucet. If there is an issue with an appliance, go for a credit rather than have the seller replace the appliance with the cheapest one. You are better off getting a $300 credit for a dishwasher and using it toward the top of the line one you really want. In real estate EVERYTHING is a negotiation. Be reasonable, courteous and firm.