Buying a house or land is a big investment, and the more you know ahead of time the better chance you have of enjoying that purchase. How much can you really afford, how to pay for needed repairs, how do you plan for the costs of maintenance and repairs, how to choose the best realtor to represent you (and why you might need one).
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Tips for Acquiring Homes
Real-Estate and Private-Owner Properties
Search for Property – The first step is to determine what neighborhood you want to live in, your budget and price range, and what requirements you are looking for in a home (i.e. number of bedrooms and bathrooms, off-street parking, etc.) There are a number of resources available online that can walk you through the process. Once you find a property you are interested in conduct a general walk through to assess the overall conditions. An extra point – the person listed as a contact on the For Sale sign is under contract to represent the seller. If you contact them to tour a house, they may ask you any number of questions to pre-qualify you before they will show you the home. Let them know you will be working with your own agent, and and that agent will be contacting them if you decide to move forward.
Real Estate Agent – Hire a licensed real estate agent. Real Estate agents are subject matter experts and can guide you through the process. Make sure that you are hiring a buyer’s agent, since they will need to represent you when speaking to the seller and seller’s agent. Once again – the person listed as a contact on the For Sale sign is under contract to represent the seller, and is committed to making the best deal for the seller. Some agents may act as both, but since this is most likely one of the largest single purchases you will make, having an agent contracted to work for you is a worthwhile investment.
Make Offer – Once you find the home you like, make an offer based on the overall market and home conditions. This will most likely be done for you by your agent. Your licensed real estate agent can provide you with residential and neighborhood comparable prices for homes sold within the last six months and three miles of the desired property.
Enter into Contract – This is where you would finalize the purchase price, mortgage, or other financing and agree to terms and conditions. Your licensed real estate agent will walk you through this process.
Inspect Property – Hire a licensed home inspector after making an offer. This is a very important step. They will provide you with a written estimate of property conditions so the buyer is aware of the true condition of the home and potential improvements the buyer will need to make. The inspection report may also be used to help you negotiate the purchase price. Properties are typically sold in “As Is” condition.
Perform Title Search – Check public records for liens and outstanding taxes. A title company should be hired to perform a complete title search. Common liens include outstanding loan balances and contractor or mechanic liens. Do not assume the title is clear; it is important to make sure you understand the title situation.
Be Prepared to Close – Final payment is due at closing via wire transfer or cashier’s check.
Register to Participate – Public auctions typically require buyer registration prior to the auction event.
Buyer Beware – Properties are sold in “As Is” condition. Properties are typically not available for inspection or viewing.