When You Are Ready to Look For a Home…
When you are ready to look for a home, find a reputable realtor who has the time and expertise to devote to you in your quest to find a suitable property. He or she must be willing and able to devote their total efforts to your needs in the time they are working with you. Be flexible in your needs and wants as well as your time and I am sure you will find the home of your dreams.
Once you have seen what is available to you within the parameters you have set, it is time to make a choice and submit an offer. This process can be tension filled but if you and your realtor are prepared to handle the situation correctly, it can be a much easier journey.
LET’S MAKE THE DEAL: OFFER AND COUNTEROFFER
You offer $165,000 for a house that has an asking price of $175,000. The seller counters with $170,000. What do you do? Much of what you need to know you should have already found out, before you made your offer. There are a few things to keep in mind at this juncture.
Make your offer contingent: Make sure your offer is contingent on two points:
1) You have the right to find adequate financing, if you haven’t already done so, and
2) You can stop the deal if the property does not pass inspections and you and the owner cannot come to terms as to the repairs.
Remember that the terms of the contract rule and if your agent has written the contract correctly, you are protected. It is important to use a professional realtor for this reason.
Make a serious earnest money deposit: The earnest money deposit is a check that you will give your agent that will be put in escrow until closing. This check indicates that you are serious about buying the house. The check will apply towards the sales price if the deal goes through: if not, you get the money back. Your agent will guide you as to what is customarily the amount given in the area. It may be as much as $1,000.00 or more. Then raise the amount as much as you feel comfortable. You can go up to 10% of the asking price or more. It depends on how much you want the house. Remember it is only the deposit.
If you are serious about wanting the house, the seller and their agent may be impressed by the initial sum. It says that you are interested in the house and are not likely to have problems getting financing. Make the seller unwilling to pass up your offer.
Set a time limit: You can specify to your agent that the offer is good for 24 hours. This also lets the seller know that you are serious and that you do not want this to drag on forever. It also motivates the seller’s agent to get in touch with the seller at once. This doesn’t mean that they have to accept your offer in that time frame but, they have to answer in order to keep the offer process going (assuming that they do not reject the offer outright). It is the smart thing do. There’s nothing as taxing as not knowing when you will get an answer.
Use time to your advantage: Finding out what the seller’s timetable is will help you negotiate. This is something your agent should have already tried to do. Maybe the sellers are in a hurry to move and if you can make the closing sooner rather then later, they will be more willing to accept your offer. Be prepared to be flexible about the closing date if you can. When your offer is accepted it is time to get to work.
THE HOME INSPECTION
No matter how many times you have been through your prospective new home, there will always be things that you miss. Why be sorry later, when you can hire an inspector now. He will tell you whether everything is up to par. Remember that this is probably not a new home and you cannot expect everything to be as if it were.
You need a good inspector He’s going to give you information that will ease your mind, make you renegotiate, or send you out to look for another property. Whatever happens, he will be a critical part of the process.
Here are some hints on finding the best inspector:
1) Ask your broker for recommendations. He works with inspectors all the time. He also does not want problems down the road and so he will give you good recommendations.
2) Check out any prospective inspector with ASHI, which is the professional association of independent inspectors. Members must abide by certain codes of conduct and have a high level of training. Make sure your inspector is a member.
3) Ask if he carries the proper insurance. This will cover you if he misses something.
4) Find out exactly what he covers in the inspection. You want to know as much as you can before you go ahead,
5) Attend the inspection if you can. If he says yes (and he should), go with him if you can and watch what he does. This will make you better aware of the inner workings of your new home.
6) Ask for references. If he refuses, go elsewhere. Any professional will be happy to supply names of past clients.
If the place passes the inspection, and you obtain your financing, you’re ready to close on the house. This is the time when you are actually going ahead and buying the home. Good luck.