Get Pre-Approved, Not Pre-Qualified:
Make sure you are in the strongest negotiating position possible. Get a full approval from a lender, conditioned only upon a contract and satisfactory appraisal. This differs from a prequalification in that the information you are submitting to the lender is verified and underwritten. I’ve seen pre-approval make the difference many times when multiple offers are submitted on a property, even if that pre-approved buyer was offering less money for the home. Sellers feel much more comfortable knowing that financing will not be an issue. Pre-approval can be obtained in just a few hours (in rare cases a few days) and is a powerful weapon all buyers should have in their negotiating arsenal.
Don’t Get Pushed Into A House:
Look at several houses. You should look at a number of homes to get a feel for the community and the values therein. Don’t make a decision on a home until you feel you have seen enough to pick the best one for you. You will never find the absolutely perfect home, but at least try.
Work out the finances first:
Paying cash? Getting a mortgage? Find out what you can afford and check out all your various options. Meet with whatever experts you need to in order to have all your facts – a lender, your tax advisor, etc. Knowing exactly what you want to spend and can spend will eliminate time spent looking at properties you can’t have.
Not only that, when you find the right property you can make a “clean” offer without a financing contingency. Sellers are more likely to respond favorably to clean offers.
Sell First, Then Buy:
If you have a house to sell, sell it before selecting a home to buy. Contingency contracts rarely work in this market. At least get a contract on your current home, so you can make the contingency on the closing of your current home, not the sale. If you do make a contingency offer, you will likely end up paying more for the home than without that contingency and you will feel pressured to accept a lower price for your current home. This can end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars. You are much better off selling your current home first.
Look Beyond The Surface:
Consider the basics and the cosmetics. The basics are the things you can’t change, like location, view, lot size, neighborhood, school district, and floor plan. The cosmetics are things that can be easily changed, like carpet, wallpaper, and paint color. Don’t let the seller’s decorating skills, or lack thereof, be the basis for your decision.
Stop Calling Ads:
Agents create real estate ads solely to make the phone ring. Remember the agent who wrote the ad represents the seller, not you. A buyer’s agent will critique the property with an eye toward how well it meets your needs and will point out any drawbacks you should know about. Many homes are sold without a sign ever going up or an ad ever put in the newspaper or homes magazine. These great finds go to those people who are committed to working with a buyer’s agent. We can let you know about great homes coming on the market before the rest of the world gets to them.
Choose the right mortgage:
The type of mortgage you choose will depend on several factors including how long you plan to live in your home. Your lender should help you choose the best loan for your particular circumstances.
Use a Realtor who knows the market:
That may sound too simple in this age of the Internet, when buyers have access to a lot of the same data the agent has. The difference is the ability to interpret that data. Full-time realtors do more than show homes and write contracts. They study market trends and observe area fluctuations. You are thinking about your needs now. But your agent is thinking about both now and in the future when you are ready to sell again and looking for your future resale opportunities. In addition, the Internet is an increasingly non-objective source of information. Many websites do not display all the properties that are for sale in a given area because of contractual conflicts. And most new communities are not listed at all in any search vehicle. A professional realtor should be able to show you all the homes that fit your needs.