You Deserve a Positive Home Buying Experience
A good real estate agent can save you thousands of dollars and untold headaches when you purchase a home. Still, to get the most out of your purchase you should be prepared to be an active participant in the home buying process.
Here are tips that will help you prepare for and complete a successful home purchase:
- First, get pre-qualified for a loan. Ask your loan officer to pre-qualify you for the maximum amount possible. This will give you more flexibility, particularly if you’re shopping in a market where home prices are rapidly increasing. If you know in advance how long you plan to stay in the home, this will also help you and your lender select the loan program that’s right for you.
- Write down the features of the home that are important to you. This will help your real estate agent focus on properties that meet or come close to meeting your criteria. It is particularly important for your agent to know your requirements for:
- Whether you want a single-family house, a condo or a townhouse
- The number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need
- Whether you need a den or office space
- Whether you need a family room, a living room or both
- The size of the garage
- The size and type of kitchen
- Single story vs. multi-story
- The type of heating and air conditioning you prefer or require
- Any amenities such as a swimming pool, patio or garden area
- Availability of educational and recreational facilities
- The location and quality of nearby schools
- Proximity to shopping
- Nearby police and fire protection services
- Depending on the condition of the real estate market in the area you want to buy a home, you should be prepared to negotiate. Most people are uncomfortable with negotiating a home purchase, which is why having a qualified real estate agent is so important to a successful transaction. Even when your agent is doing the negotiating on your behalf, you will have to establish what you’re willing to pay and where you draw the line on a transaction. Remember: you can’t always have everything go your way, so it’s best to know what things are most important to you, and where you are willing to sacrifice in a negotiation.
- Unless you’re in a heated market where homes are selling the same day they are made available for sale, try to visit a home several times before you make your offer. Drive through the neighborhood to get a feel for traffic patterns on the street and the level of noise at various times of the day. You can also grade the property for “curb appeal”, validating whether the property is, in fact, as appealing as you recall from your first visit.
- When you make your offer, be sure to list any personal property you would like included in the purchase of the home. This includes light fixtures, ceiling fans, decorative door and cabinet handles, furniture, draperies, lawn ornaments and other items. Don’t assume the buyer is leaving you anything that is not permanently attached.
- Read all forms before signing. When you purchase a home and obtain home financing, you will be asked to sign many documents. These will either be formal contracts or acknowledgements that you understand a particular element of the transaction (called “disclosures”). Take the time to read each document, and ask your agent, lender or escrow officer to explain any terms that are not familiar to you.
- Hire independent inspectors to inspect the property prior to closing the sale. Make sure they have enough time to complete the inspection and deliver you a written report, and that there is sufficient time for the current owner to complete any necessary repairs.
- Require a home warranty as a condition of your purchase. In most cases the seller will agree to pay for the warranty to avoid the hassle of having a buyer complain that something was broken prior to the close of escrow. The home warranty provides repair services for major appliances, plumbing, heating and air conditioning for a period of one year following the sale. If your seller will not include a home warranty as part of the sale, we recommend you purchase the warranty yourself. The policy is usually only several hundred dollars, and affords you significant peace of mind.
- Do a final walk-through of the property with your agent before you sign the closing documents. Bring inspection and repair reports so you can verify that corrective action was taken on repairs you requested be made. Also, verify that personal property items you identified in the offer are still on the property, and that the physical condition of the property has not significantly changed since you viewed the home and made your offer.
- Once your transaction has closed and you have moved in to your property, complete the written evaluation of your agent using the form provided by your 1-2-3 HomeKeys Personal Transaction Assistant. In addition to recognizing your agent for their strengths, you can help your agent understand how they can improve their service and become more successful.