What People Need to Know Before Making a Purchase:
1. FIND AN EXPERIENCED REALTOR First and foremost, we should understand clearly that Real Estate transactions are LEGAL transactions. If you found yourself in court would you want an attorney that just passed the bar exam? No way! You want a trusted, seasoned professional. It's no different with Real Estate. The fact is you are making an investment that is often hundreds of thousands of dollars and can have a huge impact on the coming years. This is not the time to 'give someone a chance' or 'see how this person works out'. This is the time to select an experienced Realtor that inspires a sense of professionalism, confidence, and trust.
2. PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE! Even if you make the decision to buy a home in a day, the preparation will absolutely take more time. It isn't just a matter of researching Realtors or the marketplace, but includes many more things that need to be considered. How does your credit look—have you checked? If you need money for a downpayment, have you saved enough? Watch your expenditures and avoid making large purchases right before buying a home. Prioritize and commit yourself to buying the home and fill the rest in afterwards.
3. BECOME AN INFORMED BUYER Visit web sites, read the Real Estate section of the newspaper, thumb through brochures, etc. and make it your duty to understand basic Real Estate and Mortgage terms. When your Realtor explains the terms of contracts that legally bind you and your wallet, you don't want to nod and pretend like you understand. Any contract you sign should be done with your full confidence and COMPLETE understanding. Treat your investment with the respect it deserves; do your homework, familiarize yourself with the marketplace, and become an active part of the transaction.
4. UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS AND WANTS Create a list of things you value in a home and list those items in order of importance. Somewhere on this list draw a line that separates it into halves: The top half will be your 'needs' and the bottom half will be your 'wants'. Don't compromise on your 'needs' and put your best effort into obtaining your 'wants'.
5. BUY A HOME YOU CAN AFFORD It sounds simple, but the home buying process can be highly emotional and affect your decision making. Don't do anything impulsively and give serious consideration to how your lifestyle may change with the purchase of this home. Trust me, you'll come to despise that 'dream home' you spent too much money on if you're stuck in it all day and night because you can't afford to do anything else. If the difference in comfort to you is 'only $200' a month, don't let anyone tell you differently—it's your $200 they're talking about, right?
6. THE WRITTEN WORD IS LAW Don't make verbal agreements. Any agreement, offer, or counter-offer only exists if it is in writing. 'Understandings' have a way of becoming 'misunderstandings'—and a court won't recognize either one. Remember, this is a legal transaction.
7. USE A COMPETENT HOME INSPECTION COMPANY There is very little legal recourse when a home inspection company fails to disclose all of a property's problems and potential problems. You've got one shot to get it right, so make sure YOUR Realtor (Never the seller's Realtor) chooses a reputable company that is acting in your best interest.
8. THE NEGOTIATION PROCESS… Clarify everyone's role in the negotiation process. Not everyone is on your side and you don't want to innocently disclose information to the wrong party (Such as disclosing buying needs, financial abilities, or negotiating stategies with the seller's agent.) As well, be certain that you understand your rights and obligations when you do make an offer to purchase a home. You don't want to back out of an offer and find out you can't get your deposit back, for instance. Your Realtor should be happy to explain these rights and obligations to you---it's in everyone's best interest that informed decisions be made.
9. PREQUALIFY, PREQUALIFY, PREQUALIFY… This is the grand-daddy of them all. In fact, many good Realtors will suggest that you become prequalified before they even work with you. They want to show you properties that you will not only like, but are qualified and willing to pay for as well. You'll find out exactly how much you can afford and how well that fits with the amount you would like to spend each month on your payment. You may find that you can afford to buy a more expensive home than you previousely thought you could afford--- or find out that, just because you 'qualify' for a more expensive home doesn't mean you want to spend that much each month on your payment. Prequalifying first will help make sure that you don't run into any surprises after you've put your heart and time into buying a home and will make buying a home a smoother, more enjoyable event.
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