Whether you are a first time home-buyer, experienced buyer, seeking a single family home or a condo on the beach, this short "cheat sheet" will provide some topics to consider and get you started along the home buying process - particularly in Florida.
This is post is intended to complement a previous post for home sellers called "Cheat Sheet for Sellers."
Here are some very brief topics (in no particular order) to get your mind in the process.
- Real estate is local. Buying and selling a home is best done when resources are local. Don't let some mega-website steer you wrong. Local information from a local knowledgeable resource beats any #Zillow generic information.
- Get your own local Realtor. Buyer agents are, almost always, free (the seller pays).
- Commit to your real estate agent. He or she is committed to you. Work with one agent who understands your needs, budget. Also, there really is no substantial savings, if any, to be had by going for a FSBO or calling the listing agent (works for the seller, not buyer).
- Get your own local mortgage lender. Choose a lender you know (and can contact, when necessary).
- Research all you want however do not believe everything you read in an advertisement or MLS listing.
- Accept that unless you are building and have an unlimited budget the house you seek will likely be the perfect "imperfect" house! Expectations of finding ideal can hamper the home search!
- Know what your real needs are AND aren't! Identify your "can't haves," "must haves," and "nice to have" characteristics/qualities.
- Don't be afraid to modify your search criteria and budget. This is where your real estate agent comes in real handy. It could as simple as changing the search community to find the right house.
- Understand your ability to purchase and what it means. Get pre-approved for your mortgage. It shows you are serious and ready to act!
- Your mortgage pre-approval amount is not a "must spend" amount. Remember the price of a house is more than the mortgage but also association fees, taxes, insurance costs.
- The price is low for a reason. If a property is under or at the low end of the market there is a real reason.
- It really is all about location. (1) Water has its price. Whether pond, lake, river, or ocean, there is a price to be paid for the benefit. (2) Golf course direct is not the same as golf course community. (3) The better the view, the higher the price.
- You can't see every house for sale! Its just not possible. In a market where the good properties move quickly the best strategy may likely be to identify the top four or five choices and look - then decide before moving on. Trying to go back a few weeks later to an earlier house may not be an option in many markets.
- When viewing a home respect the property by keeping hands off things like drawers, desks, and personal items. Still, you do want to look under the sinks, in the closets and the garage and other places where the property is key. And if there are small ones tagging along keep then under your control always
- Don't buy what you are not going to use...like a pool. Pools, like a boat, are of value if you are going to use them.
- Keep your offer "real" in the sense of making it at least a "let's talk offer" so you can negotiate, if necessary.
- Your offer is more than the price...like terms, dates contingencies.
- Don't get emotional - especially if there are multiple offers. A house is a costly investment. Don't let it be a costly mistake.
- Look past what is and see what lies beyond the dirt, clutter, ugly paint or wallpaper which can be changed.
- The outside of the house normally is an indicator of the inside. However this is not always the case. Still, I have never been in a house where the outside said wow and and the inside cried not now!
- Sellers disclose but as a buyer you must verify. Buyers do not always remember problems and issues. This is where the inspections come into the picture.
- A contract is serious business. Dates and times are critical. Time is of the essence.
- "As Is" does not always mean "as is." When you prepare to make an offer with subsequent agreement and inspections is the point in the process where where your local real estate agent is vital.
- Know what is included in the sale....its not always everything you see.
- Have an appraisal completed - even with a cash offer.
However, the number of issues mentioned should highlight this one most important point - Real estate is local. Buying and selling a home is best done when resources are local.
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net