Purchasing a home can be downright impossible. These days, it is hard enough with the changes in loan qualifications, increased down payment requirements and assurance that you are even purchasing a home that won’t cost you more money in repairs and other miscellaneous expenses down the road. But if you are in the market, there are some safe practices to help ensure that the biggest investment of your life will also be the best investment of your life.
One way to ensure the home buying process goes well is to hire a good real estate agent. Interviewing agents and requesting references may be best, though referrals are an excellent resource as well. It may be easy to go with a friend or a family member, but not recommended. Don’t be misled by lower commission rates, either. Most commission rates are negotiable and usually paid by the seller should you decide to purchase the home.
Expand your search beyond the help of a real estate agent. The internet is an obvious resource of information, and a great starting point for information on schools, public transportation and even crime statistics. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, nearly 90% of the homebuyers in 2008 used the internet to search for homes. But don’t believe everything you read. However, while internet home searches continue to climb year over year, so doesn’t the proliferation of scams aimed at those very same people looking for their next home. Use the internet for information and save the questions for that experienced real estate agent that is already working for you behind the scenes.
Don’t be narrow minded when looking for your dream home. Expanded searches beyond the usual internet search engines or larger real estate sites will net significant results for anyone spending a little more time doing their homework. Using several different sites for research can give you the bigger picture view that may help in the purchase decision. Additionally, blogs have become an increasing resource for many looking into neighborhood associations, new home developments are even noisy commercial neighbors that you may not have thought about during your initial search.
Find out what you can comfortably afford to spend on a new home. It used to be a requirement to have a pre-approval in hand before an agent would even speak to you. These days, though, most agents are simply happy to hear that you are in the market to purchase a home. But with the increase in foreclosures and uncertainty of future rates, it may be best to speak to a lender for a loan pre-qualification and to discuss specific loan requirements and programs that may be available to fit your budgetary needs.
Be sure to understand the purchase and sales documentation that you are signing. Again, this is where an experienced real estate agent working for you comes in handy. Items like closing costs, transfer taxes, fees and points, are just some of the items you may find buried somewhere in the lengthy contract paperwork. Don’t assume the promise of the owner to fix the fence before the close of escrow is going to happen. Anything promised needs to be in writing and signed by both the buyer and the seller, or don’t expect it to happen at all.