If you have decided to take the plunge and become a first time home buyer, it is likely that you are feeling a certain level of stress over the prospect, as well as the process itself. There are a lot of things to know, and it is wise to be prepared ahead of time. Real estate agents can answer many questions for you along the way, but you need to know what questions to even ask. Read on here to find out some basic information about what you will encounter as you launch your search for that first dream home.
One of the most important steps to take from the very beginning is to find out what kind of mortgages are available to you, and how much you will actually qualify to borrow. There is nothing more disheartening than to find the perfect house, only to discover that you do not qualify for the purchase price. You can save yourself this heartache by visiting a mortgage broker or lender ahead of time, to get pre-qualified for a loan. This will allow you to set the search parameters to reveal only properties that you can afford. In addition, being pre-qualified will show home sellers and agents that you are serious about purchasing property, and will put you in a better bargaining position. Home sellers will often negotiate prices if they can be guaranteed a quick sale and closing process.
Know the functions of a real estate agent before contracting with one to help you find your new home. Research the credentials and licensing of each agent, and ask about their experience in not only the overall real estate field, but also in your city and preferred neighborhoods. You want to hire someone who knows the area and its nuances, and who has contacts that could be valuable to you. Make sure they can tell you about schools, crime rates, and impending legislation that could affect things such as traffic, development, roads and businesses.
Know what a "dual agent" is and decide whether or not this is an asset to you. A dual agent is when your real estate agent happens to represent both you and the seller. This can create a conflict of interest, and is often frowned upon. In the very least, you will want to be informed of this and scrutinize offers to see who is actually benefiting the most from the deal. In addition, a dual agent is receiving commissions on both ends, typically 3 percent for selling and an additional 3 percent for representing the buyer. To avoid potential conflicts, consider finding a separate real estate agent to represent your interests in the transaction.
If you plan to have a growing family living in the home in the near future, plan ahead to accommodate young children or aging parents. Make sure bathrooms have tubs, rather than just showers, and look out for tricky staircases or steep drops in the landscaping outdoors. Settling for small spaces now can be a big mistake if your family grows and you are stuck with thousands of dollars in remodeling costs.
With the proliferation of foreclosures and short sales in the United States, there are some bargains out there for the right buyer. Be very careful, however, to know exactly what you are getting involved in. These types of homes often do not have clear title, and can present complications in the future months, or even years. Ask to see titles and release forms from previous owners who have surrendered the property. Always make sure that property taxes and any HOA dues have been brought current prior to the closing date. Regardless of spoken assurances that you will not be held responsible for these things, get it in writing, with a guarantee that the seller will pay them.
Doing a little bit of homework ahead of time, and knowing what pitfalls to avoid, can make the purchase of your new home an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. Apply the knowledge from this article to move forward with confidence and serenity.