Buying Tips to Determine Which House Is Best For You

Once you've settled on a couple of preferred neighborhoods for your home search, it's time to pick out a few homes to view. Having a house features “wish list” keeps you focused on which features are most important to you.

Determine what type of home you want to buy: There are several forms of home ownership: single-family homes, multiple-family homes, condominiums and co-ops.

Weigh your needs, budget and personal tastes in deciding whether you want to buy a newly constructed home, an older home or a "fixer-upper" that requires some work.

Consider Resale Potential: One-bedroom condos are more difficult to resell than two-bedroom condos. Two-bedroom/one-bath single houses generally have less appeal than houses with three or more bedrooms, and therefore have less appreciation potential. Homes with "curb appeal," i.e., well-maintained, attractive and with a charming appearance from the street, are the easiest to resell.

The most expensive houses on the street, or ones with anything unusual or unique, are not suited for resale. The best investment potential is traditionally found in a less expensive, more moderately sized home.

Make a features wish list to clarify which features are most and least important to you when looking for a home. Using this features wish list will keep your house hunt focused and effective.

While house hunting, it's a good idea to make notes about what you see because viewing several houses at a time can be confusing. Use a home comparison chart to help you keep track of your search, organize your thoughts and record your impressions.

Before you begin the home buying process, resolve to act promptly when you do find the right house. Every REALTOR® has stories to tell about a couple who looked far and wide for their dream home, finally found it, and then said, "We always promised my Dad we'd sleep on it, so we'll make an offer tomorrow." Many times the story had a sad ending - someone else came in that evening with an offer that was accepted.

Why Use A REALTOR® To Help You Find A Home?

Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power. If you provide a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders - banks and mortgage companies - offer limited choices.

Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.
Your REALTOR® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, etc. There are two things you'll want to know: First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
Your REALTOR® can help you with negotiations and inspections. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or appliances. The purchase agreement should allow time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your REALTOR®, title search company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.

Your REALTOR® can help you understand different financing options and identify qualified lenders.

Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.

The Basics of Making an Offer

A written “offer” is the foundation of a real estate transaction. Oral promises are not legally enforceable when it comes to the sale of real estate. This “offer” not only specifies price, but also all the terms and conditions of the purchase. For example, if the seller offered to help with $2,000 toward your closing costs, make sure that's included in your written offer and in the final completed contract, or you won't have grounds for collecting it later.

REALTORS® have standard purchase agreements and will help you put together a written, legally binding offer that reflects the price as well as terms and conditions that are right for you. Your REALTOR® will guide you through the offer, counteroffer, negotiating and closing processes.

After the offer is drawn up and signed, it is presented to the seller by your real estate agent, by the seller's real estate agent, if that's a different agent, or by the two together. In a few areas, sales contracts are drawn up by the parties' lawyers.

Earnest Deposit Money-This is a deposit that you give when making an offer on a house. A seller is understandably suspicious of a written offer that is not accompanied by a cash deposit to show "good faith." A real estate agent or an attorney usually holds the deposit and this will become part of your down payment.

You will have a binding contract if the seller, upon receiving your written offer, signs an acceptance just as it stands, unconditionally. The offer becomes a firm contract as soon as you are notified of acceptance. If the offer is rejected, that's that - the sellers could not later change their minds and hold you to it.