9 Tips on Buying a Home to Save Time & Money
1. Hire a Great Buyer’s Agent
This is an agent that is looking out for the buyer’s best interest and usually a service that is seller paid and no cost to the buyer. This is a realtor that should be able to help their client/the buyer save money & time by sharing their expertise in the business and overcoming hurdles before they happen as well as sharing knowledge about the market and values in a neighborhood to help with smart purchase decisions.
The buyer’s agent should also be able to connect to a wide range of lenders, inspectors, repair contacts, insurance companies, etc if needed to help thru the process. This person should help the buyer make the best decisions when inspection issues come up , appraisal issues, closing issues, financing hurdles, etc to keep everything in contract timelines and moving forward.
Just like with any service there is a different level of service upon each provider – be sure to check reviews and have a warm and fuzzy feeling the agent is looking out for the buyer’s best interest. Some companies charge a transaction management fee, brokerage fee or administrative fee but the Buyer’s agent compensation is covered by the seller.
. It is highly recommended to connect with a buyer’s agent to protect your interest but you are not obligated to use a buyer’s agent. Some buyers believe that if they work with the listing agent they will get a better “deal” on the home – this Is usually not the case.
2. Get Pre-Qualified & Find a Great Lender
– don’t just go online – ask the good buyer’s agent for recommendations and why they recommend that person.
Each lender has a specialty and the local banks all have different programs. A good buyer’s agent should be able to direct you to a great place to start based on your situation.
I suggest going to a mortgage broker that has good online reviews since they are able to qualify you with several different loan providers. If you go to Bank of America which I don’t recommend, you will get someone in a call center that is usually not as knowledgeable, wont call you back on a Saturday and also only has the programs their bank offers. I don’t recommend shopping lenders until you have a contract signed.
The interest rates fluctuate daily so just because 1 lender has a great rate, that may change by the time you have an agreement and that is when they can lock your terms into place.
3. Know Your Costs!
! A good lender will provide an estimate of how much you will need for a down payment and for closing costs if you have found a home that you feel will make a good fit, let them run an estimate to verify the payments and fees are in line with your ability and expectations.
Most important… do not go buy any large expenses and add debts to your credit history. When the lender approved you, they ran current debts.
Any new debts will change may change your loan estimate and could increase your interest rate. Wait to buy a new car or furniture until after you buy the home.
4. Get a search set thru MLS feeds
your agent can set up a direct MLS feed for new listings that meet your criteria. This is the quickest and most accurate list of homes that will be emailed you immediately as new listings come on the market.
Then the agent can set up to see several homes on the same day and advise you on the areas and the home as it works for your family and loan program.
5. How are the Schools?
Ask for the state provided grades of schools in the area.
You may find an amazing deal just to find the school has one of the lowest ratings. There are usually several private and charter school options in these areas.
Ask your buyer’s agent for guidance on schools and areas too based on your lifestyle.
6. Drive the Locations
If you want to know how the neighborhood is, drive it on the weekends and between 5-7pm when people are getting home.
Go to the stores in the area and see if the types of people in the stores are who you want to be your neighbors.
7. Must Haves, Would Like, Absolutes No's
Make a 3 column list of MUST HAVES and WOULD LIKE and ABSOLUTLEY NO with whoever is helping make the home buying decision.
If you do this in advance, when you think you found the perfect home this will come in handy.
Its common to forget some of the must have items until its too late. This will also save you time from looking at a home that does not meet the checklist. This needs to include neighborhood items & home features
8. Review the Terms
Once you found the perfect home, make sure the terms of the purchase agreement are very clear and you know what your deadlines are.
It is best to make offers with the least amount of requests if you are in a hot seller’s market.
Your buyer’s agent needs to give you some guidance on the market conditions to help you make an offer that will get accepted but will also be a good value compared to other home sold nearby that are similar so you don’t overpay.
9. Hire a Great Home Inspector
Hire a great home inspector and make sure you are aware of the conditions of the home. Home inspections cost a little more to do and are optional but they will protect you from buying a home with a bad AC , roof , plumbing or electrical issues and those items will usually costs more in the long run to correct.
Many times is major items are detected, the buyer’s agent can work them out with the seller to address but everything is negotiable and it takes experience of a knowledgeable agent to know what is normal and to help guide you thru the process from start to finish.