It’s that time of year, school is almost over and parents everywhere are beginning the search to relocate. And in this down economy, there are many bargains to be had in the housing market but prospective homeowners should hit the brakes before taking that big leap toward a new home or condo. Your dream home may hold many hidden secrets and they’re not always visible at first blush nor are they the hidden treasures you would hope are stored in the attic. So here’s some advice from this Westchester attorney before looking for, let alone bidding on, your new home:
1. Work with a real estate agent who listens to your needs……
Keep in mind that the agent, although they will be called the “buyer’s agent” is representing the seller. They are in this deal for the commission and it is the seller who is paying them. That being said, your “agent” should onlyshow you properties that meet your needs and your lifestyle.
2. Placing the bid……Even in a down economy, many sellers are not realistic in their pricing and the properties are still over-priced. Don’t be scared to make a low-ball offer. The worst that could happen is that the seller rejects it; however, depending on their desperation level at any given point in time, they may be more amenable to making the deal. Chances are the longer the house has been on the market, the better your chances will be to get a great deal.
3. Inspecting the home…..Once your bid has been accepted, get a house inspector in there PRONTO, before the attorneys get involved and anything is signed on the dotted line. You can still pull out before the contract is signed if the home inspector finds problems and the seller does not want to give you a downward adjustment on the price.
Generally, your realtor can recommend a house inspector but this is a contact number you should have in mind before you even go house-hunting.
Also, a tip I learned the hard way…….always lift the carpets. If there is an area rug sitting in the middle of what appeasr to be a beautiful hard wood floor, make sure that rug is not hiding a giant water or pet stain. Hard wood floors are an expensive adjustment and cagey sellers know that.
4. Attorney representation – a good attorney is your best friend in closing on a property. He or she is the only person there to represent your best interests so don’t scrimp to save a dime, not when you’re spending upwards of half a million dollars. A $1,500 legal fee is the best investment you can make on the biggest investment of your life.
5. The Contract – many buyers would like contingencies built into the contract and many sellers are reluctant to give them. Unless you are giving an all-cash deal for the property, as a buyer, you will want a mortgage contingency built into the contract. Also, if you are trying to sell your current property to fund the new purchase, you may ask for a contingency based on the sale of your home but that is often not granted.
Each party to the deal will have their attorney draft “riders” to the boiler-plate contract, enumerating wants, rights and obligations and then it will be the buyer who signs first and submits a down payment, generally 10%. Once the seller signs off and the contract is fully executed, then you, as the buyer, can breathe easier. Presumably no one else can now buy the house, even with a higher offer……………..but then again, that’s what litigation is all about.
Happy house hunting!