Saturday, September 1, 2007

Buyer Smarts

When buying a home these tips will help you find the right house, negotiate the best price and make the process as pain-free as possible.

1. Work with a Buyer's Agent
A seller's agent is typically good at marketing, whereas a buyer's agent possesses the skills most suited to home buyers. When looking for a home, you want to work with an agent who is motivated to help you find the best house at the best price. In order to find the right agent, conduct interviews with a number of different agents. When you make the final selection, sign a contract with them that stipulates the performance terms. This gives you an avenue to terminate your relationship if the agent is not meeting your expectations.

2. Get Pre-Approved
Getting pre-approved gives you tremendous bargaining power. A pre-approval letter is a lender's guarantee of how much they will loan you. This is attractive to the seller as they know financing will not cause closing delays. If the seller is considering other offers, your pre-approval will give you an advantage over those whose financing isn't established. Note that pre-approval and pre-qualification are quite different. Whereas pre-approval is an actual guarantee, pre-qualification is only an estimate of what a lender is likely to loan you.

3. Know Your Needs
In order for an agent to find the home that best suits you, you must first decide what type of house you want: number of bedrooms, ranch or two-story, type of layout, square footage, amenities, location, etc. Once you have determined your criteria, share them with your agent in as much detail as possible. This will help them show you the homes best matched to your parameters.

4. Be Easily Reached
If you are serious about buying a home, your real estate agent must be able to contact you easily. Attractive deals can arise quickly and disappear quickly. Give your agent detailed contact information.

5. Demonstrate your Seriousness
There are a number of things that will demonstrate to the seller that you are a serious buyer and give you a good negotiating position. This is especially important when there is more than one offer on the table. A strong deposit, at least 5 percent, is sure to attract the seller's attention. A pre-approval letter is also attractive as it ensures the negotiations with you will not be hampered by financing issues. Despite what is commonly believed, price isn't always the deciding factor. A seller will often look on a pre-approved buyer more favorability, even if their offer is lower than competing bids.

6. Work with a Mortgage Broker
A mortgage broker can save you time as well as hundreds of dollars each month. On your behalf they will solicit a number of lenders to find the lowest interest rate and the most favorable mortgage terms. They have access to more resources than an individual and can usually save you time and money. Along with saving you research time, mortgage brokers are typically quite flexible about meeting you at your home or your office and at night or on the weekends.

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