Buying A Home? Remember These 7 Tips

Recently, my wife and I went on our first open house since deciding to buy a home. In our area, it’s definitely a buyer’s market with dozens upon dozens of homes for sale and not a “sold” sign in a single yard. Still, even though the situation is quite favorable, now isn’t the time to get arrogant or overconfident. A number of things can go wrong.

We could fall in love with a home that we can’t afford; one that the owner doesn’t have to sell if they don’t want to. We could face competition from other buyers for the homes we really want. We could end up purchasing a home with problems.

With all the potential for harm, it made sense for us to turn to Nationwide Insurance, which recently shared some tips for navigating the market, specifically as it relates to the open house. These are the things you must do, and the things you must know, before heading out to look at houses and making a purchasing decision.


Use The Internet.

Thankfully, this was a step my wife had the foresight to employ before we started driving through neighborhoods. In a buyer’s market, you can really get sidetracked by the vast expanse of choices. To get a home while conditions are still favorable, you need to have a clear idea of what you want in order to narrow the field. As Nationwide notes, “with so many online listings available, you can rule out the obvious duds without making the trip.”


Bring Your Own Realtor.

When you’re using the other person’s realtor, they’re in it to get the best deal for their clients. By bringing your own realtor with you, you can even the odds. “Sellers’ agents are there to look out for their clients, which means they won’t have your best interests at heart,” Nationwide affirms. “Your realtor, on the other hand, is on your side. He or she can easily spot potential problems with the house. If your realtor isn’t available, tell the selling agent right up front that you have your own realtor.”


Ask Why The House Is On The Market.

Most people will put forward their most favorable version of the truth, and that could mean leaving out some key details about the house that may influence the size of your offer or the decision to buy in the first place. “You may not get the whole truth,” Nationwide adds, “but you might get a sense of how motivated the seller is. That can be helpful if you decide to make an offer.”


Determine House’s Escrow History.

This is probably an issue first-time home buyers will overlook because they’re just getting used to the home buying process. Still, it’s important. If a home got to the escrow stage and didn’t sell, then it could be for a number of reasons, some of which may be cause for concern. Nationwide notes: “Any house that got to that stage in the selling process without the deal being closed could mean it didn’t pass the inspection. It could also mean that someone changed their mind. Either way, if the house has been in escrow, an inspection is a must before you buy.”


Time On The Market.

This fact is pretty easy to find out since most homes are listed through an agent. While some homeowners may have tried to sell it themselves for a time before listing, the vast majority are immediately traceable because most motivated sellers don’t want to fool with the FSBO process. “Know how long the house has been on the market,” Nationwide states. “Your realtor can probably find this out before you hit the open house. If the house has been on the market for a while, the seller might be more open to an offer well below asking price.”


Check For Outstanding Liens.

A lien is a financial obligation still attached to the property. You definitely want to be aware of any before agreeing to a purchase because there is a risk that you end up paying a lot more than the asking price. “Are there any taxes, construction costs or other fees due?” Nationwide asks. “The selling agent should be honest, but your agent can double-check this for you.”


Ask About Outstanding Offers.

For homes with outstanding offers, you may want to make a more attractive offer. “If you have competition, you may get into a bidding war, so be sure you really love the house before jumping in,” the company cautions.


In Summary

Buying a home can be a stressful process, from open house to final contract. But if you start from a position of knowledge, then you’ll be in a much better place to get the home and the deal that you want. Best of luck as you navigate your search.

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