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Tips for Buying a Home

Buying a home will probably rank as one of the biggest personal investments one can make. Being organized and in control will contribute significantly to getting the best home deal possible with the least amount of stress. It’s important to anticipate the steps required to successfully achieve your housing goal and to build a plan of action that gets you there.

Before you can build a plan of action, take the time to lay the groundwork for your decision-making process.

Use a Realtor

It is important that you choose an experienced agent who is there for you.  Your agent should be actively finding you potential homes, keeping you informed of the entire process, negotiating furiously on your behalf, and answering all of your questions with competence and speed.

First, find an agent who represents you and not the seller.  This is beneficial during the negotiation process.  If you are working with a Realtor, he or she is required not to tell the seller of your top choice.  In addition, he or she is also focused on getting you the lowest asking price.

Also, when you use a Realtor, you will see more properties.  Not only are they a member of the local Multiple Listing Service, they are also actively finding homes that are listed as FSBO, or homes that sellers are listing on their own.

Finding the Right Seller

The best seller is one who is highly motivated.  A highly motivated seller is more likely to sell for less than his or her house is worth.  It matters that you find out why; learning the reason why can help you get the price you want and help the seller get what they want: a timely sale.

When given the opportunity to meet with sellers, ask them why they are selling.  The reasons could be anything from job change to a new location to financial problems.  If you can solve their problem, whether it is cash related or time related, do so.  For example, if the sellers are highly motivated because they need to move quickly, give them a fast sale – and a lower price.  If you can make an offer, even a low one that gives them cash in a short time, they are more likely to accept.

There are also some sellers that you should avoid.  Not every seller is as genuinely motivated as they make themselves to be.  Some possible hints:

They stall on having the home appraised or inspected
Unable to clear up liens against their property
Does not own 100% of their property
They push back the move-out date
Does not have a replacement property or back up plan, etc.

It is rather rare that a seller’s motivation will dramatically affect the price of a home, but it is often possible to save a few thousand dollars.  The most common “motivated seller” is someone who has already bought his or her next home or is relocating to a new area.  They will be forced to sell the home quickly or face the prospect of making two mortgage payments at the same time.  Since that can drain a bank account quickly, most sellers want to avoid such a situation and may be willing to give up a few thousand dollars to avoid the possibility.  

There are also family crises that can motivate a seller to make a quick deal.  However, when you see a real estate ad that mentions “divorce,” “motivated seller,” “relocation,” or something to that effect, beware.  Although the facts may be true, that does not necessarily mean the seller is motivated to make a quick and costly sale. Most likely, the ad is more designed to generate phone calls and leads rather than sell the home.  

However, there are times when a seller is truly distressed, willing to make a quick sale and sacrifice thousands of dollars.  With the seller’s permission, the listing agent will post this information along with the listing in the Multiple Listing Service.  They may also inform other agents during office and association marketing sessions or by flyers sent to other real estate offices.  Provided this information has been made generally available to Realtors, your agent should know when a seller is truly motivated and when it is just “fluff” designed to elicit interest in a property.  

It is impossible to find the perfect seller.  But it is possible to find out which sellers are legit, and which ones aren’t.