The Do's and Don'ts of Buying a Home
Although purchasing a new home is exciting, it can sometimes be stressful. Once you have an accepted offer and a signed contract there are lots of things to be done before you can close and move in. As a licensed real restate professional, I can assist you with each step of this process. I can also help you to avoid some of the common mistakes home buyers often make. Below are a few things to keep in mind.
Let me do the talking for you. Sometimes buyers think it is a good idea to talk or email the seller or the seller’s agent directly. Experience has shown that this is seldom a good idea.
- The Seller’s Realtor works for the seller, NOT you. Anything you say to him or her is not confidential and can, and probably will, be told to the sellers. The seller’s agent has the seller’s best interest in mind. Any information you give them may work against you when trying to negotiate a price, settlement dates, etc.
- Don’t talk to the sellers. On more than one occasion I have had buyers talk directly to the sellers to try work out various details or to get additional information. And on more than one occasion I have seen this backfire. The sellers want to sell their home so they don’t want to say anything that may upset you or turn you off. They may, therefore, agree to something when they talk to you, but then go back to their agent and complain that you are pressuring them.
Don’t go to the home on your own. Until you close, the home is the property of the owner. Going there without permission is trespassing, even if you just want to walk around the outside. Let me know if you want to show the home to family members, measure for window treatments, etc., and if possible, I will make the arrangements for you.
Let me know when you have scheduled appointments at the home. You may need to have various people inspect the home, give you an estimate for repairs, etc. Please let me know before scheduling anything so I can make the needed arrangements with the sellers. Often times there are still people living in the home, so we will need to coordinate schedules. We may also need to make special arrangements if there are pets, a community gate, and to make sure that they can get entry into the home. Some contracts even require the agent be there, or that the sellers have things ready for the inspection, i.e. power and water must be turned on.
Meet all deadlines. Various tasks, such a getting the final mortgage approval, inspections, future deposits, obtaining the HOA resale packet, etc., will need to be completed by the buyer or seller. These are spelled out, along with specific time frames in which they need to be completed, in the Agreement of Sale contract. This is done to keep the process moving forward to ensure you can close on time. It is important that these tasks be completed within the time frame allotted. If they are not, you run the risk of not closing on time, or worse yet, being in default of the contract and losing the home. In spite of your best efforts, however, delays do happen. Don’t panic. I can prepare the needed paperwork to address delays. Once agreed upon in writing by all involved parties, new deadlines or changes are set and it’s time to move forward again.
Seek an attorney for legal advice. In the State of Pennsylvania you are not required to have an attorney to close on a home. Some people opt not to have one, others prefer to use one. Sometimes people choose not to get an attorney, but during the course of the transaction some things may come up for which you may want a legal opinion or assistance. Remember, you can seek legal advice at any point in the home buying process and are encouraged to do so if you have any legal questions or want legal advice. As a Realtor I am not qualified, nor allowed, to provide you with any legal advice.
What you see is not always what you get. Unless spelled out specifically in the Agreement of Sale, some items which you may think are included in the sale may not be. For example, the Refrigerator, washer, dryer, and freezer may not be included. Check with me to see exactly what is and is not included.
No major changes, please! If you are getting a mortgage, do not do anything that will negatively impact your financial situation. Now is not the time to purchase or lease a new car, open a new credit card, change jobs, co-sign a loan, take out a loan etc. etc. Pay your current bills on time and talk to your mortgage broker about what you can and cannot do financially to ensure your preapproval turns into a mortgage commitment.
Avoid CASH deposits into your account. As strange as it may seem, any cash deposits into your account that do not correspond to your normal payroll income will raise flags. All lenders are required to verify, with documentation, the sources of cash deposits. If it cannot be verified it cannot be used as funds towards your loan approval.
It’s not over till it’s over. Until everything is signed and you are holding the keys, you don’t own the house. You might want to wait on purchasing that new flooring, appliances and furniture until after you have closed. Things happen even when everyone is being honest and trying their best. Be prepared to work with people, be flexible and expect there may be some delays. Most times, problems can be resolved with some creative work on the parts of the buyers, sellers, realtors, mortgage broker and title company.
Make your transition an easy one. Once you get those keys and move in, you will probably want gas and electric, TV, internet and other services in place. Remember to ask me for a list of current providers as well as other useful contact information for local services. If you are paying cash, remember to get home owners insurance to begin the day of the closing (if you are getting a mortgage, home owners insurance is probably included in with your monthly loan payment – check with your mortgage broker). Don’t forget things like registering your pets and registering to vote.
So, are you feeling overwhelmed yet? That’s normal. Take a deep breath and keep in mind that although this may seem like a lot of information to absorb, it is the lack of knowledge that typically causes problems. My job is to prepare you for what lies ahead and to help you through each step of the home buying process. If you have questions, want clarification or need more information, feel free to call me.