Purchasing a property regardless of whether it's a family home, condo or rental complex requires you to first do your homework. These following five key areas should be investigated prior to the purchase of any property:
- Arrange Financing
Understanding the different types of mortgages, what you qualify for and negotiating the best rate and terms should all be completed before you even look at your first property.
You don't want to waste anyone's time, including your own, looking at properties and getting excited only to find out your credit history is so poor that nobody is going to finance you at this time. Ensure you have spoken with a mortgage broker or other financial lender and have been pre-qualified for a particular price range.
Now that you know your price range it will save you time and help you narrow your search. You may have been approved; however, most lending institutions now also require that once you find a property it too will need to be approved, based on a professional appraisal. This helps prevent individuals from over mortgaging properties. So remember, you and the property need to be approved.
- Find a Realtor
Licensed realtors work with real estate transactions every day. They only make money when a deal comes together so they will work hard to ensure you find what you need.
Agents can be a great source of knowledge but I would avoid a dual-agency situation. This is when one agent is looking after the interests of both parties to the transaction. It is my experience that in all real-estate transactions each party is better represented by separate agents.
In the typical real estate transaction the seller will engage the services of a realtor to list their property for sale. The seller pays a commission to his/her agent of which a percentage is paid to the selling agent. Therefore, as a buyer you receive the services of your agent free of charge.
- Consult a Lawyer
This is one area you do not want to try and save a few dollars by attempting to close a deal yourself. It is imperative that you find a "real estate" lawyer that knows the area in which the property is located.
Finding out the dream home you just purchased didn't actually belong to the person you gave the money to, or is sitting on an old waste dump and seeping methane gas, can put a real damper on moving day.
You may not see all the work your lawyer does, behind the scenes, but you will sure notice the complications if they are not done.
- Conduct a Property Inspection
In my experience people will often spend more time inspecting, test-driving and having their mechanic examine a used $5,000 car than they do inspecting a $200,000 home. The information you can gain from an inspection from a reputable, qualified home inspector is priceless, yet only costs a few hundred dollars.
The purpose of this home inspection is generally not to make or break the deal but rather, open the purchasers eyes to what updates and changes will need to be completed and when they should be completed. A $300,000 home may no longer be worth $300,000 if you find it needs a new roof, furnace, foundation repairs etc.
It's hard to negotiate a price if you don't know what exactly you're buying.
- Prepare your best offer
Hopefully, you are using the resources of a realtor to help you in preparing the offer as it can be very complex.
The first thing you need to know is: are you the only person making an offer or will you be competing with others. If you are competing - all gloves are off. You must make the best offer up front, no games. Give the highest price you are willing to pay and remove every condition you can, then pray.
Otherwise, several factors come into play: how long has the property been on the market, how this property compares to others in the immediate area, how it compares to others on the same price range, what did your home inspection reveal etc.
Always include a deposit amount large enough to show you are serious (You will get it back if the offer is not accepted). Focus on the big issues: Purchase price, closing date, conditions for inspection and financing. Don't argue over curtains and kitchen tables.
In summary, real estate buying can be exciting, profitable and enjoyable however, it is not something you should try alone. You would be wise to utilize the expertise of several professionals. If you have chosen a reputable realtor and lawyer - listen to them, they know what they're doing. First try a mortgage calculator on line like the one at