Pick a Realtor you like, and go house hunting.
This can be a long and difficult process or fun and exciting. Make sure you’re thinking about a home’s functionality and how you will feel about the neighborhood as well as the interior of your new home.
Look at the repairs you will need to make and ask your Realtor to give you cost estimates for repairs when possible so you can use them to weigh the value of the home you’re considering.
Before you write an offer you will want to have a buyer agency agreement with your Realtor. This enables your Realtor to write the contract on your behalf and contractually obligates the Realtor to work as your advocate and in your best interests throughout the process. A good Realtor will do that all along anyway, but it can be comforting to know that she’s legally obligated to be on your side.
Once you find the house you want – or think you want – have your Realtor write up an offer. It is a contract, and it can be intimidating. Go through it with your Realtor and have her explain things. Then take it home, look through it and ask more questions.
The seller will either accept, reject or counter your offer. If the offer is countered, decide how you feel about the terms. If you are OK with some and not others, it’s perfectly acceptable to counter again.
Once the seller accepts your offer, you are “under contract” to buy the house. That means you are contractually obligated to follow through on the terms of the contract or the seller can keep your earnest money and in some cases pursue legal action to force you to follow through on the contract.
Fortunately for buyers, there are several “outs” along the way. If you don’t feel comfortable with the house at any time in the contract period, there is usually a clause in the contract that will apply and allow you to rescind your offer and get your earnest money back.
The two biggest “outs” in a contract to buy and sell real estate are:
In a typical contract, which takes 30 days to close, the inspection must be performed within a week or so of going under contract. You do not have to hire a professional inspector to object to the condition of the property and cancel the contract. You can inspect the house yourself. However, it is recommended that you hire an inspector who is knowledgeable and who will protect your interests. Inspectors usually cost anywhere from $250 to $450. They should also have errors and omissions insurance so that they can pay for anything they miss during their inspection after you close
After you get the inspection results, you typically have about three days to submit your requests to the sellers. You can request anything that comes up in the inspection from deck repairs and carpet cleaning to a new roof and added insulation. You don’t want to ask for every little thing to be repaired, but you need to address safety issues and pick no more than a few other less pressing issues that genuinely bother you.
Certain brands of plumbing pipe and wiring are known to have issues. You probably won’t get the seller to agree to rewire or re-plumb the home and you will likely have the same or similar issues in other houses you consider.
The seller will usually have another three days to respond and say what he or she will do. If you’re OK with the answer you can go forward with the contract. If you’re not, you can cancel it or negotiate with the seller through your Realtor to get the repairs you want.
Amanda Miller Luciano
Trent Properties Group