Step 1: Get Ready
- Meet with a mortgage professional to discuss your credit and financial situation and determine your loan qualifications. A letter of pre-approval can really bolster your bargaining power.
- When choosing a real estate agent, select someone that you trust, is a good listener, and knows the neighborhoods and schools where you want to live.
- Make sure your realtor understands exactly what you are looking for in a home. I recommend putting together a checklist itemizing:
- The qualities you must have in a home (for example, a certain school district, or a quiet street);
- The features that you would like to have, but don’t require, and;
- The features that you will not accept in a home or location. The more your agent understands what you are seeking in a home, the better she can fine tune the properties that she shows you.
- Clarify your preferences for how your agent communicates with you about listings and available properties.
Step 2: Shop Smart
- Pay careful attention to structural deficiencies. Even though these issues may be less visable to the eye, they can have a big impact on your pocketbook! On the other hand, cosmetic flaws can be very obvious, but many times these can easily and inexpensively be corrected with fresh paint, new flooring or updated fixtures.
- Location is important, especially if you think you may decide to sell in the future. Maximize your pool of future buyers by selecting an appealing location.
Step 3: Getting the House You Want
- To write a winning offer, look at comparable sales. Consider how much competition is out there for similar properties.
- Have your agent get the seller’s “story” – why is the home being sold, how motivated is the seller, and what are the seller’s preferences regarding the timing of the closing and other terms? If you can accomodate the sellers needs, he or she may be more flexible about the price.
- Should your offer be accepted, be sure to schedule home inspections. If additional repairs are required, adjustments in pricing may need to be negotiated.