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What you should know before you buy a house

Whether you are a first time home buyer or seasoned investor, the process of purchasing real estate changes every year.  Closing guidelines, economic factors, negotiations, pre qualifications, tax incentives, short sales or foreclosure challenges. 

It is important to know what questions to ask before considering making an offer on a property.

There are always items that can be added to the list and as the market changes so will this list. 

But as of now here you go:


1. How much you can afford. 

This sounds simple but more often than not, clients come in to my office with dreamy eyes from stalking a gorgeous home online. Their dreams are quickly shattered when they realize the gorgeous home is WAY out of their price range. 

When looking for a good mortgage broker or banker, ask around & don't be afraid to shop around.  Even if you're an investor and have been using the same person for years, every bank has different programs & options that can be catered to your needs.  It's always good to have 2-3 solid brokers/bankers in your contacts.

2. The true reason you are looking to buy. 

Everyone has their own path in life.  Determining your reason for wanting to buy can greatly impact the kind of house you get. For example, if you are a first time home owner looking for a starter home.  Ask yourself, "How long am I planning on living in the house?"  If it's less than five years, you may want to consider purchasing a home that can build equity & be converted into a rental when you move. Most starter homes become great income producing properties. If you plan to stay in the house longer than five years, you may want to look at a home that has a lot of bang for buck. Upgrades are much cheaper when they already exist in a house rather than having to buy them yourself.  If you're planning to have a family, you may also want to consider the extra room you will need.

3. Get a professional real estate agent. 

Just because the agent has the house listed, or spends thousands of dollars on billboards, it does not make them a good professional real estate agent.  The first item is to make sure they are licensed to practice real estate.  You can find this by going to https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp?mode=0&SID= if you are in Florida. Or visit your state Department of Business & Professional Regulation site. Secondly, they need to be able to communicate quickly & effectively. The number one complaint about real estate agents is that they do not return emails or phone calls. Look for an agent that communicates in the way you prefer whether phone, email, text or social media. Additionally, research & ask around to find out if they are truthful & reputable in your area. As real estate agents, we are in the business of sales.  Not all sales people are equal.  You need someone that will be honest about the property they are showing you. Not an agent that wants to sell it to you because it’s his brother’s house. With social media now days, it is easier to do your homework on the background of real estate agents.  Most importantly, make sure they are a part of their local board of Realtors. Lastly, find an agent who is knowledgeable in real estate & the market you are buying in. Look for an agent that understands a purchase contract and the process of submitting an offer. Don't be afraid to ask what area they specialize in.  It is best to utilize an agent that specializes in the type of property you are buying, such as a short sale specialist or investment specialist.

4. What the neighborhood is like that you are looking to buy in. 

Before you fall in love with a house online or after you've seen it once, get familiar with the area.  As a real estate professional, we are limited to what we can say about neighborhoods when we are asked by our clients.  It is your responsibility, to scope out the area.  I recommend to my clients that they visit the neighborhood several times at different times of the day and week to get a good feel for the area.  Visit the property especially in the evenings & on weekends.  This is when most of your potential neighbors to be will be home and the neighborhood will be the liveliest.

5. Find out how long the closing process will be. Every type of transaction has a different closing time frame.  Conventional & VA loans can close typically within 30 days.  Government funded loans such as USDA, can take 60 days on average. However, if you are dealing with a short sale or bank owned property, these can it can take 3-6 months before you can close.  This can greatly impact your life if you are in need of a quick close before the end of the year as an investor or if you need to coordinate moving dates in your current place. Your real estate agent and mortgage broker can assist you with these details.

As I mentioned above, these are just a few that I think are the most important in today’s market.  

Hope you found this article helpful & feel free to email me Cat@DontWorrySignHappy.com for more information.