Tips for Buyers

Return to article list

1)  Discuss what you’re looking for with your spouse or partner before you begin to visit properties.  Make a list of “must have” features, then discuss those you “would like, but can live without”.  After you’ve seen a dozen or so properties, re-evaluate your criteria.  Priorities often shift with time. And keep in mind that you may not really know what you're looking for in a home until you see it. Don't feel pressured to define exactly what you want as you may not know yet.


2)  Know how much you can afford before you start looking.  Most lenders will pre-qualify you for free. This saves time and avoids needless disappointment.

 

3)  Don’t bring an agent with you to look at for-sale-by-owner properties, or bring them into the picture to draw up a contract as you may risk losing the house, unless you are willing to pay their commission through a higher sales price or out of your own pocket.  Remember, your lawyer can help you with the process.

4)  If you're looking at properties with an agent don’t sign a contract locking you into looking only with only them, or guarantees them a commission even if you find a house yourself!  Do specify a commission be paid only if you buy a property shown by that agent.  This will enable you to look with other agents and at for-sale-by-owner properties on your own.

 

5)  If you find a house to buy before you’ve sold your home, and the seller is reluctant to sign a contract with the contingency that you sell your home first, you may draw up a contract  with a "knock out clause", allowing the seller to continue advertising. The seller may cancel your contract if he receives another offer with a higher purchase price or other terms. The knock out provision in the contract would specify what reasons would qualify (such as a higher price).

 

6)  If you sell your home before finding a home to buy, be sure your sales contract is contingent upon you, the seller, finding suitable housing!  We've heard stories of people frantic to find a home under pressure or renting after the closing.   Remember, the seller is legally bound to sell once the contract is signed. 

 

7)  Be courteous and respectful of the sellers when presenting an offer. Avoid criticizing the property with statements like “we don’t like the new carpeting and will have to replace it”.  This will not justify a lower offer and may insult the sellers, decreasing your chances of their accepting your offer.

 

8)  If you are unsure about the value of the property you like, you can  make your offer contingent upon the property appraising for the selling price or higher.       

 

9)  Request that you be permitted to walk-through the house shortly before closing, after the furniture is removed, to ensure  no flaws were covered with furniture, rugs, or wall coverings. 

 

10)  Before you make an offer request the seller complete a property disclosure form stating the condition of all aspects of the home.   If making an offer on a property listed with an agent, make sure you see the seller’s disclosure information first.  Agency-listed properties carry no guarantees.  It's the seller who is bound to be truthful in reporting the property’s condition.     

 

11)  Give the seller a reasonable amount of time to consider your offer. (24 hours is common.) Also, don’t make the deadline time at midnight unless you usually are awake at that time!

 

12)  If you don’t know much about home construction make your offer contingent upon the property passing a professional home inspection.  This is also an excellent way to become more familiar with the upkeep needs of your future home.

 

13)  Put everything in writing.  Your sales contract should spell out whether the washer and dryer stay, etc.