House hunting is exciting, but you need to be prepared to do it right. Here, we’ll go over what to do and what to avoid when hunting for your dream home.
- Prequalify for financing: One of your first items of business is to make sure you know how much you can afford. You can do this by prequalifying for a mortgage. Once you know how much you can borrow, you’ll have a clear idea of what kind of house you can afford.
- Research everything: When looking at a house, find out as much as you can about it. Its history, improvements on the property, flaws or repairs done, and any other information you can obtain is crucial to choosing a house and negotiating the price. Legal surveys of the property can help you avoid pitfalls such as inheriting zoning law violations or property disputes.
- Read everything: Sign nothing before you are absolutely certain what it says and how it will affect you. In many cases, contracts may favor the seller unfairly, so make sure you read everything you sign.
- Get a lawyer: Just as you need a realtor for house hunting, enlist an attorney to help with the paperwork and escrow. This will be vital as you review contracts and agree to the terms set by the seller.
- Go alone: Going unrepresented puts you at a disadvantage in terms of negotiations, and it can also be overwhelming to take on a process like this by yourself. Make sure you go house hunting with an experienced realtor who knows the market, and counsel with a real estate attorney when it comes to the contracts and other paperwork involved in the process.
- Tip your hand: Showing too much interest will tip off the seller that you might be willing to pay more for the property. However, on the other hand, deliberately criticizing the property will generally make the seller like you less, causing them to give less when it comes to negotiations. If you’re interested, be honest, but avoid being too emotional or attached to the property.
- Navigate paperwork yourself: While you should be aware of what each contract says, you will also need the experienced eyes of an attorney to review all documents. They can quickly pick out flaws or pitfalls in contracts, assess deeds and titles, and navigate the financial documents involved in real estate transactions. If any issues are discovered, they can then deal with them accordingly.
- Close accounts: Once you prequalify for financing, don’t close out accounts such as credit cards or other debts since this could alter your credit and disqualify you. In addition, avoid making any other large purchases since those could increase your debt-income ratio and potentially disqualify you for financing.
Finding Legal Help
As we’ve already pointed out, you want a solid team on your side to make sure the process goes well. This will include a realtor and a real estate lawyer. At Hart & David, we have the legal and real estate experience you can trust to see you safely through the process.