Janis Peterson, GRI, ABR, CSP Realtor®
Caution begins by choosing competent professionals to partner with you. Your interview with your real estate professional is key. You should also ask questions before choosing a mortgage broker, attorney, inspector, insurance agent, title company or escrow company.
As a buyer, you should follow the adage, "let the buyer beware." Keep a record of all your conversations and get all promises or commitments in writing. If the promises being made to you are vague, ask for a specific commitment. Statements like "we'll take care of you" have little meaning. Ask for guarantees in writing. At the end of a conversation in which promises or assurances have been made to you ask the other party to summarize these promises in a letter to you or write your own summary and send it to the other party.
Make sure your real estate professional and the other professionals involved in your transaction understand that you want to be informed of every development. Be certain you know who your real estate professional is representing – the buyer or seller. If the real estate professional does not represent you, you should remember that the information you offer to that real estate professional might put you at a disadvantage in any negotiations. It is always a good idea to have a professional on your side – either a real estate professional or an attorney.
Ask your real estate professional about how best to meet the contingencies you need in your purchase agreement. What happens if an appraisal shows the home to be worth much less than your offer? What happens if you have difficulty obtaining homeowners insurance? What happens if the financing falls through, the home fails inspection or title defects are discovered? A good purchase contract should include contingencies that protect your interests as a buyer under these and other potential circumstances while remaining fair to the seller as well. If you do not like the provisions, ask your representative what can be done to change them.
Too often buyers and sellers feel overwhelmed by all the documents they are asked to sign in the closing process. Last minute verbal assurances made at closing are virtually worthless, get everything in writing or don't count on it. You should ask to see all documents in advance of the signing. This gives you an opportunity to understand them, have them reviewed by your attorney if needed, and avoid the pressure of feeling like you have to sign something that you don't understand.
In every respect you should insist on ethical conduct by those around you and engage in it yourself. Bending the rules, looking the other way or ignoring problems in the hope that they will not be discovered is an invitation to disaster. Sadly, the courts are filled with examples of times when people failed to act ethically in a real estate transaction. Sometimes, sellers who sense that you are emotionally committed to buying their home "no matter what," will try to gain negotiating concessions that are to your disadvantage. Even when these concessions are ethical, they may be unreasonable. You should be prepared to cease negotiations when the terms are turning against you. An experienced real estate professional should offer that advice when a deal is not worth having.
The purchase of a new home is likely the biggest personal financial decision you have ever made. Be prudent when buying a home and protect your investment through aggressive representation, frequent questioning, open communications, careful documentation and a willingness to cease negotiations under adverse circumstances. With careful planning and the help of a competent and experienced professional, you will avoid serious problems and enjoy an effective real estate transaction that puts you happily into the home of your dreams.
"Real Service in Real Estate." For a personal consultation on buying or selling real estate, Janis Peterson, GRI, ABR, CSP Realtor® can be reached at (610) 642-3744, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors® is an independently owned and operated member of The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc.
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