Finalising a sale can be one of the most exhilarating experiences in the world. It can also be one of the most frustrating. You never whip out your check book (or credit card) without a good reason – especially if it’s a real estate deal. Real estate is a long-term proposition, and it’s expensive if the property goes south. You want to know that you’re making the right move and getting a good deal. The real estate agent wants to sell you a piece of property. Here’s how to ensure everyone walks away happy.
Schedule A Walkthrough
While there are companies out there like Dubizzle that will show you properties online, nothing beats a walkthrough. Online real estate shopping has really taken off in recent years. It’s a great way to sift through a lot of properties. But it’s also only the first step. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it and kicking the tires. You shouldn’t buy a property without at least kicking the foundation.
Seriously though, a walkthrough will give you an excellent idea of the true condition of the house. You can wander around and get into all of the nooks and crannies – see what skeletons are in the closet. Every home has something wrong with it or something that will need to be replaced at some point (the exception being some newer homes).
It’s good to know what you’re dealing with before you sign on the dotted line. Walking through a home also gives you some perspective of the true size and feel of the house. Pictures can tell a very different story from reality. If the lighting is off, a picture can make the home look brighter or darker than it really is. If the person isn’t too skilled with a camera, you might not get great shots at all.
Negotiate Closing Costs
An escrow company can’t be expected to give you free services, but that doesn’t mean that those costs aren’t negotiable. Most people use an escrow account to pay for taxes. Many companies in the industry take advantage of a consumer’s ignorance concerning property taxes and increase their own profit margins by charging really high fees. If you’re being charged for administrative, application review, ancillary, email, processing, and settlement, it’s time to speak up and negotiate those fees out of the agreement. Alternatively, you could skip the escrow and pay the taxes yourself.
Get a Lawyer
It costs money to hire a lawyer, but it’s usually worth it if this is your first home. Even if it’s not, an attorney can help walk you through the finer details of your real estate contract. He can also give you his legal opinion on your closing documents. Even many well-educated people can’t completely understand their closing documents, so don’t feel like this is something only stupid or ignorant people go for. Think of it as a sort of insurance. The lawyer might help you side-step a bad deal or some weird provision in a contract that isn’t in your best interest.
Get a Comp
Make sure you’re not overpaying by getting a comp on your home. This is where an appraiser evaluates your prospective house by comparing it to other, similar homes. You can even have him do a walkthrough for a more accurate appraisal. It’ll save you from overpaying for the property.
Get A Professional Inspection
Like hiring a lawyer, even well-educated people miss things. Unless you’re a real estate pro, don’t try to do an inspection all by yourself. After the walkthrough, have a professional inspector come in and tell you what may need replacing, what the condition of the house is, in general, and what you should anticipate in terms of repairs. This will give you power at the negotiation table.
Joyce Ayers is an international business advisor. She loves to write about her top tips for doing business overseas on consumer blogs.