In today’s financial climate, real estate continues to be a strong investment in many areas. Educated buyers will always make the most out of the real estate market. These top ten tips for buying real estate will help you enter into your next real estate transaction with confidence.
TIP #1: Hire the right Agent!
Hiring the right Real Estate Agent is invaluable. If you are unfamiliar with the area, the realtor you choose is your link to important information regarding schools, zoning, city and county regulations, neighborhood trends, building and remodeling, and rental restrictions, and property values. Every city has different laws governing what can and can’t be done with a property. Sanibel is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States due in part to its strict building codes and city planning. Having experienced many aspects of real estate transactions on a personal level, I understand the situations and concerns of my buyers and sellers. I have been an island property owner for many years and have walked through several local real estate transactions myself. From buying and selling lots to building new homes with local builders, to investing in rental income-producing properties and utilizing 1031 Tax-free exchanges, I don’t just sell island real estate; I invest in it because I believe there is no place in the world like Sanibel and Captiva. Whether you work with me or someone else, finding the right realtor is invaluable.
TIP #2: Pre-qualify for Financing!
Pre-qualifying for a loan may not seem that important until you find your perfect paradise property at the same time as another buyer. When a property is priced to sell, it will usually attract more than one buyer. Once a seller receives an offer, the two most important things they consider are …the price and the contingencies. For some sellers, a contract contingent on the buyer obtaining financing makes them uncomfortable with the offer. Eliminate any doubt in the mind of a seller, by pre-qualifying for the amount you may spend on the purchase of any property. This is especially important if your dream property suddenly has a price reduction. When this occurs other buyers might come into the picture, that didn’t look at that property before it went “On Sale”! Often a seller will take a financially solid contract over a higher offer. Be ready to put a deal together!
TIP #3: Location, Location, Location!
“Location, location, location”, while overused as a real estate phrase, is still and always should be a huge consideration to you as the buyer! If something about the location of a property bothers you, be aware that the same location drawback will bother any buyer you hope to attract when and if you need to resell the property! It’s important to ask a lot of questions, but often it is difficult to know the right questions to ask if you are unfamiliar with the community. This is why it is so valuable to choose and hire the right real estate agent to represent your interests when buying a property.
TIP #4: Get a Home Inspection!
Obtaining an inspection report performed by a licensed professional building inspector of your choice can protect you from any defects that are hidden from view. Why gamble with such a large financial investment? Let a professional building inspector point out areas to be fixed or replaced that aren’t obvious. A good inspector will give you a lengthy report covering all systems in the home from electrical, to plumbing, to roof conditions and structural concerns. Once you receive a report you may begin negotiations again concerning repairs. Often a seller will agree to make necessary repairs up to a specified financial amount. When a seller lists their property “as is” they are letting you know that they are not willing to fix or replace any part of the property. If you are interested in an “as is” property and aren’t going to level the structure and build new, it is still in your best interest to obtain an inspection report. Don’t rely on the building inspector to look for termites and other harmful pest problems. Although an inspector will see pest damage, it is best to have a separate termite inspection conducted by a licensed company that understands pests and can eliminate them.
TIP #5: Obtain a Survey and Title Insurance!
Surveys will show easements, encroachments, and boundary lines of a property. By surveying a home in an established neighborhood, you are assured that the property boundary lines have been maintained. As homeowners add on their properties over time with fences, sheds, decks, garages, and other structures, boundary lines can be crossed placing part of their structure on your property, or vice versa. Surveying vacant land is also important for the same reasons as a home, plus a survey will help determine the size home or amount of coverage the lot will allow.
Title Insurance will protect your investment from another party claiming an ownership interest in your property. Title searches will uncover liens placed on a property by vendors, or mistakes in past transfers of the title. The last thing you want to discover when you’re in the backstretch of a transaction is that there are encumbrances on the property such as tax liens, undisclosed owners, easements, or leases. Should a claim arise after the purchase of a property, the title insurance company is there to protect your ownership interest in that property.
TIP #6: Be Realistic!
“Wants” and “Needs” are very different when it comes to real estate features. If every home you see has the upgrades you “want” but exceeds the price range that you “need”…. be realistic. Who wouldn’t love a large, oceanfront, professionally decorated home or condominium, with all the bells and whistles? Looking at properties that exceed your price range is always fun, but it can be extremely frustrating and upsetting. Be realistic by looking at listings in the price range you “need”, keeping an eye out for that special property that has the potential to evolve into the dream home you “want”. Always look beyond the furnishings, wallpaper, and floor coverings to the architecture of the home; it is then that you will find properties with potential.
TIP #7: Use Contract Contingencies Wisely!
Contingencies in a contract for the purchase of a property are designed to protect you, the buyer! This may seem silly to mention but it’s important to remember that you need to work with the seller to come to an agreed-upon contract. Valid contingencies to an offer are expected by the seller. Common contingencies include building inspections, termite and pest inspections, financing, and surveys. Many deals fall apart over small details, and easy to fix issues. Remember that sellers are emotional about their property. If you can see that major repairs or replacements need to be made due to neglect or age, make allowances for this in your offering price. The adage “Everything is negotiable” still holds, unless you upset the seller so much that they refuse to work with you. Try to avoid listing cosmetic changes you would like the seller to make as contingencies. Cosmetic changes are subjective, be objective when writing a contract.
TIP #8: Understand Regional Health and Safety Issues!
An informed realtor will help you understand other health and safety issues that should be considered when purchasing a property. Safety and health topics can include EIFS (Synthetic Stucco), indoor air quality, mold, radon, and lead paint. Many of these require the seller to sign a disclosure statement, while others may not apply due to the age, type of construction, or location of the property being purchased.
TIP #9: Ask for Information!
Don’t be shy. When you have hired a realtor to work for you, ask them for information. Do you want to look at all the properties in your price range, with the features you need, or just the houses a realtor wants you to see? You deserve all the information you need to make an educated decision. Can you imagine buying the home that you felt was good for your family, only to find that you never received information on a similar property that is perfect for all your needs? I provide many services to ensure my buyers always have information at their fingertips.