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7 Questions To Ask Before Buying
Before you make any offer on a house, it pays to get answers to a few important questions.
The answers may scare you off or make you rethink your offer but they can also save you money and aggravation. The answers will also help you feel more confident that you are making the best decisions.
If your real estate agent hesitates or refuses to assist you in getting these answers, you may want to consider finding a new agent.
Ethics and Florida law prevent your real estate agent from telling you how much to offer. He should, however, provide you with information about current listings and sales of comparable properties for the previous six months. He should also assist you in gathering any and all pertinent information about the property so that you can make a solid decision on your offer price.
This information is called a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis). The CMA will show you a range of prices from low to high. Your agent should assist you in determining where this property fits in the value range.
Armed with this information and with the guidance of your experienced agent, you will be able to feel good about your offer.
Every buyer wants to know the answer to this question but a savvy seller is not likely to reveal his bottom price. Just as you don't want the seller to know how high you will go, he doesn't want you to know how low he will go.
An experienced agent should be proficient in negotiating on your behalf. He should discuss a strategy for negotiating so that you feel comfortable throughout the process.
That said, often it is possible to get an idea of just how flexible the seller might be. Various "life changes" may signal a willingness on the seller's part to be more flexible. For example, if the seller has to move and has already put in an offer on a new house, he may be ready and willing to let this property go for less just so he doesn't have two mortgage payments.
Don't hesitate to ask whatever questions you have. A confident real estate agent should be happy to ask for answers on your behalf and press for answers. Of course, the answers may not be forthcoming but it never hurts to ask!
Note: Be careful about making lowball offers. If you go in too low, you run the risk of offending the seller and cutting off all negotiations. Again, choose a real estate agent who understands the psychology of negotiating and you would be smart to trust his experience.
Newsflash: every house is imperfect - even new construction.
There is nothing wrong with asking for the seller to provide a "Seller's Disclosure." In fact, every seller should provide one because he is required, by law, to disclose any structural problems with all buyers.
Bank-owned properties (foreclosures) typically do not know anything about the condition of the property so they will not provide one but any seller who has owned the property will know of any problems and should disclose them to you.
It is important to keep in mind that just because there are problems, the seller is not required to make repairs. However, often if the problems are such that they would prevent the buyer from obtaining a mortgage and/or insurance, the seller will most often make the need repairs.
Living in a flood zone may require purchasing flood insurance, which can affect your cost of living. Be sure to ask if it is in a flood zone.
FEMA (The Federal Emergency Management Agency) posts free online maps that show if this property is in a flood zone but it is also wise to ask your insurance broker to check also to avoid unexpected costs. Of course, from time to time the zones are changed so just because it isn't in a flood zone today doesn't mean that will always be the case.
Being in a flood zone is probably not reason alone to reject a property. After all, some of the finest and most desirable homes in Northeast Florida are along major waterways and the beaches. It's just important to know so that you can plan accordingly with your finances.
A short sale is when the bank allows a property to be sold for less than the amount of the outstanding mortgage. (Visit our full section on this web site about short sales.)
The seller and buyer may come to an agreement on a price but before the sale can be completed, the seller's lender must approve the sale. The process for obtaining that approval can take several months. If you need to find a house and close within a couple of months, you will want to avoid even looking at short sales.
MyJaxHomeTeam has a great deal of experience in negotiating short sales. If you find the "perfect" home and it is a short sale, don't worry. We can help you make informed decisions about whether or not to proceed and/or how to proceed.
Unless the property you like is brand new and in a brand new development, chances are high that there are some foreclosures for sale in the area and there have been foreclosure sales in recent months.
You may have heard horror stories about foreclosures being in bad condition because the previous owners mistreated the property. While this was a problem when the market first began to really decline, it isn't the case so much today. Many foreclosures are in excellent condition so don't overlook them as you may be able to purchase for a little less than other houses in the area. That's not always the case, but certainly worth looking into.
We can assist you in finding the best lender to meet your needs. We have established relationships with some of the finest loan originators in Northeast Florida. Having a lender who strives to help you get the best loan product to meet your specific needs is a vital part of the buying process.
It is important to have a loan originator who recognizes the importance of providing the same kind of consultation we provide and who stick with you even after closing.
A good lender is one who stays involved, working as part of our team.