Before you buy a home consider the information below.
After buying a home consider Coastal Management Corp. for owner services.
Buying a house is one of the most complicated and expensive purchases you will ever make. As with most other things, you get what you pay for. Look at and compare many houses in different areas. Once you have seen something you like, assess its location. How far will you have to commute? What is the traffic like? How does the neighborhood look? What services are available? How good are the local schools? Will you be able to get your children into them? What is the crime rate in the area, and what types of crimes have occurred in the past couple of years? Visit the home on multiple occasions and at different times of the day. Remember: location, location, location. It's one of the biggest factors in setting the price of the home.
An experienced local real estate agent can assist you in finding a home that meets your particular needs. He or she will also have information about the home and area that an outsider would never find just by looking at the particular home. Most homes are listed for sale by a real estate broker who is referred to as the seller's agent. The seller's agent represents the seller. The agent who helps you find the home is called the buyer's agent. Usually you will not have to pay your agent a fee for the time and energy he or she spends in finding the home and assisting you in closing the sale. The buyer's agent's fee will be paid by the seller when you complete the purchase of the home.
Your real estate agent will also assist you in negotiating the price, learning about the community, obtaining a loan, inspecting the home, and in closing the escrow. In some instances, a real estate agent can represent both the buyer and the seller. This is referred to as a dual agency. This must be disclosed to you before you make an offer. It is advised that you proceed carefully in this situation, since your agent will be working for both the seller and you at the same time.
If you are not sure that you understand all of your rights and responsibilities, it is advisable to see an attorney who is experienced in the purchase of residential real estate. An attorney can help you with legal and tax questions that come up during the purchase of the home, and can assist you in reviewing all of the documents and reports that will be provided to you in the process of purchasing the home. For more information on how to locate a qualified attorney, order a free copy of the State Bar pamphlet How Can I Find and Hire the Right Lawyer? To find out how to order a free copy of this pamphlet and other State Bar consumer education pamphlets, call 415-538-2280. Or visit the State Bar's web site(www.calbar.ca.gov) where you'll find the bar's consumer education pamphlets, as well as information on ordering them. The pamphlets also can be ordered in bulk.
Before buying any property, it is advisable to have it inspected by trained specialists. The kinds of inspections you need depend on the location and condition of the property. For example, in a hillside area, you might want a soil stability inspection. If you are buying a home built before 1978, you should seriously consider an inspection for lead-based paint. At a minimum, you should have the home inspected to determine if it is structurally sound, a pest control inspection to see if the house has been infected by termites or dry rot, and a natural hazards inspection to see if the home is located in an area subject to fire, earthquakes or flooding. The real estate agent can advise you about additional inspections that might be warranted under the circumstances.
Keep in mind that while the seller has to tell you about anything he is aware of that is wrong with the house, he is not insuring the quality of the house; for this reason, an inspection is a good idea.
The more you know about a seller's motivation, the stronger a negotiating position you are in. For example, seller who must move quickly due to a job transfer may be amenable to a lower price with a speedy escrow. Other so-called "motivated sellers" include people going through a divorce or who have already purchased another home.
Remember, that the listing price is what the seller would like to receive but is not necessarily what they will settle for. Before making an offer, check the recent sales prices of comparable homes in the neighborhood to see how the seller's asking price stacks up.
Some experts discourage making deliberate low-ball offers. While such an offer can be presented, it can also sour the sale and discourage the seller from negotiating at all.
In most cases, when you are preparing to buy a home, the seller must provide you with a Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement. This is a pre-printed form that lists many features or conditions about the home, the land, and the area where the home is located. The seller must list on this form any possible problems he or she is aware of that might affect your willingness to purchase the home. This includes, for example, easements, rights of others to control how you use the property, environmental problems, nonfunctioning equipment, zoning and building violations, and special assessments. The seller's agent must visually inspect the home and report all facts that he or she feels might affect your decision to buy this property. If you want information that is not covered in the Real Estate Disclosure Statement or additional information that is disclosed, put your questions in writing and ask the seller to respond in writing.
You should review the Disclosure Statement immediately and carefully. In most instances, you will have a limited period of time to decide whether you wish to proceed with the purchase despite the stated disclosures. Depending upon your purchase agreement, some sellers will require a written acceptance of the conditions contained in the statement. Other sellers will consider your silence as acceptance of all of the conditions contained in the Disclosure Statement.
If you buy a condominium, the seller must give you copies of the homeowners association's rules and bylaws, and financial statements, and must inform you if there are any unpaid assessments. You should also ask to see the past minutes of the association board meetings. You might find that there are pending or future lawsuits or defects in the construction of the complex being discussed in these meetings. All of which would affect the value of what you are buying.
This agreement is an offer which, upon acceptance by the seller, results in a binding contract. It should cover all of the important terms of the sale. For example, it should include a complete description of the property and of any personal property that will be sold with the house, such as window coverings, kitchen appliances, washers and dryers. It should state the exact purchase price, including the amount of your initial deposit, any increases in that deposit, the amount you will pay in cash, check or wire transfer, and the amount you will need to finance to complete the purchase price. This agreement should also list any conditions that may allow you to back out of the contract. You will want a condition that allows you to cancel the contract if you cannot obtain a loan on favorable terms or if the inspections reveal substantial defects or problems with the home. You may also need a condition that allows you to cancel the sale if you cannot sell your current home. Please understand, however, the more conditions you have, the less likely the seller is to accept your offer.
This agreement should also set forth what will happen to your deposit if you cancel the sale, what will happen if you and the seller have a disagreement over the terms of the sale, and how the brokers will be paid. The agreement should also indicate whether you are purchasing the property in "as is condition" or the seller is warranting the condition of the property. Take the time to go over each and every term of the agreement with your agent before you sign the agreement.