1. Choosing an agent
Choosing a good real estate agent is your most important task. When you find an honest, hard-working agent, they will take care of things for you effectively so you don’t have to work so hard. When you choose an agent, you should be looking for the following qualifications:
2. Obtain a pre-approved mortgage
Obtain a pre-approved mortgage from the lender of your choice. This will help you determine the price range you should be looking in. With a pre-approved mortgage, your lender will guarantee the interest rate for up to 60 days.
3. Understanding the current market
Try to understand the current market — use the MLS to check for newly listed houses to get a head start. Before you start looking at houses, log on MLS to search for the houses that fit your criteria. The MLS has each house’s pictures, address, price, and number of rooms, number of bathrooms and garages, a fairly good description, and the property tax of each property.
4. Taking Notes
After you look at a couple houses on location, it’s easy to get them mixed up. So take notes of the houses that you are interested in, write down the features you like such as the school district, the central air conditioning, the location, and the structure of the house, etc.
5. Home Inspection
It’s up to the buyer to decide if a home inspection is needed. But generally, due to our lack of knowledge of the material and structural component of the house, it’s wise to hire a professional to inspect the house and report to you and your agent about the flaws of the house. You can use the report and request the seller to correct these flaws or sometimes you might even decide not to buy the house when the problem is more serious than just a flaw.
It’s better if you can be there during the inspection: I suggest to all my clients to be there physically during the inspection. That way you can understand every problem in the report. If you cannot go there yourself, you should inspect the written report carefully. If some items are unclear to you, you should talk to the inspector and figure out if the problems are minor maintenance or major repairing, or sometimes you need to hire other professionals to look at it again.
6. How to react to the flaws in the inspection report?
After understanding the seriousness of each item listed on the inspection report, you should decide which flaws are acceptable and which ones you would like the seller to correct. If the problem is in anyway concern of safety, than you should consider giving up the house. If the items needing repair ends up costing a lot of money and the seller refuses to comply with your request, then maybe the price of the house should be reduced. However, please note that all these requests and decisions should be made within the contingency period according to the contract.
7. Check leakage problems
To assess potential water leakage problems, visit a condominium project immediately after a rainfall and check to see if flat areas such as roof deck and walkways have large pools of standing water on them. All building surfaces except specially designed ponds should drain freely and be immediately clear of water after a rainfall.
8. Do more research on a property
Ask your REALTOR for a copy of the Property Condition Disclosure Statement. This document is completed by the sellers and ensures the buyer gets complete information about the property they are about to purchase, and alerts buyers when they need to do more research on a property.
If buying a new or existing condo, look beyond style and amenities and investigate whether the construction is of good quality. You can ask for a copy of the minutes to Strata Council Meetings to determine what kind of problems the condominium has had in the past, and the expenses.
9. What is the FINAL WALKTHROUGH?
The final walk through is the last inspection of the house by the buyer after closing and before the seller turns over the key. This step is to ensure the condition of the house was as good as it was before, and to inspect the improvements the seller made in comply with your repairing requests.
10. Why does the buyer pay for the appraisal?
If you apply for a loan, the lender will hire an approved appraiser to get the value of the house that you are planning to buy in order to approve your loan. The appraisal fee is about $250 to $300 and the buyer pays it. Generally the appraiser will look at similar houses sold within the past 6 months, compare their conditions, features, and prices, and try to figure out a fair price for the house you are buying. Appraising a house is somewhat subjective to the appraiser’s opinions. In fact, the appraiser’s experiences, familiarity to the area and the condition of the house at the time of appraisal will also affect the estimated value of the house. Cleaning the house before the appraisal will help a lot. Some sellers will even write a report with a list of features of the house.