The Next Steps After You Find Your Desired Home


Last Updated: July 28th, 2021

Guest Post by Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

When you've fallen in love with a prospective home that checks off your "must haves" — the extras from your wishlist, the neighborhood you really love, the garage space you've dreamed about — it is time to move on to the next steps.

While you’ll get more important details about the property, it must pass the inspection process. Additionally, since you’ve fallen in love with the property, others may feel the same way, so you’ll want to move on with the process as quickly as possible. If the property is attractive, there may be a lot of  competition from other buyers. 

So, is it possible to deal with both tasks — passing a home inspection and beating out competing buyers — simultaneously? Can you learn if it’s the right location for your specific needs? Can you win a bidding war? How do you deal with the inspection process? And what about your finances?

Figure out the final details

Now that you’ve found the home that you’re interested in, use these strategies to figure out a bit more about the home and your new location: 

  • Ask the right questions — You can obtain lots of information with some basic questions. You should start by asking why the seller is selling the home and how long they lived there. Start to build a relationship that could be helpful during the negotiation process. If you're looking to buy a house that has been frequently moved out of, it could be a sign that there is something wrong in the area that requires closer attention.  Are there any problem neighbors? Are there traffic issues, crime, or local businesses that could pose a difficulty? You may notice the neighborhood has lots of litter or bright lights. Conversely, there could be barking dogs at all times of the day and night and broken street lamps. Any of these issues could be a warning sign not to buy, so it is crucial to ask early on and avoid homebuyers' remorse from not asking enough questions. 
  • Talk to an agent — While you should know what's going on in the area, you may lack local knowledge. It is crucial to talk to a real estate agent to gain real insight into the area. If you're new to the area, you may not be comfortable with certain aspects of the neighborhood. Ask about issues such as school catchment areas, litter problems, parking, traffic, and noise. Think about all the things that could bother you and ensure you ask the agent about the possibilities. Visit the property at different times of the day and night, so you can get a realistic picture of the neighborhood. 
  • Use online neighborhood comparison tools — Numerous online tools can give you a general overview of new neighborhoods. Realtor and HomeFinder will not give you the skinny about the home, neighborhood, crime, schools, and more., on the other hand, can help you to find out where the schools rank. You can compare new neighborhoods with where you currently live. This will help you to find a similar neighborhood or one with better schools or lower crime rates. 

 Win a bidding war on the house you really want

How do you win a bidding war on the house you want? It’s a very important question to consider, and here are some steps you can take to help ensure that the home will be yours:

  • Make a good impression when you initially visit the home. Be polite, ask questions, and develop a rapport. Real estate can be a highly emotional process — the seller may be emotionally attached to their property, so it is nice to express what you like about it and why you want their home. 
  • Work with your realtor to compare listings in the area, so you can determine the right amount to offer. Generally, the more competitive the market, the nearer to the asking price you'll need to be. 
  • Come with cash. Not everyone is able to do this, but if you're in a position to make an all cash offer, you'll have an advantage. In very hot markets, with heavy investors, there are usually cash offers on the table. Sellers will be reluctant to deal with the possibility of loans now coming through, or they may not want the delay needed for mortgage processing, so cash is preferred. 
  • Develop a relationship with the seller. In the end, real estate is all about people. As we touched on above, a good relationship with the seller could help you to win a bidding war. So, you should start working on your relationship from the moment you initially visit the house. You could try writing a personal letter to the seller, explaining why you want to buy the house. If you have a young family, you could write about picturing your kids enjoying the cozy family room or playing in the yard. You could also write about how much you love the neighborhood and are looking forward to becoming an active part of it. 

Use the win/win perspective when negotiating

Your best strategy is to position yourself as a strong buyer who’s serious about getting to the closing table. However, don't skip negotiations and be ready to walk if necessary. One of the worst things you can do is get over emotional and overextend yourself. 

Many people make the mistake of starting each negotiation like going into battle. This will not only annoy the listing agent you're likely to work with again in the future, but it could hurt you in the long run. Instead, focus on solutions. This will help you to avoid turning every point into an adversarial crisis. Understand what is important for the seller and aim to allow them to feel that they also won. 

For example, if there is a roof issue, but the seller wants to sell and move now, you could ask for a discount and do the repair yourself. If the seller is unwilling to compromise on the price, you could request extras that were not included in the home inspection report. 

Dealing with a rejected offer

If your offer is rejected and there is no counter offer, you need to ask the seller’s agent for a reason why. There are limitless reasons why sellers choose not to move forward with an agreement. For example, the seller may have received several offers, and yours may not be the most attractive. Alternatively, the seller may decide to wait for an even better offer.

If you discover your offer was rejected due to a better offer from someone else, find out if the other offer has been accepted. If the offer has already been accepted, you’ll need to start shopping for a new home. However, if the offer is still in the negotiation stage, there may be time to present a new offer. This will mean working with your agent in a bidding war. 

If you’re a first-time home buyer, reach out to your agent for tips on making an attractive offer. An agent familiar with the local market, who has negotiation experience will provide an invaluable resource for you during the home-buying process. 

Managing the inspection process

When dealing with inspection, it’s recommended to have someone who understands the process with you. Understanding the inspection process is mainly based on experience, but if you know someone who deals with inspections this can be even better. When I bought my first home, I had no real idea of how it worked, so I called my father. He had a lot of experience and knowledge, so he paid attention to the details, asked the right questions, and helped me to understand potential problems. Although you'll get a report, it will be easier to understand a problem that's been explained to you, so you can see what the issue is. 

To negotiate for credits or repairs, you should start by obtaining a local contractor or construction professional estimate for how much the repairs should cost. If you're working with a real estate agent, they can handle the negotiations on your behalf. Supply your agent with a copy of the inspection report, so they can use it as leverage when working with the listing agent and the sellers. 

Make sure you get the right mortgage for your needs

You need to ensure you weigh things out appropriately, and you work on which mortgage lender will be best for you and your family in the long term. This may be paying equally from the beginning or paying a little now and more later. This is based on three different things:

  • The mortgage term — The loan term has an impact on every aspect of the loan. It affects how much you pay every month, the interest costs, and other expenses. With a longer term, you will have lower payments, making it attractive for many people, but you need to be prepared to pay more in the longer term.
  • Interest rates and types — A fixed rate means that there will be no change in how much you'll pay. Adjustable rates are subject to interest changes, usually at specified times. Which type is preferable will depend on your specific circumstances.
  • Mortgage types — In addition to choosing between a fixed and adjustable rate mortgage, you should look at conventional mortgages versus government loans. Each of these has drawbacks and benefits, so carefully consider these before you make a final decision.

Buyers should have their funds for closing costs readily available. You'll need to be ready to wire the funds or present a cashier's check on the day prior to closing. Lenders require proof of sufficient funds for a down payment and closing costs before closing. You should also bring copies of the paperwork you received or signed during the home-buying process, plus two forms of ID and the payments you need to make.

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Baruch Mann (Silvermann) is a personal finance expert and founder of The Smart Investor, a financial online academy for millennials that helps thousands invest smartly and make better financial decisions.

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