1. The listings may be multiple. Keep the real estate agent list at one.
Some people enter the housing market with a misconception. They think the best way to buy a home is to enlist the help of several real estate agents and see which one comes up with the best deal. If you don’t sign a buyers representation agreement, then, yes, it’s possible to hire more than one agent—nobody in a blue uniform will come to your door with questions. There is a code of ethics in real estate that asks agents to stay away from buyers who already have one. But you know how these things go. Sometimes the issue is simply in the category of “doing the right thing.” Most agents are commission based. This is how they make a living. They are already in competition with other agents. They are investing their time and energy to help you. They trust you to play fair so they will be rewarded if they succeed. The golden rule works well here.
2. Be realistic about your budget
You know what you can spend. But you’re thinking, “Maybe I’ll just take a quick look at those awesome homes on Elm Street. Who knows? It can’t hurt to do some browsing and even make an offer.” Well, for one thing, your real estate agent is not likely to make an offer on a home that’s out of your range. And why would you set yourself up for a big letdown by shopping for a money-pit-in-the-making? If you need more encouragement to keep things real, picture yourself doing 30 years of hard labor as a prisoner in your new dream home. The time for a reality check is before you start looking.
3. Take the high road in negotiations
Whether your dreams lie on a mountain, in a valley or somewhere else, the road to a successful closing is the high one. You need to be honest, respectful and fair, while still taking care of yourself. Seat belts are advised. It is very likely that there will be bumps on the road to closing and frustrations that will challenge your ability to control emotions. Angry exchanges and rudeness will not serve you well. This is how deals are lost and everyone suffers. True, the process is complicated and no one has invented a GPS that lets you navigate all the twists and turns. Taking the high road means keeping yourself balanced throughout a process that typically takes weeks or more. Keeping emotions in check is almost essential. If you start to feel rattled, picture the property in your mind. This is why you are here. With a great team behind you, now picture the door opening!
4. Prepare for the unexpected
If you go to the store and buy a lamp, you can be pretty sure that nobody will emerge from the woodwork and dispute your purchase. In a real estate transaction, things are a lot different. The property you’re looking to buy may not actually belong to the seller. That means you may not actually own it after you buy it. If that makes no sense, you have grasped the importance of title insurance. Fortunately, title companies are in business to make sure the title is good and insure buyers against potential legal claims due to ownership issues. It’s been said that possession is nine tenths of the law. A title company is there to protect the remaining ten percent.
5. Understand the process
Title companies suffer from the unfortunate reality that the words “title company” do not really explain what they do. A buyer may think things are really simple: “The seller has a piece of paper in hand and when the numbers are right, they hand it to me. I own the property. I already checked the internet and there were no problems I could see with the address.” Checking and insuring the validity of a title is considerably more involved. If the title turns out to be flawed, that deed you’re holding may just be a piece of paper. To be sure things work out, buyers typically engage a title company to find out if title is legitimate and provide insurance against future problems. In Texas, title companies can also provide escrow and closing services. These services can help assure that things go smoothly in the transaction. A title company is not something to overlook or dismiss.