Purchasing US Real Estate is a very exciting experience. It could also be an overwhelming experience for first time homebuyers as well as experienced real estate investors. There are many factors to consider that are unknown to new buyers and overlooked by real estate veterans. It is necessary for every US real estate buyer to know the top US Real Estate Tips for each and every home purchase they make. Here are 12 top US Real Estate Tips for buying a home in the United States.
US Real Estate Tip #1: Cash is King, Financing is Queen
A cash offer is more desirable than financing due to the length of time it takes for US Mortgages to close. Sometimes, financing falls through weeks or days before closing and a deal can fall apart. Because of this, buyers’ purchasing US Real Estate with cash can often submit an offer lower than that of a buyer with financing and still have their offer accepted.
US Real Estate Tip #2: Need a Mortgage? Get Pre-Approved
If financing is necessary, be sure to get pre-approved or pre-qualified as a buyer. It is a well-known fact by many experienced people in real estate that most sellers will not accept a financed offer unless the offer is accompanied by a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter to ensure the offer has a chance of holding up. Since sellers may not accept an offer without a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter, realtors may not agree to work with you until this step is taken. If a realtor works with you for months showing you houses, sending you comparative market analysis reports as well as other very time consuming tasks and you are rejected by lenders, their time and effort has essentially been wasted.
Furthermore, if you are going to be requiring a mortgage for the US property purchase, you should also note that there is a fee associated with loan origination. A typical mortgage can cost the borrower 1% to 2% of the borrowed amount and also additional notary and legal fees.
US Real Estate Tip #3: Consider A Comfortable Budget
When you are pre-approved or pre-qualified with a US Lender, they will indicate the maximum mortgage amount you can afford. Unfortunately, what many lenders do not tell you is that the budget from one person or family to the next is unique and thus you may or may not be able to afford that maximum mortgage amount living the same lifestyle. Some people go out to dinner four times a week, while others rarely eat out. Entertainment or travel to exotic places may be high on your list of importance, while other families may have never left their hometown.
Be sure to create your own household budget to ensure that the mortgage amount you have been pre-approved for has a monthly payment that you are comfortable paying.
Consider other factors such as utilities, property taxes, household maintenance, repairs and entertainment to ensure that you will have money left over at the end of the month for emergency funds and investing for your future.
US Real Estate Tip #4: Research Desirable Locations
Many buyers have search criteria that is too narrow, while others are too broad making the house hunting process very difficult for both the buyers and their US realtor. Consider the location you would prefer and also pick other locations that have similar characteristics. What is most important to you? Proximity to work, homes with significant living space and property for your family, or the real estate market and average home price?
Do your ideal locations match your budget?
Think outside the box in regards to your ideal location. Sometimes it is best to have a mix of all your US real estate needs rather than focusing on just one important property feature. Crime rates, historical home prices and speculation for future appreciation are all additional factors to keep in mind before selecting a location.
US Real Estate Tip #5: Find a Great Realtor
It can be difficult to find a great realtor that is right for you and your family. The goal of every real estate agent is to ensure the needs of their clients are satisfied, but everyone has a different personality and view of what good service means. Talk to your family, friends and neighbors about US Realtor recommendations from their past experience. At times, you might learn of a realtor that does a great job, but isn’t too personable and that might be suitable for your personality. Another family member may recommend a real estate agent that was very social and built a lasting impression and relationship with them.
Does this fit your realtor criteria?
Feel free meeting with more than one realtor before making your selection. You might know right away that a person is a perfect fit for you or maybe you need to continue meeting others until you find a compatible match.
US Real Estate Tip #6: Making an Offer on a Home
When you have found your ideal home, it is time for you to sit down with your realtor and make an offer using an Agreement of Sale and Purchase. This involves discussing your terms for the offer including any items in the home you would like included, conditions such as financing, inspection or repairs required and of course, the price you are willing to pay. Your realtor can provide you with a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) for similar homes in that neighborhood, also known as “comps.”
US Real Estate Tip #7: Picking a Price – Comparable Market Analysis (CMA)
Your Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) will typically show anywhere from 3 to 10 comparable homes that have sold in the past 90 days in that same neighborhood. By researching the comps in the neighborhood, you will then be able to use this information to assist in crafting an offer to purchase. The amount you choose to offer will depend on many factors including whether the housing market in that particular neighborhood is a buyers’ market or a sellers’ market.
US Real Estate Tip #8: Let the Market Dictate Your Offer
Determining what type of housing market you are in is based on the supply and demand theory of basic economics. If the demand for property is high in an area, then it is said to be a sellers’ market as they may be able to achieve a high price for their home. If the demand for property is low in an area, then it is said to be a buyers’ market as sellers may accept prices lower than market value in order to ensure their home sells.
In a sellers’ market, you may need to meet the listing price of the home or even surpass the selling price to ensure another offer isn’t accepted over yours. On the other hand, if the home you are bidding on is in a buyers’ market, you may be able to make an offer lower than the listing price and still have your offer accepted.
US Real Estate Tip #9: Conditional Offers
When submitting a US Real Estate Offer, be sure to include conditions as this will give you a way out of the deal if there are any problems with the home.
Too many conditions may cause your offer to be passed over by the seller, while leaving your offer free of conditions could land you in court if you need to retract your offer.
For peace of mind, you should always make your offer conditional on a home inspection by a professional selected by the buyer. A home inspector will go through the home and look beyond the look and feel of the house to the bones. Checking the foundation, fuse box, wiring, crawl space, attic and even getting on the roof to check shingles are all routine for a good home inspector. After receiving a report with photos and written descriptions of each area of the home, you can then make an educated decision as to whether purchasing the home will be a dream come true or a nightmare that won’t go away in the long-run. A qualified professional home inspector can cost anywhere from $200 to $500. You can shop around, but paying a little more to ensure your inspector is qualified, experienced and has a great reputation for being thorough is well worth the investment.
Making an offer conditional on financing is common, but less desirable than a cash offer. Mortgages in the United States take time to organize and it is not uncommon for pre-approved or pre-qualified clients to be rejected once an agreement of purchase and sale has been signed by both the buyer and seller. If your offer does rely on financing from a mortgage coming through, be sure to make your offer conditional on financing to avoid any legal costs if your lender doesn’t follow through with the funding.
US Real Estate Tip #10: Fire and Property Insurance
If your home is being financed through a bank via a US mortgage, one of the requirements is ensuring that the home is insured in case of fire prior to the closing date and throughout the duration of the mortgage term. Banks and other financial institutions require that your property maintain fire insurance at all times to guarantee that the debt will be repaid even if there is the unfortunate circumstance of fire in the home. Lenders will require proof of fire insurance prior to the funds being released for the purchase of the home on closing day.
Regardless of whether you will be carrying a US mortgage on your home, you should always ensure you have property insurance that covers fire and other possible disasters. Opting for theft protection, sewer backup and other coverage is also a great idea.
US Real Estate Tip #11: Title Insurance
Just as a lender will require fire insurance cover a mortgaged US property, they will also require that a search of the property title be completed by a Title Company. This process will reveal who the current owner of the property is, whether there are any liens on the property that need to be rectified prior to close as well as any other issues that could be related to the home you are purchasing. While this process does cost the buyer in most cases anywhere from $200 to $400, it is money well spent for the peace of mind knowing that you will not have any surprises later.
US Real Estate Tip #12: Closing Day
Shortly after your offer is submitted, your lawyer should be notified to make an appointment for the closing day legal documentation to be signed. Your lawyer will typically schedule an appointment that occurs on closing day or a few days prior to have all documentation signed and ready for the property transfer. Every lawyer sets their own fees for a property transfer, but typically the cost can be anywhere from $800 to $2,000 in some cases.
Be sure to research other closing costs you may experience as every state has their own taxation rules and regulations.