It would be nice to buy a house the way you buy a washing machine or a TV. Do a little research, look over the market and say, "I'd like that one, please."
Not a chance.
First off, there are many people involved in the transfer of ownership of a home from one person to another. And each person will get compensated for their efforts. There are the real estate agents, the mortgage company, the home inspector, the appraiser, the title company, and then the insurance company.
Truth is, they all have hard work to do. And the culmination of all their efforts and of your overworked wallet comes at the closing of the house...that scary and official and marvelous moment when you become the home-owner.
OK, you found the house you like. Now what?
There are things for you to do to bring about a happy conclusion to your efforts. When you decide "this is for me", do some research and find out if the price of the house is reasonable for the market. Your REALTOR can do the basics for you, and give you comparables in the neighborhood that have sold in the last 6 months to provide you with a view of the market. He or she can add or subtract the particulars of your intended house in comparison with recent sales.
The next step, if you are satisfied that the value of the house is equal (or greater) than the price being asked, is to put in a offer....always subject to a home inspection, of course. Some people think this is a disposable step, as a home inspection can cost a couple of hundred dollars. A good home inspector is worth his or her weight in gold. Your intended house may look great, but most homeowners do not have the expertise to determine what hidden flaws there might be. I am sure most of you are not going to climb up on that roof or slither thru the crawl space looking for problems...and even if you did, you might have no idea of what it would cost to remediate the deficiency.
The inspector can help you avoid a money pit, but he can also give you ammunition for the negotiations, in that you will know approximately how much it will cost to make the house livable. If there is a problem, you can negotiate that into the price you offer for the house, or that amount of money can be put into escrow so you can have the work done after the closing. The lender might also have some requirements as well. After all, the lender has a stake in whether the house will last as long as the loan.
Now is the time to schedule an appraisal so you will be confident in the value of the house--more important, the bank needs to know this number. Your REALTOR will help keep the proceedings moving forward and help all the balls stay in the air. He'll gather and assemble documents, ascertain taxes, insurance, appraisals, etc.
The day of the closing is momentous to both you and the seller, even though it is business as usual for all the professionals involved. You will be informed how much money is needed as well as in what form. Usually it's a cashiers check. These days, closings are mostly pro forma and quick---and if both you and the seller leave the table smiling, this is as good as it gets.
For more articles or information about buying or selling your home, visit www.MikeSellsPittsburgh.com.
Mike is a real estate agent in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania who's the marketing director for his real estate team. He specializes in helping buyers and sellers live affordable lifestyles.
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