1. Shop for a mortgage before you shop for a home. Most real estate professionals recommend that you obtain a credit pre-approval decision before you begin looking for a home. Once your credit is pre-approved, make sure the lender provides you a credit pre-approval confirmation, not just a verbal pre-qualification. Then you will know the maximum mortgage amount you may be able to obtain so you’ll shop in the right price range.
2. Inspect 15 to 20 houses before making a purchase offer. As a home buyer, this will make you a confident expert on the features, drawbacks, prices and typical sale terms in the neighborhood where you want to buy. Open houses are the best time to quickly inspect many houses. Make sure you take careful notes about each house, even if you’re not interested in buying it. Pick up all sales information you are offered so you can read it later. Then, when you find the right home, you can compare it with the others you’ve inspected.
3. Ask your real estate professional to prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) before you make a purchase offer. The best way to avoid offering too much for a home is to ask for a written CMA. This will show recent sales prices of comparable neighborhood homes and the asking price of nearby homes. The CMA can be shown to the seller when you make your offer. This may justify your purchase offer and show the seller why your offer is reasonable.
4. Insist that the seller disclose all defects in writing. This disclosure form should be easily available to prospective buyers so they can consider any defects when making their purchase offer. If the seller refuses to give a written disclosure, be wary.
5. Include home finance and professional inspection contingencies in your purchase offer. Although your credit may already have been pre-approved for a home mortgage, be sure your purchase offer is contingent upon both the buyer and the home qualifying for a mortgage. It’s also wise to make it contingent on a professional inspection. If the inspection reveals serious problems, you can then cancel your offer and get your earnest money deposit refunded.