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5 Tips for Smarter Home Buying

Thursday, August 27, 2009 posted by Tommi Crow

Record low interest rates, combined with deeply discounted home prices, have bottom fishers swimming frantically, in search of the perfect deal on the perfect home.  But, before you strike, beware.  Read our 5 Tips to Avoid Getting Hooked in a bad way.

  1. 1.  Think Long Term:  This is a market for smart bottom fishers, not flippers.  In this market, our advice is that you should plan to buy a home to live in, then hold it for 3-5 years, at the minimum.  Our reasoning, first, prices have not fully stabilized at these levels.  Secondly, there is no indication that prices will rise any time soon.  Last of all, we are still facing a rise in foreclosures in 2010, which will keep downward pressure on the market. 
  2. It’s All About the Local Market:  We have all heard the golden rule of successful real estate investing…Location, Location, Location.  In other words, if you have a choice between a bigger home in an ‘iffy’ area, or a smaller home in a better one, always pick the the Good Location.  Remember, when comparing locations, real estate markets are entirely a Local matter.  There are big differences within neighborhoods, zipcodes, school systems and suburban towns.  Focus on the hottest area’s and the ones that are conveniently located near major employment centers.  In rough sea’s, these area’s will always rebound the fastest and appreciate the most. 
  3. Be Wary of Foreclosures:  While some foreclosures may be a great buy, many of these properties are “cheap” for good reasons.  Many of the homes weren’t great to begin with and most have been terribly neglected.   Carefully look for mold, water penetration, structural problems, missing appliances, soiled carpets and flooring underlayments, broken windows and glass, strange odors and any evidence of illegal drug trade.  Also, never get emotionally attached to a foreclosure home.  Banks are notoriously hard to deal with and they can take forever to respond to offers.  Some buyer’s report a wait of several months before the bank approved an offer, or not.
  4. Get Pre-Qualified for a Loan:  Submit your letter of loan approval with any offer you make on a home.  Banks always require a letter of pre-qualification before considering a bid, as will any serious seller.  With proof of funds in hand, you will be taken much more seriously by all seller’s, and you will in the end, get a much better deal on the house.   Getting Pre-Approved for financing is no lose proposition.
  5. Don’t Take Chances.  Buyer’s are in the drivers seat and a lot of great values are available, but please don’t overspend.  The job market and general ecomony are uncertain.  Make sure you can afford the property, even if you find yourself in a bad or unexpected situation.  Even the perfect property can turn into a nightmare, if you can’t reasonably afford it. 

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