If your idea of a fun weekend is making a list of open houses to visit and then running all over town to see if you can find that diamond of a home, then have at it. The only problem with it is that you're doing it without the knowledge and protection of a professional real estate consultant. Can you buy a home without one? Absolutely. Is it wise? Not really, especially when, in most cases, you pay nothing for the services of a buyer's agent.
Real estate is complex, filled with nuances and pitfalls better navigated by seasoned professionals who can usually spot something amiss a mile away. Here are a few of the risks you expose yourself to going it alone.
Negotiation is something kids learn to do at an early age. "I'll trade you my PBJ for your salami sandwich." When they get older, they may strike a compromise with the teacher for turning in an important project a day late. Older yet and they are negotiating a salary for a new job. But real estate negotiation is a different animal. It's not a place to "practice" the art of negotiation if you weren't good at it as a kid or even a grown adult. Real estate agents not only understand how to best use leverage to earn you the best deal possible. They also know when to advise you to walk away because they know how sellers operate. Despite their home being desirable, a seller whose sales price is unreasonably high (not in line with other homes for sale in the area that are of similar size, age, and condition) is not realistic. It means they are not that truly dedicated to selling their home any time soon. A house priced unusually low and being sold in "as is" condition may be a recipe for remodeling disaster. By not working with an agent, you can't tap into their insights and acumen for how to drive the best bargain possible – a loss that can cost you.
Market knowledge is not something you can glean by spending a few evenings online looking at houses and neighborhoods. The prices listed on real estate apps can't always be trusted. A Realtor knows this and will call each listing agent or owner to confirm what they see is true. Sure, you can make those calls on your own, but you just may shoot yourself in the foot by revealing your motivation to buy, leaving you a limited opportunity to negotiate. A agent offers insights into trends in the market over time, will have researched the area for development, commercial and school construction and will give you an estimate for how much you should be budgeting for your target property -- all of which can change constantly. It's what agents do in their sleep.
How do you know you've got the real skinny on a property? The vetting process is an important one, with real estate professionals being held to legal standards that require them to thoroughly vet a property for potential pitfalls – water damage, toxic materials, health and flooding hazards, the list goes on and on. They are not keen on being the ones being held responsible for encouraging you to buy a property that has serious issues without all those issues being disclosed in the light of day and in writing. They always, always recommend professional inspections be performed as well as obtaining hazard and environmental reports for the area. You could be buying a home on ground where there was once an airfield, with toxic substances still remaining in the soil where your children play. Or the house may be located in an area where some serious mining took place, leaving it vulnerable to sinkholes or foundation sagging.
Don't kid yourself. The paperwork involved in a real estate transaction is nothing to scoff at. Contracts, disclosures, addendums, transfers, inspections, and reports can bury you. And what about those loopholes you may have overlooked? You assumed the seller would leave all the pool equipment, the chandelier in the dining room, and the entertainment cabinets that perfectly fit the walls in the family room. But when you get the keys to move in, you discover they are gone. Why? You forgot to intentionally specify they remain when signing the purchase agreement. Realtors don't forget these things. In fact, they may go overboard in enumerating all the items that stay with the house just to play if safe.
While you should make sure you personally review any binding document before signing it, a real estate professional can greatly reduce how much time you spend on legal matters so you can get back to how you really want to spend your time – activities like choosing that new king-sized bed for the master bedroom. Or buying patio furniture for around the pool you always wanted and finally got.
And then there is FOMO — the fear of missing out. Going it alone means you are limited to word of mouth recommendations and only what you can find on your computer. You may not realize that a new home community is being built nearby that might knock the socks off the neighborhood you are considering. The right Realtor will bring detailed knowledge of the market in your area or neighborhood – as well as other potential markets nearby that you might not have considered but could be just what you are looking for. They cast a wide net when looking for your home, so why not leverage their knowledge? They'll have information on property taxes, closing costs, HOA fees (as well as the health of the HOA itself), and even supplemental taxes you might not find out about until after you moved in. Why? It's their job. So why not let a Realtor be the detective instead of being a weekend house-hunting warrior? You've got nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
The first step to buying your home is getting pre-approved for a home loan. Call me and lets get started. I can also introduce you to a Realtor that will look out for your best interests and help you find the perfect home.
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