Becoming a Strong Buyer


PREPARE AND EDUCATE YOURSELF
For many of us, the higher the price tag, the stronger the emotions—excitement, giddiness, fear, confusion, remorse, and possibility, among them. Preparation and education, two of the best remedies for managing fear brought on by ‘Information overload’, will help you distinguish between what’s important and what isn’t worth expending your valuable time and emotional energy.

HAVE THE MONEY IN PLACE AND A STRONG LOAN APPROVAL LETTER IN HAND
Understand how much you need for a loan, including down payment and closing costs, and be ready to submit personal information with your offer. Some cautionary advice: before you start to accept gift funds from parents, or move money around in local or overseas accounts, or cash in your hard-earned 401K funds, talk with your lender. Banks want a paper trail of any monies that will be used for your purchase as well as assurance that some of your funds are ‘seasoned’. So learn from the expert in this field — your individual lender. Understand that different lenders have different requirements. Learn about loan options, such as conventional financing, 203K loans for fixer-uppers, FHA loans, or public funds for down payment assistance. Trust your judgment. Be sure you are comfortable with the monthly payments, rather than taking the bank’s word for it that you can afford the home.

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TAKE A DRY RUN THROUGH THE 8 PAGES OF THE PURCHASE CONTRACT
Why wait until you find the house of your dreams to write an offer? By all means, write a practice offer with your agent first. That’s the best way to be prepared and to have the right answers before that perfect home comes on the market. The dry run offer will help you learn which inspections to have done and how much time you need to allow. You will also learn about the protections in the contract that keep you from losing your deposit money or from making unwise decisions. Understand Alameda’s ‘point of sale ordinances’ and how permits are enforced.

KNOW FIX-UP AND REPAIR COSTS
If there are fix-up costs, find out how much they would cost—for example, prices for a new foundation, a roof, a coat of fresh paint, and refinished hardwood floors.

MAKE A TIMETABLE FOR YOUR PLAN – IT’S A GREAT WAY TO REACH YOUR GOAL
Know what to expect- from finding your home, all the way until the date you move in. Know how long it takes to close escrow, when to give notice if you are renting, when to be available to sign papers, when to get your homeowner’s insurance, and when to turn on your electricity and get your keys.

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