Buying Real Estate, houses, condos, and land





Buying real estate can be fun and it can be scary. Let’s face it for most of us buying our own home is the largest purchase that we will ever make. Some of us will buy and sell houses frequently while others will stay put but the bottom line is that we all want to get the best deal that we can. So how do you find the best deals out there?

I have purchased several places over the last few years. If is kind of interesting to note that out of three properties, I only purchased one through traditional means using a real estate agent and even then I had already located the property by searching on-line.

The property I purchased via a real estate agent was owned by a bank. The bank wanted to get the house off of its books so they priced it below other houses in the neighborhood. I had had been looking for awhile and knew the market well when I saw the house come on the market. I purchased another property, a piece of vacant land after finding it listed on Craigslist.com. Again, I had been looking and knew the market and was able to get a good deal. A third property I purchased was listed in the local newspaper in a small For Sale by Owner classified ad. The owner was hard to connect with, but I kept trying to reach them and my persistence finally paid off. The property was priced lower than comparable properties since the owner was not paying any realtor fees, they passed the savings along to me. With properties that are good deals, you have to be ready to move quickly.

Regardless if you are buying your first home or an investment property, to be able to move quickly, you need to know your market and you have to have your financing lined up. I’ll talk more about financing in another post.

To get familiar with your market place, I would recommend starting online. Pick a local real estate company and check out their online MLS listings. Most companies allow you to sign up to be notified when new listings are posted. What I did when a new listing would come on the market, is drive by and check it out. If I liked it from the exterior, I would contact my agent to get me inside. By knowing the market, I could quickly recognize what was a good deal.

If you don’t have a real estate agent, you should find one to help you in your search. As a buyer, typically you do not pay anything to the agent until you buy something and even then the commission is paid by the seller of the property that you purchase. So, you don’t directly pay a fee to your agent as a buyer. To find a good agent you can ask people that you know who they would recommend. If you are new to an area and do not know anyone, you can ask the Chamber of Commerce to point you towards an agent. You should make sure that you pick an agent that you are comfortable working with. If you are not comfortable with someone, don’t be afraid to find someone else to work with. However, you should not have an agent do a lot of work for you and show you a lot of houses only to ditch them and have another agent write up an offer for you. Remember agents only get paid once the deal is done and you have closed on the property.

Now in addition to having an agent help you search, you should be looking for properties through other sources. Your agent will send you updates on new listings but they will probably only send you the listings that are on the MLS (the MLS or multiple listing service is a service that agents utilize to list properties that they have listed for sale). It will be up to you to look for deals that are not on the MLS. Wondering where to look? Try these:

  • Drive around the neighborhood that you are interested in. Look for sale by owner signs.
  • Check Craigslist.com under real estate for sale.
  • Check for sale by owner listings on-line.
  • Look in the classified section of the local newspaper.
  • Check out the listings on HomeSales.gov. This is a listing of government owned properties for sale. Generally these properties are foreclosures from HUD and VA backed mortgages or IRS tax sales.
  • Look up pre-foreclosure listings online or at your local county court house. Notices of default are recorded by the county clerk and are public records that are available for viewing. There are also services that you can subscribe to that will notify you when a new foreclosure or pre-foreclosure is posted.
  • Check with the County about purchasing excess property or tax delinquent property sales.

When you find a property, you should always be sure to take a look at the current title report and have property inspector perform an inspection. If you are using an agent, they can help facilitate this. If you are not using an agent, you can work directly with a local Title Company to order a copy of the title report. The title report will list the legal owners, recorded liens and recorded easements related to the property. To locate a property inspector, you should ask around, you want a very through inspector, I would recommend that you walk around with the inspector as they perform the inspection…you can learn a lot about the property by doing this.

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