Well consider yourself very lucky…
… because today I’m taking you behind the scenes and revealing 50 of my absolute BEST, out-of-the-box strategies with you.
Warning: you are NOT going to find the same old tired advice about ‘getting prequalified before you buy’ (yawn) or ‘be sure to work with a Realtor’ (zzzzzz) here.
I’m bringing the goods.
The Home Buying Tips “Dream Team”
Two weeks ago, I asked 200 of the top real estate agents and mortgage brokers in the nation a simple question:
“What’s your #1 most overlooked or out-of-the-box home buying tip?”
Our responses came from every corner of the U.S., from Los Angeles to New York City, Philadelphia, Orlando, Chicago, Houston, Oklahoma City, Nashville and Phoenix, just to name a few. We even heard from some our friends up North in Canada.
I selected the top 50 answers. These tips and tricks are nothing short of GOLD.
For your convenience, we’ve arranged them topically.
Top Home Buying Tips by Category (Per Our Panel of 50 Experts)
#1 Avoiding Pitfalls -12 Tips
#2 Beyond First Impression – 11 Tips
#3 Negotiation Strategies – 9 Tips
#4 Finding a House – 9 Tips
#5 Financing & Loan Approval – 8 Tips
#6 Vetting the Perfect Agent – 3 Tips
So feel free to browse by area of interest, or sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and commence scrolling.
Responses displayed in the order they were received.
Tips on avoiding common mistakes when purchasing a home.
Thomas Mayer – Thomas Mayer HomesWhen making an offer for a home, I usually insert under additional contractual provisions “Seller states there are no underground storage tanks. Should the existence of a underground storage tank(s) be determined, seller agrees to remove same at seller’s expense.”I then follow-up by having the site swept to determine if there in fact was a tank at one time. Why wouldn’t it be on the seller’s disclosure?
- It wasn’t disclosed to the seller by the previous homeowner
- The seller doesn’t want the buyer to know as it may hold up the transaction
- No permits exist at the local building department
- The basement walls may be finished off and no longer visual signs of an in ground oil tank
I insert additional language should a tank be located and is later removed and require remediation. We generally don’t want to have to wait several months to get a “No Further Action” determination from the EPA. The additional language essentially kills the deal should remediation be required.
This section is gold. You’ve toured the house and know you “like” it. The following advice will help you determine what else you should be looking for. You can use this section to create a home buying checklist. Before you make an offer, simply hit every item on the list first.
David Cronnin – DavidCronnin.com(As a quick aside, out of all the mortgage broker and Realtor sites I visited while putting this round-up together, David’s is in a league of its own. Be sure to visit his blog for an excellent example of content marketing. I don’t know David personally yet, but can confidently recommend him to anyone needing an agent in the Indianapolis area.) And now for his quote…Never make an offer on a home without visiting at least 3 times.Visit #1 – Meet the HouseVisit #2 – Date the HouseVisit #3 – Buy the House!
This section is filled with firepower to help you get the best deal possible when purchasing a home, as well as getting your offer accepted.
I write a letter of introduction about my client to the seller to try and get a personal connection made. If it is a family, I especially add information about the children and how much they love the house.
Linda Chauner – LindaChauner.com
In a buyer’s market, there are always sellers whose homes are overpriced and oftentimes the sellers are aware of that fact, but say, “bring us offers and we will negotiate and consider a lower price,” but they won’t lower the actual MLS list price.
What they don’t realize is that many buyers will not make offers on those homes.
As a buyer’s agent, if a property is overpriced and the comps can show that, I strongly encourage my buyers to make an offer and we will provide the support to justify our offer price. We all know properties that are overpriced and that have been on the market forever. At some point, sellers eventually have to accept the reality of the market. Respectful supported offers help that process and every once in a while, your buyer is the lucky presenter!!!
Michelle Elliott – Michelle Elliott – Coldwell Banker
Ask your agent to find the motivation of seller! Would a quick close help? Do they need extra time to move? Match your offer to the needs of the seller!
Jay Valento – Keller Williams – The Red Wagon Team
Always work with your own agent as a buyer agent on your behalf instead of the listing agent.
Barbara S. Werner – Keller Williams Realty
Make contact with listing agent BEFORE making offer. In this competitive market, the more personal the better.
Phyllis Harb – Harb & Co.
In a competitive bidding situation, I use the escalation (or escalator) clause to make my buyer’s offer stand out. This is an offer that includes a clause saying the buyer will increase his or her price to make it higher than the highest offer the seller receives (not to exceed a certain dollar amount.)
With an escalator clause, you’re far less likely to be outbid. While this type of clause is not uncommon, I’m still amazed by how many listing agents I run into that haven’t ever heard it. That said, be sure the listing agent understands the clause.
Vija Williams – The Vija Team
The buyer’s agent should be in constant communication with the listing agent. It’s the best way to win in multiple offers, and is the most overlooked tip.
Brad Reynolds – Keller Williams – Nashville
My #1 thing I do for buyers in an environment that is competitive and inventory is tight is I ask the home buyer to write a personal letter for the seller telling them about their family, and include a family picture which I then present in person with the offer. You wouldn’t believe when you put a story with an offer how sellers are more likely to accept your offer, even if it is slightly less than another one that has been submitted.
Little known secrets to finding motivated sellers & locating a home that is not listed on the MLS. In addition, we also have a few tips for buying a second home or purchasing a home in Canada.
Jeff Sibbach – Sibbach.com
The best houses are not listed. My advice to a buyer would be, “Don’t use an average agent. Identify a very active broker that is super knowledgeable and is actively networking to find the newest homes going up for sale.”
Look at the homes with no pictures. Could be an awesome house with a lazy listing agent.
Jeff Spoelstra – Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate
My #1 tip: In a hot, high-demand market, look for overpriced homes on the market 30+ days in addition to new listings.
Danielle Alexander – Coldwell Banker
The most overlooked home buying tip is considering new build homes. After viewing 10 used homes, the next step is to buy a new build.
Jim Sparrow – JimSparrow.com (Canada)Canada is a huge country, and each province has slightly different regulations that need to be considered prior to making any property purchase.In Alberta, the only restriction to a US citizen purchasing property is that rural property purchases (country residential or land) is limited to a maximum of 20 acres. No exceptions.There is no title transfer tax on Alberta property purchases (there are in the province of BC and parts of Ontario).We’d always suggest US citizens contemplating purchasing in Canada discuss their particular situation with a qualified local legal council for a full understanding of tax implications. Foreigners (non-residents) will be charged a capital gains tax on any increase in value when you sell the property.As always, real estate is local. Determine where you’d like to purchase and find an experienced REALTOR who knows the local market.
Strategies to get you qualified for a home loan and at the lowest rates.
Daniel Buksa – Mission Realty GroupThe lowest mortgage rate is not always the best option. For example, you might be comparing an FHA loan at 4.25% to a conventional loan at 4.5%. With FHA loans, you generally see high PMI rates, in which case, the conventional loan (even at a higher interest rate) may end up costing less.
We all know it’s important to find a knowledgeable agent. But why? And what should you look for?
Don’t Use the First REALTOR® That You Know.
Statistically, most home buyers will use the first REALTOR® that they are introduced to, referred to, or meet at a showing.
Real Estate Agents are taught this information in their first year of training. It encourages new agents to get in front of home buyers and start showing homes because most consumers will not search for a better agent when they are buying a house. This is especially true for first-time home buyers.
Sellers typically pays all the real estate agent commission fees, which is why sellers are more likely to do some research on the agent that they hire. Relatives, church buddies, co-worker REALTORS®, and/or any other referral source can be risky. My advice is to do some research online and search for an agent with good reviews, a strong online presence, and a high productivity rate. It can greatly reduce your chances of experiencing the emotional roller coaster of a bad real estate experience.
For a more information on this topic, check out my article here: Real Estate Tips: Don’t Hire The First REALTOR ® That You Know and be strategic about who you use to represent you in any real estate transaction.
Joe Manausa – Joe Manausa Real Estate
Take the time to learn the process first – The very first contact that we have with most home buyers is when they have found a home they want to see.
This is a mistake. If they build a relationship with a real estate agent based upon a home, they are likely to work with an unqualified real estate agent, and that will cost them money. To better understand how to buy a house, first learn how to hire a real estate buyer’s agent.
Stan Munroe – Royal LePage
I think the #1 most overlooked, out-of-the-box home buying tip is finding the right agent. Most purchasers just call a relative or a real estate office without really looking into the agent’s experience and expertise.
Ask friends or coworkers who they used and what they thought of their agent. Ask the agent what areas he works and the number of years in the business. How can you get a good deal without the advice or a qualified agent and an experienced negotiator? Anyone can find a cheap house but can they find a house that will have a good resale value in the years to come? Get off on the right foot and the rest will fall into place.
Additional Home Buying Resources and Thanks
That wraps it up for our contributors’ home buying tips. I’d like to offer a special thanks to all of our contributors.
I can honestly say that after working as a mortgage broker for over 10 years in San Diego, with hundreds of transactions under my belt, I hadn’t heard of a lot of these out-of-the-box tips. Thanks to all!
Additional resources on my site:
Last, if you enjoyed this post, please share with your friends!