the wrong agent
Buyers and sellers should interview several agents, small and large.
Get references and success stories. You may not benefit by opting
for an agency's top-volume seller. That top-producing agent may
have listed 40 homes last year and sold 30, but another agent may
have listed 15 and sold 14. Opting for a friend or family member
who is an agent doesn't assure you of results either. It could cause
a rift. And choosing the agent who suggests the highest listing
price is not a recipe for success either -- nor is opting for the
agent who charges the lowest commission. Remember the SEED qualities
in an agent: smart, empathic, experienced and dedicated will usually
get the job done right.
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Missing the big picture
Opting for a dream house that will otherwise create negative quality-of-life
challenges such as longer commutes, distant schools, limited access
to services, higher taxes, more stringent deed restrictions, stricter
homeowner associations and other chronic headache-makers can cause
buyers to question their decisions after a few months. Make sure
your that dream house is grounded in reality.
knowing what you're signing
The sales contract is a legally binding document. Review it as if
your legal well-being is at stake. It should address all your concerns
and the concerns of the other party, such as who will pay what for
closing costs and repairs expenses. A poorly written or incomplete
contract can cost you lots of time, money and emotional energy and
tie up your deal for weeks or months. If there have been any verbal
commitments, they should be put in writing. If you're not using
an attorney, make sure your agent is proactive in the construction
and interpretation of the contract before you sign it or make concessions.
How many stories have you heard about people drowning under the
weight of two mortgages because they committed to a new house before
selling their old one? The most important transaction in the "buying-one-and-selling-one
scenario" is the sale. Sometimes, you have little choice in
the matter, but when you do, secure the sale of the old house before
signing on the dotted line for the new one. Sure, you hate to miss
out on that rare find and you might have to find an interim rental,
but that's better than spending time in financial limbo and biting
your fingernails to the quick.
Not completing your due
diligence with a criminal search In many states, agents are not obliged
to tell you if there is a sex offender or other unsavory resident in a neighborhood
you're eyeing unless you ask. Do so. They tell you to do your own research. Do
so. Check with your area law-enforcement agency about how to access sex-offender
lists and other criminal data bases for this crucial information.
Bankrate experts' advice
Repeating your money errors of the past
is a sure way to personal finance wreck and ruin.
Here, Bankrate columnists identify their picks
as the worst mistakes you can make when it comes to your finances in the areas
of real estate, debt, taxes, bankruptcy and personal finance, along with tips
on how to avoid them next year.