20 steps to get
the best deal on a home
14. Have a backup
plan. Don't set your mind on one house
and say it's that or nothing. "It helps
you remain more objective," says Phipps.
And you won't get carried away and pay more
for a house than the house is really worth.
And if you are seriously considering other homes
-- and could be just as happy with other choices,
have your agent convey that point, says Phipps.
Doing the negotiating yourself? Be respectful
and honest. Alert the seller to that fact without
threatening them with it. Something along the
lines of "we're looking at two other houses,
we know the numbers there are workable and we
can get either at a good price." But don't
say it if it isn't true.
Put all extras in your first offer. Negotiations are more elastic in the
beginning, when the buyer and seller are most likely to want to reach an agreement,
says Phipps. It's a lot easier to include that entire list of concessions or repairs
in the beginning than to drop it in at the very end. And that list should include
a warranty deed and title insurance, he says.
Don't let them play mind games. "If you make a good offer, within
the realm of reasonable, and the seller rejects it outright, move on," says
Phipps. Some sellers don't really want to sell. Others like to play games. And
that just slows your search for a home. "In this market, it makes sense to
take advantage of the breadth of inventory and deal with a seller who wants to
sell," he says.
Surrender where you can. You're going to be dealing with the seller throughout
the process, so on points where it really doesn't matter, giving ground can be
smart, says Phipps.
Call your insurance agent. How will the neighborhoods you're shopping affect
your home and auto premiums? Your agent will be happy to tell you. And it's even
more important since some areas are seeing large increases in premiums in the
wake of natural disasters. "It's free knowledge," says Summers. And
like the price of groceries in your new community, "it all goes into the
cost of living and you never think of it until you move there."
Call the power company. Look at your current power bill to see just how
much juice you're using each month. Now call the would-be supplier in the neighborhood
you're considering. How much would it charge for the same power? "It may
require a little math," says Summers. But it can save you from sticker shock
after the move.
20. Educate yourself. "Education
is more valuable now," says Tyson. "People
have trepidation and fear because they realize
that real estate doesn't go up every year."
But with low rates and decent prices on housing,
he says, "it's a good opportunity to get
into the market."
Dratch is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.