Whether you are a first time home buyer or a happy home owner who wants to refinance an existing home loan, there are some cardinal "dos" and "don'ts" to follow. For many, home ownership is the biggest investment in their lives and that could be the reason why some people act irrationally, as if they purposely want to sabotage the deal. Follow these simple rules and you will be sure to make your experience difficult and unpleasant, if not a complete disaster.
Don't get pre-approved or pre-qualified for a loan; lose your dream home to someone else.
Being pre-qualified shows some commitment on your part to both the mortgage broker and the seller. Being pre-approved is an even better step to take. The lender knows your financial standing and is able to present you with the loan deal. If you are neither pre-approved nor pre-qualified, a real estate agent representing the seller will not treat you seriously, and the property you want will most likely sell to someone else during the time you waste securing a home loan. Go ahead and procrastinate, you didn't want that house anyway.
Make verbal contracts only. Talk is not cheap.
Since they are not enforceable in most states, make sure that the details of the deal regarding who pays certain costs or necessary repairs are agreed on verbally, and only verbally. Similarly, when the lender tells you that your rate is locked in, don't ask for written evidence. You might be in for a big surprise at the closing appointment, but who doesn't like surprises?
No need to be discriminating. Choose a lender by using only one criteria.
A favorite criteria of most people is to go with a bank that offers the lowest interest rate, without any consideration of the true cost of the loan. Even if you know how to calculate it, you'll probably choose the lowest rate loan. The chances are that the lowest rate bank is charging a lot more in fees and points than others, but who has time to shop around? Life is busy. Others, usually more cautious people, go with the bank where they have their checking account. After all, your bank loves you and would not wish any financial harm, right?
Pay more than you should. Choose the seller's real estate agent to represent you.
It is truly the best option. Rather than asking friends or colleagues for referrals, picking up the yellow pages or searching online for your own agent, simply go with someone whose job it is to get the best deal for the seller. Who cares about conflict of interest. Be house poor.
No need for tedious professional home inspections.
After all, what could go wrong? Leaky roofs, plumbing problems, termites, asbestos; all a minor nuisance. If electrical problems happen to start a fire? well, that's what smoke detectors are for.
Don't bother reading important contracts. Just sign all documents.
They are long, difficult to read and understand and are very time consuming. Rather than familiarize yourself with them ahead of time, just wait and sign everything at your closing appointment. Besides, what you've signed may open the door to a world of surprising homeowner adventures you could never have imagined. More surprises for you to enjoy!
Buying a house will most likely be the most important purchase you make in your life. Don't mess it up!
There are countless websites, magazines, books etc with which you can empower yourself in this daunting task. Don't let yourself be taken advantage of; learn all that there is when it comes to buying a home. If you want to fail, just follow the preceding steps. But, success at negotiating the best price and the best loan rates can be achieved by simply avoiding these foolish and costly mistakes. The lenders and agents are counting on you to walk blindly into your home purchase. For them, the bottom line is getting the commission. They are hoping for as quick a sale as possible, and they would like you to be a typical uninformed client who makes decisions with their hearts only and not their heads. Make the agents work for you. Take the extra time, arm yourself with the knowledge of home buying and lending practices in order to make informed, sound judgments and decisions. You've worked very hard to get to the point of buying a house, so be smart about it and don't mess up!
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Simon Fox is a senior staff member with How Much? - Comparing financial products.