1. Don't Get "Pre-Qualified", Get "Pre-Approved"!
Do you want to get the best Central Alberta house you can for the least amount of money? Then make sure you are in the strongest negotiating position possible. Price is only one bargaining chip in the negotiations, and not necessarily the most important one. Often other terms, such as the strength of the buyer or the length of escrow, are critical to a seller. In years past, I always recommended that buyers get "pre- qualified" by a lender.
This means that you spend a few minutes on the phone with a lender who asks you a few questions. Based on the answers, the lender pronounces you "pre-qualified" and issues a certificate that you can show to a seller. Sellers are aware that such certificates are WORTHLESS, and here's why! None of the information has been verified! Oftentimes- unknown problems surface!
Some of the problems I've seen include recorded judgments, child support payments due, glitches on the credit report due to any number of reasons both accurately and inaccurately, down payments that have not been in the clients' bank account long enough, etc. So the way to make a strong offer today is to get "pre-approved".
This happens AFTER all information has been checked and verified. You are actually APPROVED for the loan and the only loose end is the appraisal on the property. This process takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on your situation. It's VERY POWERFUL and a weapon I recommend all my clients have in their negotiating arsenal.
2. Sell First, Then Buy
If you must sell before you buy it is important to have your property on the market before you start shopping for another property.
If you're concerned that there is not a house on the market for you, then go to our web site. This way you will know what is currently on the market.
3. Play The Game Of Nines
Before house hunting, make a list of nine things you want in the new place. Then make a list of the nine things you don't want. I call this "NINE OF THIS AND NONE OF THAT".
You can use this list as a scorecard to rate each property that you see. The one with the biggest score wins! This helps avoid confusion and keeps things in perspective when you're comparing dozens of homes. When house hunting, remember the difference between "SKIN AND BONES". The BONES are things that cannot be changed such as the location, view, lot size, noise, school district, and floor plan. The SKIN represents things you can change like carpet, wallpaper, colour, and window coverings.
Buy the house with good BONES, because the SKIN can always be changed to match your tastes. I always recommend that you imagine each house as if it were vacant. Consider each house on its underlying merits, not the seller's decorating skills.
4. Don't Be Pushed Into Any House
Your agent should show you everything available that meets your requirements. Don't make a decision on a house until you feel that you've seen enough to pick the best one. Go to the Multiple Listing computer with your agent to make sure that you are getting a COMPLETE list. In 2006, homes were selling quickly, usually a few days after listing. In that kind of market, agents advised their clients to make an offer ON THE SPOT if they liked the house. That was good advice at the time. Today there isn't always this urgency.
Don't forget to check into the SCHOOL DISTRICTS of the area you're considering. Information is available on every school; such as class sizes, % of students that go on to college, SAT scores, etc. You can get this information directly from the school.
5. Use Caution When Calling On Ads!
A word of caution – agents create ads solely to make the phone ring!
Some of the homes may have drawbacks not mentioned in the ad, such as traffic noise, power lines, or litigation in the community.
Remember that the person writing the ad is representing the seller and not you!
The most important thing you can do is have someone on your side looking out for your best interests. Your own agent will critique the property with an eye towards how well it meets your needs and will point out any drawbacks you should know about.
These "great deals" go to those people who are committed to working with one agent. When an agent hears of a great buy, who do you think he's going to call? Clients, that are loyal!
Remember to get the best buy on a property, we always recommend that you use your own agent and stick with him.