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House Buying Tips

    2011
  • Forget all of the TV programs. They make money by selling stuff to you! We have a wonderful, honest agent, Rose Sellers. She has given us great advise (realistic as well) about putting our house on the market. She has been in Athens, in real estate for 40. She is with Blanton/Prudential. At least give her a call. Rose Sellers Associate Broker, c 706-255-0472, o (1) 706-548-6222, o (2) 706-354-3828, o (3) 706-613-6040, f 706-613-1586 www.rosepetalshomes.com Also, before buying a house, I cannot reccomend a better home inspector than Angus. Moller. We are in the process of calling him to see what we need to do to get our house ready. His contact info is: Phone: 706 338 2615 , Mobile Phone: 706 338 2615
  • This is pretty basic advice, but:
    • Get a good agent. An agent can (literally) open a lot of doors for you. If you'd like a name, I highly recommend Mot Davis at Coldwell Banker. She has a ton of experience, is endlessly patient with first-time buyers, and, when the time comes, can hook you up with a good home inspector.
    • Learn to look past cosmetic stuff like paint and floor covering that is easily and relatively inexpensively changed.
    • These days, the predatory loans are gone, so you don't have to worry about that so much. So, assuming that we're talking about a reasonable 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage: You don't want to be house-poor and get in over your head, but it still is good to stretch a little bit now if you can, assuming that you are on the younger side and can expect to grow in your career. With expected increases in salary and inflation over the life of your mortgage, your house payments later on will be much more affordable.
    • Make sure that you can still afford to put money aside into a savings account to cover unexpected repairs, shortfalls in escrow, etc.
    • If you don't understand stuff like escrow, there are helpful books on all this stuff, like Home Buying for Dummies. Seriously-this helped us a lot. :
    • Don't be afraid to look and look and look until your house finds you. There is a lot of crap on the market. We searched for months, and when we finally walked into our house, we knew it immediately. You'll know it when you find it. Don't settle.
  • I just bought a house in September! Here are a few pointers I found extremely helpful:
    • Hire your own real estate agent! He/she will be paid by the seller so you won't have to pay out of pocket.
    • Don't rush. I'm sure my real estate agent was frustrated with me since I finally purchased after my 3rd year of looking. Now I'm really glad I waited because the house I got for my money is extremely better than what I was looking at previously. I did end up renting in the mean time, but I got what I wanted so it was worth it.
    • When you've got some choices narrowed down, visit and revisit. I drove by my current house on a Saturday just to see the neighborhood activity, right after work (to test the commute), and at night.
    • Talk to your future neighbors. Ask them about the area, any problems, etc. (unless you're living out in the country and don't have neighbors) I got lucky and have really great neighbors but there is one house in my neighborhood that I'm really glad to NOT live next to!
    • Have someone you trust who has carpentry experience look over the house, too. If you don't know anyone, I'm sure list-serv can provide some leads. It probably won't be free, but hopefully that will prevent any issues that are easily hidden.
    • Negotiate! Don't offer the asking price. Having a real estate agent really helped me on this one because I wanted to offer as low as possible, but still be taken seriously.
    • Negotiate! I didn't have a wad of liquid assets so I negotiated that the seller pays closing and I'd agree to pay more for the house. I think it turned out to be about $30 more per month and they put $5K towards closing up front. Again, having an agent really helped me.
  • I'd also like to recommend my real estate agent, Matt Thomas with Atlas Realty. His contact information is: Matt@AtlasRealEstateAdvisors.com, Cell: (706) 540-3491, Office: (706) 534-0385. Supposedly right now is the off-season for buying so you might be able to even find a better deal than normal if you're looking to buy right away. I do have a friend who has a house for sale in Oglethorpe County right outside of Winterville for a great price… just throwing that out there! Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.
  • No matter what advice you get, buying a house is a learning experience! One thing I didn't do the last time we purchased a house was look GOOD at the neighborhood. Unkempt yards, empty homes may be signs of rental property or foreclosures - a good bargain, but if you're buying the house next door, it will bring down your value. Also, look closely at wiring and plumbing, and the furnace and AC - these things can cost major money if they need replacing after you buy (look at the UNDERside of tubs and showers for leaks into your crawlspace!) and get a good home inspector - I don't know about any in the Athens area - but they can find the stuff you wouldn't think about. Windows - do they open and close properly? with screens? Again, a pesky fix after buying... Good luck, try to enjoy the shopping "experience"!
  • Get pre approved for a loan before you go looking. Don't let a bank talk you into borrowing more than you can afford to pay back just because they say your are approved for a larger amount.
  • Have your own realtor who represents your interest. Cindy Mitchell is great.
  • Have the house inspected. Even if it is a new house.
  • Choose the closing lawyer yourself.
  • Buy before the end of the year and get the full year's tax deduction. First, get a good realtor. As the buyer, you don't pay him. He gets his commission from the sale of the home. We used Riner Gay, at Carriage House Realty. I highly recommend him.
  • It's a buyer's market. People are somewhat desperate to sell their houses. This gives you a very good advantage. Lowball your first offer. The lower your price, the more the seller has to come off his/her asking price on the counter offer. Don't pay more than half of the closing costs - if any at all. Use the closing costs to leverage the final price. If you pay part/all of the closing costs, subtract that amount from your offer on the home.
  • Get a home inspection done.