Pundits and professionals can not
agree on the state of real estate
markets and how fast prices are
moving up, but if you are sure you
want to become a homeowner, or to
sell and move into the next “best
place,” make a plan.
This is not the time to get in over
your financial reality or to go against
obvious warning signs in your local
real estate market. This is the time to
take a close look at exactly what is
more uncertain than usual, and how
you can protect yourself against
often-overlooked real estate
Part of buying with foresight is to
search out the most knowledgeable,
committed real estate professional,
with proven experience with the
location and type of real estate you
want to buy and/or sell. Dig deep
into their knowledge base with your
questions to see where value lies for
you. Once you have selected your
real estate professional, use them to
learn about local market and sales
patterns for the past few years. With
professional advice you will be an
active force in making an informed
decision about your real estate needs.
If you are confident you want to move
forward in the buying process,
consider these when making your
1. No such thing as a sure thing.
Whenever you, or anyone you rely
on, think they know for sure what is
happening in the real estate market,
you are in trouble. Everyone is smart
about real estate in hindsight.
Beforehand, success with real estate
is less about knowing you are right,
and more about foresight – taking
steps to be sure you are not proven
dangerously wrong after the deal.
Be reasonably sure going in – more
sure, than unsure – and cover your
financial vulnerability. Then, you have
got a good chance things will work
out and that you can recover quickly
if they are off a bit.
2. Truly local real estate. Online and
off, economists and real estate
pundits make sweeping statements
about “the real estate market.” Some
identify the location their statistics
refer to; others speak in sweeping
regional or national terms. Either
way, these experts speak in
generalities. You must deal in
specifics – a specific real estate
property. In reality, the real estate
market is as local as one side of the
street over the other, or one end of a
street over the other; one
condominium building over another,
or condominium floor over another.
The more you learn about the specific
side and end of the street you want to
buy on, or about the specific
condominium building or floor where
you want to live, the better off you’ll
be. What happens to real estate
prices in your preferred neighborhood
and community may be very different
from what economists are generalizing
3. Invest, do not go for the win.
Multiple offers and bidding wars are
“no win” situations for buyers. The
“winning” buyers have not won,
because they are not investing in real
estate, they are spending on emotion.
Keep your emotional distance from
real estate until you own it.
4. Beyond being pre-approved.
Before you plan to buy, talk to a
mortgage broker about exactly how
much money you can borrow and what
that will cost you. Also discuss the
range of contract terms, like early
repayment, that are offered by
various lenders in the area. Not only
do you want to understand what you
will be pre-approved for, but you also
want to know what that mortgage will
cost you each month and each year in
interest. Thanks to computers, these figures
are easy to calculate. These figures
will give you a clear idea of how tight to
your buying maximum you can go for
long-term value. Living “house poor” is
not easy, but getting into this situation is.
5. Inspect inspectors. Too often a home
inspection is a last minute, “merely a formality”
detail. Buyers pay for this sloppy
approach after they move in and unreported
problems pop up. Start your list
of inspection questions now. What do
you need to know to make the most of
all eventualities, positive and negative?
Arrange questions by room or function,
so you can cover all your concerns while
you go through the inspection. Be there
with your measuring tape, camera, and
flashlight to discover problems before
they get expensive. Bring your contractor
if you plan renovations, so you can
get two professional points of view at
once. Check the inspection guarantee to
learn if you have any recourse if the inspector
is wrong (usually little). Search
out a reputable, knowledgeable inspector
6. Must haves. Know why you must have
your “must haves.” If granite counters
and stainless steel appliances are in
fashion, that does not make them “must
haves,” just current cosmetic fads. “Must
haves” should be features and benefits
of the property that withstand fashion.
Location is still the prime “must have” as
it cannot be changed.
7. Parking is a plus. However you feel
about cars, invest in real estate with
parking. In most areas, parking is a valuable
commodity. Onsite parking makes it
easier for visitors and gives you more
room to spread out.
8. Once is not enough. Arrange for a
second visit so you can see how accurate
your first impression was. Bring a contractor
or knowledgeable friend, so you
can look beyond staging to see the true
pros and cons of the real estate. Measure
to see if your furniture will fit and to
estimate replacement costs for flooring
or drapes if you did not do that earlier.
You will probably notice things you
missed the first time. Hopefully, this will
make you like the property more so an
offer will be the next step. If problems
are now visible, you have saved yourself
some serious buyer’s remorse.
It is your choice to buy with foresight
or experience remorse in hindsight.
Lisa Doyle, TheDoyleTeam.com, Greg Doyle, San Ramon Real Estate, Real Estate in San Ramon, Danville Homes, Bay Area Homes, Bay Area Short Sales, Bay Area Foreclosure, Short Sale in San Ramon, East Bay Real Estate Market, Hardship