Q: We have been having trouble finding our dream home. The few homes we have seen have been snatched up before we could even make up our mind, or the seller has shot us down. We want the perfect home for our family but don't know what to do! — Amelia and Kelly
A: We are in the middle of a hot seller's market, and this can make it more difficult for buyers to find the home of their dreams.
Since interest rates on home loans are still reasonable, I can understand why you feel it is a good time to buy. Because it is a hot market, the best way to find a home for your family is to be prepared.
First, understand that the whole concept of a perfect home is a myth! The reality is that you need a home in good repair, at the right price and in the best location for your family. Understand that the "perfect" home is really the perfect home for you. Make a list of the features that are most important to you — be it a garage, large closets, proximity to good schools, etc. — and try to find a home that checks as many of those boxes as possible.
When looking at the house, remember that selling a house can be as emotional as buying one. Do not make the mistake of telling the seller how you are going to tear out the wallpaper they love or want to renovate their kitchen. Remember that you are going to need them to agree to sell the house to you.
Once you find the home, you are going to want to make your offer as attractive as possible. Have your financing pre-approved and be willing to make a realistic down payment. If your lender can close your loan quickly, that is a big plus. Have your home inspector set up and ready to go, your insurance agent in place, and your closing attorney chosen.
Once your seller is on board with selling you their home, do not get too excited. Well, getting excited is a good thing, actually, but not so excited that you rush in and make a mistake. Make sure you understand the contract you are signing, and if you have questions, get them answered. Pay close attention to all of the deadlines in your contract, especially the inspection and financing deadlines, and if your loan falls through or the inspections shows large problems, cancel the deal in time to get your deposit back.
Fortunately, most transactions where the buyer is well-prepared and organized fly through without a hitch. Happy hunting!
— Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.