It's natural to feel a little apprehensive when making a major purchase, but home buying shouldn't scare you out of your wits.
Buyers’ biggest real estate fears sometimes hold them back from buying — not just around Halloween, but throughout the year. The scary thing is, these fears are sometimes well-founded.
Here are some of the issues that commonly keep home buyers awake at night, and what you can do about them.
“The house has a cracked foundation, dry rot, or a leaky roof”
Renovating, fixing and repairing are on few buyers’ wish lists. When faced with the home of their dreams, they fear the inspection. What if there is dry rot, or a roof or foundation issue?
Most homes will need routine maintenance, and a good inspector will point this out. But it’s important not to let your fears get the best of you. Much of what the inspector comes up with during the inspection is for informational purposes only. Every problem does not need to be repaired right away.
The inspector’s job is to point out every issue he sees in the house. Ask him to explain how bad the issue is, and how long it can go before needing replacement or repair.
If an issue arises that needs immediate attention, go back to the seller and see if they will repair or credit you back to repair after you close.
“I’ll lose my deposit”
Buyers typically put in an earnest money deposit with a signed contract. The amount varies depending on your market. The seller does not cash the check. Instead, the money sits in an escrow account and can’t be released without both parties’ signatures.
It’s nearly impossible for a buyer to lose their deposit. If you have an inspection, disclosure review or loan contingencies, work closely with your real estate agent to mark those timeframes.
If you need to remove these contingencies in writing, plan to firm things up a day in advance. If you are in negotiations around a contingency date, be sure to extend the contingency date to keep yourself under contract.
“I’ll lose the house”
If you find the home of your dreams, you may have to move fast. Particularly in competitive markets, many homes sell before the first open house to quick acting and super-motivated buyers.
If you see a new listing hit the market, be sure to let your agent know right away. Try to make an appointment to see the home as soon as possible.
Also, find out immediately how the seller’s agent plans to handle any offers received. Sometimes they will take the first offer, especially if it’s a good one. More often than not, the seller and the agent will have an offer date to review offers or ask for best and final offers by a certain day.
If you are travelling or busy with work, be sure not to miss out on your dream home. Be in constant contact with your agent, and flag potential homes that look like a great fit.
“My agent doesn’t have my best interest in mind”
Great agents are always on the prowl for new properties, checking out the market and protecting your best interest at all times.
Some buyers fear that their agent might have different motivations, or that they aren’t on the same page. If you have doubts, change agents. Never settle or take any random agent that comes along as your buyer’s agent.
You and your agent should be committed to each other. Sit down before you begin the process and speak to your agent, much like a job interview. And if you have any doubts about your agent’s abilities or motivations, find another agent.
“We’ll never find a house in time for…”
A real estate purchase should never be rushed. If you have a firm deadline creeping up, make a plan B.
For example, many buyers face an expiring lease or a school application deadline. If you are three months out from a deadline and you haven’t found a house, take the pressure off by putting an alternate plan in place.
Home buying is an expensive and complicated transaction. You don’t want to rush into a purchase and make a mistake. It’s much easier and safer to get another rental or find a temporary address or try some out-of-the-box idea. It may be a little inconvenient, but you can handle it.
If something scares you about a home, the buying process, or a third-party involved in the sale, voice your concerns. Listen to your voice of reason, and stick with your gut.
Many home buyers’ initial fears will fall by the wayside as the buyer gets into the market. Take it slow, and don’t be afraid to take a step back to allow time and space to think things through. It’s better to take your time than to let buying your dream home become a nightmare.