Buying a home can seem like a difficult task, especially if you are a first time buyer. After all, how are you meant to learn the ins and outs, specifications and workings of a home if you have never owned one before?
This is when a real estate agent can be of invaluable help. They are there to provide you with intricate details about the home itself and the property market it rests in.
If you are on the search for a new home, here are four essential questions to ask real estate agents at open inspections.
What is the value of the home?
You might know the price of the property or at least a ballpark figure, but finding out the value can help you determine if it’s fairly priced.
Ask the agent what the value is and whether that figure is based on an agent’s appraisal or an independent, professional property valuation. These two figures can differ from one another, so it is important to obtain both for best judgement.
If a formal valuation hasn’t been performed and you are serious about buying the property, then it might be a good idea to seek one from a professional.
Have you had any offers on the home?
If you are quite interested in the home you’re inspecting, it pays to ask the agent if there have been any offers on it. This can help you gauge the demand on the house and alert you if you need to jump in quick to make an offer.
The agent may even tell you if offers have been declined by the owner, which could provide you with useful information when you craft your own to submit to them.
Why are the owners selling?
Asking why the owners are selling the home could help you when you are negotiating. For example, if they have already purchased another house, chances are they would like to sell their old one quickly.
You could also ask how long the property has been on the market and if there have been any price reductions. If the home has been listed for a while, you might have the opportunity to submit a lower offer to the owner.
Do you know of any future developments in the area?
Developments, whether they are shopping malls or apartment buildings, might affect your decision to buy a residential property. If you are an investor, new developments could be a boon to your rental property. More great amenities, such as shopping centers, can lead to more interest in your home from renters.
One of the most common ways people buy a property in Australia is by Private Treaty – this is when a property is listed for sale with an asking price and potential buyers make offers in writing to the real estate agent who will then presents it to the vendor for consideration. Typically, negotiations go back and forth between the buyer and seller (via the real estate agent), until an agreed price is reached.
The seller usually lists the property for sale at their desired price, or sometimes higher to allow room to negotiate and the buyer will typically try to find the lowest price the vendor is willing to sell for.
Deciding on what to offer first up can be difficult. Before you make an offer, make sure you understand the value and growth of the wider property market, the suburb and neighbourhood and the popularity of the suburb you are looking at buying into. By doing your research you’ll be in a better position to judge whether the home has been priced fairly and how much you are willing to offer.
You may wish to start with your best offer, especially if there is a lot of interest in the property or you could start with a lower offer and be prepared to negotiate up. The risk with starting lower is that you may lose the property to another purchaser who comes in with a higher offer.
If you do not have the luxury of time, perhaps when the market is very strong and there appears to be a number of people interested in the property, determine the maximum amount you are prepared to pay and make this your first and last offer.
It is best to have your finance pre-approved so the seller knows you are serious and able to act immediately, however you can make your offer subject to finance, which will give you a limited time in which to receive confirmation from your lender that finance will be made available to you.
Conditional offer versus un-conditional offer
When you submit a written offer, you’ll also need to include any special terms and conditions for the sale of the home. For example, you may wish to have a longer settlement so you can sell your previous home, or perhaps the owner needs to fix up a certain part of the home. These conditions need to be included in the offer and the final contract of sale. Here is an overview of the different types of offers:
Conditional Offers is a binding contract to buy a property, subject to certain conditions being met. If these conditions are not satisfied, the buyer has the legal right to back out of the contract. Common conditions may include subject to valuation, subject to finance or subject to a building and pest inspection.
If your offer is unconditional, it is an outright offer to buy a property. You should be 100% sure that this is the property you want and that you have access to the money to buy the property. Legislation and the process of buying a property by private treaty varies from state to state, however typically speaking, once the vendor has accepted your offer, you are legally obliged to go through with the sale or risk forfeiting your deposit.
Whether you are negotiating a conditional or unconditional offer, it is advisable to speak with your solicitor or conveyancer about your rights and all terms of the contract before you sign anything.
The asking price is there to provide buyers with a guide of how much the owner is willing to accept for the property. However, this price is negotiable. Determine what your budget will be and pitch an offer below what you’re actually prepared to pay.
Don’t reveal the maximum amount you’re willing to pay straight away. Instead, work your way up through negotiations with the agents and the seller.
Don’t get too emotional
Although private treaty sales do not see the heat that auctions can get, it’s still important to not become too emotionally tied to the home you want to buy. Leaving your emotions out of the equation will help you to negotiate with the agent. It will also reduce the risk of potentially blowing your budget if you become too attached to the home.
Making a pre-auction offer
Making an offer isn’t only restricted to Private Treaty sales – it is also possible to make a pre-auction offer on a property you are keen to buy before auction day. If you are wanting to make a pre-auction offer, make sure:
Your pre-auction offer is in writing.
You have a contract and deposit cheque ready.
You have set a time limit.
Make sure the price is right
Don’t jump in with an offer that is miles below the vendor expectations, as it isn’t likely to be taken seriously. In fact, it may even make the seller reluctant to work with you.
Making sure you have done your research is your best weapon when it comes to negotiation. Knowing the market, the value of the property you are looking at and what your best offer would be is very important.
Once you know all this, make an offer that is realistic – don’t be scared to put your best offer in as it may mean the difference between walking away with the property or not. Also remember that working for a quick purchase can mean the tradeoff is in the cost, so be wary of your budge and if the prices is too high be prepared to walk away.
Get Your Timing Right
There are two schools of thought here. Some believe it is good to wait until close to the auction date before pre-offering. This way the seller and the agent will have a concrete idea of the interest in the property and they may be willing to consider a good pre-auction offer. On the other hand, a pre-auction offer made early in the campaign may trigger other parties to give up as they haven’t had the time to do their due diligence properly.#