Los Angeles, California (PressExposure) August 12, 2009 -- First, before you actually start house hunting, make a list of all the things you want in the new place, we'll call these your "deal breakers," That means you won't consider the house unless it has all of these things. Then, have a secondary "wish" list of things you would LIKE but can live without. Then make a list of the things you don't want. You can use these lists as a guide to rate each property that you see. The one with the best score wins! This helps avoid confusion and keeps things in perspective when you're comparing dozens of homes. Buy the house with good SUBSTANCE, because the STYLE can always be changed to match your tastes.
Next, if you have a house to sell, sell it before picking a house to buy! Contingency sales aren't nearly as strong as one that comes in with a ready, willing and able buyer. A good way to protect yourself when making an offer is to make the sale "subject to seller finding suitable housing". Adding this phrase to the listing means that WHEN YOU DO FIND A BUYER, you will have some time to find the new place. If you don't find anything to your liking, you don't have to sell your present home. But be aware, many buyers don't want to wait for you to find something, and therefore won't make an offer on properties "subject to seller finding replacement property".
Money Talk! Price is only one element in the negotiations, and not necessarily the most important one. Often other terms, such as the strength of the buyer or the length of escrow, are critical to a seller. The way to make the strongest offer today is to get "pre-approved". This happens AFTER all information has been checked and verified. You are actually APPROVED for the loan and the only loose end is the appraisal on the property. This process takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on your situation. It's VERY POWERFUL and a weapon I recommend all my clients have in their negotiating arsenal.
Always remember, YOU are going to be buying, living in, paying for and repairing that house. So, don't EVER let ANYONE push you into something you don't want!
Finally, you need help, (not the mental kind... but the good kind!) The most important thing you can do is have someone on your side looking out for your best interests. Your agent will critique the property with an eye towards how well it meets your needs and will point out any drawbacks you should know about. Pick an agent you feel comfortable with and enlist the services of that agent as a buyer's broker. Then you become a client with all the rights, benefits, and privileges created by this agency relationship, and you're no longer just a shopper. To get the best buy on a property, hire your own agent and stick with her, or him.