By Ilyce R. Glink (Special to Freddie Mac)
My first blog discussed how to minimize stressful surprises by putting together a dream team of professionals before you start shopping for a new home. I provided guidelines for picking the first two members of your team: a great real estate agent and a smart mortgage lender who gives great customer service.
Now we’ll focus on filling out the rest of your homebuying team:
- A Knowledgeable Real Estate Attorney
Buying a home can be a complicated legal process and each state and city requires different contracts and other steps to complete the process. A real estate attorney can help you:
- Navigate any financial issues involved in the purchase.
- Understand the impact of property tax changes on the cost of the home
- Negotiate your best deal based on the results of your home inspection.
A real estate attorney can help you sort through the fine print and avoid nasty surprises at closing, said John O’Brien, Real Estate Chair for the Chicago Bar Association and Founder and Chair of the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers Association. “They’re a very valuable person to have on your team,” he said. Just don’t make this rookie mistake: The attorney you pay to attend the closing is working for the bank – not for you. Meaning if you’re in a state where you wouldn’t typically use a real estate attorney, you may not have anyone representing your legal interests in the deal. While commonly used in Chicago and the Northeast, real estate attorneys are used less often in other states, like Georgia or California. (Full disclosure: I’m married to a real estate attorney.)
- A Resourceful Home Inspector
A great home inspector can save you thousands of dollars in repair costs by spotting problems — like pests, mold, leakage and other damage – before you buy. Regardless of property size, a good, thorough inspection will generally take around three hours and will include the attic, basement, garage, crawl space, roof and any outbuildings on the property.
You and your team may even be able to use the report to help you negotiate a better deal.
Get home inspector recommendations from your real estate agent, mortgage lender or real estate attorney. When you call their suggestions, ask them one question: How long does it take you to do an inspection?
If they say it takes them less than two or three hours (depending on the size of the home; condos will take less time than single-family homes), move on to the next name on your list.
Follow this series just in time for the spring homebuying season.
Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated consumer finance columnist and the author of 13 books on real estate and money. She is also the CEO of Think Glink Media, a digital content agency.