Home & Garden

3 tips for homebuying couples in the hunt

Sellers who have already moved may be especially willing to negotiate favorable terms for buyers.
Sellers who have already moved may be especially willing to negotiate favorable terms for buyers. TNS

Couples of all ages need to bridge their differences before heading out for a home-shopping tour. Otherwise serious disputes could develop later.

Eric Tyson, a personal finance expert and co-author of “Home Buying for Dummies,” says this: “Pick a time to share thoughts about your individual priorities and make an actual appointment.”

Here are a few other pointers:

1 Make your first move a meeting with a mortgage lender.

These days, mortgage lenders typically conduct nearly all their business through phone calls and email, with an occasional fax thrown into the mix. Technically, you never need to meet your lender.

But Ronald Phipps, a former president of the National Association of Realtors (www.realtor.org), recommends that even before you go home-shopping, you arrange a face-to-face meeting with a lender to discuss your financing plans and gain mortgage pre-approval.

2 Don’t rule out purchase of a place with outdated decor.

To get the most for their money, money-tight homebuyers may wish to consider a category of properties a notch above a classic “fixer-upper,” Tyson says. These are typically well-maintained properties with solid electrical and plumbing systems. But their owners, though practical, have neglected them cosmetically.

He says young buyers willing to overlook a dated kitchen or bathrooms can sometimes get a good deal on a home they’re willing to improve themselves later. But unless you’re extremely handy, he cautions against taking on a home that needs major infrastructure improvements.

3 Screen for homeowners eager to sell.

Tom Early, a real estate broker and past president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (www.naeba.org), says that when it comes to real estate, time is money. Sellers who have already moved and whose property has already gone vacant may be especially willing to negotiate favorable terms for buyers.

“Usually, you don’t have to do anything sneaky or underhanded to find out what motivates the sellers. That’s because owners sometimes broadcast their desire for a quick sale with ads that read: “Seller Motivated” or a similar message,” Early says.

If the ads don’t reveal the sellers’ degree of urgency, a few casual inquiries placed by your real estate agent to the listing agent for the property might do so.

“Real estate people are gregarious. Word gets around and soon your agent can find out why a house is on the market. Maybe the owners are building a custom-built house and will be moving there in just a couple of weeks,” Early says.

He says a dedicated buyer’s agent can be especially helpful to those making a first home purchase.

“A couple who is flexible and has all their financing lined up can sometimes get a bargain price on a dream nest where they can start a family and live together for many years,” Early says.