Whether you are buying your first home or your fifth, the process of buying a home can be an emotional, time-consuming venture. Feeling that you made the right decision and got a good deal can make all the difference to your peace of mind either as an investor or owner-occupant. We wrote about the first 10 todos last week, so here is the 2nd installment.

#11 Proceed quickly

When you’re ready to buy, act. Good properties sell. This is especially true given the current state of worldwide real estate markets. However, when you work with a Coldwell Banker Realtor, you have access to the latest technology. As part of the MLS and Agent Handshake networks, our Coldwell Banker Realtors have access to properties within hours of when they are listed.

Technology works to your advantage. Our company websites allow you to sign on as a client, and receive notification of new listings via email. You save time and effort, and you can view only those homes that come closest to meeting your needs.

#12 Clarify relationships

In any real estate transaction, be very clear about who is working for whom, and what the relationship represents. Unless otherwise stated, an agent represents the seller in transactions for the sale of a home. This agent, as part of his or her fiduciary duty, must ensure that the seller’s (and not your) position is represented throughout the entire process. Get a buyer’s agent on your side, or ensure that someone is acting in your best interests.

#13 Ask for a written CMA

A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is an analysis of comparable homes in a given neighborhood. It shows you the sale prices of comparable homes, along with asking prices of other homes in the area currently on the market. A Coldwell Banker Realtor can request this report for any home and community. Ask for this report in writing. With this valuable document, you’ll have solid, reliable information about how fairly a home is priced compared to its real market value.

#14 Know the seller

Understanding a seller’s reasons for moving could work to your advantage during negotiations. For instance, a seller who has been transferred to another city or island may be more motivated to sell than someone who is still shopping for a new home. A vacant house, or a house that has been on the market for several months and has been reduced in price, could also provide the opportunity for lucrative negotiations.

#15 Keep it impersonal

Conversely, information could be used to your detriment. Information about your mortgage, size of down payment, move-in deadline, or circumstances for buying could be used to the seller’s benefit in negotiations. While you want your Realtor to know these details, maintain your poker face and keep your cards hidden with the sellers and their agents.

#16 Measure twice, sign once

While you definitely want to move quickly once you’ve made the decision to purchase, you don’t want to cave in to pressure for a quick close. Someone who is trying to pressure you into buying a home is likely doing so for a reason. Make sure the reasons for you to buy a home are your reasons, not theirs.

#17 Exercise your negotiating skills

Even if you prefer not to haggle, it’s worth it, especially when it’s your home and one of your biggest investments. Most people expect to haggle over the price. In the Caribbean, negotiating is a part of the culture. There is always room for negotiation, and your Coldwell Banker Realtor should be a professional negotiator.

#18 Avoid bidding wars

In some cases, the seller’s Agent may use scare tactics to rush the sale or increase the price. Falling for this trap could cost you money. If there is another buyer, or some other reason this pressure is being applied, whoever wins also loses because they tend to overpay. Let reason be your guide. If you really want to place an offer in competition with other buyers, be sure your agent protects your interests and makes it clear how high in price you will go.

#19 Get it in writing

Legally, sellers must disclose all known material defects of a property. Ask for this in writing. Also be sure to consider the ramifications of these defects. Will they be costly down the road? Are they “serious” defects? Get 2nd or 3rd opinions if necessary. Inspect, ask questions, investigate until you are satisfied.

#20 Be aware of hidden costs

While Realtors often tempt first-time buyers with rent/mortgage comparisons, there is more to a home than simply the mortgage. You will be responsible for other items including mortgage insurance, appraisal fees, legal fees, inspection fees, transfer taxes, title insurance, inspections, property tax, increased bills, condo fees, home insurance, etc. Your Coldwell Banker agent can give you a good idea of the costs associated with buying a home that are beyond its final negotiated price. Your lender can provide a Good Faith Estimate of closing costs, and your escrow officer will also state the transaction fees.

Looking for a home can be fun, but also stressful. Let Coldwell Banker be the professional working on your team.