Tips for buying and selling real estate

Whether you have a house for sale, or are looking for the perfect commercial property, the following tips and information will help you navigate the world of real estate transactions.

Buying a house

A house for sale (farm for sale, condominium for sale, etc.) presents the opportunity for you to build equity in real estate.

Ensure you do not inherit a debt on the property before you purchase. A real estate lawyer should be able to check this for you.

Never sign a contract that you do not understand

Remember that bills do not end at the asking price. Get a full understanding of lawyers' fees, taxes, insurance etc. and factor them into your budget.

Confirm with the real estate agent that you are aware of the costs charged by the state and county for purchasing real estate in your chosen location.

Try to arrange your mortgage in principle, before agreeing to purchase the property, or before signing any contracts and paying over a deposit.

Shop around and compare mortgages, just as you do for other goods and services. Real estate agents can be helpful when you’re looking for financing. They have useful contacts with mortgage companies and they know current interest rates and market trends. Banks and other mortgage companies are usually willing to give you a lower rate than they advertise, but you have to ask for it - they won’t just offer it automatically. Mortgage brokers can also shop around and negotiate rates for you.

Seek legal advice from independent local lawyers, architects and surveyors before purchasing real estate.

Always give yourself a cooling off period if you see a must-have property and are tempted to put down a deposit there and then.

Selling a house

Selling your house can be a time-consuming process, here are some things to consider.

Make sure that your listing agreement includes a multiple listing service. This means your real estate agent can advertise and show your home to agents in their own real estate agency plus agents and brokers with other agencies

To determine what your house is worth, get a professional appraisal. You can expect to pay somewhere between $200 and $500 for a real estate appraisal.

Pick a real estate agent that you trust and are comfortable with.

Find out how much you owe on your mortgage. If you can pay off the mortgage, is there a prepayment penalty?

Real estate sales and mortgages are complicated and important transactions, and there’s too much money involved to risk mistakes. There are also tax issues that you need advice about. Sometimes there are problems with the way the real estate agent drafted the contract for sale and purchase, or other issues that need legal expertise. There are also fraud risks with real estate transactions. For these reasons, you should see a lawyer when selling your house.

When someone buys your house, all the things that are fixtures go along with it, unless you and the buyer agree otherwise.

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