When you’re buying a house on your own and without an agent, there are two key traits to use throughout the process: knowledge and organization. Knowledge is necessary in making sure you obtain the correct documents and contract forms that fit your state laws and your buying situation. It’s also important in knowing exactly what you’re buying into. Organization is then needed for keeping these documents and forms protected, filled out and looked over by an attorney, an escrow agent or a title company. Here are key areas to keep in mind and focus on with knowledge and organization:
- When beginning to look for a house, you need to research other houses in the same area and of the same size, and see what they are selling for. This way, you will not overpay for a house that has been priced only by the homeowner, who might think his or her house is worth more than it really is.
- Find out what is happening with the properties around your house. If there is open land, find out who it belongs to and what plans that owner has for it. If you’re not sure if land belongs to your potential property or not, find out, even if the seller says it does. This could dramatically change the future value of the property.
- Find out what disclosures your state laws require sellers to share with you, so that you are provided with all the information that you are rightfully owed. An attorney or an escrow or title company can guide you through obtaining the correct disclosure forms.
- When downloading contract forms from the Internet, make sure to read them thoroughly and choose the type that you specifically want to follow in your financial trade. The contract you use will be followed word-for-word if a problem arises in the future, so you’ll want to know exactly what you are agreeing to.
- Always hire some sort of third party to hold your earnest money and help you through the process of filling out documents. Whether it is an attorney or an escrow or title company, it is important to have this third party, even if you have the knowledge needed to complete the process. You never know what type of person you’ll be dealing with in a real estate transaction, so you might as well have credible backup support.
- If you go through the process alone, keep all of your documents in organized and labeled files, in a safe location, and make copies of every form and written communication you have with the seller. If a problem arises in the future, you’ll want all the information you can find to back you up.
While this may seem overwhelming or like a lot to remember, keep in mind the enormous payback for your efforts: thousands of dollars in savings, total control of your house-hunting process and comfort in knowing you can do this.