I’m just going to say it, buying a home without a realtor is risky business. But if you must, here’s some tips that I found helped with the process.
Top 7 tips to buying a FSBO property:
1. Get it in writing. I can’t stress this enough. Your lender should be able to provide you with a purchase agreement. Go over it closely, fill out every field, leave nothing blank and spell out everything (i.e. it must appraise, it must pass inspection, etc.). This is your opportunity to negotiate everything. If you have questions about an area on the agreement, ask your lender or consult a real estate attorney.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. The great thing about a realtor is they can do all the negotiating for you. They can offer a lower price, they can tell the buyer you don’t like their carpet or wallpaper and ask for replacement money, they can address that weird smell coming from the back bedroom. When you’re FSBO, you must do all of that yourself. Put on your big girl or boy pants and just address it. The worst that can happen is they’ll say no.
3. Keep excellent records. Save a folder of all the communication and paperwork between you and the seller, you and the lender, you and the title company, etc. You will likely need to refer to one or more of them again. I saved one on my desktop so when my lender said, “I need the insurance document.” I could send it again. Yes, I said again. Expect to send them documents more than once. There are so many, I’m not surprised they get lost. If you’re old school and are faxing the documents, get a pocket folder to keep them in.
4. Don’t skip the inspection. This is vital. You need to know what you’re getting into. You may find the most beautiful home, in your price range, but you may not want it if the foundation is crumbling, if it’s infested by termites or the electrical is bad. Don’t trust Uncle Ralph to give it “a good once-over,” hire a professional.
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Stay in touch with your lender and your seller. You may need to help coordinate the inspection, the appraisal and any contractor quotes you want done. Texting may be fine, others may prefer a phone call. This is not the time to be shy. See number 2.
6. Use a reputable title company. If you’re getting a mortgage your lender will be able to recommend someone one. If you’re paying cash call a local realtor and ask who they recommend. Title work is something you don’t want to mess around with, it can wreak havoc if not done right. Hire someone local if possible.
7. Make sure you have an “out” if the property doesn’t appraise. A lender won’t lend over the appraised value. To protect yourself, include an out in your purchase agreement if the property doesn’t appraise.
I’d love to hear from you. What tips do you have when buying a FSBO property?