In some areas of the country the housing market is still sizzling because of low interest rates. Homeownership has always been touted as the sure way to financial security and more than one silly-Billy has jumped into the housing market because they mistakenly thought “everyone else is buying a house, I have to buy a house too.”
No matter how anxious you are to own your own home, don’t rush the transaction. If you’re feeling pressured to make an immediate offer but haven’t taken the time to become familiar with the local market, you won’t know if you’re getting good value for your money. Worse, you may be tempted to do something stupid in your emotional desire to “win” a bidding war. Take a breath.
It’s become pretty standard in hot markets for real estate professionals to suggest that a buyer put in an offer to purchase that is free of conditions. One of the conditions that’s quickly excised is the “financing condition.” Hey, you got a pre-approval, right? You don’t need that conditional on financing clause, right? Wrong! No matter how much you want that home, no matter how sure you are that everything will be fine, don’t do it.
Pre-approvals come with the proviso that they are financing approvals in principal only; they can be revoked by the lender if they are perceived to be a bad decision—if your circumstances change, or if the house appraisal is lower than the purchase price. And that’s why the “conditional on financing” clause is important.
Another clause you should always include is the “conditional on sale of existing home clause,” which eliminates the likelihood that you’ll end up desperate to find a buyer for your home because you’re having to carry two mortgages since your old haunt hasn’t sold yet. If you have to carry two mortgages for three or four months, you’ll be motivated to accept less than your house may be worth.
And don’t skip the “conditional on inspection” clause or you might end up with a house that’s falling down around your ears. Don’t let desperation to buy that house overcome your good sense. Ignoring the potential problems inspections are designed to ferret out can be horribly expensive.
Buying a home is a complex process. Don’t rush into it and don’t rush through it. You’ll likely have to live with your decision for a long, long time. Talk to some friends and family who have bought recently and try to get a feel for the process. Pay attention to the details. And ask lots of questions. The more you know, the better a homebuyer you’ll be.