49 Essential Tips Every Home Buyer Should Know

Dear Friend,

It’s true. Even savvy home buyers lose thousands of dollars…even tens of thousands of dollars they could have "pocketed" had they know about the important "secrets" that make up a successful purchase of a great home.

They don’t lose money because someone took advantage of them. And they don’t lose money because of the economy. The problem is…

"Most People Don’t Plan To Fail, But Fail To Plan."

If you’re in the market to buy a home anytime soon, and you want to find the perfect home at the best possible price, terms and financing, there are THREE things you need to do up front:

First, understand and get control of your personal emotions about the purchase of your home Second, get the most valuable, important information available so you make a prudent and educated decision. And third, become informed about the very best financial resources and products to fit YOUR needs…NOW, not later.

After all, buying your home is very different from any other financial transaction. It isn’t just a "home," it’s a transaction that affects your monthly overhead expenses…your ultimate net worth…your retirement…your kids education…and much more.

So it’s no surprise that buying your home may involve a bit of fear, anxiety, frustration…or even excitement for that next move in your life.

The secret is…try not to let these emotions get in the way of a prudent purchase. The tips and information in this report will help you have a better understanding of most, if not all, aspects involved with the purchase of your next home.

So, let’s examine some of the critical questions you might have with your next home purchase…

1. What is an "as is" sale?

An "as is" property is sold without a warranty as to condition, repairs, or structure. With an "as is" sale, the buyer is on notice that the seller makes no promises regarding the property's physical status. With an "as is" sale, it is extremely difficult to make a claim against a seller if something is found to be wrong with the property after closing. "As is" clauses should be seen as an absolute requirement to make the transaction contingent on a professional inspection "satisfactory" to you. With a properly written sale agreement contingency, if you are not satisfied, then the deal is dead and you can get back your deposit in full.

2. How long must I live in a house once I buy?

When you apply for a loan a lender will ask if you intend to use the property as a prime residence. If the answer is "yes," then it is expected that you will physically move into the property and live there for some time. There does not seem to be a set definition in the term "some time," but what lenders are getting at is this: They do not want to make residential loans with low rates and little down to investors.

Thus, if someone gets a residential mortgage, instantly moves out, and quickly rents the place, lenders will be more than unhappy - they may call the loan. They may also review the loan application to see if fraud was involved. Lenders do not want borrowers to move in and then rapidly move out, but they will look at the "facts and circumstances" if such an event occurs. For instance, a sudden job change not known in advance might be a valid reason for a move after several months of occupancy. What lenders do not want are situations where a "residential" borrower is actually adisguised investor. Given that most homes are occupied for 8-10 years, a move after several months or a year is likely to set off bells.

3. Can I buy real estate with no money down?

Yes. Millions of people have bought real estate with no money down through the VA loan program.

If you mean, can you buy real estate at a discount of 20 or 25% with no cash or credit, and then instantly sell or rent the place at a profit, then the answer is probably not. Why "probably" instead of "absolutely" not? Because in a marketplace with millions of transactions each year, somebody somewhere has made a deal with no money down and rented or sold at a profit. But it is also true that somebody somewhere got hit by lightening. The problem is that the term "no money down" is sometimes in the worst cases a code expression for a deal where someone without cash or credit wishes to buy property from someone who is needy, unsophisticated, desperate, in mourning. etc. Under the guide of "helping" the owner, buyers offer to purchase property at 20% off, or more, and with subordination and substitution clauses. Of course, if purchasers really meant to be helpful, they would surely pay full market values..... Let's be clear. If no-money-down schemes are so wonderful, why do folks who engage in such investments have a need for "partners" with cash?

Rather than get-rich-quick tapes and seminars, prospective investors are best served by taking a basic real estate license class in your state. This will explain much about financing, marketing, title, and other issues. It will also allow an individual to take the entry-level real estate exam and qualify for a license.

4. We made an offer on a home that was about 5% below the asking price. Our offer was rejected. What can we do to make the owners more reasonable?

Who says the owners aren't reasonable? They have established a market price for their home. If they can get that price within a reasonable time frame, then they have logically priced their home. If the price cannot be obtained, either they will lower the price or the property will be withdrawn from the market. Because your experience in a different market made selling at a loss acceptable, that does not mean the same logic applies in other markets, or that your choice should in any way impact the sellers. Perhaps it would make sense to restructure your offer - maybe raise your price but seek better terms.

5. Where can I get more information regarding accessible housing options?

Try the following sources:

  • State architectural associations.

  • Local builders.

  • State and local builder organizations.

  • Hardware and building supply outlets

  • University architectural schools.

  • The library of the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, DC.

  • Local public housing agencies.

  • Local chapters of associations that serve those with special needs.

6. We are handy and want to buy a house using sweat equity for a down payment. Will lenders go for this?

From time to time you hear about lenders that allow the use of sweat equity as a credit toward a down payment, but not all of it. Most lenders, however, are not thrilled with this concept.

The problem is valuing labor. If a professional paints a house there is work completed to a given standard (that helps maintain the value of the home, the lender's security if the loan is defaulted) and there is a bill for labor and expenses (paint, caulk, etc.).

With sweat equity, there can be a cost for supplies, but what how is labor to be valued? At the same rate as for a professional? A discount? And what about workmanship?

The best approach is to speak with as many lenders as possible to see if they have a program that allows the use of sweat equity. Ask about the maximum sweat equity contribution allowed, total cash needed to close, rates, points, etc.

7. Can I discount the sale price to create a down payment?


Lenders provide financing on the basis of the sale price or the appraised value, whatever is less.

In the case of a "discounted" price, say selling a home worth $150,000 for $140,000, the sale price is $140,000. Lenders do not recognize a discount.

A better approach is to pay full market value but to make the transaction dependent on a "seller contribution" at closing. The effect is the same, but the accounting makes more sense to lenders.

8. What is a "due-on-sale" clause?

When a home is financed, the borrower agrees to make regular monthly payments. However, if those payments are not made, if they are late, or if the lender's security is reduced (by not making payments, damaging the property, not maintaining insurance, not paying property taxes, selling the property, selling a part of the property by placing someone else on the title, etc.), then the lender has the right to call for the complete and immediate (say within 30 days) repayment of the loan. The mortgage language outlining the lender's rights is generally called a "due-on-sale" or "acceleration" clause. One effect of a due-on-sale clause is that it effectively prevents a loan from being assumed.

Borrowers should note that state and federal law may limit the ability of lenders to enforce a due-on-sale clause. For instance, a title change in the event of an estate situation may be allowed.

9. What is a "land contract?"

A "land contract" or "contract for deed" or "agreement for sale" is an installment sale you buy today but only get title after some or all of the payments are made. If you miss a payment, you could lose some or all your equity. Because title has not been transferred, there is nothing to foreclose. Some states, however, have special provisions protecting those who buy property with a land contract.

Be careful in a land contract situation to look at the proposed financing. Is lender approval required? If yes, and such approval is not received, the loan could be called.

State rules regarding land contracts vary extensively and such arrangements should be reviewed by an attorney or legal clinic before acceptance.

10. What are the pros and cons of a land contract?

A land contract may allow a buyer to obtain real estate even if he or she is not able to obtain financing through regular loan channels. A land contract may allow a seller to market a property when interest rates are high.

If a buyer with limited financial capacity purchases with a land contract, then a seller may have problems collecting monthly payments. However, since a buyer with a land contract does not have title until all conditions are met, it is often possible for the seller to get the property back with a "forfeiture" rather than a "foreclosure." The attraction of a forfeiture is that it is much quicker to obtain than a foreclosure. It is also a complex undertaking that should only be done with an attorney.

If a land contract involves the use of existing financing that cannot be assumed, that could set-off a due-on-sale clause. Both buyers and sellers could lose the property if the loan cannot be repaid.

Or, suppose Seller Jones sells a property to Buyer Smith using a land contract. Title will remain in Jones' name until Smith makes a certain number of payments. But, suppose that Jones goes bankrupt. What rights does Smith have to the property? Or, suppose Jones does not pay the property taxes? If the local government forecloses, what rights does Smith have?

Also, what happens if Seller Jones goes off to Tahiti? How does Buyer Smith get title?

Land contracts should be seen as complex arrangements. Both buyers and sellers should consult an attorney or legal clinic (separately) to assure that all aspects of the transaction are fully understood.


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