Buying a Home Without a Realtor: Common Mistakes to Avoid

So you may be asking yourself why a website that focuses on selling 3M LeadCheck swabs has written a post on buying a house without a realtor, the reality is, however, that there is a very specific reason why we are doing it. 

For one, we want to actually ensure that you are getting the best possible house that you can get for the budget that you have available, but we also want you to be aware of the potential for lead poisoning, and how you ensure that you won’t be exposing yourself or someone you love to this potentially harmful material. 

We also realize that it is often a real estate agent who will have a relationship with some local professional who owns an XRF lead tester who can come out and make sure that the house doesn’t contain all sorts of things that it shouldn’t be containing. While you may be able to hire one of these guys yourself, did you know that it is often a contingency that is put into an offer when someone makes an offer on a house that the house doesn’t contain lead paint in it? 

If you didn’t realize that this is one of the oldest tricks in the book in order to be able to walk down an offer that you put on a house, it is crucial that you keep reading here so that we can better prepare you for what is coming up ahead and how you actually make sure that you end up with the house that you want at the price that you want it at as well. 

It is particularly effective when you want a house that you know is either in a competitive market, or where someone has priced their home way too generously.

If you aren’t careful as you’re buying your home, you could potentially be opening yourself up to a bunch of different issues, including getting stomach aches as you drink water, for instance. How annoying would it be to end up buying a house simply to find out that you would need to do some major plumbing repairs just to make sure that your new house in fact has plumbing in it that won’t mean that the entire family ends up falling sick because you are being exposed to dangerously high levels of lead through your home’s tap water? 

If there’s been a lot of remodeling done lately, you will also want to be sure that plaster walls were removed correctly, that hairline cracks haven’t just been poorly covered up, and that the old paint on the concrete slab isn’t an issue even if it is peeling.

As you can see, we have included links across that previous section as those are topics that we have written extensive articles on that you may also be interested in, all of them from an angle of properly addressing potential lead hazard issues. 

There’s no denying that real estate agents serve a very, very important purpose if you are a person who is not familiar with the whole situation of buying a home, and it may even be that you don’t choose to go without a realtor by the time that you are done reading this article – that is completely okay as well, as you may have simply come to realize that they do offer a range of benefits.

The same way that you would go to a mechanic if you suddenly saw that there was an issue with your car that you didn’t know how to fix, there are still a lot of people that will choose to go with a real estate agent even if it does cost some money. There’s no denying that using one does provide you with some additional safety in the deal. 

While there are certain things you can do yourself, you shouldn’t necessarily be doing things yourself if you don’t believe that you are capable of handling all the various aspects. We understand that you may think that it is a lot of money that you are potentially paying for a real estate agent, but it is also a lot of money that you are going to legally be forced to pay when you sign that contract for the house. 

Just because you are technically capable of doing something yourself doesn’t always mean it’s the best choice, and home sales are complicated processes where there are lots of moving parts. 

The job of a real estate agent is undoubtedly to have knowledge, contacts and experience that will help you ensure that the entire process goes smoothly. Given the volume of houses that they help both buy and sell, they know a lot people that you will then have to find yourself when you’re in a situation of choosing to go about the process without the help of a real estate agent. 

In order to make sure that you’re not making a mistake in the process, we’ll go over the times when it may be the right choice for you to go about the process without a real estate agent. 

They do have an advantage in the sense they can help you figure out if something is priced adequately or whether they believe it is a good deal that you are making, although there are many people out there that may be skeptical with regards to this question as they generally perceive these agents as someone simply wanting to close the deal in order to make sure that they are getting the commission that they are owed. 

When you are in the process of buying a house, you will be interacting with a lot of professionals, including inspectors and title companies, and this may be where it is especially good when you’re working with a pro who already has valid contacts in the space. If you are the buyer in a real estate deal, you should also figure out whether it is worth not using a real estate agent or not, as the commission paid to the agents usually comes out of the seller’s end. 

We’ll also be sharing a guide on HOW TO BUY A HOUSE WITHOUT A REALTOR, the same way that we have covered various other topics on this blog, including how to report your landlord and how to find the best paint stripper for concrete and other materials

When should you choose to do it yourself? 

These are the situations where you may want to actually proceed without hiring a real estate agent: 

  • If you already have vast experience in the real estate world, perhaps because you are a real estate agent or you were one before. An alternative is if you know someone who is in the profession, but more importantly is willing to help you out as well.
  • Are you buying from a close relative, someone whom you trust would keep your best interests at heart and not try and take advantage of you? Then you can go ahead without a real estate agent.
  • If you are a landlord and this is about the millionth deal that you are making, you already know what goes into the process, and which things you should be looking out for as well. The more homes you have successfully bought in the past, the more likely we are to say that you could consider whether doing it yourself is the right choice. 
  • When neither parties are willing to pay the real estate agents a commission, that is a good time to start considering it, although it does leave you open to the process going wrong. There are some people out there that will do a FSBO sale because they may be trying to hide a known problem, so it is especially important that you make the necessary inspections to uncover anything that could be an issue.

We just want you to know that sometimes things are too good to be true, and if it is the seller who is advocating for the two parties not using real estate agent it is important that you are skeptical about the idea and make sure to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. 

How to buy a house without a realtor

If you came to the site already knowing that you weren’t going to be using a real estate agent for the transaction, here is the section that you were probably looking for in the first place: The how-to section on how to proceed with the whole thing.

First of all, it is important that you make sure that you find the overall area that you are hoping to live in and to make sure that you have a realistic understanding of how much you will be spending if you are going to be living there – it does not matter if you have an area that you want to live in, but you don’t have any realistic way of actually affording the houses that are in that neighborhood. Make sure that you are creating a budget that you know works for you to ensure that you aren’t buying more house, or allocating a bigger part of your budget towards a house than what you believe you reasonably want to spend on it, while making sure that you have enough for everything else. The credit score that you have is really a good place to start, so you should be making sure that you have addressed anything that could be on your credit report, and you should be taking measures to improve your credit score as much as you can as it will additionally help you qualify for the mortgage and the house that you want to buy.

Start researching the prices of the homes that you may potentially be interested in buying so that you know what your starting point is. When you have taken those steps, it’s the time for you to start getting a mortgage pre-approval. When a seller sees that they are dealing with someone who already has a preapproval, that shows them that you are actually serious about wanting to buy a house, and it gives them the green light indicating that you can afford the house that you are trying to buy. With the preapproval you are much better off, and there are a lot of markets where it is entirely impossible to actually be taken seriously by a seller if you don’t already have a preapproval in your hand.

If you live in a state that requires a real estate attorney, that is the next step that you are looking at getting done in this whole process. Even if it isn’t required, it’s still a good idea to get started on, as there are many potential legal pitfalls that you could be running into and that making sure you dot your i’s is actually how you’ll be able to sleep well at night. The good news is that you won’t be needing these guys for all that much work, so you won’t be spending as much money on lawyers as you may think is the case.

Have you already found the house of your dreams? Well, if you have, that’s great, otherwise now is the time to start zeroing in on potential homes. Even if the seller or their agent is pretending to be your friend, you should always keep in mind that you are dealing with people who are trying to sell you a very valuable asset, and that it is in their interest to come off as being on your side. You know what it is you’re looking for, so make sure that that’s the type of house that you’re getting as well. Don’t let yourself get talked into a house by the seller’s agent.

The next step is to get the disclosure from the seller which is in fact a thing that is required to be provided by the seller which has to disclose certain things that could be both safety and structural issues, although it is important that you look into what is covered in your state specifically to see what it covers. Some states have significantly stricter laws when it comes to lead paint than others do, for instance. While the seller is required to be truthful, we can also let you know that we have personally seen these disclosures that should have involved information on lead paint, which it didn’t, and that was despite the property clearly requiring the various RRP documentation and not having it, despite being newly renovated – quite the oopsy on their part!

Make sure to ask any questions that come to mind with regards to structural and safety questions, even if you will have an inspector come by and check everything out. You can also ask about appliances, the furnace, the roof, etc, as well as maintenance on the individual components to get a feeling of how soon you’d be looking to replace them yourself.

The next step is to take a closer look at comps to see what other similar homes have sold for. There are certain areas where it is going to be easy to figure out the price of comps, with other areas where it is less so the case. 

The next step is to make an offer with the real estate documents, which officially marks you’re well on your way to buying a new home, which is where the hard work of the lawyer comes in. You will want to make sure you get the right contingencies in your offer. Things such as closing dates, amount of time necessary for inspection and other considerations will be included in your offer. You will also have listed which fixtures and appliances are part of the purchase, and you will clearly be marking your offer, counteroffers and everything with deadlines whereby the offer is no longer valid.

When all those things have been cleared, you’re now well on your way to formally applying for a mortgage – be sure that you have budgeted closing costs and more in the whole ordeal. 

Your next move is to get title insurance and have a title search done by a company that does that. While the seller would probably not lie about a recommendation for a company that does a title search, it’s best that you go out and find your own. 

The next step is an important one where you will get a home inspector to assess the house and its condition. You should expect that this process in itself will take a couple of hours since it is in your interest as the buyer to find someone who is thorough and can find anything that might be wrong with the deal – it all ends out in a written report, and you can even get a specific pest and termite inspection to make sure there aren’t any issues there. 

The offer you put in on the house will likely have a bunch of contingencies when it comes to the inspection, so the next step is to renegotiate on the basis of the inspector’s findings. When all of this is done, and the seller accepts your counter offer on the basis of renegotiating with the contingencies in mind, it’s finally time for closing.

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