Help me buy a house
September 12, 2005 4:16 PM   Subscribe

I need a walk through on how to buy property without a real estate agent.

I have an opportunity to buy some ideal mountain property at a real reasonable price. But I will have to move quickly if it becomes available. This would be the third house I've bought, so I'm somewhat experienced. I also know to be a bit suspicious of the quick nature of the transaction, and that a title search and ensuring the offer is contingent upon inspections, etc. However, I'm not exactly sure where to go to get some of those things done. I would greatly appreciate any advice or pointers to detailed advice. Most of my google searches have been tailored to convince me to get a real estate agent. In this case it isn't an option. Thanks for any help!
posted by forforf to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
I cannot help you exactly, but I am interested to hear what others have to say. If I were in your position though, I'd call a local title company and tell them what you want to do.

What I can suggest however is to look more seriously into getting a Realtor. If the seller has one, then you REALLY should get one as it will not cost you a dime and they'll help you out. If the seller doesn't have one, then you'd have to pay for the service of course which may or may not be of value to you.
posted by pwb503 at 5:21 PM on September 12, 2005

If you don't use an agent (and I'm not sure why you wouldn't, since their commission is usually paid by the seller), then you should retain a real estate attorney to draw up or review contracts and arrange for the title search and title insurance.
posted by SashaPT at 6:01 PM on September 12, 2005

Oh god, title insurance! Don't skip that step!
posted by aramaic at 6:12 PM on September 12, 2005

Let me add that laws and requirements vary by state as, if there is a home on the property, will you need a termite report? Home inspection ?(Heavily recommended...etc.) Since it is a mountain property I assume the ground percs, but that would be another thing to make sure of in general....the devil is in the details.

And honestly if you had an agent he or she could negotiate the best possible deal for you, such as who pays for what re closing costs and inspections, for starters. Yeah, you can do it yourself but you might not do as well for yourself if you do.
posted by konolia at 7:10 PM on September 12, 2005

I second getting a buyer's agent. Their fee will be paid by the seller (assuming the seller is using an agent as well).
posted by qwip at 7:20 PM on September 12, 2005

OK, let me clarify things a little bit here. A "buyer's broker" will be your agent. An agent that is not specifically a buyer's broker IS NOT YOUR AGENT. That means the agent is working for the seller, and NOT YOU. That means the agent is probably working against your interests.

However, if you get a lawyer, then the lawyer is YOUR AGENT. Get an experience real estate lawyer near this mountain property. The lawyer can act on your behalf, and knows the area well. Don't bother with a broker, unless you specifically get a "buyer's broker" that will only be working for you! Most people fail to understand that a real estate agent who works with a buyer does not actually represent that buyer unless there is a specific agreement stating such a relationship. That "selling agent" is, in effect, also an agent of the seller.

Again, get a lawyer or a buyer's broker. If you get the latter, get an agreement and read it closely (preferably have your lawyer read it closely) before signing.
posted by MrZero at 7:58 PM on September 12, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice so far. I understand the value a buyer's agent provides. however my experience has been less than stellar with them (and Mr. Zero points out some of the reasons why this has been the case). I am definitely going to get a lawyer, and titile insurance, and home inspections ... ground percs is a new one, so I'll add that to the list.
Does anyone know of a checklist or something similar? Also, I think I have a line on some real estate training manuals, so if I learn anything from those I'll try and post it here as well.
posted by forforf at 8:19 PM on September 12, 2005

Here's a great article on - Should I Hire a Real Estate Agent or Lawyer to Buy a House? That page has a checklist of sorts in the form of other articles about real estate.
posted by SashaPT at 3:39 AM on September 13, 2005

As others pointed out, requirements will vary from state to state. In Texas, for example, we have a "lead-based paint addendum" that is not required but is a really good idea to fill out on houses older than ~1970.

Find a title company and call them up. Ask them to walk you through what they expect and when. Call your lender and do the same. Call your insurer and do the same. Take lots of notes.
posted by adamrice at 6:01 AM on September 13, 2005

The seller (and his or her agent) have an interest in getting the deal done. That means you can approach the seller's agent on your own and negotiate the offer and have the seller's agent do all the leg work to make sure the deal closes. Your job, then, is to do all the due diligence and negotiating on your own that your buyer's agent would have done for/with you. Home Buying for Dummies should give you a pretty good "to do" list. If you go this route, you should try to negotiate a slightly lower selling price b/c the seller's agent will not have to split the 6-7% commission with a buyer's agent (and 3-3.5% adds up to a chunk of change).
posted by GarageWine at 9:50 AM on September 13, 2005

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