Working with a Realtor
Your Realtor® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are Realtors® have access to a variety of informational resources. Realtors® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning and schools. There are two things you’ll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?

Your Realtor® can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to what is recommended or required.

Your Realtor® provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your Realtor® can assist you in finding qualified, responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your Realtor’s title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.

Your Realtor® can help you in understanding different financing options and identify qualified lenders.

Your Realtor® can guide you through the closing process
and make sure everything flows smoothly.

Your Realtor® can give you up-to-date selling information
on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties.

Your Realtor® will be helpful to you if you’re new to buying real estate in Texas. He or she can provide more information on many topics as they arise.

Now you’re ready to look for your dream home. You know your budget and have identified the general location for your home. Without leaving your home or office, you can view details of just about every home for sale via the Internet by going to, which is one of the most popular home search sites.

Once you have selected homes you want to visit, the real estate agent will schedule viewings, typically three to four showings at one time within one area. This allows the buyer to see different neighborhoods and their proximity to work, schools, parks and any other places you consider important.

You are in a strong bargaining position and will look particularly welcome to a seller if you’re an all-cash buyer, you are already preapproved for a mortgage, and you don’t have a present house that has to be sold before you can afford to buy.

In those circumstances, you may be able to negotiate some discount from the listed price. On the other hand, in a “hot” seller’s market, if the perfect house comes on the market, you may want to offer the list price (or more) to beat out other early offers. It’s very helpful to find out why the house is being sold and whether the seller is under pressure. Keep in mind that every month a vacant house remains unsold represents considerable extra expense for the seller. Some sellers are motivated to get out quickly, such as if the sellers are divorcing. Also, estate sales often yield a bargain in return for a prompt deal.

You have found the home you love, and now it is time for the agent to make the offer. Oral promises are not legally enforceable when it comes to the sale of real estate. Therefore, you need to enter into a written contract, which starts with your written proposal. This proposal not only specifies price, but all the terms and conditions of the purchase. For example, if the sellers said they’d help with $2,000 toward your closing costs, be sure that’s included in your written offer and in the final completed contract, or you won’t have grounds for collecting it later.

Realtors® usually have a variety of standard forms (including Residential Purchase Agreements) that are kept up to date with the changing laws. When you use a Realtor®, these forms will be available to you. In addition, Realtors® cover the questions that need to be answered during the process. In many states certain disclosure laws must be complied with by the seller, and the Realtors® will ensure that this takes place.

If you are not working with a Realtor®, keep in mind that you must draw up a purchase offer or contract that conforms to state and local laws and that incorporates all of the key items. State laws vary, and certain provisions may be required in your area.

After the offer is drawn up and signed, it will usually be presented to the seller by your Realtor®, by the seller’s Realtor® if that’s a different agent, or often by the two together. In a few areas, sales contracts are typically drawn up by the parties’ lawyers.

The purchase offer you submit, if accepted as it stands, will become a binding sales contract (known in some areas as a purchase agreement, earnest money agreement or deposit receipt). It’s important, therefore, that it contains all the items that will serve as a “blueprint for the final sale.” According to the National Association of Realtors®, these purchase offer items include such things as:
  • Address and sometimes a legal description of the property.
  • Sale price.
  • Terms – for example, all cash or subject to your obtaining a mortgage for a given amount.
  • Seller’s promise to provide clear title (ownership).
  • Target date for closing (the actual sale).
  • Amount of earnest money deposit accompanying the offer, and whether it’s a check, cash or promissory note, and how it’s to be returned to you if the offer is rejected, or kept as damages if you later back out for no good reason.
  • Method by which real estate taxes, rents, fuel, water bills and utilities are to be adjusted (prorated) between buyer and seller.
  • Provisions about who will pay for title insurance, survey, termite inspections and the like.• Type of deed to be given.
  • Other requirements specific to your state, which might include a chance for attorney review of the contract, disclosure of specific environmental hazards or other state-specific clauses.
  • A provision that the buyer may make a last-minute walk-through inspection of the property just before the closing.
  • A time limit (preferably short) after which the offer will expire.
  • Contingencies, which are an extremely important matter and discussed in detail below.

This is a deposit that you give when making an offer on a house. A seller is understandably suspicious of a written offer that is not accompanied by a cash deposit to show “good faith.” A Realtor® or an attorney usually holds the deposit, the amount of which varies from community to community. This will become part of your down payment.

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