Boston Homes
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More tips for first time homebuyers

BY LINDA GOODSPEED
CORRESPONDENT

 

Q: We have started seriously talking about buying our first home. Your column has been helpful in explaining what first time homebuyers should and shouldn’t do. Any more tips for us first timers?

 

A: Yes, of course. I love tips. Here’s a few more I don’t think I have mentioned before:

 

Keep careful track of deadlines. Your purchase and sale contract will contain several contingency deadlines, such as deadlines for your home inspection and arranging financing. Do not miss these deadlines.

 

Once passed, you will not be able to invoke them in order to get out of the contract. For example, your contract will include a deadline for completing a satisfactory home inspection.

 

If this deadline passes and you have not arranged for a home inspection, and it turns out that the home has several serious defects that a home inspection would have turned up, too bad for you. You will not be able to use the home inspection report to get out of the deal or negotiate a fix, price reduction or some other solution with the seller.

 

Keep abreast of the deadlines in your contract. Your real estate agent can help in this regard. If a deadline is approaching and you think you might not be able to meet it, get an extension – in writing – from the seller.

 

Back to the home inspection: since this is such a critical part of your decision about whether or not to buy a particular property, schedule it as soon as possible. A variety of issues can be uncovered by a home inspection.

 

Scheduling the home inspection as soon as possible will give you plenty of time to consult with the home inspector, a contractor or other professional about the seriousness of the flaw and possible remedies, and whether you want to walk away from the deal or negotiate further with the seller.

 

Ditto with the appraisal – i.e. stay in touch with your lender and get it done as soon as possible. As a buyer, if the home does not appraise for what you agreed to pay for it, your financing could fall apart. Low appraisals can happen fairly often in a fast changing market where prices are rising rapidly and bidding wars are common.

 

If your appraisal comes in low, as a buyer you will either have to try and negotiate a reduced price with the seller, cover the difference yourself, reconfigure your financing or walk away from the deal. These are big decisions. Give yourself as much time as possible.

 

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: lrgoodspeed@comcast.net.