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Step 1 - Planning

Step 2 - Financing

Step 3 - Selecting

Step 4 - Buying

Step 5 - Owning


Locating Qualified Professional Service Providers

Mama Told You�You Better Shop Around

The best way to find professionals in any field is by personal recommendations. Ask around. Find out who is good in your area and go talk to them. Word-of-mouth goes a long way in a service business.

However, you can�t stop there. Don�t ever take another person�s word for a professional�s quality or ability. You need to test that yourself.

Interview them. Ask tough questions. Be sure you are comfortable with the person you will be sharing intimate financial details about yourself. Your settlement professional is going to know a lot about you. They will know if you tend to be late on your rent. They will know how much you owe in student loans or credit card debt. They will learn a lot during this process. You need to make sure you know who will have access to that information. That means, not only the person you will be working with, but his or her entire staff.

Good Ways to Look for the Right Professional

  • Talk about it. Ask around. Find out who is good and why. Ask the person recommending someone if they have used the person in that professional capacity. You don�t want a recommendation for an attorney from the attorney�s next door neighbor who is basing his recommendation on good barbecue and a nice lawn instead of his professional services.
  • Ask tough questions. Be sure to carefully interview all references or people making the recommendations. Ask if they would use the person again without hesitation. This is often an easier question for people to answer than a vague question asking for an assessment.
  • Do a little private investigation work yourself. Call the local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the person or his business. Call the licensing or state boards to see if everything is current and in good standing. Get concrete evidence of professional status.

The best way to find professionals is to do your legwork. Don�t expect someone to do the work for you. It�s your responsibility to find someone who will work in your best interest and who�s at the top of his or her game.

Most buyers find their help through their broker. This approach may or may not work to your advantage. Remember: unless your broker is an exclusive buyer broker, he or she has split interest or dual agency. The seller has equal or more weight than you do in any transaction. That means that you are not the top priority and could suffer. Find someone who will work for you and you alone.

Earnest Money and the Escrow

The Important of Being Earnest

Earnest money is the deposit toward the purchase of your home. It�s a deposit. Sometimes the buyer will include a check for $1000 or so with the initial offer to purchase to show they are operating in good faith. This is extremely popular in areas where homes are scarce.

The earnest money is a deposit that is paid when both parties execute the contract. If the seller likes your offer and wants to sign a contract, they will take the earnest money and stop showing the house. The escrow money is normally five to 10 percent of the sales price. If you included money with your offer to purchase, you would pay the rest when the contract is signed. This is your down payment.

Earnest money goes into what is called an escrow account. This is an account that is normally held by the seller broker or another third party. The buyer receives interest on the money while it is in escrow.

Earnest and at Arm�s Length

Your down payment on the house is paid when you sign the contract. The money goes into an escrow account, held by a responsible third party, until closing. At closing it is paid to the seller. The interest on the escrow account goes to you as the buyer, or you can transfer it to the seller to cover additional costs.

If the sale doesn�t go through for any reason, the buyer receives the escrow money back. This return of the money should, of course, be included in the contract terms just for safety�s sake. The seller normally has to sign a form to release the funds. If the seller refuses to sign the form, the responsible third party may release the funds without the signature, or turn it over to a real estate commissioner for resolution.

The All-Important Home Inspection...


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