Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Don't Get Taken At The Bake Sale

If you're still intent on buying a house, despite all the reasons you shouldn't, there's some things you must do to prepare for the process, and I'm going to endeavor to offer some help in the coming weeks. Most of what I post will focus on how wary you should be of real estate agents. There are so many real estate agents out there vying for your businesss, that some of them will try every trick they can think of to get you to buy what you can't afford, or what you might not even like. Think about it. The commission on a home sale is typically 6 percent. On a $500,000 house that's $30,000! If one agent represents both the buyer and the seller, that's a helluva pay day for a couple weeks of work. For that reason, and many others, this is a serious game. If you're not sharp, you're liable to lose. Consider the bread-baking strategy that one agent showed me. She advises her clients to bake a loaf of bread on the morning of an open house so that the home smells of it all day long. On one level it may sound sweet and innocent, but don't you think that, on another level, it's just flat out evil? ABC 7 Chicago put together some pointers for homebuyers this month and included the bake sale as one of the ploys to watch out for:
"8. Don't be pushed into buying something you can't afford or don't want. Don't allow the smell of baked bread, the sellers' decorating, or other people's opinions push you into buying a home. Know what you can financially afford and what you really want, and stick to that plan."
The best advice is still the oldest. Do your homework ahead of time. A house is the biggest purchase you're going to make in your life, and you're going to spend more than 30 percent of your life paying for it, so you better be ready for action. Don't go into this expecting the agent to educate you. That's the easiest way to get taken. Educate yourself first.