On Real Estate: Play Ball!

Real estate is a team sport.

You can't win at basketball, football or baseball without a solid team. Likewise, a winning real estate transaction relies on a team of professionals working together on your behalf. And just like in sports, it's important to pull your team together before the game begins.

Buyers and sellers alike rely on the various players to provide professional real estate services. When starting to think about making a move, the first thing to do is to hire your team manager, the real estate agent. Your agent will coordinate all aspects of the transaction and can help you fill out your team before you get too far along in the process. The last position you want to be in is looking for a lawyer or mortgage broker after you've made a deal on a property.

In Fairfield County, an attorney represents both parties. If you don't already have a real estate attorney, you should talk to at least two before selecting one to represent you. Choose a lawyer with a personality and a business approach that fits your style. Also consider price and reputation. The seller's attorney will traditionally write the purchase and sale contract. The buyer's attorney provides title insurance.

If you are buying real estate with borrowed money, then you'll need a bank (representing a single entity with limited access to loan products) or a mortgage broker (with access to many different banks) on your team. Your mortgage broker's job is to provide expert advice on the best credit product that fits your particular situation.  He will also provide a pre-qualification letter documenting your ability to get a loan. You'll present this letter alongside your purchase offer.

Buyers must also hire a home inspector and septic company onto the team. After you come to terms with a seller, the home inspector provides due diligence in evaluating the physical condition of the property. His opinion will help you understand what work is required to bring the house up to prime condition and the latest building codes. His report will help you decide to proceed with the transaction or to move on and find a better house to buy.

The septic system is arguably a home's most expensive system to repair (or replace) and therefore requires its own special inspection. I make sure all of my buyers have a qualified septic company evaluate the entire system, including tank, distribution boxes and leach fields. The system must be healthy before you move in.

A seller looking for top dollar will be making repairs prior to listing. You will need a good contractor who can work fast and will guarantee his work to a new owner.

Do not overlook the importance of pulling together your real estate team early in the process. Get the best players, each with the best reputation and credentials. All of these professionals are licensed by the state, which helps ensure each professional's skills and integrity.

Rob Gutman is a real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty and also writes the blog Real Estate Chocolate. You can contact him directly at rgutman@gmail.com.


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