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  How Can I Protect Myself When Buying A Home? - Back
It's natural to feel anxious when you buy or sell a home. As a buyer, you don't want to overpay; as a seller, you don't want to sell too low. How do you make sound investment decisions that you'll feel good about for years to come?

The best way to relieve your anxieties is to be proactive throughout the process of your real estate transaction. It's tempting to fall into a "wake me when it's over" mode. Resist the temptation. Stay involved! Only you can make the important decisions that will affect the course of your home purchase or sale.

Unless you have real estate expertise and a lot of free time on your hands, you'll be relying on various real estate professionals to assist you with your transaction, including real estate agents, mortgage lenders and home inspectors, to name a few. Hire the best team of professionals you can find. One of the best ways to find good people to work with is to ask for referrals from friends and colleagues who bought and sold recently.

Let your team know that you want to be kept well informed during the course of your working relationship. This means that you want to know about problems that may come up. And, you want to know about them sooner rather than later. Some professionals think they're doing their clients and customers a favor by insulating them from bad news. This can have negative consequences if you find out too late about a problem that could have been corrected if you'd only known about it.

FIRST-TIME TIP: Homebuyers and sellers often feel overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork that's involved in a real estate transaction. Ask for copies of the important documents you'll need to sign - - like the purchase agreement and mortgage documents -- in advance. This way you can read and understand them before you have to sign them.

You should keep copies of all transaction-related documents. If there is anything in the documents that you don't understand, ask your real estate professional for an explanation. Hire experts if you have complicated tax or legal questions that are outside the area of expertise of your real estate agent or mortgage lender.

Your purchase contract should include contingencies designed to protect you. Most contracts include contingencies for financing, inspections and title review. Don't remove these contingencies until you're confident that they have been satisfied. If you're a buyer and choose not to protect yourself with contingencies, you should understand that you might risk losing your deposit if you do not go through with the transaction.

Most buyers make a good faith-deposit when they enter into a contract to buy a home. Your contract should specify what happens to the deposit if the sale is not completed, or if contingencies are not satisfied.

More and more, homebuyers and sellers are using the Internet to help them buy and sell homes. Internet advertising is not regulated, so don't rely exclusively on the information you obtain on the Internet. Verify critical information independently.

Be diligent about seeking answers to every question you have about the property you're buying before you complete the transaction. This includes having the property thoroughly inspected. Keep a transaction log or diary of events that occur during your home purchase or sale, including a record of important phone conversations.

THE CLOSING: Be realistic about the process. Real estate transactions are rarely hassle-free, so there are bound to be unanticipated frustrations along the way. But the end result is worth it.

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