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What’s the best way to start a home search?

December 17, 2011
By BOB JEFFRIES , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Question: We are getting ready to buy a house. What is the best way to start our home search?

Answer: Before looking at houses, get pre-approved for a home mortgage.

Then you will know what price range you can afford.

Any bank, S&L, mortgage banker or mortgage broker will gladly get you pre-approved, usually at no charge, by the actual lender who will commit to making your home loan.

Avoid any lender who offers to "pre-qualify" you. That means nothing because it is not binding on the lender.

While you're waiting for mortgage pre-approval, start searching for a home by visiting the weekend open houses of new and resale houses in the areas where you think you would like to live. You will quickly learn what's available in your area.

Equally important, you will meet realty agents who can show you other homes not available at open houses.

Also, study the classified newspaper ads for new and resale homes in areas that interest you. Many excellent houses never appear on the list of weekend open houses. You'll need a real estate agent to show you these

Question: Bob, last month we made an offer to buy a home. After negotiation, the seller accepted our counter offer. We arranged to pay cash. But when the time came to close the purchase, the seller said she heard in the prices in Cape Coral went up a lot and she wants $10,000 more for her house.

Our realty agent says the sales contract is perfectly valid. She says the seller is slightly crazy. What can we do to get our home sale closed before we lose our house ?

- Help & Help fast

Answer: Dear Help & Help fast, your seller has a bad case of seller's remorse. Usually, the listing agent can counsel the seller into completing the sale as agreed. I presume this has already been attempted.

The next step for you is to consult a real estate attorney. He or she will probably (1) write a letter to the seller explaining the legal consequences of not closing the sale as agreed, or (2) if that doesn't work, file a specific performance lawsuit. In addition, your attorney will probably record a lis pendens against the home's title to prevent the owner from either refinancing or selling to another buyer. (You did not leave a phone number so I put your letter ahead several weeks of columns).

Time is of the essence. Don't delay consulting a real estate attorney if you want to enforce your legal right to buy that house. (Or at least they have to pay a commission)

Good Luck!

Have a real estate question? Write, call, fax or e-mail:

Bob Jeffries, Realtor

Century 21 Birchwood Realty Inc.

4040 Del Prado Blvd.

Cape Coral, FL 33904

239-540-6659 Office

239-542-7760 Fax


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