Buying Property in Las Vegas: Know Before You Go (Part 2)
This is part two of a two part blog on buying Las Vegas residential property. By now it is assumed you have a lender and I am your Realtor (if your in Southern Nevada), so it is time to start deciding your priorities. What are the most important things you want in a house?
The old joke is, what are the three most important factors in buying a house are——–location, location, location! Do you want to be close to certain schools? Do you want to be close to your work? Do you want to be far away from freeways, airports, fire stations (noise), 24 hr stores (lights), etc. How did the neighborhood look as you drove to the property? Are there cars on blocks in some drive ways nearby? Is there graffiti on the walls everywhere you look? What about having to many two story house around yours (privacy)? Do the neighbors dogs bark uncontrollably every time you go near your potential house? These are all important factors when deciding if a houses location is right for you.
What kind of amenities do you want in a house? Most people can quickly decide how many bedrooms, bathrooms and garage spaces they want. They can also determine story preference and minimum square footage they are looking for. What about minimum square footage for your yard? What direction you want the house to face (important in this climate)? Pool or no Pool? Grass or desert landscaping? Maximum age of the house? The more of an idea of what you want before you start looking, the better the Realtor can filter the choices presented to you.
The next step is to search for properties via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is a Realtor produced database of all properties (for sale by Realtors) in a given area. Take the time to sit down and review the pictures of prospective properties before you start driving all over town. Many times properties can be eliminated from consideration just by looking at the pictures on the computer. This is a huge time saver for everyone involved.
Now it is time to go physically look at properties. Pay attention to the condition of the neighborhood, especially everything directly around your potential house. If the neighbors are around, ask them what they think of living there. Look at the house for obvious problems like water stains, major cracks in the frame or foundation, unpermitted additions, etc. Are the problems you find structural or cosmetic? Do you want to take the time and expense to fix said problems? If the answer is no, move on, there are plenty of houses to choose from.
After you find a house you want to make an offer on, you have to go back to the computer to see what a reasonable estimation of it’s value is. Your Realtor should be able to SHOW you (on the MLS) similar houses that have sold recently in the neighborhood. Remember to look at SOLD prices and to have your Realtor factor in Seller’s contribution to Buyer closing costs (if any) for a more accurate estimation of value.
Now that you have an estimation of value for your potential future home, it is time to write the offer. How bad do you want this house? You can start with a low offer and go up from there (but there are risks to doing so). How upset would you be if you lost the house to a higher offer? If the answer is VERY, start with a stronger offer. If you have looked at many houses and this is your dream house, is it worth losing for a few thousand dollars? Expect a counter offer and be prepared to negotiate (remember the seller wants to get as much as they can when they sell). Always make sure your offer is contingent on a professional inspection. This probably is the most expensive purchase of your life, don’t skimp on an inspection that might cost a few hundred dollars.
Now you have an accepted transaction, but the work isn’t over yet. Make sure you get every scrap of paperwork the lender asks for (in a timely manner). If you delay the closing because your lender didn’t have everything he/she needed, it could cost you a lot of money. You could even lose your earnest money deposit and the house to another buyer. Don’t let anyone else (except your second opinion lender) pull your credit until close of escrow (COE). Your loan could be credit score driven and (most) times when your credit is pulled your score drops. Don’t buy any big ticket items on credit prior to COE because it could effect you ability to get your mortgage (by changing your debt to income ratio). Most lenders will pull your credit right before COE to make sure nothing has changed to make you a credit risk. Don’t quit your job or change careers prior to COE, it may disqualify you for your mortgage. When in doubt, ask your lender for guidance before you do ANYTHING that may jeopardize your loan.