Helpful Team Players for your Next Real Estate Purchase

By: Jeff Hammerberg

Buying a house is a major financial and legal process that typically encompasses a wide range of smaller transactions along the way. A single real estate sale – no matter how simple – will usually involve a smorgasbord of different specialties, professions, and areas of expertise, not to mention the potential for myriad emotional and psychological demands and reactions. For most consumers a real estate purchase does, in fact, represent the most comprehensive and complex deal of an entire lifetime.

Those who venture into such undertakings can help ensure their success by enlisting the support of a talented and educated team of pros, and here is a recommended list to use as a starting point when recruiting help for your big home purchase project:

• Real Estate Brokers and Mortgage Lenders

Ask friends for recommendations, and when you interview potential brokers and lenders ask them about their experience and track record. Also find out what particular area of real estate and neighborhoods they specialize in, because this can be incredibly important. If you’re buying a downtown condo, for instance, you want someone who knows that market, not somebody whose experience is primarily in listing and selling suburban houses or mountain lodges. Communication is essential, so only choose those with whom you have a comfortable rapport. If the interpersonal chemistry doesn’t feel right, keep looking.

• Building Inspectors

Just as when you have a question about your car you go to a trusted mechanic, when buying a house or condo you should have a reliable building inspector on your team. But keep in mind that there are different kinds of inspectors. You’ll want one to check for termites and other pests, and another to check for environmental hazards such as radon gas and asbestos. For a general inspection, you’ll hire a licensed general building inspector to study the mechanical and structural components of the house, such as the electrical system, appliances, foundation, roof, and plumbing.

Building inspectors are also the best source of information about how to properly maintain your home. Follow them around as they check your home, and ask them to teach you how to do your own routine inspections after you move in, to look for potential problems before they happen.

• A Real Estate Attorney

Real estate is a specialized legal field, and when buying a house you should enlist the services of someone who only practices real estate law.

• Contractors

Contractors are the ones you’ll call to actually get repair cost estimates and do the work. Folks such as house painters, carpenters, landscapers, and plumbers can help you estimate how much to negotiate with the seller for repairs, and they can also provide insight into how to approach any improvements, updates, or remodeling projects that you might envision.

Get competing bids, but remember that the cheapest bid doesn’t always guarantee the best work. The main thing to look for is a stellar reputation for exceptional quality and attention to detail, and your contractors should all carry appropriate insurance to cover themselves in case they are injured while working on your premises.

• Chimney Sweeps

If you have a chimney, you’ll also need a certified chimney sweep to check it for cracks, leaks, or potentially dangerous build-up of flammable residue. Thanks to modern tools, those in this old-school trade can now snake a tiny video camera into your chimney and make a thorough visual examination of every nook and cranny, no matter how ancient or narrow the air passageway may be. The best chimney sweeps also have powerful vacuum cleaners – often mounted on trucks – that are especially designed to let them capture dust, ashes, and soot without letting any of it escape and settle on your fine white rugs and draperies.

This list is by no means complete, and you may or may not need all of these experts for your particular purchase. On the other hand, you may need to add to the list to bring others on board. For instance, if you are buying property in an historical neighborhood, you might need to hire someone who knows old-fashioned plastering techniques. If you’re looking at farmland, you could need a well digger or an agricultural consultant. Buying a cool urban warehouse loft? You may very well need to call that guy in town who knows how to fix antique elevators or the woman in the neighborhood who sells steam radiators that come in different Crayola crayon colors.

Buying a home can – and typically does – have significant repercussions that last far into the future. A house purchase influences the personal and financial lives of both you and your partner, so it is always wise and prudent to approach the event with as much information, guidance, insight, and reliable professional support as possible.

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