Tips for Buyers

By SARAH KNAUER | Special to the Palisadian-Post

In a time when buying a home is incredibly competitive, getting ahead of the curve as a buyer is more important than ever. Today I’m bringing up four ways that can set you up for success during this process.

1. First things first: financing. Get your financing in order before you start looking for a house. If getting a loan, find a lender that can fully approve you in a short amount of time—17 days or less. Perhaps they can even fully approve you before you open escrow so you can remove your loan contingency and strengthen your offer when presenting to the seller. If you do not have a lender that you prefer to work with, refer to step two and ask your agent

2. Commit to a top agent. When purchasing what is most likely the biggest asset you own, it’s important to make sure you have the best representation. Meet with the top agents in your area. Ask them how many buyers they represent every year, what the average price points are, what the average days on the market is, what locations are better for resale, how many deals in their market are all cash etc. … and make sure they know the answers.

How will they will hunt for off-market properties to make sure you do not miss out on a great home that is not listed and available for the world to see on Zillow or Redfin? There is a common misconception that working with a listing agent will save you a ton of money. Realistically, if an agent is going to represent both sides, the total commission will be reduced by 1% at most.

In the Palisades, where the average sales price is close to $4 million, that is a savings of just $40,000, not $400,000. Plus, the listing agent is already working for the sellers, not for you, and may not have your best interests at heart. Commit to an agent who will work hard to get you a great home at a great price, will make sure you see new listings immediately, and has access to those sure-to-be-awesome, off-market properties.

3. Submit a great offer. Now you’ve found the right home, so you just have to get it in escrow. Sending in a good offer does not just mean coming in at asking price—there are several elements that make a great offer package.

Do the sellers still need to find a new home to move into? If so, you may want to offer them a free leaseback. Perhaps they have already moved and closing in a short amount of time, maybe 21 days instead of 30, will peak their interest.

Regardless of the situation, it is always imperative that you present your offer along with a bio about yourself and your family so the sellers can feel a sense of connection to you. In addition, submit your proof of funds and your pre-qualification letter if obtaining financing so your offer is credible.

Easy ways you can strengthen your offer are to shorten the contingency period times. Write in a physical inspection contingency period of seven days, shorten your loan contingency to 17 days, or remove the loan and appraisal contingency completely. Especially if price or budget is something that is out of your control, strengthen the terms of your occur in the areas that you can control.

4. Do your due diligence and do it well. When I work with a buyer, I recommend they do a full scope of inspections up front. These include a general inspection, mold, sewer, chimney, HVAC, electric, plumbing, roof, pool, drainage and foundation, even radon and electro magnetic field testing if applicable.

This insures that as a buyer, you know exactly what issues may arise with the home—plus, you may be able to negotiate a credit or repairs from the seller during escrow.

Finding and buying the right home is such a huge aspect of your life, and what should be an exciting experience often becomes stressful and frustrating. Hopefully these suggestions help to prepare you for the process when you are ready!

Sarah Knauer is a sales partner at Amalfi Estates that has sold close to $1 billion in properties and was selected by The WSJ as one of the top 100 teams in the country out of one million agents. Sarah can be reached on her cell at 310-663-4606. For more information, visit