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A seasoned Real Estate Agent can help you with all three of these items. They're experienced negotiators and have written hundreds (thousands) of offers on all types of property. They are also familar with the market and neighborhood so can be of some assistance when it comes to shooting for a low price!
Unless you have a buyer's agent, remember that the agent works for the seller. Make a point of asking him or her to keep your discussions and information confidential. Listen to your real estate agent's advice, but follow your own instincts on deciding a fair price. Calculating your offer should involve several factors: what homes sell for in the area, the home's condition, how long it's been on the market, financing terms, and the seller's situation. By the time you're ready to make an offer, you should have a good idea of what the home is worth and what you can afford. And, be prepared for give-and-take negotiation, which is very common when buying a home. The buyer and seller may often go back and forth until they can agree on a price.
If you're buying a HUD Home, you're required to use a real estate agent. While purchasing a HUD Home may be easier than many private real estate transactions, there are still some requirements which must be met, certain forms that must be used, and procedures that must be followed. But these requirements are clearly stated in advance, and the real estate agent will be there to help you through it all.
There are no negotiations between buyer and seller when you buy a HUD Home. This can be a real advantage. There's no haggling about price--everything is spelled out in black and white. In some areas, HUD may accept a counter-offer from you, but if your counter-offer is not accepted, the home goes back on the market. What's more, HUD responds promptly to your offer, and if it's accepted, closing on the home will usually occur within 30 to 60 days.
Finding a HUD broker is not difficult, especially since so many real estate brokers are happy to sell HUD Homes. All you need to do is to call a few brokers who work in the area you're interested in and you'll find someone willing and experienced. Some brokers specifically advertise their desire to sell HUD Homes in the real estate sections of newspapers.
Best of all, the valuable help you'll receive from the real estate agent is usually free! In most instances, agents get their sales commission from the home seller, not you, the buyer. Even if you're buying a HUD Home, HUD will pay the broker's commission.