5 Mistakes Buyers Make When Using a Private Sale to Buy a House in Seattle

Buyer’s Mistakes When Buying A Home

Half the battle of selling a home is anticipating problems before they come up. Selling a home is a major life milestone, and it can be complex when you consider all of the steps involved: preparing and listing; making repairs; finding a buyer; navigating the closing process, and finally moving into your next place.

When you’ve saved up the money for a down payment and have your finances in order, you may be tempted to use a private sale to buy a house. There are indeed some definite advantages to a private sale. One of the chief ones is that it can save you money: you’ll likely pay a lower purchase price because you’ll avoid the real estate agent commissions and fees. It can also streamline and speed up the whole purchase process. But you do have to be careful to avoid the pitfalls, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. Read on, then, to find out about the top 5 mistakes buyers make when using a private sale to buy a house in Seattle.

1. Not Doing Pricing Research

It’s nearly impossible to time the market and makes your real estate decisions based on current trends. A better plan is to make your buying decisions based on what’s currently happening in your family, your career, and your life (and what you envision will happen in the next five to 10 years). 


If you don’t want to be taken in on the purchase price – that is, paying more than market value – you’ll need to do a good amount of pricing research to buy a house in Seattle. And here’s why . . . 

“Most homeowners who sell their houses have no experience in real estate. With little knowledge of the housing market, homeowners may have unrealistic ideas about what their home is really worth. This could spell trouble when it comes time for the home appraisal – and of course, it could mean you’ll pay more for the home than you should.”

When you use an agent, your agent will typically do all the pricing research for you, bringing to bear her knowledge and extensive experience and performing a comparative market analysis (CMA). This CMA helps determine fair market value by investigating the prices of very similar homes in the neighborhood and immediate areas that have recently sold. 

Without an agent, though, you need to do all this on your own to ensure you’re not overpaying. To find out more about this, contact a Seattle agent at (206) 578-3438.

2. Accepting Sellers’ Disclosure Statements

Also, sellers may not, through inadvertence or calculated deceit, make full disclosure about problems with the home. They are required by law to do this during the sale process – disclosing any known defects, such as roof damage or plumbing issues, before closing. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t always happen.

One of the top mistakes, then, buyers make when using a private sale to buy a house in Seattle is simply accepting at face value sellers’ disclosures. But this can wind up being a terribly costly mistake.

“[I]independent sellers aren’t always honest and may hide problems from buyers. If you uncover a problem with the home after closing, you may be able to sue the seller, but the process can be difficult and expensive. You have to be able to prove that the problem existed before you bought the home and that the seller knew about it but didn’t disclose it.”

3. Skipping a Home Inspection

Home inspectors will evaluate a house to identify major structural issues, home repairs, and the condition of included appliances. Their goal is to make sure the home is liveable and that everyone fully understands the house’s condition before the sale is finalized.

Skipping Home Inspection

Related mistake buyers make when using a private sale to buy a house in Seattle is to skip the inspection. Whether required by your lender or not, you shouldn’t skip this step.

“Always,” industry pros advise, “get a home inspection by a reputable inspector. Too many deals go south when a bad home inspection involved. Ask for credentials and ask the inspector whether they belong to an association, [and] then follow up on both to confirm.”

If the inspection does turn up major problems (which is often the case), you have three basic options:

  1. Get the seller to make the necessary repairs
  2. Push for a credit so that you can later hire a contractor to make repairs
  3. Negotiate a price reduction to cover the cost of repairs

4. Giving Earnest Money Directly to the Seller

And you certainly don’t want to give the earnest money deposit directly to the seller, which some buyers make the mistake of doing in a private sale.

When using a private sale to buy a house in [ you should place the “earnest money deposit (the money you submit with your purchase offer) [with] a third party to hold for you, such as a title or escrow company. Normally, the listing agent would place it in their escrow account for safekeeping.”

But if you give the earnest money to the seller, you’ve lost all control of it. There’s really nothing to keep the seller from spending it. Then if the deal falls through and you have the proper contingencies in place, you’ll simply be out that money – with very little recourse short of going to court.

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5. Writing the Purchase Contract Themselves

The purchase contract is a legally binding document that specifies the terms of the sale. So unless you’re an agent or a real estate attorney, it’s usually a mistake to try to write it yourself to buy a house in {market_city].

You have a couple of options for generating a purchase contract in a private sale. “Many lawyers will draw up a purchase offer and other documents for a reasonable fee, and it’s usually money well spent. You can also find real estate purchase contracts online, but you might be better off hiring a professional if you don’t have the expertise to complete the forms correctly.”

Emily Cressey
Emily Cressey- Making Real Estate Transactions Easy!

A Better Way to Buy a House in Seattle

At the end of the day, you want the home selling process to be as smooth and painless as possible. Thinking about all the things that can go wrong might be overwhelming, but remember that knowledge is power.

As you can see, then, the process of buying a house in a private sale is littered with pitfalls for buyers. Really, most buyers are better off using a local real estate agent to avoid these mistakes and to have a skilled negotiator in their corner. So if you’re ready to pursue a better way to buy a house in Seattle, contact us today at (206) 578-3438.

Emily Cressey

Emily Cressey is a real estate broker residing in Lake Forest Park, WA who services the Greater Seattle area including Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Brier, Lynnwood, Kenmore, Bothell and Edmonds, WA.

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