Century 21 Island Life
Robert U. Valenzuela, P.A.

What To Consider
When Buying A Home Elsewhere

How to get local info on a faraway real estate market
By Dian Hymer

Aging Baby Boomers are buying second homes at a record pace. Last year alone, 377,000 single-family second homes were sold, according to the National Association of Realtors. Buying a second home for retirement, vacation or rental may be a great idea. But if you're buying outside of the area you're accustomed to, plan on ramping up your due diligence investigations.

The first thing to be aware of is that real estate law, custom and practice varies from one location to the next. For example, in New Jersey, you need to hire an attorney to help you buy and sell residential real estate. In California, you usually don't need an attorney.

In some states, title and escrow companies handle the closing, and in other states attorneys are in charge of closing transactions. Property surveys are required in some states and not in others. The point is that there's a lot of diversity. You can't assume that the way homes are bought and sold in another area is the same as it is where you live.

Finding out about a local real estate market requires a little sleuthing, which is best done in advance. Emotions can run high when you find a home to buy. Don't wait until you're in the midst of a heated negotiation to discover what you need to know in order to make a prudent decision.

A good way to start learning about an area is to subscribe to the local newspaper. You may be able to find the local paper online.

Realtor.com, the largest depository of listings nationally, is an excellent tool. You can search for properties by ZIP code, which narrows your search considerably. Realtor.com also offers information on market conditions. This information is provided by real estate agents who work in the local area. The shortfall is that this information can be spotty.

When no local agents report for an area, Realtor.com displays a statewide or national market activity report. This broader market data is insufficient. You need to know what's happening at the local level, which can vary significantly from one place to the next.

Another way to find out more about real estate in an area is to use a search engine to search the Internet for home buying information in a certain area. For example, search for: home buying in Palm Springs, Calif. Scroll through the search results until you find a site that looks like it provides educational information, not just a sales pitch.

Even though real estate agents' personal Web sites are designed to sell their listings and capture your business, they can be used to collect information about an area. Many agent sites include general consumer information or links to useful information.

There is no obligation to work with an agent that you find on the Internet. However, an agent who has invested the time, money and effort to design an informative site may be one you'd like to interview. Be aware that information on the internet is not regulated, so double check all pertinent information for accuracy.

As useful as the internet is for gathering information, there's no substitute for spending time in a location where you're considering buying. If you're buying a retirement home, it's a good idea to rent in the area for awhile before buying.

Once you hook up with a good local real estate agent, you'll have a resource to tap for more information. So, select an experienced area specialist who provides full service and has good communication skills.

THE CLOSING: Interest rates vary form state to state and so do closing fees. It pays to use a good local mortgage broker or lender who knows the ins and outs in the particular area.

Dian Hymer is author of "House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer's Guide," Chronicle Books.

Copyright Inman News. Used with permission.

What my clients are saying  

We would highly recommend him to anyone buying or selling a house in the Keys. We bought the house as he was the realtor and sold with him. A gem of a person and realtor!


~ Henry & Lori Coombs

It was a pleasure to work with Robert. He's extremely knowledgeable about the market and real estate in general. He was very easy to work with and answered all of our questions throughout the process.


~ Alex & Brenda Novo-Torano

Robert is excellent.


~ Bellina & Orly Toledo

Great job!! Very professional. Robert is great and excellent managing end to end transactions. Always here to help and assist. Once again, awesome job!!


~ Jorge & Rita De La Torre

I can never thank you enough for helping me find and negotiate my dream home and for all the advice that goes way over and beyond your responsibilities. You are a professional in every sense of the word. Thank you.


~ Daisy Gomez

Robert is an honorable man, a pleasure to do business with. I could not be more pleased.


~ Jill Murphy

We have already recommended him. He has history and knowledge of Key Largo that is priceless. Robert provided excellent hands on assistance with everything. Now I'm happy to call him my neighbor.


~ Mayte & Rolando Rodriguez

Great real estate agent.


~ Juan & Beatriz Colao

It was my first time buying a home. Robert was patient and made it easy. He treated me like family. I recommend him to people all the time!


~ Samantha Ellis

Robert was very friendly. We like working with him very much and would use him again. Thanks for all of your help!


~ Ray Sharp & Christy Luent

Outstanding service and professionalism received from Robert. He went out of his way to help us. Property sold within one week. He's the best!


~ Ileana & Gil Rodriguez

He was wonderful, courteous, and did all he could to sell my home. I have already recommended Robert to my friends and will continue to tell anyone else who is looking for a new home.


~ Kevin & Michele Pederson

The realtor is a true professional. Everything was great! He was excellent. I will refer him every chance I get. Very service-oriented.


~ Andy & Bertha Fernandez

Robert Valenzuela was very honest, professional, and very courteous with us. On behalf of the Salgado family, we want to thank Mr. Valenzuela for all his patience and kindness. In our opinion, Robert was outstanding with his performance and we will definitely recommend him to our friends and family.


~ Carmelo, Rosa, and Maria C Salgado

He's very good at what he does and knows his market.


~ Peter & Lourdes Pinto

He was wonderful! So helpful, words do not describe how much he helped us!


~ Amy & Stephen Scott

Excellent service! Robert was available anyday at anytime. He was always very friendly and helpful! He was excellent. I know that he will help my friends/relatives and they will be satisfied.


~ Daniel & Rosie Pou

He was very kind & helpful. He listened to us and found us the exact house we were looking for. I will recommend Robert to all my friends. It was a very pleasant experience dealing with Robert.


~ Didio & Monica Victores

For the last few years we have been buying, selling and building properties here in the Florida Keys. Robert has been part of our success since we started doing business with him. He is very dedicated, knowledgeable, professional, and most of all personable. We have and will continue to recommend Robert to all our friends, family and business partners.


~ Rene & Fradys Castillo

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