Many overseas buyers try and get properties at a discount by not using a realtor, but this is rarely the case. In fact, using a realtor often results in a better deal for the buyer because the realtor can present any offer to the seller in the most advantageous way using market data to ensure the best possible purchase price or terms.
Step one for anyone interested in investing in real estate in the US is to select a qualified real estate agent to work with, and explain their criteria. Once you have selected a good agent, the whole process becomes much easier, and much more satisfying.
Another significant part of the US real estate transaction is how the contract works. The contract is entered into between buyer and seller at the same time as an offer is made. Typically in the US, offers are not made verbally, but in writing, and must stipulate the price the buyer is willing to pay for the property, the escrow deposit they are willing to pledge, the type and amount of mortgage they will be applying for, and the date by which they will close the transaction. If the offer is accepted, then neither party can change the terms. If either party then defaults on the contract, such as by not closing by the date specified in the contract, the ‘damaged’ party can seek recourse.
Again, a properly qualified real estate agent should help buyers and sellers to transact real estate purchases without falling foul of any contractual pitfalls. Some buyers and sellers also choose to use a lawyer to assist with the transaction, although this is optional and not mandatory.