Buying a Home with Confidence and Ease
Why Use a Realtor
Buying a home can be a daunting task, and my clients love having someone to turn to for insight and advice. Not just about the process and what steps to take, but also about the condition of a property and what they may have to repair or update in the near future. With all of the many real estate search sites out there, that was supposed to make the process easier. Instead, I find that many people have spent hours (or days/weeks/months!) searching around the internet that can be filled with inaccurate, or downright misleading home listings. Many of the listings on search sites are stale and out-of-date. I don’t want my clients wasting their time, which can easily occur if they are not receiving listings from an agent like myself, who is using the Realtor’s MLS as the source for those listings. The MLS is the Multiple Listing Service and it is the most accurate, up-to-date source for homes for sale or rent in the area. You should not rely on Zillow or Trulia for the most accurate information.
Getting Started - The Pre-Approval
Searching for a home is part of the process, but one of the most important steps for a buyer should actually occur before the search begins. The step I’m referring to is getting a pre-approval from a Mortgage bank or broker. This is usually free or very low cost, and you are not committing to use that lender to get your mortgage. You are simply talking about your financial situation and allowing the lender to run your credit to see where you stand. Once they are able to see details about your income, down payment, existing debt, and credit report, they can give you a maximum price that you will likely be approved to borrow. This step is important for several reasons. By doing this step first, we are able to narrow the search down to the maximum price range so we are not wasting your time viewing homes that you will not be approved to buy. It also makes you a stronger buyer in the eyes of the seller. They know that they are not wasting their time by accepting an offer from you, and taking their home off the market. Part of our goal in preparing you to purchase a home is being able to present you as the strongest buyer possible to the seller. A solid pre-approval from a lender will help you in negotiations, and in a market where multiple offers are common, you want to have the best chance at presenting a convincing picture to the seller.
Once you have obtained a pre-approval from a lender, I will want to find out as much about what you like and don’t like in a house. When I know what towns, criteria, and price range you want to search, I can set up a search on the MLS that will automatically email any listings that meet those requirements. The MLS will perform that search every 15 minutes throughout the day and look for any new listings that fit the criteria. It will then send 1 email each day with a summary of those changes, so you never miss any homes that meet your needs.
Once you’ve selected some homes that you will like to view in person, I will then set up a tour to go and view them firsthand. I like to show 4 to 6 homes at a time, as any more than that causes a buyer to lose track of what they saw. As we walk through the homes, I’ll be in the background taking note of any positive or negative issues I see with the house. If I see a 90% efficiency furnace and power vent water heater recently installed, you’ll know about. If I see a 25 year old, 80% efficiency furnace and water heater with a standing pilot with an incorrect angle on the flue pipe, you’ll know that too. If I see galvanized drain pipe instead of PVC, you’ll know it. If I see three-tab roofing shingles instead of architectural shingles, you’ll know how the condition looks and how much life is left on them. Suffice it to say, you’ll probably know more about the houses we view than the owners themselves know, and this will help you be a more informed buyer and negotiate a better deal.
When we have found the house that you want to make an offer on, I will provide you with data and information on the subdivision in question and what homes are currently for sale, under contract and sold over the last 3 to 6 months within certain distance from that home. This will help to narrow the price and support your argument of why the seller should accept your offer. It will also help you feel comfortable that you are paying a fair market value and not overpaying
Buying and Selling Goals
My goal is to help my clients underpay, of course, but what I really want to do is help them achieve their goals, and that is not always just about price. Maybe you need to get your kids into a certain school district by August. Maybe you’re retired and want to move to the east coast to be by your Grandchildren. Whatever the reason you’re buying or selling, I want to help you achieve your goals. Many times, buyers or sellers draw a line in the sand and egos get in the way. Meanwhile, the big picture and the goals that they all started with are lost over a small difference in price that the client would gladly pay to be with their Grandchildren, or get their kids into a terrific school.
Once you have decided on a fair price to offer, I will prepare the offer and present it to the selling side on your behalf. I will help negotiate the offer and keep you from the uncomfortable and often times, disagreeable position of trying to help a seller see that their home may not be as good as they see it. Many sellers have lived in their home for a long time and have raised kids there. Now they are being told that it is outdated, or may need other repairs and they can get offended. We will present our offer in a way to help them see the reality of the market without causing any ill will or negativity.
Earnest Money & Inspection
Once a price has been agreed upon by the seller and buyer, there are steps that need to be taken and deadlines to be met. First, you will be required to give earnest money to the selling side, to show you are committed to the deal. This is usually $1000 up to several thousand, depending on the price, but it can be negotiated with the seller if they have specific requests. You will be given 5 days, according to the contract, to have a licensed and certified inspector do an official inspection of the property. If you find anything that I may have missed in our initial visit, you will be able to negotiate that with the seller, or back out of the deal and receive your earnest money back.
Real Estate Attorney
You will also need to hire a real estate attorney to help manage the transaction and put changes in the correct legal language. They are an important part of the team and this cannot be understated, particularly when dealing with short sales and foreclosures. Your attorney will have 5 days as well to review and approve the contract. If they find anything they don’t like, or you have sufficient reason, they can cancel the contract and you will still get your earnest money refunded.
Once these steps are taken, you will then be working on getting you mortgage in place and there will be a contingency in the contract that says if you can’t get a mortgage approved by your lender, you will be able to get out of the contract and have your earnest money refunded, as long as you have abided by the terms of the contract.
Once your mortgage has been approved and we have a commitment by the bank, the closing is scheduled and you are ready to take the final step of home ownership. All of these steps will be managed by me as I help guide you through the process. You will be aware of what needs to be done and when. If you have questions at any time, about any subject, I will be there to help you stay calm and focused. You will never be alone when you have a good Realtor by your side.
Why Use a Realtor
Buying & Selling Goals
Real Estate Attorney
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