Buying your home: A step-by-step approach

There is a lot to consider when you decide to buy a home, especially if it is your first. How much home you can afford? What kind of loan should you choose? Which neighborhoods are both affordable and a good investment? These are just a few of the questions you’ll be asking yourself. But with an experienced agent to help you, you’ll get the guidance you need to come up with the right answers−and a home you love.

First things first

Before you start shopping, you need to find out how much home you can afford to buy. Your agent can refer you to a loan officer who will help you determine how much of a down payment you can manage, as well as the monthly payment, taxes and insurance costs. Your lender can then pre-qualify you for a dollar amount, which can help you focus your search. You can also get a quick, rough estimate of monthly mortgage costs at Windermere.com; there’s a mortgage rate calculator on every listing detail page.

Create a wish list

Once you know your price range, talk to your agent about the home features you need and the ones you would prefer. The former might include number of bedrooms or suitable space for a home office, while the latter might include hardwood floors or a pantry. By clearly communicating your needs and preferences, you can help you agent narrow down the selection and avoid wasting your time.

Check out a few neighborhoods

Be sure to talk to your agent about what you’re looking for in a neighborhood. Are property values your highest priority? Great schools? A short commute? Small-town atmosphere? Big-city amenities? Your agent will try to narrow down the affordable neighborhoods that fit your criteria. Then you can either explore them with your agent or get a sense of each neighborhood on your own.

Shop for a loan

There are many different loan programs to choose from. You’ll want to find one that offers you the best terms for your current situation and future plans. Your agent can give you the names of several mortgage specialists who can review your options with you and help you determine which loan is the most advantageous. Once you’re approved for a loan, sellers will consider you a more attractive prospective buyer.

Make an offer

You’ve finally found the right house in the right neighborhood. It fits your practical needs, has potential and just feels right. So how do you ensure that you keep the price as affordable as possible without running the risk of losing it? Your agent has the expertise to help you make the right offer. He or she knows what comparable houses are selling for, how long they’ve been on the market, and whether or not the asking price for the home you want is fair. Your agent can also offer excellent advice when it comes to making a counteroffer.

Seal the deal

Once you’ve found the home you want and your offer has been accepted, you give the seller an earnest-money deposit. Your agent draws up a purchase and sale agreement; it’s the contract that outlines the details of the property transfer from the seller to you. This contract is typically contingent on the home passing a structural inspection and you obtaining approval for financing.

The inspection lets you know if the house has any major issues and how well it has been maintained. Remember, no house is perfect. If the inspection uncovers some problems, your agent can help you determine whether to ask the seller to handle or pay for the repairs or to renegotiate the price of the home.

When the inspection is concluded and any loose ends resolved, you “close” on the home. Closing is when you and the seller sign all the papers, you pay your share of the settlement fees, and the documents are recorded. Your agent will be a happy to answer any questions throughout this complex process.

Home at last

When you buy a home, you get more than just a place to live. You get the satisfaction of having a place that is truly yours, one that reflects your style and provides a comfortable setting for you and your family. Buying a home also gives you a substantial annual tax deduction and a way to build wealth over the years.

If you have questions about the buying or selling process, or are looking for an agent in your area, we have professionals that can help you. Contact us here.

Posted on February 12, 2018 at 9:00 am
Greg Rittner | Category: For Buyers | Tagged , , ,

How to Avoid the Most Common Buying and Selling Mistakes

There’s nothing more exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling than buying a home. However, it’s a complex transaction, and there are a number of steps along the path that can confuse, betwixt, and befuddle even the most seasoned buyers and sellers.

How can you avoid those potential pitfalls and common mistakes? Look to your real estate professional for advice and keep these guidelines in mind:

BUYERS:

#1 Review your credit reports ahead of time

Review your credit report a few months before you begin your house hunt, and you’ll have time to ensure the facts are correct, and be able to dispute mistakes before a mortgage lender checks your credit. Get a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because, if the scores differ, the bank will typically use the lowest one. Alert the credit bureaus if you see any mistakes, fix any problems you discover, and don’t apply for any new credit until after your home loan closes.

#2 Get pre-approved

Before getting serious about your hunt for a new house, you’ll want to choose a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage (not just pre-qualified—which is a cursory review of your finances—but pre-approved for a loan of a specific amount). Pre-approval lets sellers know you’re serious. Most importantly, pre-approval will help you determine exactly how much you can comfortably afford to spend.

#3 Know what you want

You and your real estate agent should both be clear about the house you want to buy. Put it in writing. First, make a list of all the features and amenities you really want. Then, number each item and prioritize them. Now, divide the list into must-haves and really-wants. A good place to start is the “HUD Wish List,” which is available online for free at https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/WISHLIST-EN.PDF.

#4 Account for hidden costs

In addition to the purchase price of the home, there are additional costs you need to take into consideration, such as closing costs, appraisal fees, and escrow fees. Once you find a prospective home, you’ll want to:

  • Get estimates for any repairs or remodeling it may need.
  • Estimate how much it will cost to maintain (gas, electric, utilities, etc.).
  • Determine how much you’ll pay in taxes monthly and/or annually.
  • Learn whether there are any homeowner or development dues associated with the property.

#5 Get an inspection

Buying a home is emotionally charged—which can make it difficult for buyers to see the house for what it truly is. That’s why you need impartial third parties who can help you logically analyze the condition of the property. Your agent is there to advise you, but you also need a home inspector to assess any hidden flaws, structural damage or faulty systems.

#6 Evaluate the neighborhood and location

When house hunting, it’s easy to become overly focused on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the condition of the home and its amenities while overlooking the subtleties of the surrounding neighborhood. Take time to check crime reports, school options, churches and shopping. If schools are a key factor, do more than simply research the statistics; speak with the principal(s) and chat with the parents waiting outside.

SELLERS:

#1 Avoid becoming emotional or sentimental about the sale

Once you decide to sell your house, it’s time to strip out the emotion and look at it as a commodity in a business transaction. If you start reminiscing about all the good times you had and the hard work you invested, it will only make it that much harder to successfully price, prepare, and market the home.

#2 Fix problems (or price accordingly)

Homes with deferred maintenance and repair issues can take far longer to sell and can be subject to last-minute sale-cancellations. These homes also often sell for less than their legitimate market value. If you simply can’t afford to address critical issues, be prepared to work with your agent to price and market your home accordingly.

#3 Don’t overprice your home (and/or refuse to negotiate)

Getting top dollar is the dream of every seller. But it’s essential that you let the market dictate that price, not your emotions or financial situation. Allow your agent to research and prepare a market analysis that factors in the value of similar homes in the area, and trust those results.

#4 Use quality photos

The vast majority of prospective buyers today search for homes online first. In order to make a good first impression, you need a wealth of high-quality photos of your home and surrounding grounds. You may also need to consider professional staging in order to position your home in the best possible light for prospective buyers.

The process of buying or selling a home can have plenty of twists and turns, but with some smart decision making, you can avoid the most common mistakes and pitfalls.

Posted on October 31, 2017 at 8:00 am
Greg Rittner | Category: For Buyers & Sellers | Tagged , ,