Buyer Tool Kit

TIPS FOR BUYERS

Step 1: Define What You Want

Start by creating a prioritized list of features you want in your next home.  Consider why these are important to your family.  Use the list as your search guide.  Remember – depending on your funding, you will probably need to make a few compromises.  In addition, talk to your real estate professional about where you want to live.  Determining location is a huge part of any move.  I am trained to help you narrow your choices by sharing market trends and local information.  Contact me for neighborhood statistics and community related questions.

Step 2: Figure Out What You Can Afford

Now that you know what you want, it’s time to see what you can afford.  I’ll help you get started by assessing preliminary figures.

When you’re ready to move to the next step, you’ll want to get pre-approved for a mortgage.  This process is often performed in under an hour and it accomplishes two important goals:  A pre-approval will tell you how much house you can afford and what your monthly payments will be.  It also assures the seller you can afford to buy their home.

By definition, a pre-approved buyer has an approved mortgage subject to an appraisal of the property.  Many times a buyer can use this pre-approved status as leverage during the negotiation process.

Step 3: Shop For Homes

Once you know what community you’d like to live in and have an idea of how much house you can afford, it’s time to start checking out actual properties.  Beginning this search online can help save valuable time.  The online process can help you identify homes that meet your search criteria.  I can even notify you via email when a property comes to market that meets your specifications.

Next, begin visiting homes in person.  Ask me to arrange visits and attend open houses that are in your target area and price range.  When comparing several homes, make sure to look at all aspects of the property.  Is the property tax approximately the same?  Are both houses renovated?  Do both have the same amount of bedrooms and bathrooms?  Are both houses located on the same or similar streets?  Does either house have any encumbrances?

Remember to keep an open mind when you are looking at homes.

Step 4: Make An Offer

Once you find the home you want, you need to make an offer to the seller.  Typically this is a very difficult and trying time since both parties have completely different goals.  In most cases, it is better to have a third party, such as a real estate professional, negotiate the offer.  If you have any personal interaction with the homeowner, don’t give out any information about your move, your current housing status, financial status, or your feelings about their property – positive or negative.  This could impair you in future negotiations.

This is  also a good time to consider purchasing a home protection plan.  These insurance policies can be purchased (by the buyer or seller), and help protect against unexpected costs or home repairs both during the listing period and in the initial years after a home is purchased.

Step 5: Inspection & Insurance

After your offer is accepted, you will need to set up, coordinate, and interpret various inspections (i.e. insect, radon, building quality, oil tank, title, etc).  You will also need to arrange for homeowners insurance and finalize the mortgage process.

This is a major step in the buying process.  There are many potential problems that can be discovered during this period.  These include a leaky roof, radon gas, termite damage, foundation problems, and wall cracks – to name a few.  These problems surface all the time.  The difference between closing on your dream home and starting the process all over again is what events occur during the negotiations between you and the seller.

As your agent, I can help make these discussions go more smoothly.  In most states, you will also have the option of a “walk through” before the closing.  This is your last chance to make sure that all of the items that you have agreed upon were completed to your satisfaction.

Step 6: The Final Closing

Before you arrive at the closing, make sure all the necessary paper work and deposits have been completed.  If the mortgage, title work, homeowners insurance and other items necessary under local and state laws are not completed and brought to the closing table, the closing may not take place on time.  Depending on what the contract says, this could result in further action including financial penalties and even the loss of your rights to the home.

Once you close, it’s official – you own the house!  There might be a few things you want to do before you lay out the welcome mat… These include arranging for an alarm system, turning on the electricity, subscribing to the local paper, cleaning or replacing the carpet, arranging for lawn services, etc.  This could also be a good time to make needed renovations.

 

Difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor?

All Realtors® are licensed to sell real estate as an agent or a broker but not all real estate agents are Realtors®. Only Realtors® can display the Realtor® logo. Realtors® belong to the National Association of Realtors and pledge to follow the Code of Ethics, a comprehensive list containing 17 articles and underlying standards of practice, which establish levels of conduct that are higher than ordinary business practices or those required by law. Less than half of all licensees are Realtors®.

How to interview a real estate Agent.

Smart consumers interview potential real estate agents before deciding on whom to hire. Just as you are sizing up the potential for a good fit, rest assured that the real estate agent will likely be interviewing you, too. Be wary of agents who don’t ask you questions and probe for your motivation. You wouldn’t work with just any agent off the street, and good agents are just as selective about their clients, too.  Questions to ask the agent would include:

1. How Long Have You Been in the Business?

2. What is Your Best Marketing Plan or Strategy for My Needs?

3. What Are the Top Three Things That Separate You From Your Competition?

4. May I Review Documents Beforehand That I Will Be Asked to Sign?

5. How Will You Help Me Find Other Professionals?

6. How Much Do You Charge?

7. What Haven’t I Asked You That I Need to Know?

Reasons to hire a Realtor?

1. Education & Experience

2. Agents are Buffers

3. Neighborhood Knowledge

4. Price Guidance

5. Market Conditions Information

6. Professional Networking

7. Negotiation Skills & Confidentiality

8. Handling Volumes of Paperwork

9. Answer Questions Before and After Closing