Six (6) Important Buyers Tips You Need to Know
If you’re thinking about buying a home, congratulations! However, homeownership should not be taken lightly. This is likely one of the biggest decisions that you will make in your lifetime, and careful consideration should be made when preparing your finances, selecting an agent, shopping for a home, proceeding through escrow and as you approach the closing table.
Most importantly, you’ll want to consider the reasons you want to buy and your financial situation – as these are two of the biggest factors that will influence your buying process.
Decide to Buy
Why Do You Want to Buy a Home?
Whether you’re tired of paying rent, you’ve outgrown your current home, or are looking for an investment property, getting to the bottom of your motivations can help you choose the right property for you. As your agent, we’ll work with you to dig down to your core motivations, thus ensuring a successful home search.
Are You Financially Ready to Buy?
Any way you slice it, owning a home is an excellent investment; it’s often touted as one of the least risky ways to build equity. But you need to make sure you have your finances in order prior to starting your home search.
As local real estate professionals with industry connections throughout the community, we can assist you in finding a mortgage professional that can help you understand your buying power.
While it’s hard to fight the urge to jump in the car and start touring neighborhoods and shopping homes, there are a few steps that you should take to prepare yourself and your finances for buying a home.
Gather Important Documents
The mortgage pre-approval process is one of the most important steps in the preparation stage. In order to be ready to meet the needs of the mortgage lender, be sure to gather all your important financial documents. This includes:
- Financial statements
- Bank account records and statements
- Records of investments
- Credit card accounts, balances and statements
- Information on any current auto loans
- Recent pay stubs
- Two years worth of tax returns
- 401K statements, stocks, bonds and mutual fund account information
- Any other financial documents
Check Your Credit Report
You should always have a good understanding of where your credit score is at any given time. It is perhaps most important when buying a home, as it can have a significant impact on your mortgage approval. Your lender will pull your credit ratings from the three standard reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. If your credit isn’t exactly where you want it to be, your lender can also recommend the necessary steps needed for improvement.
It should also be mentioned that now is not the time to make large purchases that will impact your financial position. You want to look as financially stable as possible.
As local real estate professionals, we can help connect you with a number of experienced and knowledgeable mortgage professionals who can best advise you of your financial readiness.
Choosing an Agent
When it comes to buying a home – whether your first or your latest investment property – choosing the right real estate professional is one of the key steps to your successful transaction.
There are a lot of excellent reasons to partner with an agent. And when you choose to partner with our team, you can count on our extensive market knowledge, understanding of the local market, industry partnerships and connections throughout the community to help you find the home that not only meets your needs, but that also exceeds your expectations.
Wondering what to look for in an agent? Here are a few tips:
- Education and Certification: Perhaps the most important factor in choosing a real estate agent is their background and education in the industry. What professional certifications do they hold? What is their background? Our agents represent some of the most knowledgeable and experienced in the area, and hold designations in various fields of real estate.
- Experience: Are they a full-time agent who has experience in transactions similar to yours? How long have they been in the business? Do they specialize in the neighborhood or property type you’re interested in? Don’t be afraid to interview a few agents to select the one that you have the best feeling about. This is, after all, a very important decision.
- Dedication and Communication: Your real estate professional should be dedicated to providing you with only the best service, and should be able to communicate with you in a way that is effective and timely. What steps does your agent take to stay in contact? Can they explain the process to you in a way that you understand? Are they available to answer your questions?
- Local Market Knowledge: How well does your agent know the area? Do they specialize in the type of property you’re selling? Have they provided you with sufficient market data to understand the temperature of the market? Are they able to understand your specific lifestyle needs?
Time to Go Shopping
In today’s digital age, there are so many resources available to you when it comes to searching for your dream home. Yet, there is nothing better than taking a drive, spending some time in the neighborhoods that interest you and getting a feel for what it would be like to live in the area. Take the neighborhood for a test drive!
Once you start to have a feel for the neighborhoods that would be suit your lifestyle, begin your online search. Our state-of-the-art website provides a wealth of excellent search capabilities that will allow you to further narrow your search. You can browse homes using various search criteria, compare properties, save your search and more.
Schedule Showings With Your Agent
As local real estate professionals, we love introducing homebuyers to our community. Feel free to contact us today to schedule a consultation and to begin your home search! We’ll be happy to listen to your specific wants and needs, and will help you find the property that best suits your needs.
To help narrow your search, consider the following:
- What type of property are you looking for?
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?
- Are there important features you must have? Garage? Pool? Office?
- Have you discussed a price range with your lender?
- What neighborhoods interest you?
- Do you need to be close to work? To school? To family?
- Are there upgrades that are important to you? Granite? Stainless? Wood floors?
The answers to these questions can help you narrow your search and find your home with ease. Once we’ve found the right home, we’ll draft your offer and start negotiating to purchase your dream home!
Escrow, Inspections & Appraisal
In most cases, you’ll want to make your offer to purchase a home contingent on it being inspected by a licensed property inspector. There is typically a time frame, called the due diligence period, in which the inspection must be completed. Additionally, if the agreement is conditional upon financing, the property will also need to be appraised to determine its value for the lending institution. This is also performed by a licensed third-party.
Your real estate agent will keep you abreast of the results of the inspection and appraisal. If you’re unhappy with any of the results, you can renegotiate the contract – often lowering the price to account for any needed repairs – as long as you’re within the due diligence period.
Title Research and Closing Agent
As the sales process progresses, a title company or closing attorney will be selected as the closing agent. It is their job to examine and insure that the title to the real estate is clear. They are also responsible for completing the recording of the sale and will certify that your title is free and clear of encumbrances such as mortgages, leases and liens, and that all new encumbrances – if any – are included in the title at closing.
During this time, you’ll also want to ensure you’ve researched property insurance, including flood insurance – if applicable. If you are obtaining a loan to purchase the property, your lender will require a certain amount of insurance on the property. This should be discussed directly with your lender prior to closing.
Basically put, a contingency is a condition that must be met before the contract becomes legally binding. Needing to secure financing, wanting a satisfactory inspection and reviewing pertinent documents are just a few of the types of contingencies you may run into.
Depending on the outcome of the inspections, for example, several things can happen:
- Each milestone is successfully reached and the contingencies are removed; or
- The potential buyer is unsatisfied with the inspection, appraisal, documents or other contingencies, and requests a renegotiation of the terms of the contract.
As your real estate professional, you can count on sound advice to help you continue to progress to the closing table. We will ensure you fully understand any contingencies, and will work to ensure we negotiate the best deal for your particular circumstances.
Closing Day & Moving In
If you’re anticipating closing day – you’re almost home! Before you can start celebrating, there are a few more steps that you should take to tie up loose ends before the big day.
Final Walk-Through and Inspection
The final walk-through is a tradition in which the homebuyers take one last walk through the property – typically on the day of closing or the day before. This formality allows you to ensure the property is in the same condition as the last time you were there, and that any improvements that were negotiated were completed. This is also a good time to make sure that the homeowners aren’t leaving anything behind.
Don’t forget to schedule the activation of your utilities. The last thing you want to do is move in and realize you forgot to turn on the power, cable or water! Our team can provide you with a list of local phone numbers and contact information for these companies, if needed.
Be Prepared for Closing
On closing day, make sure you’re prepared. Don’t forget a copy of the contract, your checkbook if money is required to close and your driver’s license. It is rare that hiccups happen this late in the game; however, we’re ready to help you walk all the way through to the closing table. We’ve seen it all and can help make this transition as smooth as possible.
During closing, the closing agent will provide all parties with a settlement statement, which will outline and detail the financial transactions enacted during the process. Both the buyers and sellers will sign the documents, as well as the closing agent.
This process will officially transfer the property to the new owners, and you can start the celebration!