Real Estate Home Buying Advice
The home buying experience can be a major milestone in your life, and having a competent buyer’s agent or Realtor® to support and advise you along the way, address your concerns, and guide your transaction to closing can be an integral part of the process.
As a buyer, you have the right to be represented by the real estate agent of your choice. This agent will become your buyer’s representative and will help to guide you through the home buying process. As a buyer’s representative, the agent you choose has an obligation not to disclose information about your personal financial strength, motivation level, or negotiating strategy.
In addition to helping you find the right home at the right price and protecting you from potential property pitfalls, an experienced buyer’s agent will also offer advice and guidance for choosing an appropriate lender, hiring a reputable home inspector, and explaining the more intricate details of property taxes, escrow accounts, title insurance, and other important conditions to be considered.
Buyer’s agents maintain two primary responsibilities during the home buying process:
- Assure that the buyer-client pays the right price for the home that they are interested in purchasing.
- Protecting the buyer-client from major problems with their purchase.
Plan ahead! The earlier you begin planning your path to home ownership the better off you will be.
- Work on your credit history! A strong credit rating will make your loan application appear more attractive to lenders and will help you secure better financing rates and terms during the loan process
- Start Saving! While low to zero down payment loans may be available, it is wise to plan on saving 10-20% of the property’s value for a down payment. Don’t forget to plan for expenses in addition to the down payment such as closing costs, earnest money, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- Get Pre-Approved! After you have researched the various loan options available to you and have chosen a lender that best fits your needs, obtain a pre-approval letter for the purchase amount that you have qualified for.
Choose a Real Estate Professional to work with.
- Consult friends, family, or work colleagues first to learn about agents that they have had experience with, especially if you are moving to a new city or area that you are not familiar with.
- Interview multiple agents. If you are new to an area, interviewing multiple agents is a great way to learn more about an area from different perspectives.
- Be sure to explain your needs and expectations clearly from the beginning. If you have a pre-approval letter from a lender, share this information with your agent so that everyone is on the same page from the start.
Start searching! After you have been pre-approved for a home loan and you have found an agent that you are comfortable working with, the excitement of searching for the right home begins.
- Identify what features are most important to you, these might be location, proximity to schools/hospitals, or square footage.
- When searching be sure to keep your price range in mind. Do not forget to account for living expenses, utilities, and emergency savings when shopping for a home and estimating your monthly payments.
Make an offer! You have saved, been pre-approved, and now you have found the house, it’s time to make your offer.
- Place your trust in your agent; do not let emotions get in the way of your offer. Your agent will conduct research based on previous sales and the current market conditions to help determine the market value and a fair offering price for the property.
- Counter-offers happen, be prepared to go back to the table.
- Be sure that you are clear on the price, terms, and contingencies of the offer before you sign, ask questions if you are unsure.
Offer Accepted! Now What?
- Submit the accepted purchase offer to your lender to begin the underwriting process.
- Order a home inspection and if necessary, an appraisal.
- Acquire title insurance.
- Avoid making any large purchases or applying for new financing prior to closing on your home.
- Obtain homeowners insurance to protect your purchase.
- Bring a certified check to closing to cover any closing costs that you may be responsible for.
- Call the movers!