Buyers Guide

Buyers' Guide

Home ownership is the best investment most people ever make. It lays the foundation for a life of financial security and personal choice. There are solid financial reasons to support your decision to buy a home, and, among these, equity buildup, value appreciation, and tax benefits stand out. As there are also personal decisions to purchasing a home. The property you purchase is not just a house, but also more your home, where if cared for correctly and maintained, will create a lifestyle and give you years of memories and accomplishments. Below you will find an outline of the process to home ownership. Please give me the opportunity to guide you thru this journey of attaining the “AMERICAN DREAM.”

When thinking about buying a home, you'll want to carefully choose the real estate professional you work with during the process.

You should commit yourself to working with one realtor who can learn your likes and dislikes in homes to make your home-buying process easier. Choose a professional who specializes in residential real estate and who has specific knowledge of the local real estate and mortgage markets.

The person you choose should listen to you and be interested enough in you to find out about your housing needs and preferences. Service first should be the motto of the professional you choose with services going above and beyond what you expect and need. Doing some preliminary planning before you begin your home search will make the entire process more manageable and less overwhelming. As part of your initial game plan, you should: 

Check your credit rating
Even if you're sure you have excellent credit, it's wise to double-check at the outset. Straightening out any errors or disputed items now will avoid troublesome holdups down the road when you're waiting for mortgage approval.

You may see disputed items, in addition to errors caused by a faulty social security number, a name similar to yours, or a court ordered judgment paid off that hasn't been cleared from the public records. If such items appear, write a letter to the appropriate credit bureau. Credit bureaus are required to help you straighten things out in a reasonable time (usually 30 days).

  • TIP: Make sure that any outdated derogatory entries are deleted from your credit file. Adverse credit information is not supposed to be reported or included on your credit report after seven years (except bankruptcy information, which can be reported up to 10 years).

  • TIP: Officially cancel inactive credit cards. If you have an inactive credit card with a $5,000 limit, even though you owe nothing on it, some mortgage lenders will consider that a potential future debt. Too many inactive credit cards with significant credit limits could keep you from obtaining a mortgage loan. Don't just cut up your extra cards; officially cancel them, and do it now so there will be time for the news to reach the credit bureaus.

  • TIP: Hold off on making any major credit card or car purchases while you're waiting to apply for a mortgage. Monthly payments you're obligated to pay will be counted against you, and reduce the amount of the mortgage loan you'll be offered. Even if you've been pre-approved for a mortgage, that approval is subject to last-minute evaluation of your financial situation, and a spending spree for appliances, furniture and other goodies intended for your new home may wreck your chances for buying it.

Pre-qualification and pre-approval on a mortgage
A real estate professional can help "pre-qualify" you for a mortgage before you start house hunting. This process includes analyzing your income, assets and present debt to estimate what you may be able to afford on a house purchase. Mortgage brokers, or a lender's own mortgage counselors can also calculate the same sort of informal estimate for you.

Obtaining mortgage "pre-approval" is another thing entirely. It means that you have in hand a lender's written commitment to put together a loan for you (subject only to the particular house you want to buy passing the lender's appraisal).

Pre-approval makes you a strong buyer, welcomed by sellers. With most other purchasers, sellers must tie the house up on a contract while waiting to see if the would-be buyer can really obtain financing.

The down side is that you may pay application fees to cover the lender's paperwork in verifying your employment, income, assets, debts and credit rating. If you later decide not to use that particular lender, you'd have to start all over again elsewhere - with no rebate.

Pre-approval will also speed up the entire mortgage procedure once you've found the house you want. The only remaining question will be whether the house will "appraise" for enough to warrant the loan.

Become an educated buyer:

  • The web is one of the best ways to search for homes today. With this website, you can receive daily emails with new and updated listings from the towns and price range of your choice. 

  • Search the entire MLS for all homes, condos, land, multi family, commercial properties, and past solds at your convenience. 

  • View full listing sheets showing amenities, taxes, lot sizes, beds, baths, rooms, siding, fireplaces, garages, room sizes and much more. 

  • Get property address and see where the properties are located on MapQuest. 

  • Check schools and community profiles of your preferred towns. 

  • Calculate approximate mortgage payments for specific properties. 

Hire Your Buyer’s Agent
The typical real estate transaction involves at least two dozen separate individuals – insurance assessors, mortgage brokers and underwriters, inspectors, bank appraisers, escrow officers, buyer’s agents, seller’s agents, bankers, title researchers, and a number of other individuals whose actions and decisions have to be orchestrated in order to perform in harmony and get a home sale closed. It is the responsibility of your real estate agent to expertly coordinate all the professionals involved in your home purchase and to act as the advocate for you and your interests throughout. 

Seven main roles of your real estate agent

A Buyer’s Real Estate Agent:

  • Educates you about your market. 

  • Analyzes your wants and needs. 

  • Guides you to homes that fit your criteria. 

  • Coordinates the work of other needed professionals. 

  • Negotiates on your behalf. 

  • Checks and double-checks paperwork and deadlines. 

  • Solves any problems that may arise. 

Eight important questions to ask your agent
Qualifications are important. However, finding a solid, professional agent means getting beyond the resume, and into what makes an agent effective. Use the following questions as your starting point in hiring your licensed, professional real estate agent:

  • Why did you become a real estate agent? 

  • Why should I work with you? 

  • What do you do better than other real estate agents? 

  • What process will you use to help me find the right home for my particular wants and needs?

  • What are the most common things that go wrong in a transaction and how would you handle them? 

  • What are some mistakes that you think people make when buying their first home? 

  • What other professionals do you suggest we work with and what are their credentials? 

  • Can you provide me with references or testimonials from past clients? 

Home Search
Before starting your search, you should make a "wish list" to decide which features are absolutely essential, which are nice "extras" if you happen to find them, and which are completely undesirable. Make sacrifices with things you can change later on. Most first time home buyers wish list may include features that you will have to add later on or get in your 2nd home. Also keep in mind, that in the end, every home purchase is a compromise.

  • LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION, remember one thing you can never change about a property is the LOCATION. This should be your #1 priority! Location will always hold its value.

  • Together with your realtor choose the properties you want to see no more than 5-7 in one visit. You want to be able to focus on all the characteristics, from your wish list, that the properties have or don’t have to suit your needs. 

  • You have found the property you want to call home. Now have your realtor guide you in presenting a realistic offer, and sell you to the property owners.

  • I also will let you know what similar properties have sold for, how long they were on the market, compare to the property you have chosen and together we write up an offer that is something the sellers will accept or counter.

Home Inspection
Once you have made an offer on a home, you will need to schedule a home inspection, conducted by an independent authorized inspector. It is extremely important to hire a reputable inspector so that you know exactly what you are buying. Do not hesitate to ask friends, family, and co-workers for advice. If you are satisfied with the results of the inspection, then you can proceed to the Purchase and Sales agreement. If the inspector finds problems with the property, you may want to negotiate with the seller to lower the price, or to pay for certain repairs. 

Your lender may require you to get an appraisal of the house you want to buy, to make sure it is worth the money that you are borrowing. You may select your own appraiser, or you may ask your real estate broker to help you with this task. 

Homeowner's Insurance 
Lenders require that you have homeowners insurance, to protect both your interests and theirs. Like everything else, be sure to shop around for insurance that fits your needs. 

Settlement or Closing 
Finally, you are ready for the closing. Be sure to read everything before you sign! You should have both your real estate broker and an attorney present at the closing to ensure that all is in order.