Your Guide to Buying a Home

The home buying experience can be both very exciting and very stressful, but with the help of a licensed REALTOR® they will eliminate the stress and make the home buying process a more enjoyable experience. Relocating?

Buyer’s Needs

Make a list of what is most important to you. Is it location? Need more room? Downsizing? Schools? Neighborhood? Remember, there is a difference between what you need and what you want, so try to be realistic. Your real estate professional can then show you the homes that meet your needs. Click here to find an agent in your area.


Get your financing in order. If you are unsure of your credit, Contact a credit bureau and get a credit report on yourself. If your report was not what you expected, now is the time to clear up any problems or mistakes. For contact information for the credit bureaus and help with cleaning up your credit, check out our Credit Articles / Report Section. Shop for the best mortgage rates AND terms. You might find a lender who’s interest rate is lower than most, but they hit you with extremely high closing costs. Make sure you receive a good faith estimate from your lender. This should give you a pretty good idea as to the cost of your loan. Once you decide on a lender it is important to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting pre-approved gives you more buying power for when you find that perfect home.

Home Searching

This is the best part of the entire process. 90% of all home sales are sold through the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). This is where all agents have their homes listed, as well as other home listing services. Your real estate agent will then set up your own personal MLS search, so you may view the available properties matching your search criteria. You will receive daily email notifications when these properties become available so you don’t miss out on that perfect home.

Your home search should include the following:
-Number of Bedrooms/Baths
-Lot Size
-Needs vs. Wants
-Price range

Signup for our state of the art MLS/IDX Search Engine. Manage Favorites, Save Searches and receive email notifications whenever new listings match. Register Here!

Making an Offer

So you’ve found the perfect house, what do you do now? This is where having a real estate professional is a big advantage. Before you make an offer your real estate professional will do a CMA (comparative market analysis). This report will show you the most recent home sales in the area, the avg. market time, listing price vs. selling price, and then adjust for any features that differ between properties. From the CMA, your agent will help you determine a fair price for the house. Remember that home buying is a process, and negotiations are part of the process.

A few things to remember when submitting an offer:

· Make sure everything is in writing do not make a verbal offer. A contract is only binding if it is in writing AND signed by both parties.
· Once you have a binding contract (if not sooner) you will want to find a real estate attorney, they will assist you with and obtain the necessary documents in order for you to close (complete the purchase) of your new home.
· Have your checkbook handy. In almost all cases the seller will require the buyer pay earnest money. Earnest money shows the seller that they are serious about purchasing the house. Earnest money is usually between 1-5% of the agreed purchase price of the home. This money is generally held by the listing agent’s company, an attorney, or title company. DO NOT give the earnest money to the seller. Your deposit is then credited towards your down payment and/or closing costs.
· Make sure there is a mortgage contingency in case you cannot obtain financing. (Most real estate contracts contain this, earnest money would then be refunded)
· Make sure there is a home inspection contingency in case major problems turn up during the inspection. (Most real estate contracts contain this, earnest money would be refunded) Click here to find a home inspector.
· Contingencies are clauses that, if not met, will render the contract null and void.

Arrange a Home Inspection

After your offer is accepted, set up a home inspection. It’s common to find problems, including leaky roofs, cracked walls, insect infestations and foundation problems. Your real estate professional can help find a reputable home inspector, and will negotiate to get you the most for your money once the inspector’s report is final. If you negotiate repairs as part of the purchase, ask for a ";walk through" before finalizing the paperwork. Ask your real estate expert about home warranty plans, which may save you money in the near future.

The home inspector will write up an inspection report with all minor and major defects itemized. Good inspectors will find minor flaws in nearly any home. It’s up to you to decide how important they are. It is also helpful to be present during the inspection. Inspectors often provide you tips on the maintenance and upkeep of the home and its systems. Click here to find a home inspector.

The Closing

Before your closing date, make sure you’ve made all necessary deposits and completed the paperwork – including mortgage, title, homeowners insurance and any other paperwork required by local or state governments.

Usually the attorneys decide on a mutually agreed title company to have the closing at. Your closing will be assigned a Closing or Escrow Agent to complete your transaction.
The escrow agent conducts the closing and is often affiliated with the title insurance company. Their job is to ensure the buyer obtains a clean title, the lender obtains a good mortgage, that the costs of the transaction are paid, that the seller’s mortgage is paid off, and that the seller receives their proceeds.
The escrow agent prepares a closing statement that outlines what the required funds are, who’s paying and where the funds are going toward They will not disburse funds until they can guarantee that the above noted items have been taken care of.
Click here for Title Companies.

Other Terms You Should Be Familiar With

Buyer’s Agent- A real estate agent who represents only the buyer in a real estate transaction

Title Insurance- Insurance that protects the lender or buyer against loss arising from a dispute over ownership of a piece of property. As with a car, the property may have changed ownership many times before reaching the current buyer, and errors and discrepancies can happen along the way. Title insurance is the lender’s way of insuring their interest in the property. The cost for title insurance is paid once, at the closing of the loan.

Homeowner’s Insurance- Insurance that protects the homeowner from "casualty" (losses or damage to the home or personal property) and from "liability" (damages to other people or property). Homeowners insurance is required by the lender and is usually included in the monthly mortgage payment.

Home Appraisal- Lenders require appraisals to confirm that the home for which they’re providing you a loan is in fact worth the amount you’re paying. Appraisers are independent agents normally hired by the lender, however you may have a choice. The fees appraisers charge vary and are typically built into your loan costs. The lender usually pays for the cost of an appraisal. Then it’s factored into the buyer’s closing cost.

Title Company- A company that performs and insures title searches. Usually selected by the seller, they sometimes work as a lender’s agent. Depending on the preferences of the seller, buyer and others involved in the sale, the closing might take place at the title company’s offices.


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