Buyer Know How
Whether you are a first-time home buyer negotiating your first purchase agreement or a seasoned veteran, choosing the right company for real estate closing and title services is critical to ensure your security and peace of mind. Title Resources offers the insight and insurance products to help you maximize and protect your investment. This allows you to focus on enjoying your home purchase.
As you begin your journey to purchasing a home, Title Resources is your trusted partner for expert guidance, walking you through every step of your transaction and ensuring a smooth closing experience. Some things to consider to be a prepared buyer include:
- How much home can you afford?
- What type of loan is best for you?
- Where is your ideal home—what neighborhood, school, amenities, etc. are you looking for?
- Do your homework, know the market comparables and evaluate how they stack up to the house that you want.
Being a buyer can be stressful. That’s why it’s important to find the right real estate agent that will work for you to find your perfect home. When you search, consider things like:
- If you have a neighborhood already in mind, find an agent within that community.
- Research their reputation and credentials. Also, awards they have received never hurt.
- Find someone who is continuing their education, like a Certified Residential Specialist, a Certified Residential Broker, a graduate of the REALTORS® Institute or an accredited buyer’s representative. This shows the agent is invested in their career and the industry.
- Seek referrals from your family and friends.
- Interview at least three agents before you make your final decision.
If you are being referred to an agent, consider asking some questions such as:
- How many buyers have you successfully represented in the last six months?
- Can I have the names and phone numbers of three to six of your most recent buyer clients?
- Do you deal mostly with home buyers or primarily with home sellers?
- Which professional designations do you have?
- Are you fully automated with your own personal computer, fax machine, copier, smartphone, voicemail, etc.?
- What is your commission? Or do you have hourly rates or a set fee?
- Do you have a list of home inspectors, insurance agents and reputable lenders for me to consider?
- Which clauses will be included in our offer to protect us as buyers?
- Will you try to sell me one of your listed properties before you show me listings from other real estate companies?
- Do you have information about For Sale by Owner properties?
- How will you help me save money?
- How will you protect my interests, and why should I hire you rather than another agent?
If you get through an interview process with multiple agents to help you make your selection, ask yourself these questions as due diligence in making your final decision:
- Which one returned your phone calls?
- Which one asked questions to determine what you want/need in a home?
- Which one performed a financial analysis to determine how much you can afford?
- Which one suggested financing methods?
- Which one seemed most knowledgeable about the community?
- Which one explained things most clearly?
- Which one did you feel most comfortable with?
Once you have your real estate agent in place, let them guide you through the process of securing a mortgage lender that best fits your financial needs. Lenders are all different so be sure to choose one that will work with you and your specific needs. Shop the lenders offering the best deals. Check with several mortgage companies and use one or more reporting services.
The next step in the home buying process is selecting the right type of mortgage for your individual financial needs. This is where your lender’s skills and knowledge come in to play. Shopping for a loan from a mortgage lender and getting pre-qualifying before house hunting puts you ahead of the game and makes you more appealing to sellers once you put an offer in.
There are various mortgage types that your lender can explain in great detail to you. These include, but are not limited to:
- Fixed Rate Mortgage (FRM)
- Adjustable Rate Mortgage(ARM)
- Convertible Option
- Graduated Payment Mortgage (GPM)
- Growing Equity Mortgage (GEM)
- 15-Year Mortgage
- Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Insured Loans
You have done the leg work to find the right agent, lender and mortgage type. Let the house hunting begin! When you begin to shop, it’s important to determine the type of home you are looking for. Do you know the neighborhood where you want to live? What type of schools will your children be attending? Is local shopping important to you? Would you be comfortable in a condominium, a townhouse or even a pre-fabricated home? Discuss these considerations with your real estate agent and let them go to work to find the best home for you.
To help your agent out, make three lists: a need list, a do-not-want list and a dream list. Factor in your current housing needs, likes, dislikes and possible life changes in the future, such as more children, less children, parents moving in or out and other major events.
Your needs list may include:
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of bathrooms
- Bath in the master bedroom
- Separate dining room
Your do-not-want list may include:
- Small bathrooms
- No counter space
- No windows in kitchen/bathroom
- Tiny yard
- Insufficient closet space
- No garage
For your dream list, write down all the features you would love to have in your home, which may include:
- Swimming pool
- Breakfast nook
- Two stories
So, you’re ready to put an offer in on a home… before you sign on the dotted line, do your due diligence on a few items. Find our the selling prices of similar properties and use them as a guideline to set your sales price. These comparable properties should:
- Have sold no more than six months earlier
- Be around the same age and condition
- Have close to the same number of bathrooms, bedrooms and square footage
- Be in a similar location and on a similar lot
If you still don’t feel comfortable setting a price, consider having a professional appraisal done. Appraisers look at what the home is worth today and how the neighborhood may affect future property value. They provide a realistic figure for the true market value of the property to help guide you to a fair number you are comfortable with.
Once you, your real estate agent and the owner have come to an agreement on the sale price of the house—put it in writing.