Are you feeling a bit stressed out?
I can help you purchase the home you want
with the least amount of hassle and inconvenience!
Congratulations! Buying your own home is one of the smartest financial decisions you will ever make. For most Americans, the equity they will build in their home over time is their biggest source of wealth. Even with today’s economic challenges, when you purchase a home within your means, real estate is a very good investment in your family’s future.
I realize that home buying can be a stressful undertaking. Whether this is your first home purchase or your twentieth, you want things to go as smoothly as possible with no last minute surprises. I have put this Home Buyer Guide together for you so that you can have a more clear understanding of what’s involved in when buying a home. As your Realtor, I will represent your best interests and guide you through out the entire process.
1st Step: Understand what you NEED in your home
Two things you need to consider here – your NEEDS and your WANTS, and they are two very different things. Your NEEDS are fairly basic: you need 4 bedrooms, you need a 3 car garage because you own 3 vehicles, you need a ranch-style home because you are unable to climb stairs. Here is a list of NEEDS to consider before you start shopping for a home:
1. General price range of home. (this will be determined in financing pre-approval step of purchase process)
2. Approximate size of home (in sq. footage) and lot. (1600-1800 sq ft on no less than .5 acre of property)
3. General location, area, or subdivision. (particular city/town, golf community, community with pool)
4. Number of bedrooms required. (Don’t forget to include any home offices or guest rooms.)
5. Number of bathrooms you need. (Frequently determined by the number of children you have.)
6. Style and layout of home. (Do you want an open floor plan, or a split bedroom plan, 2-story home,etc.)
7. School requirements or districts.
2nd Step: Understand what you WANT in your home
If you are currently living in a home, you should already have a pretty good feel for what you do and don’t like about your home. It could be the kitchen is too far from the garage, or the bedrooms are too small, or maybe you hate the flat roof. On the other hand you love the open floor plan, your formal dining room and your back deck. So here’s what you can do. Make a 2 column list of your likes and dislikes. Even if you live in an apartment, I’m sure you’ve been inside enough homes to have a sense of what you would or would not want in your own home.
When you’ve compiled your list of likes and dislikes, grab another piece of paper and make 2 columns. One column is Features, the other is Benefits. Put your likes in the Features column. For every Feature list a benefit (a reason why you want it). As an example, you may want a Great Room (up North this is known as a Rec Room or Family Room). The benefit is – a room for holiday entertaining. Or your Feature is Bonus Room. Benefit – mom can have the sewing room she’s been wanting. Now RANK the features you have selected by their level of importance. Keep in mind, most people have more dreams than money. Ranking your wants will allow you to easily eliminate something from the list because of price constraints and allow you to keep high priority features and avoid additional stress.
3rd Step: How much home can you AFFORD to invest in
There is nothing more demotivating to a buyer than to fall in love with a home only to find out you can’t afford to purchase the home. So let’s begin the purchasing process on the right foot. You need to get pre-approved for a loan before you shop for a home.
There are no General Rules of Thumb when it comes to financing a home. Each case is different and your personal financial circumstances will have impact on how much home you can afford. You will need to contact a motivated mortgage lender, one who represents many different products, and can offer you options for making your loan affordable. If you need assistance with this, I can refer 3rd party independent lenders to you. When you are pre-approved, the lender will issue a Pre-Approval Letter which I will submit with your purchase contract to the listing agent of the home you are making an offer on. This letter is a mandatory document when submitting offers to sellers, so this is a step you cannot skip over.
Here’s is list of items you should have readily available for the mortgage lender:
1. W-2 (2 years) & current pay stubs
2. Past 2 years pay history for landlord/mortgage company
3. Employment information (2 year history)
4. All bank account numbers and balances
5. Last 3 month’s bank statements
6. Open loans – names, addresses, account #, balances, monthly payments
7. All information on any other real estate loans
8. Drivers license or other photo ID
9. Check for credit report
10. Certificate of eligibility or DD214 (VA loan only)
11. Self employed: Last 2 year’s complete tax returns, year to date Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet
4th Step: Use a Buyer’s Representative
There is a huge difference between a Buyer’s Representative and other agents. First and foremost, if you don’t have a specific agreement in place to be represented by your Real Estate Agent, chances are your Agent represents the Seller. In South Carolina, Agency is established by the Exclusive Right to Buy Buyer Agency Contract wherein you appoint a particular brokerage firm and its Agents to represent you in your transaction. Having that paperwork completed means you are a CLIENT of the Company. Without this executed contract in place, all Agents represent the sellers of the homes you preview, and you are a CUSTOMER.
If you went to court, would you use the opposing side’s attorney to represent you as well? Of course you wouldn’t! Creating a “buyer’s representation” with your Agent not only puts the Agent in the position of protecting your interests, but it doesn’t cost you an extra nickel to have your own representative. Buyer Agents are paid in the same fashion as other Agents - out of the standard commission which is a component of a home’s list price. A written Buyer’s Agency Agreement requires the Company and its associated licensees to act as an Agent on your behalf, and you can expect the following client-level services: Obedience, Loyalty, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Accounting, and Reasonable care and skill as well as advice, counsel, and assistance in negotiations.
LET’S START SHOPPING FOR YOUR HOME!
Now that we know the criteria you want in your new home, I will enter those parameters into the Multiple Listing database to see which homes best fit your needs within your price range. I will forward those listings to you in email for your review. Create a folder (hard copy or within your email program) of only those homes which are of interest to you, not all of them will be. If you live in the area, drive out to the homes you like and preview the neighborhoods, the block the home is located on and what surrounds it. If you’re still interested in that home, let me know and I will arrange for us to preview the interior of the homes you have selected. If you live out of state and need more pics than are available on the listing, just let me know and I’ll visit the home to take more pictures for you.
Purchasing a home is all about paperwork. Once we find the home that best meets your needs, we will begin writing up the necessary paperwork. When your offer is accepted by the seller, we will then schedule inspections (home, termite, roof, well, septic, pool, whatever is needed). The attorney selected to handle your closing will be contacted to schedule the time of closing. As your Realtor, I will forward all executed documents to the attorney’s office as well as to your mortgage lender. While I’m overseeing all the above, you will be packing up your belongings and getting ready for your move.
Now we’re heading for the closing table. All inspections have been completed, loan underwriters have given their final approval and it’s the day before closing - final walk-thru day. This is when we re-visit the home to make sure the window treatments that were to convey with the home are still on the windows. Or the refrigerator the sellers were leaving in the home didn’t accidentally get loaded onto their moving truck. And most important, any repairs the seller agreed to make based on the inspection reports received were actually made.
On closing day, I meet with you at the attorney’s office along with the sellers and their agent. You will need to have your driver’s license with you so the paralegal can make a copy of it. You will have already received advice from me and your mortgage lender as to how much money you need to bring to closing in the form of a certified check (cashiers check). The attorney will have a stack of papers for you to sign-off on as well as paperwork for the seller’s signature. And when all that is done, the seller hands you the keys to your home….and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. You have your keys, Realtors have their commission checks, and attorney awaits the next set of clients.
Every transaction is unique, so I monitor all the details very closely and keep you well informed every step of the way. Remember, I am here to serve you. If you are concerned or confused at any time, let me know. There are no stupid questions when you are dealing with a large investment such as this.
There’s a difference between agents who simply sell real estate, and those who COMMIT to whatever it takes to serve clients beyond their expectations. I’ve been active in real estate for twelve years. But more importantly, I am a full-time REALTOR® who has gone the extra mile in education to be an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR®).