GETTING STARTED FOR BUYERS
In which we debunk the mysteries of home buying and show you how to get the keys.
01. Getting Representation.
The prospect of buying a home can seem like a mess of logistical hurdles: down- payments, financing, searching, and making offers. A few rare creatures find the frisson of this process exciting. Most prefer a sharp stick in the eye. This is why nature invented real estate agents. A good agent is a combination of logistical genius and market expert who facilitates the buying process from start to finish, gets the best possible terms for your purchase, and is responsive to your needs. Start by finding one you like and trust. Like John Seravic for instance ;)
02. Getting Financed.
Most people are going to need a home loan to cover the cost of their purchase. Many people get pre-approved for a loan before they start house-hunting, which means you get an estimate of the amount you qualify for based on factors like credit, income and available cash. Pre-approval is different from final loan approval, which is when you get actual mortgage terms for the purchase of a specific home. Some clients come to us pre-approved with a loan range already in hand. Others haven't lifted a finger and have no idea how much financing they're likely to get. I handle all types of financing profiles and can help you either way. I also recognize the special challenges facing the all-cash buyer, so I can help you with that as well.
03. Searching Properties.
Here's where the party starts. You know roughly how much you can afford and where you want to live. It's time to start looking. Searching for a home usually involves a combination of efforts: you can search listings online, attend open houses, and visit properties your agent sets up to view. Once you start looking, you'll quickly get a feel for the fair value of a home—and for asking-prices that are comically inflated or spot-on. Keep an open mind too. You may discover gems in locations or price ranges you hadn't considered.
04. Making an Offer.
Jackpot. You've found a great place and the asking price is about right. How do you make a persuasive offer? Too low and your bid gets overlooked. Too high and you're tossing money away. Offer preparation is part science, part art. I recommend a strategic approach that involves a solid understanding of local trends as well as a studied offer package designed to connect with sellers.
05. Crikey! You Mean They Accepted My Offer?
Don’t forget that a well-structured offer almost always leaves you with an escape clause. The trade name for these is 'contingences.' Contingencies are really just conditions on which the offer depends. They may simply be questions that you will want answered before buying, such as: Is the basement built to code? Will I get the loan I wanted? What does my feng shui master say about the front staircase? The contingency period is the time to complete all investigations and either elect to proceed or cancel the agreement. The state provides a virtually exhaustive list of suggested items to inspect and insists that you receive it as part of the offer process. In any case, until your contingencies are removed, it’s your show. As a buyer, you have many ways to pull out of a deal should your investigations shed new light.
06. Escrow and Closing.
The seller accepts your offer, which means you are now in contract as the buyer of your new home. This stage of the process is known as ‘escrow’ which simply means that a neutral third-party or escrow-holder oversees the remaining instructions needed to complete the deal. This includes collecting and holding your deposit, ensuring that loan funds are in place, documentation is complete and all terms of the purchase agreement are met before any property changes hands. Once these conditions are fulfilled, escrow is considered 'closed.'
That's a technical term that means you're a proud new owner and the keys to the joint are yours. Now call that friend with the pickup truck. It’s time to move in.