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Tips For Home Buyers - What You Really Should Know
By Suzana
July 7, 2017

There are a number of things to consider when buying (and fi­nancing) a home. Are we in a buyers’ market? Are the interest rates low? Are home prices going to go up or down? Although these are good questions and worthy of exploration, it often comes down to one question… Am I comfortable with going through the process of obtaining financing, searching for a home and moving at this moment in my life, RIGHT NOW?

Buying a new home or property is a serious venture. It can be an exciting time or a difficult process. This is why it is so im­portant to find a REALTOR® who you are comfortable with and is willing to guide you through every step of the transac­tion. The savvy homebuyer should ask a lot of questions and in­quire about what resources and assistance your agent will provide, including their availability. Sometimes homes come on the market and are sold in a matter of days, so it is critical that your agent is readily available to show you listings as they are placed on the market. The way an agent does business can make or break your transaction and your chances of getting the home of your dreams. Think about these common issues that you should be aware of:

When you come into contact with an agent, do they ask you if you have been working with another agent? If you are already working with someone, there could be a serious conflict if the new agent shows you a home without the other agent’s knowledge/presence. Industry etiquette is to always ask first before starting a working relationship with a new client. If an agent does not do this, it could be a red flag about their ethics and the way they conduct themselves professionally.

Once you begin a working relationship with an agent, are they difficult to get in touch with? Do they return your texts/emails promptly? Do they answer their phone, or are you constantly leaving messages? Being a real estate agent is a full-time job. Buying a home is stressful enough, do you really want to be chasing around after your agent to answer some of your phone calls?

If you’ve been working with an agent for a few months, and at first, they show you a ton of properties, seemingly talking up every one of them, in the hopes you would just pick one, then after a short while, you don’t hear from them anymore, you may be dealing with an agent who applies an expiration date on clients. Showing homes is time consuming; it takes a lot of coordination to make the appointments and set aside a large block of time to show homes; and it puts miles on the car and consumes gas, so for some agents, two to three months of showings is just about all they can handle. Although it does happen from time to time that a client finds the perfect home after only a few showings, with reduced inventory however in the marketplace, it could take a very long time, even up to a year, for a client to find the perfect fit. If you’re feeling pressured early on in your search to just pick a house and “make an offer”, you may want to pick a new agent instead.

If you are not constantly buying and selling properties, you will probably have several questions about the process. Some agents either don’t have the time to cater to their clients (especially if they are working alone) or they are too busy acquiring new business, so once you have entered into a contract to buy, they are too busy working with the next client to deal with many of your concerns. If an agent is constantly boasting about their numbers and that seems to be the most important thing to him/her, it’s because it probably is. If you are accustomed to buying and selling every few years perhaps a high-volume agent is fine, because you know the drill. But, if you are like most, and don’t have half a dozen real estate purchases under your belt, you may want to consider working with a TEAM that offers boutique-style services, and can treat your transaction as if it were their ONLY transaction at that time.

A little bit now about the way Aileen and I do business (shameless plug here). We have a team working with us, to make this less stressful on our clients. We work with our buyers for as long as it takes, to find the right home at the right price. We don’t use pressure tactics to convince a buyer to submit an offer. On the contrary, we have even been known to talk our clients OUT of buying a home if we felt that we could find another property that was a better fit! We are less concerned about the time it takes to find a property, and far more concerned about our client’s satisfaction. We negotiate relentlessly for our clients’ best interests, at every turn in the transaction. We’ll argue with a lender to get you a better rate. We’ll work with the listing agent in an aggressive yet diplomatic manner to achieve the best possible outcome for our client, without turning the transaction into an adversarial situation. With round-the-clock communication, a step-by-step discus­sion about the process, referrals for lenders, inspectors and industry professionals, relocation assistance, and at the close of escrow, a USB drive containing pertinent real estate documents with a special closing day gift, our TEAM is here for you, handling all the details, so you can focus on other matters. This attention to detail helps alleviate the stress from what could be a very stressful process.

Here's a brief overview of the buying process:

  • Get a pre-approval letter from a lender.
  • Identify the neighborhood, type of property and price of property.
  • Begin receiving daily emails containing new listings that you may be interested in seeing.
  • Schedule viewings of those listings with your REALTOR®.
  • Negotiate price and terms.
  • Submit an offer if you like the property (lender pre-ap­proval letter, proof of funds & FICO scores are usually also required). The offer can be accepted, countered or rejected.
  • Upon acceptance of your offer, begin inspections, ap­praisal and the loan process.
  • Once inspections are completed, you may accept the property “as is”, ask for credits or repairs, or back out of the contract. Generally, this can take up to 17 days.
  • Negotiate some more.
  • Complete a large amount of paperwork for the pur­chase, escrow and your lender.
  • Prepare to move to your new home (movers, change of address, utilities, etc.).
  • Near the end of the escrow period, your lender will send documents to the escrow company. Once com­pleted and verified, your lender will fund the loan and transfer proceeds to the escrow company.
  • A new deed will be recorded at the County Assessor’s Office and the property transfers title to YOU!

Things to Expect: 

  • Closing costs will be approximately 2.5-3% of the purchase price. This includes escrow fees, prorated property tax, and other miscellaneous costs associated with acquiring financing and transferring title. In most cases, this is the money you will need to bring to the table, just before escrow closes.
  • There may be some issues that could arise during the escrow period (often during inspections and/or when your loan application is being reviewed in underwriting).

As you can see, it’s a complicated deal. Make sure you work with an agent you trust to negotiate the best price and terms for you, who is available for you and is willing to work with your timelines.  Selecting the right agent can help you make it a positive life experience. Selecting the wrong agent can leave you without a house or with one that’s less of a dream home and more of a nightmare.