#1: What is a Buyer’s Agent
A Buyer’s Agent is a licensed professional Realtor working on behalf of you, the home buyer. He or she represents you while looking out for your best interests throughout the purchase of your home. You want a Realtor who you can communicate with easily, has knowledge of the current real estate market, is a good negotiator and is responsive to your questions and concerns.
Hiring a Buyer’s Agent does not require an upfront fee in our area. Buyer’s Agents are paid through the home sale once the purchase is finalized and recorded. Some benefits of using a Buyer’s Agent is access to properties as soon as they come up for sale, finding homes that may not currently be for sale but the homeowners are interested in selling, and giving you honest advice about a home that seems perfect from the outside but might not live up to your dreams further down the road. Buyer’s Agents are also prepared to be proactive getting you through potential setbacks as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Where Do I Find a Buyer’s Agent? You can check out Realtor reviews, ask friends or family, or ask your mortgage lender. The key is to ask questions and interview a couple Realtors to ensure a good match. Example questions may be: “Do you work full time in real estate? What is your availability in showing me properties after hours or weekends? Do you have the Accredited Buyer Representative credentials?”
#2: How Will You Pay for Your Home?
Many buyers find they will need to finance or obtain a mortgage for the purchase of their home. A mortgage is a long-term loan to make buying a home affordable. There are different types of mortgages and your Realtor (Buyer’s Agent) can advise you of Mortgage Lenders in the area who can guide you into the loan that best fits your personal scenario.
Different types of loans include:
- Conventional – can be a down payment of 3% to 20% or more of the purchase price of the home.
FHA – is a government insured loan and is optimal for Buyers with a minimum down payment (3 ½%).
VA – is a specific loan program for Veterans and allows veteran buyers to purchase with no down payment.
Rural Development – is a government insured loan allowing for a small down payment and used primarily in rural areas, not within the city limits.
Buyers may receive assistance with their down payment from family members gifting funds, and your mortgage lender can guide you through that process.
#3: When is the Best Time to Buy a Home?
There are busier seasons than others, but people need to buy homes throughout the year and sellers need to sell homes throughout the year. The first of March we see an upswing in activity which stays steady through fall. Homes still get bought and sold in the winter months and this can be beneficial to buyers as there might not be as much competition from multiple buyers submitting offers on the same property. Your specific situation is the determining factor as to when is a good time for you to buy.
#4: Contract & Negotiations (not Prepare for Move in)
You’ve found a home and your offer has been accepted, now what happens? Below is a timeline of transaction steps that occur up until you close on your home.
- Schedule the home inspection. Home inspections cost approximately $400 to $550 depending on what items you choose to have inspected. Your Buyer’s Agent can provide a list of Home Inspectors for you to consider.
- If you need assistance moving, you will want to call moving companies for quotes and scheduling.
- Call your insurance company to get a quote for homeowner’s insurance and ensure it is at a rate acceptable to you.
- On inspection day, you meet the inspector at the home for a walk-through where he or she will show you items you should be aware of about the house. (Turn off valves, electrical panel, etc). There may be items in need of repair and a discussion is necessary with your Realtor concerning repair requests.
- An inspection notice is drafted to give notice to the sellers items in the home you disapprove of as well as your suggested resolution to repair those items. You and the sellers must come to a resolution of the repairs and the condition of the home before the resolution date noted on your buy-sell. Almost all repairs must be completed before closing.
- The appraisal is ordered by your lender if you are moving forward with your purchase after inspection.
- The appraiser views the property, completes required appraisal documents and submits them to your lender for review. If the value on the appraisal comes in under the purchase price, generally more negotiations take place between you and the seller in reference to what you are willing and can afford to pay to buy the home.
- A closing day and time are scheduled where you will go to the title company that is coordinating the closing and sign documents necessary for your home purchase.
- Transfer utilities into your name starting the day of closing to ensure water, gas and electric remain on in the home.
- Attend closing and sign documents. You will review what your costs are to purchase, your monthly payment, any restrictions on the loan and other documents required from your lender. You may receive keys to the house the same day you sign all the documents or a day later once the transaction has been recorded and the home is legally yours.
- Time to move in and enjoy your new home!
#5: Move In
Moving very often is not easy and can be a bit stressful. Here is a checklist that may come in handy on your move in day.
- Utilities have been transferred into your name.
- Make appointments for cable/internet to get hooked up or placed in your name.
- Complete an address change online through the Postal Service.
- May have to clean a little, everyone’s idea of clean is different.
- File your important documents in an accessible place for future needs or questions.
- Change your locks, you don’t know how many people could have keys to your house. (Neighbor, family relative, dog walker) You can have the locks rekeyed or buy new locks for your home.
- Review where your shut off valves are for gas, water & electric.
- Lock out solution, do you want to hide a key outside or have a backup plan for being locked out of your home.
- Check your smoke detectors and replace batteries, get a fire extinguisher.
- If a security system applies you may need to get that transferred into your name.
- Create a home maintenance checklist (change furnace filters, underground sprinklers blow out in fall, clean gutters, etc).
- Did you purchase a home warranty, check to confirm it is in place.
- Celebrate with a housewarming!