Buying Your First Home? Know These 3 Things

to rent or buy a house

I love working with first-time home buyers. Helping you find your first home, learn the home buying process, and guiding you from house-hunting to move-in day gives me the warm fuzzies. Here are three things you should know before you start looking.

  1. Work with one real estate agent. It’s best to have one agent who is helping you with your search. Your agent will be dedicated to finding you the right property, and then negotiating on all the terms of your transaction on your behalf. You want that person to get to know you and your family’s needs and preferences, rather than starting over with someone new each time you go look at a house. Keep in mind that the agent who shows you a home is, ethically, the one who should continue the transaction. Also, when you call an agent from a yard sign or advertisement, you are dealing with the seller’s agent. While most real estate professionals are adept at handling both sides of a transaction professionally, it makes more sense to deal with someone you have already taken time to get to know and who has your best interests at heart as the buyer. Your agent is paid at closing; unless otherwise stated, by the seller through the proceeds of the sale. Still, you are hiring someone to work for you, so feel free to interview multiple agents and pick the one that you feel fits you best.
  2. You need to be pre-approved for financing. Unless you are paying cash for your home, you do need to talk to a lender before you start looking at houses. One reason is that it helps you set an accurate price range for house hunting. Looking at homes that you can’t afford to make an offer on just leads to frustration. A mortgage lender will not only tell you what amount you can borrow, but also your projected monthly payment, your closing costs, and what you should or shouldn’t do with your finances to maintain your eligibility throughout the lending process. Another reason for having an up-to-date pre-approval in hand is so you don’t lose out to another buyer. If you find the perfect house, you will want to get an offer in before someone else gets it, and that pre-approval letter must accompany your offer. I would be happy to provide you with names of mortgage lenders in our area who have provided excellent service to my clients.
  3. There are some up-front costs. When you find the right house, and you and the seller have agreed on the price and terms and have signed the contract, you will first need to make your earnest money, or “good faith” deposit. This is money you are risking if you back out of the deal for reasons not protected in the contract. Usually it can be around 1% of the sales price but can be more or less depending on what you and the seller agree to in the contract. Your agent will help you with this during negotiations. The earnest money deposit gets credited back to you at closing either to pocket or to put towards closing costs (your lender will outline that).
    Next, you should have an inspection of the property done by a certified home inspector. This cost varies depending on the size, condition, age, and features of the home, but is usually a few hundred dollars. You will need to pay this at the time of service. You may elect to pay for other inspections based on the results of the initial inspection. For example, if the inspector notes an issue with the HVAC system, you may need to pay a service fee for an HVAC contractor to look at the system. You want to get as much information during your inspection period as you need to confidently move forward with the purchase.
    An appraisal of the property will be ordered, but these can be added to your closing costs and sometimes not expected to be paid in advance. However, you may be asked to provide a credit card number to be charged in the event that the closing does not take place.

I will guide through all of these steps throughout your home buying journey. Ready to get started? Give me a call!

6 Reasons Why December is a Good Month to Buy a Home

blog for home buying in December

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most people cringe at the thought of buying a home in December. Only the Grinch would want to pack up and moving during the holiday season! But hold on Cindy Lou Hoo, there are several reasons December can be a great time to buy.

1. Sellers are highly motivated. People who are listing their homes in December are usually on a timeline. They may be relocating for work, wanting to move over the school break or need to sell their home before the end of the year.

2. You have less competition. Listings do go down in December, but many buyers also take a break during the holiday season. So while the overall number of homes available might be lower, you also have less competition looking.

3. You can get a better price. Motivated sellers and fewer lookers means you can make a better deal. If your seller needs to make a move before the end of the year, they will be willing to work with you on all other terms besides closing date.

4. Rates are staying low. Mortgage rates are forecast to remain low through the end of this year, and into 2021, so it’s a good time to buy.

5. Take advantage of tax benefits. If you close on your home purchase by December 31st, you can take tax deductions for mortgage interest, loan points, and property taxes.

6. Schedules are more flexible. You might think December is too busy of a month for moving, but most people tend to have more flexible schedules in December. Children’s activities are suspended, work schedules are more lax, for both you, your sellers, as well as your lender, home inspector, and moving companies, so scheduling all the parts of your transaction and move may actually become easier.

I’d love to help you find your next home. Let’s make your holiday wishes come true!

The Surprising Effect of Homeownership You Won’t See on HGTV

home pet

I saw this article and thought it should be shared!  So many people watch HGTV and think “hey, that’s not heard-I can do it!”

Reality TV can be glamorous; yet despite the name, doesn’t usually reflect real life.  Here’s how your life will actually (positively) change after buying a home. 

Questions You Should Ask When Buying New Construction

What to ask when buying new construction

There’s nothing like moving into a home that is truly new, with no smells, smudges or dust left behind by a previous owner. Even better is when you get to make your own custom selections. But buying from a builder is a different ball game and it’s important you know how to play. Consider these questions if you are considering new construction.

Should you use a real estate agent? I think so! The builder may have sales agents or an assistant that helps buyer’s through the process, but those people work for the builder. It’s always a good idea to have a professional advocating for you, and most builders will pay agents a commission for bringing the buyer. It’s important that your agent accompany you to the first visit to the model center or builders’ office so that representation is established.

Does the builder have a good reputation? We’ve all heard stories of builders who fail to deliver on their promises, using lower grade materials than quoted, or even disappearing before the work was completed. Check out your builder before signing anything. Find out if there are any complaints registered against them and ask for references from other homeowners. Find out if you can tour a model or a recently completed home, and bring someone who can judge the quality of the workmanship.

Should you use the builders’ lender? Many builders work with a preferred lender that offers attractive discounts on closing costs when you finance through them. It’s important to know if the lender is working as a referral or if the mortgage company is owned by the same company that is building your home. If your lender and builder both work for the same company, it’s a good idea to have an attorney review your contracts as an independent set of eyes.

What are the deed restrictions and is there an HOA? Developers usually file a subdivision’s restrictive covenants when applying for approval to build the development. Any persons buying property in the development are bound to abide by these restrictions. You can get a copy of the deed restrictions from the builder. Also ask if there is, or will be, a homeowner’s association, what the HOA fees will be and what they cover.

Can the builder charge extra for unexpected cost increases? Look over the builder’s contract carefully, or have an attorney do so, and note if there is an escalation clause that would allow the builder to pass cost increases onto you in the event that materials or labor costs increase during construction.

What warranties are provided? Normally a builder offers a warranty lasting from six months to two years, possibly longer for some items. You should know what is covered under the builder’s warranty and for how long. All the major structural items and mechanical systems are usually covered. Appliances are not, but they should come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Damage from weather, shrinkage or expansion of the home or foundation, and anything resulting from the homeowner’s failure to provide maintenance or from work done on the home after construction is not covered.

What is the timeline for completion? This will depend on whether the build is a production home, meaning the builder is building select models throughout a development, or if you have hired the builder to build a custom home. Production homes can be completed in three to four months, where custom homes usually take a minimum of six months. Regardless, the builder should be able to give you a timeline outlining each phase of construction. Factors affecting the timeline include weather, delays receiving building supplies, or the number of changes you make along the way.

Can you choose different finishes or colors? Again, it depends on the type of build. Certainly, if you are building a custom home, you can make as many changes as you are willing to pay for. But if the home is part of a development and the builder has color palettes and finishes chosen, there may be a limit to how much you can change. Often the builder will allow you to change paint colors, flooring, fixtures, tile or appliances, as long as what you choose is in line with the budget he set, and those items have not already been ordered.

Can you get a credit if you buy your own appliances? If you already own your own appliances or prefer to choose something different from the builder’s choice, ask if you can be credited back the amount he had budgeted to pay for those items.

Is landscaping included? It’s no fun to get to the end of construction and find out there is no budget for landscaping. Find out what the builder plans to put in in terms of grass, trees, and shrubbery. You may want to make additions or changes to his landscape plan.