Spring is just around the corner and the weather is warming up in the Statesville NC area! What a great time to print out a list of homes you like and take a drive by them to see what they really look like and if you like the area surroundings.
I have had lots of calls recently from first time homebuyers that are unfamiliar with the process of buying a home so I thought I would post some helpful tips to get you started.
1. The first step is to talk with a lending institution to review your financial situation and determine what you are able to qualify for. If you do not have a contact, please email me and I will be happy to send you a list of some very good loan professionals.
2. Next you want to find a good Real Estate Agent to represent you as your Buyer’s Agent (I am raising my hand). NEVER, I repeat, NEVER drive around and call off the signs and here is why. The agent listed on that sign is the Listing agent and they represent the Seller and the sellers interest. They do not represent you. They can become a “Dual Agent” and represent both sides but you are still not getting full representation. Get a buyer’s agent to represent you and only you. That person will help you find homes and can get you into EVERY home listed for sale in the MLS, they will get you all the information you need and work to get you the best deal.
3. Start searching for homes! Your agent will sit down with you and help determine what type of home will fit your needs based on what you tell them in your initial consultation. They will set up a personalized search for you and will look everywhere to find the home of your dreams. When can also search the internet on your own to find homes that you may like. I would suggest printing out several homes and get a list from you agent and then take a day and drive by those listings to see if you like the neighborhood or location. You will find you will throw out lots of homes you thought “looked good”. Your objective is to find 3-5 homes that fit your needs and then take a good look at all they have to offer, preview the homes one or two times and narrow it down to the perfect one.
4. Make an offer. Your realtor will help you determine a fair offer price based on recent sales in the area. You will draw up an offer to purchase and present it to the Listing agent for consideration by the seller. Please note that you will need money for Down payment (depending on the type of loan you have), appraisal, credit report, earnest money and/or due diligence fee, inspections and closing costs.
5. Once your offer is accepted, you will need to have inspections done on the home to make sure it is in good condition and there are no hidden surprises. You will need a good Home Inspection, Pest Inspection and possibly Radon, mold and water tests. You may also need a survey done. Hire experienced contractors and ask your agent for recommendations. Here is a list of professionals I use.
6. If everything checks out with the home, you are headed into the home stretch – The closing. Your realtor will work with your lender to make sure all the paperwork get to the closing attorney you selected. Your attorney will run a title report to be sure the property is free of liens and judgments and will prepare a settlement statement of final closing costs. This form will tell you how much, if any, funds you will need to close on the home. You will meet at the attorney’s office (or other agreed upon place) and close on your new home. Once the deed is recorded, you get your keys!
This is just a quick summary of the entire home buying process but beware that there are lots of other things involved in purchasing a home and you need an experience professional by your side. Do not go it alone, it will only cost you in the end. The biggest piece of advice I can give you in this market is to have lots of PATIENCE, especially if you choose to purchase a distressed home. There are lots of things that can go wrong and you need to be prepared for that. Talk to your agent and have a back up option if things don’t work out on your first choice.
Here is a link to a webinar for First Time Homebuyers presented by Tami Bonnell, the president of Exit’s North American Operations.
Happy House Hunting!
Other Helpful Links to home listings:
Bank of America Foreclosure Listings: Equator Sign up as a buyer and enter the cities you want to be notified of new listings.
HUD Listings: HUD HOME STORE