Search Results

The Process of Buying a Home – First Time Home Buyer Tips

Here’s an outline describing the process of buying a home with some first time home buyer tips.

First thing’s first, relax. I know how you feel. I bought 2 homes before I became a real estate agent. I look back and if I could say one thing to myself then, I would say, “Relax and enjoy this. Have fun!” So in the process of buying a home, remember, relaxing and taking things one day at a time is paramount!

Here’s the “nuts and bolts” of the process. Remember, first thing is…R E L A X. Now I will take you through the rest of the typical process. I’m going to just focus on when you make an offer and go from there. However, before any of this, you must do three things. One, determine how much you can afford on a monthly basis (write down your monthly income and write down your expenses, including some for savings), this will give you what you can afford to manage the home (Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance, Heat, Electric).

Two, meet with a mortgage professional and get pre-approved for a mortgage. Without this, you are driving blind, because you have no idea which direction you should be going. Without knowing what you’re qualified for, how do you know what price range you should be looking in? The mortgage pre-approval is the foundation of your entire search.

Three, discuss your needs and preferences for the home and neighborhood you’d like to buy. Be realistic. Remember, this is a starter home most likely and over 70% of home buyers move after 7.5 years. Things change, families grow, money is greater, etc, so people “upgrade” or just move to another area.

Okay so we’ve got those basic items out of the way. Now you find the home (easier said than done…make it easier!). You make an offer. Once the offer is accepted, your offer will most likely be contingent on an engineer inspection of the property. To this point, no money is put down and you are not in contract. The purpose of the engineer inspection is to allow you to have a professional look at the home before going into contract.

Normally, any issues that are noticed during the inspection, are discussed up front, before the seller’s attorney sends your attorney a contract of sale. This allows for a smooth transition for the lawyers to execute a contract.

Once the inspection process is completed and any issues are addressed, you will be meeting with your attorney to sign a contract. Just a few notes here are needed.

One, the purpose of an engineer inspection is not to renegotiate the offering price. During your time of viewing the home before the inspection and before the offer, it’s important to pre-inspect the property the best you can and make notes of any little items that may need attention such as a leaky faucet or old water heater that needs replacement. All this should be taken into account before you make your initial offer. The purpose of an engineer inspection is to review electrical, plumbing, heating, and foundation/structural components of the home and not for a running toilet or a sliding glass door that’s hard to close.

Secondly, understand that during this process where your offer has been accepted by the seller and you move to get an inspection and work things out with your contract, that the home could still be sold to another party. You are not in contract until you (the buyer) and the seller(s) have signed a complete contract that is agreeable to both parties. So moving somewhat swiftly is advisable.

In moving on, once you’re ready to sign the contract, your attorney will review items in the contract and protect you legally. Both the seller and you, the buyer, have to be represented equally. Things like certificate of occupancy, survey, title work, mortgage contingencies, etc. will all be worked out in this contract.

As a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, I only show homes and help people buy and sell them. I do not render legal advise, so it’s important that you hire an attorney you are comfortable with, who can handle your legal representation to your satisfaction.

Once you’re in fully executed contract, where both you and the seller(s) have signed an agreeable contract, you will then move to acquire an appraisal of the home you’re purchasing. This is required by you bank, to establish the value of the home. The appraised value usually always comes in very close to the agreed upon sales price. However, with changes to Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC’s), there has been an increasing number of homes that have received low appraisals (a symptom of the tightening in the industry). Something I am well aware (lucky for my clients).

Once you’ve gotten this completed, it’s very important that you follow up with your lender to assure that you receive your mortgage commitment in a timely fashion. It’s also very important that your attorney do his/her part in ordering the title work and seeing to it that it is acceptable and that there are no issues to be addressed in the last minute. Being prepared and on the ball is the key.

Last minute items that you will need to address will be your money at closing and your home insurance. You should get quotes from companies ahead of time, during the beginning stages of your contract period. This way, in the last two weeks before your closing, you know exactly who to contact to get your proof of insurance.

Things to prepare yourself for include the need for a new survey. Sometimes, a survey on a home can be old or not acceptable due to any number of issues. So at times, you will have to pay for a new survey or an updated one from the company that did the original survey (if they’re still in business). This can be an unexpected cost, but in my opinion, a good expense. I believe every buyer should pay for a brand new survey of their land. But that’s my opinion.

Now in a worst case scenario, your lender may be laxed in underwriting your loan. This is where things can get very uncomfortable and tense. It’s important that you not focus solely on the “best rate”, but rather focus on a the “best bank”. What do I mean by “best bank”, give me a call and we can discuss that further. But I’ll give you a hint, a bank that underwrites its own loans and has comprehensive services (not just basic qualification of your credit and work history) is the bank to seriously consider.

On the day of the closing, you will have hopefully gotten “the numbers” from your attorney and you will get any money you need for closing in a certified check from your personal bank. You will bring that along with your check book and some cash to the closing. The cash is for the title agent at the closing, as it is common to tip them.

It is an exciting experience and with a good team of professionals helping you (real estate agent, attorney, lending institution), the process of buying your first home should be both a little “terrifying” and mostly fun! Good luck!

Four Tips To Help You Choose A Quality Home Inspection

Buying a home can be quite intimidating. It may be the single largest purchase you will ever make. You will definitely want the best possible home inspector in your corner. The independent home inspector can give you an unbiased opinion of the condition of your dream home before you take that final plunge. Both the cost and expertise of a Home Inspector can vary greatly. How can you be sure that you choose the Home Inspector that is, quite frankly, the best?

First, you need to understand what it is that a home inspector does. I like to think of Home Inspectors as “expert generalist.” I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who claimed the title of “jack of all trades, master of none.” A list of what is included in the inspection should be made available. In those states that require that home inspectors be licensed there is either a state issued standard or they have adopted the ASHI or NAHI standard. Both of these Home Inspector associations provide additional certification and have their standards and practices available on their respective websites. When you see the rather extensive list of what should be inspected you will realize that home inspectors need to have a general knowledge of every single aspect of the home they are inspecting. For instance, a licensed electrician may have extensive knowledge about lights, outlets, breaker panels and wiring. However, he may have little to no knowledge about foundations, plumbing, or roofing.

So, Tip number one: Look for an inspector that has varied knowledge and experience

States like Kentucky that issue licenses require training, but that training may be minimal and classroom hours cannot replace years of hands on experience. Don’t be afraid to ask a home inspector to outline his experience.

Tip number two: Don’t accept your agents recommendation without doing your own investigation

This is not to say that your real estate agent would bring in a “ringer” and not want you as a buyer to be fully informed. But, there is a fiduciary conflict of interest inherent to the relationship. In real estate, most would agree that ten percent of the agents sell ninety percent of the properties. So, who is to say that your agent has enough personal experience with an inspector or company to give a first-hand recommendation?

Ask your agent, point-blank, “would you use any of these inspectors if you were buying this home for you and family. But, what is important here is not where the recommendation came from, rather that you personally do your own investigation.

Tip number three: Select a home inspector that uses the most modern technology

“Thermal imaging is a non-invasive, non-destructive way of evaluating conditions below the surface. Because everything from faulty wiring to the presence of termites to mold to wet insulation affects the surrounding temperature, heat-sensitive photography can reveal these and other issues that just cannot be seen by the naked eye or with conventional or digital photography.”, says Dan Schuerman, a manager with PDmB, Inc., a home inspection software manufacturer.

Technology in the home inspection industry is exploding at an incredible rate. Find an inspector that is keeping pace with the most current advances in home inspection technologies i.e. boroscopes, moisture meters, digital thermometers, CO detectors, etc…

Tip number four: Choose the report that is easy to understand and includes the areas you are most concerned about

When you boil it down the report should be your most important consideration. When all the dust settles the report will be the single remaining remnant of your investment. Make sure that you get a sample report. Check out the format as this can vary greatly from one firm to another. Are photos included in the report and how well are they integrated in relation to reported issues? Some reports include photos, however they an indexed at the end and require constant page turning.

How are issues classified in the report? For instance, major concern, minor concern, repair/replace, safety hazard or are issues rated by cost. Holmes on homes noted an inspection report that listed over 250 inspection points as “serviceable”. A limited number of classifications can make a report tedious and may not provide the benefit of long-term budgeting for items with say a ten-year or five-year life expectancy.

Another great question is how the report addresses repairs or maintenance issues. Are there clear suggestions for the appropriate professional to address the concern? Are repair and maintenance recommendations included? And finally, is the language of the report full of technical jargon or is the information communicated in a way that is easily understood by the average home buyer?

In conclusion, finding the right home inspector can bring tremendous information to the table at a time when you can use it the most. Having an independent professional come along side of you and helping you to formulate a quality decision can make your buying experience far less stressful. You will not regret the time you spent researching and interviewing your local home inspection choices it will simply add to your peace of mind.

Home Inspection Tips for Buyers and Sellers

Many will think that home inspection is not essential while buying a house but it is not so. A home inspection is important for your family’s safety as all the components, systems, structure, appliances & installations are inspected thoroughly to ascertain they are working properly. By having a home inspection you will make sure that the house is safe your family to live in and you are paying the right price for the house.

Pre-requisites for Home Inspection

At the time a NACHI certified home inspector goes to the house for a home inspection you need to make sure that the seller provides him proper access from where he can inspect every area of the house. You need to ask the seller to remove storage containers away from wall to make it easy for the home inspector to check. In case he is not able to view any particular section of the house then he should indicate it in his report.

Broad Categorization of House Defects

Most of the problems that are looked at during a home inspection can be broadly categorized into following:

  1. Tracing major defects such as some type of structural failure.
  2. Things which can cause major problems in future such as minor roof flashing leakage.
  3. Problems in the house which can create hindrance in financing the house, insure or occupy it.
  4. Safety related problems like electric panel with buss bar which is exposed.

Home Inspection Tips for Sellers

A seller can expedite the home inspection process if he follows the under mentioned tips. If these suggestions are followed then it will result in smoother inspection and less number of concerns to solve before the closing.

  1. Check that electric, gas & water services are running. Additionally, make sure that gas pilot lights are properly burning.
  2. Avoid getting light inoperable report by changing burned out electrical items such as bulbs.
  3. Get rid of dead batteries so that they do not create problems during smoke tests and carbon monoxide detection.
  4. Check that air filters (HVAC) fit in properly.
  5. Clean out wood, stored items & debris kept near the foundation as home inspector may term it as ideal location for growth of termites.
  6. Clear the path leading to water heaters, HVAC equipment, electrical panels, crawl spaces, closets & attics so that these can be inspected properly.
  7. Check and repair broken things such as latches, door knobs, screens, window panes, chimney caps & downspouts.

As mentioned above the major defects categorization & tips for sellers on how they can make the house ready before the inspector comes to the house will greatly assist buyers and sellers in evaluating problems in the house and take remedial steps to solve these problems.