Buyer Resources Highest level of service & professionalism
Eight Insider Tips For Home Buyers
- Be a Pre-Approved Buyer: A pre-approved buyer always has the advantage in an offer situation. Becoming pre-approved is very easy: you complete your loan application with a credit check prior to beginning your home search process. Pre-approval means that you have actually been approved for the purchase by a lender, which gives you the edge in home purchase negotiating.
- Beat The Competition to The Best New Listings: The search process can be both fun and trying. You will notice that some homes sell very fast and others hang around for long periods of time. The best homes at the best prices sell fast. Keeping on top of this is essential. Connect with a professional Real Estate agent that knows the market and keeps you updated.
- Do The Research: Make yourself a "home value expert." Investigate the areas and price ranges for the kind of home you are looking for. Get a good idea of the price ranges these homes sell for and how long the market time is for them. Your agent is a great asset here.
- Have Your Offer Presented in Person: Your agent represents you and your best interests. To adequately do this, make sure that your home offer is presented by them directly to the seller. The personal touch will give you the edge. Your agent also might pick up critical information during this meeting.
- Prove That You Are a Serious Buyer: The best way to accomplish this is with strong earnest money. This might mean that you put 5% or more down to get the sellers attention.
- Don't Go Crazy: Even in a hot market, be cool and calculated with your decisions. A knowledgeable agent can really help you here. Your home purchase may be your single largest investment. It is important to make sure that you get the best deal possible. Overpaying now will make it harder to get your value back when you sell.
- Keep Your Offer Simple and Clean: Make sure that your contract to purchase is simple, clean and not bogged down with unnecessary contingencies, especially repairs. Keep the time frames of repairs and responses to a minimum. The cleaner your offer, the more interested the seller will become. This may help you purchase the property at the best price.
- Don't Wing It Alone: What you need most in today's complex marketplace is an experienced and professional real estate agent who represents your interests only. No matter how heated the competition or the negotiations, a professional agent will represent your best interests, keep you from paying too much and help you maximize your investment.
Are you looking for an agent to represent you and your best interests? You, the home buyer, pay nothing for a professional agent. Their fees are paid for by the seller.
Questions to Ask Any Agent
- How long have you been in residential real estate in our area? If they have not been in local real estate for several years, they have not been involved in the cyclical market that has defined our market to date. Along with this, ask how many transactions they average per year. One agent could have been in business 10 years and have only closed 30 transactions, while another agent could have been in business 5 years, yet closed 500 plus transactions. Experience is relative to the amount of business the agent does.
- What is your procedure for assisting a buyer from beginning to closing? Make sure that the agent has a precise presentation for you that explains exactly how they work and how they represent only you and your best interests.
- What is your experience with financing alternatives, and what might they be in my situation? Each buyer's situation is different. We can literally put you in a much better financial situation with the same monthly payments simply by adjusting the financing. You might have many alternatives. Don't depend solely on the lender. Your agent should lead the way.
- How do you determine my qualifications and when? You would be shocked at how rare it is for an agent to complete your qualifications right away. Even so, it is important to have this done early in the process. This way you are ready to make a strong offer at a moment's notice, increasing your chances for not only finding, but buying the home of your dreams.
- How do you provide me with information on new homes for sale? Your agent should have a system that automatically updates you when new homes meeting your criteria come on the market.
- What is your negotiating philosophy, and how do you apply it to me? This is important. Play close attention to how many transactions the agent does per year. More is better. The more transactions the agent closes, the more experience they have in negotiating just about every situation that could come up.
- How do you find the best value for me? How do you make sure it is a good value? This is important because the agent should have some immediate and concise answers as to how they accomplish this for you. They should have systems in place and be able to explain them to you.
- How do you protect me from the extensive costs that lenders, title companies, inspectors and others charge a home purchaser? The typical answer is that these charges are just normal. Make sure that the agent has relationships with companies that can offer you good service and some discounts. Also make sure that the agent has an immediate knowledge of what typical costs are.
- Can you sell us a new, resale or foreclosed home? Most agents will answer affirmatively, but you should follow up with questions about specific builders and areas.
There are many more questions to ask, this is just a sampling.
Do’s and Dont's While Your Loan is in Process…
- Have available copies of recent pay stubs, bank statements and other important financial documentation.
- Provide all documentation for the sale of your current home (sales contract, closing statement).
- Notify your Loan Officer if you have an employment change (changes may include but are not limited to: change of employer, recent raise, or change of pay status from salary to commission).
- Change jobs without inquiring about the impact this change would make on the approval of your loan.
- Make major purchases during or prior to closing (new credit cards, store cards, new car, furniture, appliances, electronics – even if there is no payment or interest due until next year). This will impact your debt to income ratios.
- Obtain and/or deposit sums of money that are not payroll related without informing your Loan Officer. Depending on the amount you may be required to provide documentation on the source of funds.
- Open, close or transfer any asset accounts without proper documentation required for your loan file.
When purchasing a home, you will need to acquire homeowners insurance. In fact, all lenders will require a policy be in force prior to funding the loan. Make sure you have enough coverage, should anything happen. Policies refer to "replacement costs" that may not cover everything.
You should ask your insurance agent a lot of "what if" questions. The deductible amount also plays a big part in setting your premium. Higher deductibles lower the number of claims, and reduce your insurance costs.
Check with your insurance agent for more information on these issues, and any others. If you don't have an insurance agent, we have access to several top-notch agents we can refer you to with confidence.
All sellers with homes built prior to 1978 are required to fill out a lead-based paint disclosure form and provide you, the buyer, with a lead-based paint educational booklet in any sale. Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes.
Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly.
On the other hand, there are millions of homes with lead paint out there, and many have been painted and repainted several times so the lead paint is well covered up. If in doubt, have the paint tested and evaluated either at a local laboratory, or with one of the home test kits available at your local hardware store.
Energy Efficient Windows
Single pane, double pane, thermo pane, triple pane windows, plain glass, leaded glass, low "e" glass, wired glass, and tempered glass, too. WOW - There's a lot to know!
Some children have been known to shatter a window or two. Tempered glass can prevent this. Fogged thermal pane windows might need to be replaced if their seals are broken. New argon gas filled windows work well to insulate, while low-e coatings reduce the heat transfer for south facing rooms.
There is a lot of information available on the web, but we will be happy to show you the different types of windows and glass as we show you around homes, so be sure to ask us.
Insulation "R" Values
The most important thing to be aware of with insulation, other than the safety issues of urea formaldehyde and asbestos (covered elsewhere), is the R value, or the insulating factor. The higher the number, the better the insulator.
Don't be too shocked if the insulation in the 15 year old home you are considering isn't near the R value of a brand new home. While there is no question you could save on heating bills by adding more insulation, sometimes it can take many, many years to recoup the costs.
Often, gas or power companies have financial assistance programs including low interest loans or even grants available if you boost your insulation. Talk to your home inspector about any upgrade recommendations before purchasing your next home.
You will spot several different types of plumbing systems in any housing market, including our own. Copper, galvanized, rigid plastic, polybutylene, and soft plastic are but a few. Certain systems are more prone to having certain problems.
Galvanized water pipe is most prone to rusting on the horizontal surfaces (such as under a floor) versus vertical surfaces (running up a wall) and it corrodes from the inside out. Some rigid plastic systems have been recalled, while others have fared very well.
The most reliable types seem to be made of copper, but again there can be issues to check: are the hangers plastic lined? Are there any lead solder joints? A good home inspector can help you identify any problem areas before you buy. There are several reputable inspectors in our area that I would be happy to refer.
The type of wiring in residential homes generally depends on when the home was built, where it was built and if it has been updated. In the older homes, knob and tube type wiring was the norm, replaced later by plastic-sheathed wiring.
In most cases the newer plastic-sheathed wiring is copper, insulated with plastic and then wrapped with insulation and another layer of plastic for protection. Breaker boxes are another story; sometimes a well-meaning home owner can inadvertently make things unsafe.
It is always wise to consult a reputable home inspector and even an electrician before you buy. A little homework today can save you a lot of money down the road.
When you are checking out homes, there are several items in our market you need to be aware of - including man-made siding. A lot has been said about L.P. (Louisiana Pacific) OSB (Oriented Strand Board) products, and they have borne most of the bad press.
But did you know that there can be issues not just with LP, but with Omni Board (made by Masonite) Stimson Fortestex, Weyerhauser and others? You need to know, Siding replacement can cost tens of thousands of dollars!
When the time is right, ask us about ASHI home inspectors and the benefits of making your offer contingent upon YOUR approval of a home / siding inspection where necessary.