We’ve comprised a list of commonly asked questions from buyers!
BEFORE THE BUYING PROCESS
Should I talk to a lender first? It is very important to talk with a lender before looking at houses. A lender can help you understand exactly how much you can afford and explain what costs are associated with buying a home. These include your down payment, pre-paid items and closing costs. Also a lender will give you advice on the right financing for you.
Most importantly, you will need a pre approval letter to accompany any offer you make.
How long does it take to buy a house? Once you have an Accepted Offer (Contract) on a home – the closing date is typically 45-60 days from the accepted offer date. If you are paying cash, this timeline can be considerably shorter if the seller agrees to a quick closing date. Otherwise, during this time there are many things that need to be completed (depending on the contract) such as:
Home Inspection • Appraisal • Financing • Document preparation for closing
When should I start looking at homes? Do you have a lease? Do you want to be in before school starts? Is your family size changing? If so, then these are the dates you should keep in mind when you start looking for houses. You can start looking at houses on line at any time. This will give you a good idea of what type of houses are available in your price range. But if you have a lease for 6 more months, that home you fell in love with today most likely will not be around when it’s time for you to move. Depending on the number of houses available for sale that match your criteria – it may take weeks or months to find the right house.
Should I sell my current home before I buy another house? It all depends on your financial situation and if you feel comfortable with the potential of having two houses at one time (until you sell your current house). In a Seller’s Market however, many sellers will not consider a “home sale” contingency.
The biggest benefit to buying a house before you sell your current home is that you now have a suitable property lined up. This can reduce the stress and pressure of having to find a home once your current house is sold.
If you are unable to purchase a house without selling your current one first, your purchase has to be “contingent upon the sale and closing” of your current home. In this case, the seller can still market and sell his or her house looking for another offer to “bump” you and you can possibly lose out on the house you want.
Selling your current home before buying a new home Selling your house before you put an offer on another house puts you in a better negotiating position with the seller. You now know exactly what your house is worth (since you have an offer on your house) and you know when the closing date will be. This makes you a more viable buyer.
Do I really need a real estate agent when buying a house? There are many reasons as to why you should have a Buyer’s agent on your side when buying a home. It is especially important when it’s your first home. A Real Estate agent can do more than just show houses. A buyer’s agent will be your trusted guide to help you navigate through the jargon, the contracts, the timelines, the possible pitfalls and help you achieve your goal of owning a home.
Who pays the real estate agent fees? In most cases, the seller pays the fees for either a buyer’s agent or a seller’s agent.
WHILE HOUSE HUNTING
Can I call the agent on the sign to make an appointment? If you are working with a Buyer’s Agent and you are under contract, please do not call the listing agent (on the sign). It is never, ever a bother to call your Buyer’s Agent for more information…no matter how many times you’ve called or even for a simple question. Your agent can arrange the showing appointment.
What’s the neighborhood like? How are the Schools? There are guidelines and rules against “steering” and providing opinions/personal insights about specific areas and neighborhoods for real estate professionals. Today there are so many on line sites to provide statistics on local economy growth, school rankings, crime, taxes and amenities.
What are the average utility bills? It’s important to know the additional costs associated with owning a home. Utility bills can be obtained from the home owner or you can contact We-Energies for the high/low/average utility cost for the house. Keep in mind, if you’re buying a house from a family of 7 and you’re a family of 3 – your utility bills may be a bit different.
Can I build a garage, put up a fence…..? If the house has an active HOA (home owner’s association) there most likely will be a set of rules and restrictions to abide by. Be sure to read them if you want to park a boat outside during the summer, build an extra garage/shed or want to put up a fence for your pet. Also check with the municipality before you fall in love with the house.
What’s the age of the major mechanicals? It’s not uncommon to ask about the ages of specific items in the house. Most buyers want to know about the age of the roof, furnace, AC, windows and water heater. Some sellers may not have this information readily. Installation date tags may be visible on the furnace, AC and water heater. This is a good question to ask before looking at houses, it you don’t want a “fixer-up”.
How many homes should I look at before I put an offer on a house? There is no magic number. Don’t feel like you’re making a mistake if you want to buy the first home you look at…if it checks all the boxes and feels like home, then it’s the one.
WHEN MAKING AN OFFER TO PURCHASE
How much should I offer? Your real estate agent can provide value information as to what current homes are selling for in the neighborhood. Your offer should be based on the condition, location and desirability of the house for sale (and if there are multiple offers already on the table).
What is Earnest Money? Earnest Money is an amount 1-2% of the purchase price that the buyer writes into the Offer to Purchase. The Earnest Money is deposited in the Real Estate Broker Trust Account and subtracted from the final figure the buyer pays at closing. The primary purpose of Earnest Money is to show the seller you are serious about purchasing the home. In some cases, the higher the Earnest Money, the stronger the offer looks to a seller.
How long does the seller have to respond to my offer? The deadline of an offer can vary from 12 hours to 3 or 4 days. It depends on how the offer is structured. You may want to give the seller some time to respond if the seller is going to be out of town. If it is a new listing, you may want to shorten up that timeframe. However, if a seller is not going to accept your current terms, he or she does not have to respond during this time frame. They could respond right away or they may take a day or two past your deadline. The terms of your offer are only good through your deadline.
What if my offer is rejected? There are four possible outcomes when an offer is submitted to the seller: Acceptance, Counter Offer (or Multiple Counter), Rejection, or no response. If your offer is rejected, you have the option to place another offer (if seller hasn’t accepted a different offer).
Can I find out what the other buyer offered? Unfortunately, it is against the law for real estate agents to share any details of an offer with someone not party to that offer. The listing broker cannot violate the duty of confidentiality to the first buyer. The buyer expects his offer terms to be confidential because the duty of confidentiality applies to all parties to a transaction. With the seller’s permission, the listing agent may disclose the existence of a bump clause (a home sale contingency).
What inspections can I ask for? Most buyers ask for a Home Inspection contingency. This is a period of 7-14 days for the buyer to have a licensed home inspector visually inspect the premises. This is a cost of approximately $400 – $600 that the buyer pays.
Testing is independent of Inspection. Any Radon, Mold, Asbestos, etc must be included in the Offer to Purchase and agreed upon by the seller.
Typically, it is the seller’s responsibility to conduct and pay for the water/well and septic inspections.
YOUR OFFER WAS ACCEPTED! WOOHOO!
Now what? Between contract acceptance and closing, there are many things that need to be completed…financing, appraisal, inspections, title and closing paperwork to name a few. We provide a closing date checklist and make sure all duties, dates/deadlines and contingencies are met ensuring a smooth and successful closing.
These are just a few of the many, many questions you will have before, during and after the home buying process. We are always available to answer any questions or concerns you may have. It’s never a bother to us.