Buying a home may be one of the largest and best decisions you will ever make. We are here to assure you that we will work hard to find the perfect home for you, to securing the right price. You may ask “…is it the right time for me to buy a home?” The answer is, once finances are known, there really is never a bad time to buy the ideal home.
We at Robert Buckner & Associates will do our very best to be available to show homes on your schedule and answer any questions you may have. We intend to keep you informed of any changes in the market, and will research and preview homes to find the ones that fit your needs. Our goal is to make the house-hunting experience stress free by scheduling showings, to the best of our ability, at your convenience. We will explain the advantages and disadvantages of each property you visit, and provide up-to-date information about the neighborhood including the school district, infrastructure and amenities. Lastly, we will help you make the offer and be there with you through the entire closing process. We are the REALTOR® you can count on.
Here are some key steps in the buying process that should be considered:
1. Get Pre-Approved. The first and most important step is to evaluate your finances. Work with a financial institution to understand not only what you can afford but also what you are comfortable with. Be ready to provide income tax returns, W2’s, pay stubs and bank account statements. Lenders may approve a value that you may not be comfortable with making the payments. Trust your instincts on what you can afford with consideration going to things such as retirement, children, college, aging parents, etc. It isn’t any fun to have a beautiful home and not be able to maintain a savings account, afford a vacation or save for retirement planning.
Find out what your credit report is by going to the website: Annualcreditreport.com. From there you may obtain a free credit report from one of the three main credit agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. There is currently no cost to obtain a credit report however there may be a small fee to obtain your credit score.
Knowing this ahead of time will greatly assist you when it comes to time search for a home and to make an offer.
2. Become Informed About The Process. Consider reading a book or taking a finance class. Many buyers shop for mortgage rates but not the associated fees. Be aware that rates change daily and there are many different types of mortgages. The attractiveness of a low interest rate may be offset by higher upfront fees. Much of this also depends on how much money you are able to put down as a down payment.
3. Find The Real Estate Agent That Is Right For You. Consider talking to friends, obtain referrals and interview various agents to find the agent that is right for you. Experience and trust should be a given. The agent works for you so if you are ever unhappy feel free to find another agent that meets your needs.
4. Affordability. Search for the home that you can afford. There is no reason to look for homes that the asking Price is $600,000 when your lender has approved you for $450,000. Doing a little background search on your own to find the neighborhood(s) that appeal to you will be helpful. Likewise, you should make a list of all of the features that you want in a home and the surrounding area as well as those that would be nice to have. Stay calm through the process and look at the entire home. Some are diamonds in the rough and with a little work will shine brightly, while others may require a bit more work than you are willing to tackle and some will be perfect just as they are. Each one may have the potential to be the perfect home depending on your needs and timeframe.
5. Research The Area. Check with the local school board office to find out what the local schools are and if there are any plans to redraw the zones. Crime reports are found at the local police departments or possibly through their websites.
Drive through the neighborhoods you are interested in at various times of the day and on the weekends to see the level of activity. Know where the grocery stores are as well as restaurants, hospitals and shopping. Last but not least, talk to friends, neighbors and coworkers.
When you find a home you are interested in be considerate to the homeowner. Keep appointments or if you need to cancel please do by giving enough notice so that the homeowner is not inconvenienced. Never put down their home with comments about paint choices, decorating or features. Stress what you like and if you want to make an offer below the asking price do so and justify it without hurting the seller’s feelings or you may risk losing the home.
6. Your Offer Should Be Realistic. Learn what homes nearby have sold for and make a realistic offer. Do your research. Find out how old appliances are roof, carpet and if there are any sinkholes in the area.
A good agent will tell you if your offer is too low which can offend the seller. On the other hand, in a seller’s market things can get a bit crazy because the buyer doesn’t have as much control as they might like. Houses often have multiple offers and will typically sell at the asking price in a seller’s market. Interestingly this can become a sticky point when the buyer goes to get their mortgage and finds that the appraisal comes in a bit lower than the amount needed for the loan. In this situation the lender will not give a loan for more than the appraised value and you will need to come up with the difference in cash, renegotiate or find another home.
You have made an offer. What should you do next?
7. Ask Questions And Read All Of The Documents. Ask questions of your Realtor. Know if there are deed restrictions and association dues preferably prior to making the offer. You may even want to have a survey done of the property to make sure you know where the property lines are. This can be of particular importance if you are concerned with an existing fence or wish to put one up in the future. Take the time to understand the closing costs which are displayed on the HUD-1 settlement statement (should be given to you at least 24 hours prior to closing). Consider getting at least one home inspection from a reputable company. Do a walk-through of the home and the property prior to going to the closing to make sure all issues have been resolved and no changes were made that you were not aware of.
Tampa Bay Times, April 19, 2015 “5 Tips for easy home closing”
Tampa Bay Times, April 19, 2014 “7 Crucial steps to take while house hunting”
Tampa Bay Times, March 30, 2014 “10 tips for first-time homebuyers”