On the surface, buying a home may seem like a relatively straightforward process. However there are dozens of variables in any transaction that can make home-buying quite complex. Being prepared and organized makes the process that much easier and more enjoyable. Here are some steps to take before beginning your search.
You have chosen the right agents! – Meyer Potts Properties (MMP) — Choosing an advisor to guide you through a transaction as important as buying a home is serious business. Experience in your preferred neighborhood and/or style of home is important, but so is the comfort level between agent and client, because buying a home is a highly personal experience.
Getting Pre-Approved — In today’s home-buying environment, a mortgage pre-approval is not only essential; it is also incredibly easy to obtain – whether online, over the phone or in-person. A mortgage pre-approval lets you know exactly what you can afford to buy. It also demonstrates to a seller that you are a willing and able buyer. And it gives you a head start in getting an actual loan commitment. Learn more about pre-approvals by visiting with one of our preferred lenders online or in person.
Creating a Wish List — Almost every home purchase involves some degree of compromise, which is why it is important to prioritize your wants and needs before you begin your search. There are many variables to think about depending on your prioritize your wants and needs before you begin your search. There are many variables to think about depending on your lifestyle, budget and future plans, but some universal considerations include (See Buyer Wish List):
Location – the Charleston area offers many great neighborhoods, each with its own character. Consider the factors that are important to you, such as schools; transportation; and neighborhood amenities like restaurants, shops and parks.
Type of home – A great diversity of housing exists within the area: single-family homes, condominiums, lofts, town homes, new-construction, vintage homes, re-sales and fixer-uppers. You probably have a preference for a certain style of construction. Weigh the pros and cons to narrow your focus.
Features and amenities – Garage parking, hardwood floors, a fireplace, outdoor space, community pool. In the end, these are the kinds of details that drive the decision to purchase one home versus another. In creating this list, some things to consider are resale value, your daily routine, and the cost of making changes or additions down the road.
Here are some ways to research an area you’re considering.
- Tap local resources like the Chamber of Commerce, which can provide information about area businesses and community events.
- Seek out neighborhood residents and get their opinion about where they live.
- Drive or walk through the neighborhood at various times of the day and evening
- Leverage your agent’s expertise in the neighborhood.
Once you have obtained a mortgage pre-approval and selected a real estate agent, you are ready to begin your home search in earnest. In 2014, approximately 92% percent of home searches begin on the Internet, and if you’re searching for a home in Charleston, there’s only one web address you need to know: www.meyerpotts.com. Our web site includes tools, tips and access to all of the Charleston properties listed in the MLS. Best of all, you’re in control. Sign up for me to manage and customize your search, receive e-mail updates on new listings as they become available, conduct several searches at once and save and compare properties.
Review Listings — Using the guidelines you set forth, we will present you with available listings. In addition to price and property attributes, pay close attention to data like property taxes, market time and monthly assessments for condos, town homes and HOA fees.
View Properties — Meyer Potts Properties will schedule showings and accompany you on each appointment. When you walk through a home, some things to consider are: how the space functions for your lifestyle, what’s included in the total square footage (balcony, basement or garage) and, in new construction, which features are standard and which are upgrades.According to the National Association of Realtors, the average buyer will view 11 homes before buying one. But that is just an average. Some buyers will purchase the very first home they see. Others will look at more homes.
Compare Properties — We will discuss each home with you, and we would like your candid feedback. Your expectations and the marketplace will begin to converge, and we will be able to adjust certain parameters such as location and features in order to present you with alternatives.
When you find a home and are ready to make an offer, your MMP agent will perform a Comparative Market Analysis or CMA. This report compares the subject property with other properties that are currently listed and recently sold to help you formulate your offer.
3. MAKING AN OFFER
Chances are, when you find a home you absolutely love, someone else may love it too. So it’s important to act quickly and make an educated offer based on a rational approach to pricing and negotiating that you and your agent have discussed.
To start the process rolling, we will draw up a contract that includes your offering price and other terms and contingencies. Buyers often focus on price, but there are other important terms to a real estate contract. You can include any terms you like, but the more you add, the more likely the seller is to object.
Here are the most common elements of a real estate contract:
Price — The market will determine the final price, but we will help you formulate an offer based on comparable listings and sales, and current market conditions.
Financing Contingency — A mortgage contingency stipulates that you will buy the home subject to obtaining a mortgage. If you cannot obtain a mortgage, then the contract will be void. The terms of the mortgage must be stated in the contract, and you will also need to establish a timeframe for securing financing.
Home Inspection Contingency — A thorough inspection of the property by a licensed home inspector protects you against structural or material problems that are not detectable in a casual walk-through. Home inspections are just as important in new construction as they are in resale. Obviously, buyers can’t inspect a home that isn’t built yet, but they can request an inspection prior to closing. In some cases, inspections will happen prior to the dry wall going up. In new construction, an inspector will make sure that all mechanical systems are working properly. They may also spot repairs that need to be added to the builder’s punch list (a list of items that need to be completed before the home is delivered to the buyer). The buyer, not the seller, is responsible for hiring and paying the inspector.
Earnest Money — Earnest money is a deposit, given by the buyer to the seller, which secures the contract until the closing. An initial deposit, usually in the form of a check, must be given to the seller or seller’s agent along with the contract. Earnest money is typically held in an escrow account until the closing, when it may be applied to the down payment and/or closing costs. If the sale does not go through due to contingencies covered within the contract, then the earnest money may be returned to the buyer. However, if a buyer is in breach of contract, then a seller may be entitled to keep all or a portion of the earnest money.
Closing Date — One of the most important terms of a real estate contract is the closing date – the date when ownership changes hands. This is usually, but not always, the date that the seller must vacate and the buyer may occupy the property. Flexibility on the closing date can give a buyer a big advantage over other potential buyers. Occasionally, it can also allow you to negotiate a lower price or other, more favorable terms.
4. COUNTER OFFERS
In many transactions, there is a fair amount of negotiation – offers and counteroffers – before both parties are satisfied. This is one aspect of a real estate transaction in which the MMP team is invaluable. Not only do we draw upon our experience and market knowledge to offer sound advice during a negotiation, but we can also serve as a buffer between the buyer and the seller/seller’s agent. Negotiating for a home can be a highly charged and emotional process. But the most emotional buyer will look like one cool customer behind the right agent, and in the end, you usually wind up with what’s important to you.
5. FROM CONTRACT TO CLOSING
In a real estate transaction, there are dozens of loose ends to tie up between signing the contract and closing the sale. Meyer Potts Properties is known for our attention to detail during this important phase. We also have a dedicated closing coordinator on our team, Kelly Ness, who will help organize and oversee the following steps:
- Deposit earnest money into the Keller William’s escrow account
- Recommend and schedule a home inspector and accompany the buyer on the inspection. It is always highly recommended that the buyer attend the inspection along with his or her Meyer Potts agent in order to make sure that any issues that come up are properly relayed to the buyer’s attorney.
- Identify area of concern on the inspection report with the buyer to create a repair addendum. MMP will then negotiate with the seller on your behalf.
- Recommend a real estate attorney
- Obtain important documents, such as property disclosure forms and condominium documents (budget, declaration, condo association minutes), and deliver them to the buyer and buyer’s attorney.
- Recommend a mortgage broker and help expedite the loan-application process.
- Monitor all contingencies to ensure that they have been met
- Recommend service providers for moving, home-improvement and repairs
- Schedule a final walk-through. Again, both buyer and buyer’s agent should be present.
- Coordinate your closing. In addition, if you have an existing home to sell, Meyer Potts Properties will customize a comprehensive marketing program to help you achieve the highest possible sales price in the shortest amount of time.
Meyer Potts Properties will work closely with you, your lender, your attorney, and the seller’s agent to make sure everything is in place for a smooth and efficient closing. Typically, a day or two prior to the closing, your lender will forward all loan documentation to the attorney and let you know the amount required to close. You will be responsible for wiring the balance of your down payment and closing costs (such as lender fees, title company fees, and state and city transfer taxes) to the closing in the form of money wire. The closing attorney does not accept checks. At the closing, your attorney will guide you through the many documents you need to sign, including the bill of sale, the deed and the affidavit of title.Meyer Potts Properties’ goal is to provide you with the information you need to feel confident at your closing. If you have questions about your closing, contact your us at any time.
7. AFTER CLOSING
While your transaction is complete, our work is not. In fact, Meyer Potts Properties maintains relationships with our clients long after closing. We are always glad to help you find a variety of service providers and tradesmen to perform work on your home or make life a little easier. As you’re getting settled into your new home, here are a few situations you may encounter in the coming months and years that are important to think about.
Home Improvement — Whether it’s a fresh coat of paint, new hardwood floors or a major kitchen remodel, most new homeowners have at least a few projects they want to undertake once they move in. We can even help you find a variety of service providers and tradesmen to perform work on your home.