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As you are preparing to purchase real estate there are many steps of the sale that I like to recommend. I operate differently than many other realtors. Part of the service that I provide is that I work with fewer clients at a time and far more intensively than some of my competitors. I’ve found that communication and education is key in the home purchasing process. My clients come away from their transactions as if they were “mini realtors,” and are able to gauge value on their own.

In order to better serve you, I have compiled a list of suggested action items below for you to follow. From financing to deciding which neighborhood is best, allow my expertise to assist you throughout the process.

First Meeting: Before we start the home search process, I always start my client relationships with a two hour question and answer session. This allows us to go over the real estate market in general, help determine the right market for you and go over a lot of other important details, such as tax rates.

Financing Arrangements: It is easy to calculate what your comfortable monthly budget is, but finding out what a bank will approve you for with regards to a mortgage is essential. Once we determine how much you qualify for, then we can begin our search for homes within your price range. Things like credit score, revolving balances and income all play factors in the amount you will qualify for. In addition, you will be issued a pre-approval letter. This letter is important to have as it will accompany your offer and prove your level of dedication to the seller.

You will want to ask your mortgage agent what to anticipate for closing costs. Keep in mind if you are putting less than 20% down, you will most likely be paying private mortgage insurance or “PMI” which will add on a small charge to your monthly payment. Your mortgage agent can review your options with products that vary in the amount you have to put down as well as options for you for down payment sources.

Home Viewing: Once we discuss your price range and wish list for properties, you will need to identify what areas are best to consider. My clients view more homes than the average buyers. This is partly due to the fact that depending on your needs, we may explore properties in markets that you might not have otherwise considered. Each neighborhood has different offerings including varying tax rates, services, school systems and accessibility. Honing in on what your personal needs are is the best place to start, then researching what the home prices are in those areas. I can be a great resource of information for you in this process. Throughout the home viewing process we will both keep track of the pros and cons of each property on a property tracking sheet, to better help you remember the homes that you feel would best fit your needs.

Making An Offer: Upon finding that perfect property, it will be time to make an offer. With market conditions as they are now, time is of the essence. It is important to have all of your necessary information together and ready to go. We will review comps in the area so that we can put together the best strategy and negotiations to get you the home at the right price.

Inspection: Once the seller has agreed to your offer, it may be a wise idea to have the home inspected. Hiring a professional home inspector to review the home for its current condition, construction and audit of necessary repairs will help you budget for future work or potentially adjust the offer conditions should there be any extreme fixes that are needed. However, a home inspection may not be necessary for every property, such as a new construction. Occasionally waiving an inspection of a property during a bidding war may also mean the difference between your offer being accepted and not.

Purchase and Sale Agreement: Once the inspection has been completed, the next step would be to enter contract. The signing of the Purchase and Sale Agreement (P&S) solidifies all terms and conditions of the deal. This legal contract identifies all aspects of the transaction including important dates and financials that pertain to the deal up to the closing. The signing of the P & S should be accompanied by the down payment monies which will then be held in escrow until closing.

Ask Questions: As exciting as the home search can be, always be sure to ask questions throughout the process. Things like the age of systems, why the seller is selling and the proximity to nearby services are all good considerations. Try to keep emotion out of the equation and back up your decisions with concrete reasons as to why this home is a good financial investment and place for you to call home.