10 Common Home Buyer Questions & FAQ
“Should I talk to a loan officer before looking at houses?”
The answer to the question is YES! There are tons of reasons why you should talk with a lender and get pre-approved before looking at homes. First and foremost, talking with a lender before looking at homes can help you understand exactly how much you can afford. There is no reason to look at homes that are listed for $250,000 if you can only afford up to $200,000. Another important reason to talk to a lender is so you understand exactly what costs are associated with buying a home. There are many home buyers who don’t understand the difference between a down payment, pre-paid items, and escrows, which can be thoroughly explained by a mortgage professional. A mortgage professional can give you advice on the type of financing you should be looking to obtain and also whether or not you should request the seller to contribute towards your closing costs, also known as a seller’s concession.
First time home buyers: talking with a lender before looking at homes is strongly suggested, as there are many first time home buyer programs available. These programs can vary widely, so knowing exactly what’s available to you is critical.
Do I really need a Realtor when buying a home?”
We strongly recommended you have a Realtor. Attempting to buy a home without one can make the home buying process much more difficult. There are many reasons why you should have a Realtor represent your best interests when buying a home. A good Realtor is going to know the search area better than you ever could. Have your eye on a particular neighborhood, but it’s just out of your price range? Your Realtor is equipped to know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, so he/she can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked. As today’s housing market heats up, negotiations are more than likely to get a little heated. You can expect lots of competition, cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Don’t you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you? A Realtor will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies, and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs. It’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. Realtors make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying a home. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, interior designers, etc.—they’re all in your Realtor’s network. Use them. Realtors wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople but they’re also constantly driving around checking out listings for you, keeping their eye on anything that pops up that you may like. They’re researching comps to make sure you’re getting the best deal. They’re working for you at all hours of the day —whether you need more info on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in. This is the biggest financial (and possibly emotional) decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Realtors take lightly.
“Who pays the Realtor fees when buying a home?”
One reasons why buyers ask the question about the need of having a Realtor when buying a home is because they don’t understand who pays the Realtor fees when buying a home. In most cases the seller pays the Realtor fees and the buyer pays no commissions.
"What is a Short Sale vs What is a Foreclosure?”
Before getting involved with a short-sale, it’s important you understand exactly what it is and what to expect from a short sale. The easiest way to understand a short sale is the sale of a home in which the proceeds from the sale are less than the balance of debts secured by liens against the property and the home owner cannot afford to pay the liens in full. Before purchasing a short sale, you should consider things such as the time it can take for a short sale response, the fact that a foreclosure is still possible, and that many short sale properties are in disarray. Short sales are not impossible to buy but you must be patient and in no immediate rush to move.
A foreclosure, sometimes referred to as a REO, is a property that is owned by a lender. Foreclosures can actually be a smoother transaction than a short sale. If you’re considering the purchase of a foreclosure, it’s important to understand that most are sold “as-is.” Foreclosures, if not purchased by an owner occupant, are often purchased by investors, fixed up, “flipped,” and sold to a owner occupant.
“How is the neighborhood/area?”
When buying a home, a common question home buyers have is regarding the neighborhood/area. As a real estate professional, there are rules against steering and providing personal insight into specific areas and neighborhoods. This doesn’t mean that your Realtor cannot provide you with tips to help you choose the right neighborhood when buying a home. Many buyers wonder about the growth of the local economy, crime statistics, taxes, and local amenities. If you have a top Realtor, you will be able to receive all of the pertinent information and websites to allow you to make an educated decision on areas and neighborhoods.
“How are the schools?”
This is another question that Realtors tread very lightly with. There is no doubt that schools impact property values. Just like tips for selecting a neighborhoods, a top Realtor will be able to provide you with names or websites where you can find information on the local schools so that you can determine whether the schools are acceptable to you or not.
“What are the average utility bills?”
When buying a home, it’s important to know what additional costs will be in addition to the monthly mortgage payment. Utility bills are just one of the additional costs to consider when buying a home. Utility bills can be obtained from the home owner and in some cases, from the local utility company, who can provide averages over the past 12 months. Keep in mind, everyone prefers to have their home temperature different, so the average bill could be different if you were to purchase the home.
“How many homes should I look at before putting in a purchase offer?”
This question is often asked and there is a simple answer. The answer is that there is no specific number of homes you should look at before buying. You are not making a mistake if you purchase the first home you visit, and the same can be said if it takes you looking at 25 homes. Choose the home that feels right for you.
How much should I offer the sellers?”
When buying a home, you are the only one who can determine how much you should offer a seller. Certainly, it’s suggested you ask for your Realtor’s advice and thoughts, but ultimately you are the only person who can determine how much you should offer.
“What is an earnest money deposit?”
An earnest money deposit is also frequently referred to as a good faith deposit. When a buyer purchases a home, they provide the seller’s real estate broker an earnest deposit to hold in their escrow account. The primary purpose of this deposit is to show a seller you are serious about purchasing their home. The amount that is deposited is subtracted from the final figure that a buyer pays at the closing table. In most cases, the larger the deposit, the stronger a purchase offer looks to a seller.