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Frequently Asked Questions

Buying a home can be overwhelming, even if you have been through the process before. Working with an experienced full-time real estate agent can help you navigate the world of real estate and address your questions. As your third-grade teacher told you, ‘there are no stupid questions.’ Here are the ones I hear most often:
I'm ready to buy a home, what is the first step?

While attending open houses is much more exciting than filling out paperwork, the first step a homebuyer should take is getting pre-approved for a loan. This helps you determine how much house you can afford and set a firm budget. Sellers are also more inclined to take you seriously and consider your offer if they know the home is within your pre-approved limit.

How do I search for a home?
Start by viewing MLS listings on a real estate database, such as remax.com, Realtor.com or Zillow.com. Narrow down the results by searching for homes within your price range and with the desired number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Your real estate agent can and should research homes for you and make recommendations based on your criteria and financial ability.
How will my home purchase affect my taxes?
There are a number of tax benefits to buying a home, but filing your taxes can be a lengthy process if you aren’t used to itemizing. You can deduct your mortgage interest payments, as well as property taxes, points paid at closing, interest on home equity loans, lines of credit, and other items. A tax professional can help you decide what to itemize.
How does my credit score impact my home loan?
When determining how much home you can afford and whether you are eligible for a home loan, a lender will look at your credit score. Typically, you need a score of 640 or higher to qualify. The higher your credit score, the better lending terms you may be eligible for.
How much can I afford? And besides the mortgage payment, what other costs do I need to consider?
When you qualify for a home loan and look at the monthly mortgage payment it may see ‘doable’ but you must also factor in the additional costs associated with home ownership. Many times you can have your mortgage insurance and real estate taxes rolled into your monthly payment; however, additional utility costs, condo or homeowner’s association feeds need to be considered as well.
Should I get a home inspection?
Most Realtors unequivocally say yes, yes, and yes. A home inspector takes a weight off of your shoulders by looking into the condition of the roof, electricity, heating and air, plumbing and more. If some things are not up to par, you can negotiate with the seller to get those fixed before you sign the paperwork.
When can I back out if I change my mind?
Technically, buyers can always back out of a deal. Doing so without good reason may forfeit your earnest money. Contingencies in your contract are great loopholes.  For example, upon an unsatisfactory home inspection, the buyer can ask for their deposit back. Another loophole is ‘subject to appraisal.’ That means you can back out if the lender for your loan doesn’t think the property is worth what you offered. That said, you should only enter into a legally binding contract if you are serious and committed to the purchase.
Can I buy a home and sell my current one at the same time?
Yes, you can—but it’s the real estate equivalent of walking a tightrope. If you buy a home before you sell the one you’re in, you risk being overextended financially. If you sell before you buy, you might need to rent awhile before finding a new place. A possible way to do both at once is to write a “home sale contingency” into your contract. This means you only agree to buy the new home if you can sell the one you are in. In a very competitive market the seller may not accept a contract with a home sale contingency.
How do I know if the property is a good deal?
The best way is to check out comps—what similar properties are selling for in the area and whether those prices have been going up or down in the recent past.
How safe is the neighborhood?
No one wants to live in a dangerous part of town, but your real estate agent can’t help you with this question. Due to the Fair Housing Act, a real estate agent cannot answer questions regarding crime statistics. Before you start your house hunting, research crime data for the cities and neighborhoods you are considering.
How do I find a lender?
You can finance a home with a loan from a bank, a savings and loan, a credit union, a private mortgage company, or various state government lenders. Different lenders can offer different interest rates and loan fees, so take your time and shop around for the best deal. As mentioned above, ask for references from friends who have recently purchased a home and consult with your Realtor who should also have a list of expert service providers.
How long does the home-buying process take?
The process varies significantly and depends on the state in which you are buying and the type of property you are purchasing. Once the seller has accepted your offer, it takes an average of 36 days to close. FHA and VA loans can take a few additional days, and short sales are notoriously slow, taking an average of 90 to 120 days to close.
What do you think the seller will accept as a fair price?
As a rule of thumb, knocking 5% off the list price won’t ruffle any feathers. If the house has been sitting on the market for months, you can venture below that. Your agent will prepare comparables for you and attempt to find out about the seller’s level of motivation.
Can I become a homebuyer even if I have bad credit, and don't have much for a down-payment?
Having credit problems doesn’t automatically mean you can’t become a homeowner. Many mortgage loan officers can help you with your questions and inform you about special loans for people with credit challenges. But first you need to try and do the following items: check your credit report and review it for any errors, pay all your bills on time, be aware of how and when you use credit cards and avoid credit-repair companies who charge a fee for services.
How many homes should I view?
There is no right or wrong number of homes you should view before making an offer. Some people find their dream home on day one while others house hunt for months. View as many as it takes to find the home that fits your needs.
How much do real estate agents charge?
Typically, you as the buyer aren’t paying your real estate agent to help you find your dream home. The home seller pays their real estate agent a percentage of the home sale price, and that agent compensates the buyer’s real estate agent for bringing in the buyer.
Should I use a real estate agent? How do I find one?
YES! Buying a home is a complicated and complex process, and a good agent can help you save time and money and lots of stress along the way. You want to find someone who understands your needs and look out for your best interest during this transaction. Read online reviews, ask trusted friends for recommendations and take the time to interview several full-time professional real estate agents before you make a decision.
How much should my down-payment be?
That depends on the type of loan. Most mortgage lenders require at least a 3% down payment, and FHA loans require a minimum of 3.5% down. The percentage you are required to put down will depend on your credit history, the type of property, and several other factors.

More questions? Contact me anytime and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.

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