Understand the Process
Whether a first-timer or seasoned home buyer, your home buying and selling process can be as challenging as learning a new language. Before you make your move, it's important to first understand the steps involved and the buzzwords of the "deal" to ensure the smoothest transaction possible.
Your best source of information will be from your Realtor. The real estate industry and financing are constantly changing, so even if you've bought a home in the past the process may have changed. Friends and relatives are often well-meaning, but they may not have purchased or sold recently either and could be giving you inaccurate information.
So how does this work?
Get prequalified by a lender so you know how much you can afford and how much your payments will be.
Choose a Realtor who will represent you (ask about Buyer Representation). Your Realtor will have access to the Multiple Listing Service and can show you every house in town regardless of which agent or company has it listed.
Once you find a house you will make a written offer. When it's been completely accepted you are officially Under Contract!
Your Realtor will help you schedule inspections, deliver the contract to the lender and review the title commitment. There are a lot of things happening behind the scenes while you are under contract and your agent will be handling the details for you.
Once you've accepted the inspection, title commitment, and survey, and you have loan approval, you will be on your way to closing.
About a week prior to closing you can schedule utilities connections for the date of closing.
Closing typically takes place at the title company. When you go to sign documents, you will need to bring identification (usually your driver's license or passport) and your funds for closing. The funds for closing must be in the form of a money wire or cashier's check - the title company will not accept cash or personal checks.
What Makes For A Winning Offer?
1. Get pre-approved
Before writing an offer – and ideally before you even begin your search – meet with your bank or other financial advisor; the one who will be giving you your mortgage, and get pre-qualified or pre-approved. When it’s time to put forth an offer, the seller will know it’s serious.
2. Understand the local context
List prices are often subjective. Look to your Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate sales associate to advise you on pricing strategy. In the end, it’s important that you know the real estate situation yourself to determine if the property is fairly priced, based on comparable, recently sold properties. There’s no rule of thumb that says going in under asking is expected. Market conditions will dictate the selling price. Keep in mind that homes will also occasionally be under-priced to attract multiple offers. This circumstance may call for a bid over the initial asking price.
3. Understand and adjust to the seller's interests
Asking the right questions prior to writing an offer can often make the difference between an accepted offer and a stalled negotiation. Some contract terms may be of great significance to the seller, whereas only a slight inconvenience for you. Should the seller want to rent the place back, for example, for a few days or weeks after escrow, your written flexibility on the move out/in date could close the deal in your favor.
4. Make a strong deposit part of your offer
You'll want to submit an earnest money deposit when writing an offer, payable to a reputable escrow company, to be delivered by your agent no more than three business days after the acceptance of the offer. Even when delivering an offer below asking price, offer a large deposit if possible, and it will pay dividends in the end. Down payment strategies however may vary. In some areas, a smaller deposit is the norm. Regardless of location, a higher deposit will most likely strengthen your negotiating power.
5. Provide an appropriate time for the seller's response
Time is of the essence once you decide to take the plunge, especially regarding a newer listing in which the risk is high that other buyers will potentially submit offers. Typically, the seller is given until 5PM on the third day from receipt of the offer to respond, unless you write in a different date and time. If the offer is strong, speed up the response time. Your Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate sales associate can advise you on what strategy will work best.