Any major purchase requires research, careful analysis, consideration and thought. Buying real estate isn't any different! Determining the right location, the number of bedrooms or bathrooms needed, and outdoor space is the easier things. However, there are many other factors to think about in your property search. From your initial search to the moment you get the keys to your new home, we will be there, guiding you through the process. We can even help connect you with mortgage professionals to get the best rates.
As South Florida experts, we can help educate you on the different neighborhoods, schools and other local community amenities that suit your lifestyle.
We can help streamline the process of buying real estate and make it easier for you. We have aligned ourselves with the top professionals in the industry and once an offer has been accepted, we will personally help facilitate the process to close on the transaction. By working closely with mortgage brokers, title and escrow companies, home inspectors and home warranty companies, we will provide you with the best service possible!
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Beginning your real estate property search can be an overwhelming and stressful. Our sales team makes sure that you understand each of the steps that we take to make the process as easy and painless as possible.
Let’s get to know each other! Once you’re ready to work with our sales team, we’ll meet together for a buyer consultation to focus your search and determine what you really want and need.
We’ll introduce you to our mortgage partners, who can help you determine your price range with confidence. Be prepared to provide paperwork during this part of the process such as pay stubs, W2’s and tax returns. The lender will do a full review and then tell you what price range you qualify for and how much funds you will need available for closing. This is a vital step in the buying process!
Our realtors get to know you: Need to move for a job? Want a shorter commute? Getting married? Having a baby? Retiring? Need to upgrade or downsize? At this stage in the process, we’ll send you notifications about the listings that you’re most likely to be excited about. Be sure to let us know if one (or more) appeal to you, so we can schedule a showing appointment right away. We'll be there for you every step of the way.
Here’s where the buying process gets really fun! We’ll go to local open houses together and schedule showing of the homes that you’ve loved from our listing alerts. Also, due to the ease of today’s technology, if you find a property that interest you online, send us a quick text or email and we’ll determine its availability and whether it could be a fit for you prior to scheduling a showing appointment for us. We can even explore new constructions options and/or For Sale Buyer Owner properties together too. And, remember if you attend an open house or new construction development without a realtor from our sales team to always make our relationship known to the listing agent/sales rep.
When you’re ready to make an offer, your realtor will present a written offer to the seller’s agent. And, while everyone loves getting their offer accepted right away, the seller could come back to us with a counter offer or reject your initial offer all together. We’re happy to walk you through each of these possibilities and exactly how to handle them. Once the offer is accepted, it’s time to get your financing in order and move to the next step!
The sellers accepted your offer and the property goes through an inspection and appraisal. The appraisal guarantees that the price of the property matches the condition of the property while the inspection makes sure that everything in the home is functioning properly and there are no major issues of concern. During this same time period, your lender is working on your loan and clearing mortgage conditions. You should be assisting with providing your necessary financial documents and securing your homeowner’s insurance. These are the last steps before the shiny keys to your home are placed in your hand!
Get excited because it’s time to close on your purchase! This process includes going through all of the final paperwork and signing your name (a lot!). Don't forget to bring your personal ID to closing and any funds you need for closing cost and your down payment.
Please feel free to explore additional buyer resources on our website to learn even more about the entire process from start to finish and no worries, we will be there for you every step of the way.
Cinematically speaking, this is the iconic moment—we’d forgive you if you imagined, say, putting a hand on your agent’s shoulder and whispering (in your best Vito Corleone) that you’re going to make them an offer they can’t refuse.
In reality, it’s not that simple (or dramatic). Your offer marks the beginning of a back-and-forth between you and the seller, typically with real estate agents advising you both.
The more intentional you are about your offer, the better your chances of making a successful bid. Follow these 10 steps, and you’ll be well prepared—that’s a true story.
(The Godfather again. We couldn’t resist.)
Your agent will help you craft a winning offer. You can trust your agent’s advice on price, contingencies, and other terms of the deal: It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. The more collaborative you are with your agent, the more quickly you’ll be able to move.
But ultimately, it’s you who decides what the offer will be—and you who knows what your financial and lifestyle limits are. Buying a home means mixing strong emotions with business savvy, so now is also a good time to reflect on your “musts.”
Essentially, an offer is a contract. The documents and wording vary across the country.
In the spirit of due diligence, take time to review sample offer forms before you’ve found a house (LawDepot.com has purchase agreements for each state). If you’re high-maintenance, a real estate attorney can explain the documents to you so you’re familiar with their vocabulary when you’re ready to pull the trigger on an offer with your agent. Your agent will have offer forms for your state.
Homes always have a listing price. Think of it as the seller’s opening bid in your negotiation to buy a home.
As the buyer, your offer will include an offer price. This is the first thing home sellers look at when they receive a bid.
Your agent will help you determine whether the seller’s listing price is fair by running comps (or comparables), a process that involves comparing the house you’re bidding on to similar properties that recently sold in the neighborhood.
Several factors can also affect your bargaining position and offer price. For example, if the home has been sitting on the market for a while, or you’re in a buyer’s market where supply exceeds demand, the seller may be willing to accept an offer that’s below the list price. Or if the seller has already received another offer on the home, that may impact the price you’re willing to offer. Your agent will help you understand the context here.
To get a mortgage, you have to make a down payment on your loan. For conventional loans (as opposed to government loans), making a 20% down payment enables borrowers to avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), a monthly premium that protects the lender in case the borrower defaults on the loan.
But 20% isn’t always feasible—or even necessary. In fact, the median down payment was 10% in 2017, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Your lender will help you determine what the best down payment amount is for your finances. Depending on the type of loan you get, you may even be able to put down as little as 0% on your mortgage.
You might qualify for one of the more than 2,400 down payment assistance programs nationwide. Many of them make funds available to households earning as much as 175% of area median income. In other words, middle-income households. And the savings can be substantial: Home buyers who use down payment assistance programs save an average of $17,766 over the life of their loan, according to real estate resource RealtyTrac. Find out more about down payment assistance programs in your state.
You can use an online mortgage calculator to see how different down payments would affect your mortgage premiums and how much you’ll pay in interest.
An EMD—short for earnest money deposit—is the sum of money you put down as evidence to the seller that you’re serious (read: earnest) about buying the house. If the seller accepts your offer, the earnest money will go toward your down payment at closing. However, if you try to back out of the deal, you might have to forfeit the cash to the seller.
A standard EMD is 1% to 3% of the sales price of the home (so, that would be $2,000 to $6,000 on a $200,000 loan). But depending on how hot the market is where you live, you may want to put down more earnest money to compete with other offers.
In most cases, the title company is responsible for holding the earnest money in an escrow account. In the event the deal falls through, the title company will disperse the funds appropriately based on the terms of the sales contract. Title companies also check for defects or liens on a seller’s title to make sure it can be transferred cleanly to you.
Most real estate offers include contingencies—provisions that must be met before the transaction can go through, or the buyer is entitled to walk away from the deal with their EMD.
For example, if an offer says, “This contract is contingent upon a home inspection,” the buyer has a set number of days after the offer is accepted to do an inspection of the property with a licensed or certified home inspector.
If something is wrong with the house, the buyer can request the seller to make repairs. But most repairs are negotiable; the seller may agree to some, but say no to others. Or the seller can offer a price reduction, or a credit at closing, based on the cost of the repairs. This is where your real estate agent can offer real value and counsel on what you should ask the seller to fix.
Just remember to keep your eye on the big picture. If you and the seller are bickering over a $500 repair to the hardwood floors, keep in mind that’s a drop in the bucket in relation to the size of the bid.
In addition to the aforementioned home inspection contingency, other common contingencies include:
Although contingencies can offer protection to buyers, they can also make offers less appealing to the seller because they give buyers legal ways to back out of the sale without any financial repercussions. So, if you’re going up against multiple offers, making an offer with fewer contingencies can potentially give you an edge over the competition.
In other words: A chill offer is an attractive offer. But keep in mind you have to be comfortable with the risks that come with this strategy. If you don’t have a financing contingency, for example, and you can’t get a mortgage, you’d likely lose your earnest money deposit since you’re on the hook. (An outcome that’s decidedly un-chill for you.)
The sales contract states key information about the property, such as the address, tax ID, and the types of utilities: public water or private well, gas or electric heating, and so on. It also includes a section that specifies what personal property and fixtures the seller agrees to leave behind, like appliances, lighting fixtures, and window shades. The seller provides prospective buyers with a list of these items before they submit an offer. This can be another area of negotiation.
Carefully reviewing the property description also helps you know, for example, if the seller plans to take that unattached kitchen island with them when they move. (Stranger things have happened.)
The sales contract you submit to the seller must include a proposed settlement date, which confirms when the transaction will be finalized. The clock starts as soon as the purchase agreement is signed. If you don’t close on time, the party that’s responsible for the delay may have to pay the other party compensation in the form of “penalty interest” at a predetermined rate.
A 30- to 60-day settlement period is common because it gives the typical home buyer time to complete a title search and obtain mortgage approval, but settlement periods can vary. Some sellers, for example, prefer a longer period so they have more time to move or look for their next house. Being flexible, with respect to the closing date, could give you more negotiating power in another area of the deal.
One thing that’s the same no matter where you live is that you’ll have a three-day period prior to settlement to review the Closing Disclosure, or CD—a five-page form that states your final loan terms and closing costs.
Once the sales contract is signed, the parties can change the settlement date if they both sign an addendum specifying the new day.
Want to make a truly compelling offer? Pull on the seller’s heartstrings by attaching a personal letter to the bid documents. Tell a compelling story about your family and your connection to the area. Get deep about your roots.
Also, sincere flattery can go a long way. Compliment the seller on how their kitchen renovation looks Apartment Therapy–worthy, for instance, or how the succulents in their landscaping remind you of a resort in Palm Springs.
Your agent can help you gather background on the sellers (e.g., are they crazy about their labradoodle, like you are about yours? Did they run a small business from the home, like you dream of doing?). And you should—of course—refer to information you gleaned during the open house or private showing. Use this intel to write a message that really speaks to the seller, and it may very well seal the deal.
If you’re making a lowball bid or going up against multiple offers, the seller may decide to make you a counteroffer—a purchase agreement with new terms, such as a higher sales price or fewer contingencies.
At that point, it’s up to you to accept the new contract, make your own counteroffer to the sellers, or walk away.
Don’t panic: The next part of our guide walks you through the counteroffer process, and it offers strategies to give you more negotiating power.
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Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®