Adcock & Associates – Home Buying Tips
Adcock & Associates Real Estate Services is fully committed to making your home buying experience as manageable as possible. We hope you will find this information helpful as you move through each stage of the process.
We also strongly recommend that you schedule an in-person meeting with Adcock as you begin your buying plans. We can help you anticipate the opportunities and challenges, prepare you for the areas you cannot afford to overlook and get you started on finding potential homes that will be a good fit for your family and your finances. (Our Mortgage Calculator can assist you here, too.)
Purchasing a home is one life’s biggest decisions. While it involves a long-term financial and emotional commitment, it can also be a very exciting and rewarding experience.
In this section we’ll help you address the many questions you’ll encounter when buying a home:
- What monthly payment can I afford?
- What am I looking for in a home?
- Should I work with a real estate agent?
- Once I find a home to purchase, what do I need to do next?
- How much cash do I need at closing?
- How do I obtain a mortgage loan?
Before beginning your home search, consider completing the following steps:
Check your Credit
Obtain a copy of your credit report to avoid any surprises when you move to the next step (getting pre-qualified for a loan). If any errors or issues appear, correct them as soon as possible. Consider reducing your consumer debt as much as possible by paying down credit card balances.
Unless you are paying cash for your home, you’ll need to apply for a mortgage. Contact a mortgage loan specialist before you begin your home search, to determine how much of a loan you can obtain.
By calculating the loan amount and the monthly payment amount you would be comfortable paying, a mortgage specialist can calculate:
- An appropriate price range for your home search.
- An estimate of how much cash you will need for the sales transaction.
(Cash is needed for the down payment, earnest money, and closing costs of the transaction. See the Finance section for more information.)
Getting pre-qualified for a loan also increases your chances of your offer being accepted. A seller is more likely to accept an offer from a buyer who already has funding versus one who still needs to get a loan.
Define your Target Area
Consider what locations you are interested in. Make a list of areas you are most interested and define how far outside of that area you are willing to consider.
- Neighborhood or subdivision
- School districts
- Proximity to work
- Proximity to shopping, restaurants, hospitals, etc.
Make an Amenities List
Defining what features are most important to you will save you from shopping for homes that do not meet your needs. Determine which criteria you absolutely cannot live without and which ones you are willing to sacrifice. Here are a few things to consider:
- Price range
- Number of Bedrooms
- Number of Bathrooms
- Storage space
- Garage space and or parking
- Lot sizes
- Pools or other neighborhood amenities (Tennis courts, playgrounds, etc.)
Choose an Agent
With your target locations and amenities defined, you’ll need to decide if you want to use the services of a real estate agent.
See Choosing an Agent for more information on how to find and select an agent.
With your list of preferences in hand and an agent at your side, it’s time to begin the search for your new home. Based on the criteria you provide your agent, they can search their listing database for homes that meet your needs.
While visiting properties, compare homes and remember, every home is unique! Even if every home has all of the criteria you are looking for, each will have different characteristics. Bring a blank Home Search Checklist with you to each home and check off which features each house has. Make notes about what you like and dislike about each home.
Taking notes and using your checklist will help you later when you sit down and compare properties. Comparing notes will keep the details straight and help prevent you from making an emotional and impulsive decision.
Additional things to consider when touring homes:
- Cost of upkeep and utilities
- Amount of maintenance required
- Cost of updating or decorating
- Homeowner’s dues
- Traffic patterns in the neighborhood
Once you have found your dream home, it is time to prepare an offer to purchase. Your buyer’s agent can provide guidance to you on the price you should offer for the property. Have your agent compare prices for similar homes that have sold in the area recently to help you to determine a reasonable offer.
In addition to the selling price, the other items to include in the terms of the Offer to Purchase include:
- The amount of earnest money (deposit) to offer.
- Concessions that you want the seller to make, such as a carpet or paint allowance, or payment towards the closing costs.
- Home inspection contingencies.
- Financing contingencies.
- A clear definition as to what is to be included with the home, such as appliances or window treatments.
- A closing date.
Don’t be surprised if your initial offer is not accepted. Your REALTOR® will represent you in all contract negotiations until an agreement is reached between the seller and you.
Once your offer has been accepted, it is time to work on the final details of purchasing your home. Several tasks are accomplished during this phase of the process:
Arrange to have a professional inspect your home. Inspectors are trained to spot electrical, plumbing, and structural problems that may not be noticeable to you. A home inspection is not required, but it is in your best interest to do one to avoid surprises upon moving in. This is an expense incurred by the buyer and is usually included in your closing costs.
You may also need to get a pest inspection on the property to make sure there is no structural damage caused by termites. Your agent can usually make a recommendation of a reputable inspector.
Applying for a Loan
Once an offer has been accepted, contact your mortgage specialist to officially apply for a loan. Be prepared to provide the following for your loan application:
- W-2s and/or tax returns from the past 2 years.
- Proof of gross monthly income for the past 30 days.
- Proof of investment income, including rental incomes.
- A list of creditors, including account numbers, balances, and monthly payments.
- Two months’ worth of banking statements.
The Final Walkthrough
Prior to closing, conduct a final walk through and inspection of the property. Schedule this as close to the closing date as possible, preferably on the morning of the closing. Your home inspector will not be with you during this walk through, so it is your responsibility to inspect the home and ensure everything meets your approval.
Things to look for during your walkthrough:
- The seller has repaired all items included on the purchase agreement.
- The house is in “as-was” condition (everything is in the same condition as it was when you signed the purchase agreement).
- The house is vacant and clean. The home does not have to be spotless, but there should be no remaining trash or junk left behind in the house or in the yard.
- Any tenants have moved out prior to your closing unless you have agreed for them to stay.
Usually at the time an offer is accepted, or after you have a commitment from your lender, a date and time will be arranged for your closing. The closing procedures will be handled by an attorney of your choosing. Several days before, you will be told the total dollar amount you will need to bring to closing by the closing attorney. They will also provide you with any additional information you may need to prepare yourself for the proceedings.
On the day of closing, remember to bring:
- A certified check for the total amount of your closing costs.
- A picture ID, such as a driver’s license.
- Your personal checkbook.
- Evidence of mortgage insurance (if this information has not already been requested).
During the closing, details of the sales contract will be explained to you. If everything meets your approval, you will sign the contracts to finalize the deal.
Congratulations! You are now a new homeowner! 🙂
ADCOCK IS HERE TO HELP YOU BUY YOUR IDEAL HOME
With over 4 decades of service in our communities, unsurpassed local market knowledge and a dedicated team of real estate professionals with more than a century of collective experience, Adcock & Associates Real Estate Services is the real estate agency of choice for discerning home buyers. Please contact us for a no-obligation conversation by calling 919-775-5444, emailing Adcock, or by filling out our online contact form