SELLING ADVICE

The Home Purchase Process

Two of the basic questions home sellers ask most often are “How quickly?” and “How Much?” The answers to “How quickly can you sell your house?” and “For how much money?” greatly depends on local real estate market conditions and on preparations you, the seller, make prior to putting a house on the market.

To assist you in better navigating the real estate process in any market, we have compiled a list of essential steps for home sellers.

Understand the Market

In real estate markets home prices vary frequently and suddenly. Our team of proven professionals has valuable experience and local market knowledge, including deciphering local market fluctuations, which can help sellers, like you, prepare their home for sale.

Price It Right

If you set your selling price too high, you risk limited viewing from potential buyers. Price it too low and you may sell it more quickly, but at the possibility of making less money on the sale.

No matter how beautiful your home may be, buyers will compare it to other homes for sale in the market at that time. Therefore, pricing your home correctly is one of the most important factors in getting your home sold. To properly set your price, and your expectations, you will want to examine the record of home sales in your neighborhood over the past several months. It may sound daunting but we are here to help and can provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).

The CMA will provide data regarding recent home sales (size, price and number of days on the market) as well as information about homes that have not yet sold. It allows you to view trends and other critical information that can be beneficial as you set a competitive price.

In addition to considering historical pricing information and market trends, it is recommended that sellers also think about including other incentives in the sales offering such as home warranty, assistance with closing costs, etc.

Work With a Professional

We pride ourselves on giving you an advantage in our local market. We can help you prepare your home for sale by facilitating pricing, physically preparing a home for sale, navigating negotiations and much more. We are adept and experienced in working with other real estate professionals including home inspectors, home appraisers, mortgage bankers, title companies, and can guide you through the entire real estate process from selling a current home to purchasing a new home.

Optimizing the Home Inspection

At some point in the sale process your home will be inspected. Planning a pre-sale inspection can help determine potential issues and enable you to address them prior to putting your home on the market so you are fully prepared for a smooth sales process.

Get the Job Done: Curb Appeal

Preparing your house for sale entails making your home appear “move in ready” in order to attract the greatest numbers of potential buyers. This is a critical element in your selling preparation. Creating curb appeal is no small feat but greatly worth it in the long run. To get started, follow the tips below.

  • Inside your home, begin by removing personal effects such as photos and memorabilia. While these are the items that make your home yours, your goal is to create an environment that a potential buyer can envision as their own.
  • Clean everything inside and outside of your home and develop a plan to keep your house attractive during the sales process. To help present the cleanest and brightest home, open the curtains and turn on the lights when real estate agents are conducting showings.
  • Consider enhancing rooms with a fresh coat of paint and be sure to repair items that need attention. While major remodels may not be necessary, broken items should be repaired.
  • Outside, consistently maintain a mowed lawn and consider planting seasonal flowers. Also, trim hedges, trees and bushes.

Prepare to Negotiate

In real estate, the final selling price is negotiable. Plan to negotiate when an offer(s) is received. For example, before you lower the price, you may be able to add value to the transaction by including appliances and / or closing costs. We can assist you with crafting counter offers and negotiating tips and techniques.

Seal the Deal

Once you come to terms on the sale price, it is in your best interest to close the deal as quickly as possible.  To more easily and quickly complete the transaction, it is prudent to have disclosure documents and home upgrade and enhancement records available.

Designed to walk you through home purchasing, this first-time home buyer’s guide breaks the process down into three stages: pre-purchase planning, home shopping and closing on your home. In addition, you may obtain more information by contacting a member of our team directly, 435-635-4547.

Pre-Purchase Planning

Preparing to purchase a home and ensuring you are ready for this milestone is the first step to home buying. As you evaluate your preparedness for home ownership, consider using these useful tools, in addition to this guide:

These resources can be beneficial in determining if you are ready to buy your first home both financially and according to your lifestyle.

Lifestyle Evaluation: Are You Ready?

To help you decide if home ownership fits your lifestyle and personal goals, consider asking yourself these questions:

  • Am I ready for the responsibility of owning a home?
  • Do I see myself in the same neighborhood in five to ten years time?
  • If yes, what type of neighborhood or environment fits my interests and personal requirements?
  • Do I want to live close to family, friends, work, etc.?
  • Does the location need to be close to shopping, religious places of worship, libraries, etc.?
  • Does the quality of the school system factor into my decision?
  • What features and amenities do I require in my house?
  • How large does the home need to be now and into the future; and am I willing to remodel if necessary?
  • What are my storage space needs?
  • What size yard am I willing to care for?

There is a lot to think about prior to purchasing a home. Knowing what your needs are will help you narrow down your choices and help you get a home you can be proud to live in.

Evaluate Finances: Are You Ready?

Financial evaluation and preparation can streamline your house hunting process. To help you begin, here are five fundamental financial actions to take when preparing to buy a home: doing the math, knowing your credit score, knowing the down payment, closing costs and more, preparing your paperwork and securing the mortgage first, finding he house second.

Doing the Math

Along with the monthly mortgage payment, there are additional costs associated with home ownership, including: taxes, insurance, maintenance (generally one percent of the purchase price annually), association fees in some communities and town houses, and commuting costs. Also take other external expenses into account such as college and retirement savings, utilities, etc. To help you evaluate the affordability of home ownership, calculate your current and future household expenses using this affordability calculator.

Knowing Your Credit Score

Lenders use credit history and credit ratings to measure the risk involved in granting a loan and determining the interest rate. It is important to obtain and check your credit score for accuracy. Keep in mind that a good credit score (723-850 in the United States) can help lower your monthly mortgage payment and interest rates. The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to one free credit report each year. To obtain a free copy of your credit report from the three credit reporting companies (Experian, Equifax and Transunion), visit: AnnualCreditReport.com. To purchase a report, visit MyFico.com.

As you check for accuracy, notify the credit reporting agency if you identify any errors related to late payments, credit limits, collections, etc.; and make sure the inaccuracies are removed from your credit report. After seven years, negative items should be removed from your credit report and bankruptcies are generally removed after ten years. If your credit score is not where you want it to be, consider researching opportunities to improve it or think about delaying your home purchase.

Knowing the Down Payment, Closing Costs and More

Down payments, ownership transfers and closing costs require out-of-pocket expense. In other words, be prepared to make cash payments. You may also need to add moving costs to your home buying budget.

Traditionally lenders have required a 20 percent down payment to secure a mortgage for the remaining 80 percent cost of a home. There are many varieties of home loans and many variations of down payment requirements. Some loans, such as those from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) are government sponsored and require qualification. If your down payment is less than 20 percent of the total loan, you may also need to pay for private mortgage insurance, or PMI. To learn more about home financing contact your mortgage lender.

Preparing your Paperwork

In advance, gather the financial documents you will need to secure a mortgage. This includes pay stubs, automobile and school loans, credit card records, statements from brokerages, banks and retirement accounts and income tax returns. Your mortgage lender, or one of our team members, can provide a complete list of what will be needed.

Securing the Mortgage first, Finding the House Second

Securing pre-approval for a mortgage can save time when you are ready to make an offer on a house and will allow you to focus on homes in your price range. When you are pre-approved for a mortgage, you know how much you have to spend on a home and how much your monthly payments will be. Then, when you find the house that you want, you can act quickly.

Shopping for that Perfect House

Whether or not you have a detailed plan of attack or are casually interested in home buying, the first step for many home buyers is to search online.

This allows you to easily and quickly navigate from neighborhood to neighborhood, view homes, compare prices and gain a general understanding of the size and price of homes currently available on the market. You can then develop or refine your house hunting criteria (location, prices, square footage, etc.) And when honing in on the home of your choice, be sure to know market conditions and the prices of home recently sold in the area. This will help you craft a realistic offer price.

 Working with us, your home search becomes more guided and dynamic. We can save you time by focusing your search on the houses that fit your lifestyle and your budget. With our knowledge of the local neighborhoods and of Real Estate in general, we can share insight into the buying process, negotiating, getting to the closing table and even moving day itself.

When making an offer to purchase a home, we can assist you in completing a purchase offer. The purchase offer includes the proposed price, a list of what is to be included in the sale such as appliances and fixtures, contingencies or terms the sale is dependent on including a satisfactory home inspection, secured financing, sale of buyer’s current home, seller concessions including assistance with closing costs, proposed closing date, and an offer expiration date, which is typically 24-48 hours.

Upon submitting your offer, the seller will review it and can accept, reject or make a counter offer. The purchase offer is not binding until both the buyer and the seller sign the agreement.

Closing on Your Home

Once the buyer and the seller have agreed in writing to the sales terms and price, the closing process begins. During this time, all stakeholders in the transaction verify information and finalize the transfer of the property from one owner to another.

Closing on the purchase of your new home involves a good deal of coordination. Costs and fees are paid at closing to cover many of the elements that accompany the purchase. Usually your lender will help make your closing as smooth as possible and guide you through the process.

All closing costs are outlined in the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) you receive — a written list of the approximate closing costs associated with your transaction, including charges from your lender, the local closing agent and other third parties. Closing costs may be added to the amount of your mortgage loan, and a seller may sometimes cover closing costs you would usually pay.

The closing process, which in different parts of the country is also known as “settlement” or “escrow,” traditionally involves the buyer and seller meeting to complete the paperwork associated with the purchase and transfer of the property from one owner to another. However, it is an increasingly computerized and automated process and does not always require the buyer and seller to attend in person.

Closing Costs

All closing costs can be divided into two basic groups:

  • State and local government charges and fees: these include city, county and state transfer taxes, recording fees, and property taxes.
  • Mortgage costs: these include title insurance, survey, appraisal, credit checks, loan origination and documentation, and commitment processing fees, as well as mortgage insurance and interest prepayments.

LENDER FEES

  • Loan origination fee: covers the costs of evaluating and processing your mortgage loan.
  • Points: the percentage of your loan amount, paid at closing.
  • Appraisal fee: The fee for having your new home appraised may be rolled into the closing costs. The cost may vary based on the amount of your loan, and the type and use of the property (i.e. condo, rental, etc).
  • Credit report: covers the expense of your credit history report.
  • Interest payment: You may pay interest on your mortgage loan to cover the time between the closing date and the date your first mortgage payment period begins.

It is important to note that interest on a mortgage is usually paid in arrears at the end of the time period it covers. For example: If a closing is on May 15, and your first monthly payment starts to accrue interest on June 1, an interest payment covering the period between May 15 and May 31 may be required at closing.

Consider this timing when scheduling your closing. It is a fee you can reduce by closing near the mortgage due date.

ESCROW FEE

Escrow account fees: A trust account created by a third party to hold money. Generally this money is used to pay property taxes and insurance. To fund the account, your monthly mortgage payments may include one-twelfth of your annual property taxes and insurance charges. The first escrow fee may be due at closing.

TITLE FEES

  • Title search: pertains to the examination of public records to ensure that no one but the seller has a valid claim to the property.
  • Title insurance: relates to insurance that protects the lender and buyer from losses that may result from disputes over the property’s title. Typically, the buyer purchases the Lender Title Insurance.

OTHER THIRD PARTY FEES

  • Document preparation fee: charged for the preparation of the closing documents.
  • Underwriting Fee: covers the costs of the underwriting process, which is the analysis of the risk involved in making a mortgage loan.

Count On The Lemmon Team

This is a great amount of information to think about and digest. It is a fact that the closing process and costs can be complex. However, rest assured your lender will provide you with a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) that lists closing items and approximate costs so that you know in advance what to expect.

The details of the closing are handled by your lender and the various other professionals to help you prepare for a smooth closing.

And through every step of the way, you can turn to us for advice, information and overall guidance. We are here to make your home buying experience enjoyable and exciting.