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- HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M READY TO BUY A HOME?
- HOW DOES PURCHASING A HOME COMPARE WITH RENTING?
- WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN WALKING THROUGH A HOME?
- WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK WHEN LOOKING AT HOMES?
- WHAT DOES A HOME INSPECTOR DO, AND HOW DOES AN INSPECTION FIGURE IN THE PURCHASE OF A HOME?
- DO I NEED TO BE THERE FOR THE INSPECTION?
- HOW DO I MAKE AN OFFER?
- HOW DO I DETERMINE THE INITIAL OFFER?
- WHAT IS EARNEST MONEY? HOW MUCH SHOULD I SET ASIDE?
- HOW ARE PRE-QUALIFYING AND PRE-APPROVAL DIFFERENT?
- WHAT CAN I EXPECT TO HAPPEN ON CLOSING DAY?
- WHAT MAKES UP CLOSING COSTS?
- WHAT DO I GET AT CLOSING?
HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M READY TO BUY A HOME?
» You can find out by asking yourself some questions:
Do I have a steady source of income (usually a job)?
Have I been employed on a regular basis for the last 2-3 years? Is my current income reliable?
Do I have a good record of paying my bills?
Do I have money saved for a down payment?
Do I have few outstanding debts, like car payments?
Do I have the ability to pay a mortgage every month, plus additional costs?
If you can answer "yes" to these questions, you are probably ready to buy your own home.
HOW DOES PURCHASING A HOME COMPARE WITH RENTING?
» The two don't really compare at all. The one advantage of renting is being generally free of most maintenance responsibilities. But by renting, you lose the chance to build equity, take advantage of tax benefits, and protect yourself against rent increases. Also, you may not be free to decorate without permission and may be at the mercy of the landlord for housing.
Owning a home has many benefits. When you make a mortgage payment, you are building equity. And that's an investment. Owning a home also qualifies you for tax breaks that assist you in dealing with your new financial responsibilities- like insurance, real estate taxes, and upkeep- which can be substantial. But given the freedom, stability, and security of owning your own home, they are worth it.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN WALKING THROUGH A HOME?
» In addition to comparing the home, only look for homes in your approved price range. Looking at more expensive homes will only result in disappointment. You may want to consider the following:
Is there enough room for both the present and the future?
Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms?
Is the home structurally sound?
Do the mechanical systems and appliances work?
Is the yard big enough?
Do you like the floor plan?
Will your furniture fit in the space? Is there enough storage space?
Imagine the home in good weather and bad – will you be happy with it year round?
Take your time and think carefully about each house you see. Ask your real estate agent to point out the pros and cons of each home from a professional standpoint.
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK WHEN LOOKING AT HOMES?
» Many of your questions should focus on potential problems and maintenance issues. Does anything need to be replaced? What things require ongoing maintenance (e.g., paint, roof, HVAC, appliances, carpet)? Also ask about the house and neighborhood, focusing on quality of life issues. Ask questions until you understand all of the information you've been given. Making a list of questions ahead of time will help you organize your thoughts and arrange all of the information you receive.
WHAT DOES A HOME INSPECTOR DO, AND HOW DOES AN INSPECTION FIGURE IN THE PURCHASE OF A HOME?
» An inspector checks the safety of your potential new home. Home, and may refer you to a professional (i.e. electrician if he thinks there is a problem. Inspectors focus especially on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house and will make you aware of only repairs that are needed.
The Inspector does not evaluate whether or not you're getting good value for your money. Generally, an inspector checks: the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and Ventilation, the HVAC system, water source and quality, the potential presence of pests, the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof. Be sure to hire a home inspector that is qualified and experienced.
It's a good idea to include an inspection clause in the offer when negotiating for a home. An inspection clause gives you an “out" on buying the house if serious problems are found or gives you the ability to renegotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. An inspection clause can also specify that the seller must fix the problem(s) before you purchase the house.
DO I NEED TO BE THERE FOR THE INSPECTION?
» It's not required, but it's a good idea. Following the inspection, the home inspector will be able to answer questions about the report and any problem areas. This is also an opportunity to hear an objective opinion on the home you'd like to purchase and it is a good time to ask general, maintenance questions.
HOW DO I MAKE AN OFFER?
» Your West Valley real estate agent will assist you in making an offer, which will include the following information:
Complete legal description of the property
Amount of earnest money
Down payment and financing details
Price you are offering
Proposed closing date
Length of time the offer is valid
Details of the deal
Remember that a sale commitment depends on negotiating a satisfactory contract with the seller, not just making an offer.
HOW DO I DETERMINE THE INITIAL OFFER?
» Listen to your West Valley real estate agent's advice, but follow your own instincts on deciding a fair price. Your West Valley agent will give you the prices of homes have sold for in the area, the home's condition, how long it's been on the market, financing terms outlining how much of a loan you are qualified for, and the seller's situation. By the time you're ready to make an offer, you should have a good idea of what the home is worth and what you can afford. And, be prepared for give-and-take negotiation, which is very common when buying a home. The buyer and seller may often go back and forth until they can agree on a price.
WHAT IS EARNEST MONEY? HOW MUCH SHOULD I SET ASIDE?
» Earnest money is money put down to demonstrate your seriousness about buying a home. It must be substantial enough to demonstrate good faith and is usually between 1-5% of the purchase price (though the amount can vary with local customs and conditions). If your offer is accepted, the earnest money becomes part of your down payment or closing costs. If the offer is rejected, your money is returned to you. If you back out of a deal, you may forfeit the entire amount.
HOW ARE PRE-QUALIFYING AND PRE-APPROVAL DIFFERENT?
» Pre-qualification is an informal way to see how much you may be able to borrow. You can be 'pre-qualified' over the phone with no paperwork by telling a lender your income, your long-term debts, and how large a down payment you can afford. Without any obligation, this helps you arrive at a ballpark figure of the amount you may have available to spend on a house.
Pre-approval is a lender's actual commitment to lend to you. It involves assembling financial records and going through a preliminary approval process. Pre-approval gives you a definite idea of what you can afford and shows sellers that you are serious about buying.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT TO HAPPEN ON CLOSING DAY?
» Your West Valley agent or closing agent will give you a Settlement Statement that lists the money you owe the seller (remainder of down payment, prepaid taxes, etc.), then the money the seller owes you (unpaid taxes and prepaid rent, if applicable), the closing agent's fees, and the fees your lender is charging.
Once you're sure you understand all the documentation, you'll sign, all the documents needed to secure your property. The closing agent will give you copies of all the documents, and the deed will be sent to the County Clerk & Recorders' office, and once it is recorded the original and copies of all the documents will be sent to you.
WHAT MAKES UP CLOSING COSTS?
» There are closing cost customary or unique to each locality, but closing cost are usually made up of the following:
Closing Company's fees
Property taxes (prorated to cover up to closing for the seller)
Title Insurance (usually the seller's cost)
Escrow fees (prepaid insurance, taxes, for your new loan etc)
Any documentation preparation fees to be paid to the attorneys who prepared the documents (deeds, etc)
WHAT DO I GET AT CLOSING?
» Copies of Settlement Statement, HUD-1 Form (itemizes services provided and the fees charged; it is filled out by the closing agent and must be given to you at or before closing)
Mortgage and Mortgage Note (if the property is financed)
Deed of Trust (if financed) or Warranty Deed (if cash transaction)
Keys to your new home!