Buying your new home is a serious venture.
Your house is not just your home, it’s an investment in a neighborhood, a lifestyle
and your future. As your Realtors ® we will:
- lead you through every step of the home buying process
- help you define your "wish list" of features you want in your home, your neighborhood and your ideal school district
- walk you through the financial details associated with buying a home
- monitor new listings and notify you as soon as matching properties come on the market
- negotiate the deal to save you money
- alleviate the stress involved with buying a home by putting our real estate experience to work for you
The links below will provide you with detailed information to assist you in making an intelligent and informed decision. Remember, if you have
any questions about the process, we’re only a phone call or email away!
Choosing An Agent
Finding Your Dream Home
Making an Offer
Escrow, Inspections and Appraisal
Build your financial file
A financial file contains all your important financial documents. You'll need it to secure financing for your home. The typical financial file should contain:
Check your credit rating
- Financial statements
- Bank accounts
- Credit card
- Auto loans
- Recent pay stubs
- Tax returns for two years
Your credit score will have a huge impact on what type of home you can buy, and at what price. Anything above 620 is considered good. A premium interest rate may mean a lower interest rate on your mortgage. Check your credit rating with a credit reporting agency such as :
or Trans Union
While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You'll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home you're interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.
Toe The Line:
Now is not a good time to change careers, move your money around, or buy big ticket items. Lenders like stability. So if you are considering any major changes, it pays to meet with a lender and ask them how to proceed before you make any changes!
While it is possible to find and buy a home without an agent, this is one of the largest purchases and most important decisions you will ever make. A home may account for a third of your monthly spending and a large part of your assets. The home purchase transaction will require making many important financial decisions, understanding complex issues and completing a lot of paperwork. So it is not only comforting but extremely efficient to have an expert help you cut through all the red tape.
How to select the right agent
- Look for a full-time agent who has experience completing transactions similar to yours.
- Interview a few agents: Are they familiar with the neighborhood you want to live in?
- Find an agent who is tech-savvy: today’s transactions move at internet speed.
- Ask how much time the agent will have for you.
- Ask about their credentials and education: A good agent will continually strive to improve and gain knowledge of the latest real estate trends. Only agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors can call themselves a REALTOR®.
- Does the agent return your calls promptly? Time is money when attempting to buy a home.
- Ask for a list of homes they’ve sold or a list of references.
- Finally, a good agent will spend more time listening to you and asking you questions about what you want, rather than talking about themselves. Pick an agent with whom you feel comfortable.
Once you choose an agent, you may want to consider a Buyers’ Agency Agreement. Buyers’ agents specialize in helping buyers! Buyers’ agents listen to what you want and then help you find your ideal home. We can notify you the instant that a home, meeting your requirements, comes on the market and we will make the appointment to get you in at the soonest possible moment. No more leaving voice-mails for agents who don’t bother to call you back. No more waiting for a Sunday Open House to see a home. No more calling on a newspaper ad only to discover that someone already put in an offer.
Buyer’s Agents are FREE!
Real estate agents don’t get paid until you successfully buy your home. Agents often have a wide network of resources they can share with you, helping you select inspectors and recommending service providers such as lenders, insurance agents, landscapers and contractors. Besides, in Wisconsin, the seller pays the agents, so why wouldn’t you want someone working for you?
Knowledge is Gold
Often we know about properties that are not yet on the market.
Because real estate is all we do (sometimes 24/7!), we’re the first to know of price reductions and other important news.
Your Own Personal Expert
Think of a buyers’ agent as your expert advocate. We will share our experience, represent your best interests during negotiations with sellers, and help you understand all the decisions you need to make. We will work tirelessly for you, and our goal is to make your transaction go as smoothly as possible.
Time to Go Shopping
Now that you’ve done your homework, it's time to go shopping. Your checklist of the reasons why you want to buy a home will keep you focused on homes that will meet your needs. Your lender’s pre-approval letter will keep you focused on homes you can afford.
Getting to Know the Neighborhoods
You may want to drive by a number of homes to become familiar with the neighborhoods and what your money will buy. We can take you on a guided tour of homes in several areas. This gives us a chance to really understand what you like and don’t like. Or, if you’re the adventurous sort and already know the areas well, we can give you a list of suitable homes to drive by along with a map.
Selecting Homes & Making Appointments
Select the top few homes and we’ll set appointments to go inside. We look at hundreds of homes each year, so we can help you weigh the features and strengths, as well as point out the drawbacks or weaknesses of each home. Typically we can provide you with a printed fact sheet for each home, including pictures; this will help you keep track of the homes you’ve seen, what you liked and didn’t like. We’re happy to be your sounding board to compare and contrast your favorite homes to help you decided which home is right for you. We can also offer an opinion as to potential long term re-sale value, based on neighborhood trends. We consider ourselves counselors or investigators more than salespeople. We make our clients aware of all the positive and negative factors regarding a property or investment and if you are still interested, then we've served you well.
Let the negotiations begin!
Buying a home is a major
event for both the buyer and seller. It will affect your finances more than any other previous purchase or investment. The seller makes plans based on your offer that affect his finances, too. However, it is more important than just money. In the half-hour it takes to write an offer you are making decisions that affect how you live for the next several years, if not the rest of your life.
Your offer is the first step toward negotiating a sales contract with the seller. Since this is just the beginning of negotiations, you should put yourself in the seller’s shoes and imagine his or her reaction to everything you include. Your goal is to get what you want, and imagining the seller’s reactions will help you attain that goal.
The offer is much more complicated than simply coming up with a price and saying, "This is what I’ll pay." Because of the large dollar amounts involved both you and the seller want to build in protections and contingencies to protect your investment and limit your risk.
In an offer to purchase real estate, you include not only the price you are willing to pay, but other details of the purchase as well. This includes how you intend to finance the home, your down payment, who pays what closing costs, what inspections are performed, timetables, whether personal property is included in the purchase, terms of cancellation, any repairs you want performed, which professional services will be used, when you get physical possession of the property, and how to settle disputes should they occur.
After you have come up with an offer price, the next step is to determine how large a deposit you want to make with your offer. You want the "earnest money deposit" to be large enough to show the seller you are serious, but not so large you are placing significant funds at risk.
One recommendation is to make sure your deposit is less than two to three percent of your offered price. As with practically everything in real estate, there are exceptions to this rule. During a hot market there may be multiple offers on the property that interests you. A large deposit may impress a seller enough so they will accept your offer instead of someone else’s, even when your unknown competitor is offering the same price or slightly higher.
Since large deposits do impress sellers, you may also find that by making a large deposit you can convince the seller to accept a lower offer. More money up front may save you money later.
In most purchase transactions there may be a slight challenge or two, but most things will go smoothly. However, you want to anticipate potential problems so that if something does go wrong, you can cancel the contract without penalty. These are called "contingencies" and you must be sure to include them when you offer to buy a home.
There are other common contingencies you should include in your offer. Since you probably need a mortgage to buy the home, a condition of your offer should be that you successfully obtain suitable financing. Another condition should be that the property appraises for at least what you agreed to pay for it. During the escrow period you are likely to require certain inspections, and another contingency should be that it pass those inspections.
Basically, contingencies protect you in case you cannot perform or choose not to perform on a promise to buy a home. If you cancel a contract without having built-in conditions and contingencies, you could find yourself forfeiting your earnest money deposit.
It is absolutely essential that you include a closing date as part of your offer. This way both you and the seller can make plans for moving, and the seller can make plans for buying his or her next home. Though most transactions actually do close on the right date, do not be so inflexible that a delay creates insurmountable problems.
For example, if you are renting and need to give the landlord notice that you are moving out, you may want to allow a little flexibility. Otherwise, if your purchase closes a few days late you could find yourself staying in a motel with your belongings packed in a moving van somewhere while you pay storage costs.
There are also times when closing can be delayed by weeks, through no fault of your own. Have back-up plans prepared for such a contingency.
What Is Escrow?
In a nutshell, escrow begins when your earnest money deposit and purchase offer is accepted by the seller. Escrow ends when you become the official new owner, registered in the county records.
Title Company and Escrow Holder
We can help you select a title company and escrow holder (often the same company), whose job it is to act as a neutral third party which holds all instruments necessary to the sale, including funds and deed with instructions as to their use. The title company will research the complete recorded history of this property, to insure that the title is free and clear of encumbrances by the date of closing and that all new encumbrances are properly added to the title. You will receive a “preliminary report” that will show current encumbrances and easements. For example, some properties are subject to CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) which may limit various activities from building to parking restrictions. There may be recorded easements and encroachments, where others have limited rights to use your property. We will always explain the title report to you in detail.
How to Hold Title: How will you own the property?
By yourself, or with someone else? There are at least half a dozen ways to own property, each with its own legal, estate, and tax implications, particularly with respect to selling or transferring, or disposition upon death. It advisable to consult with an attorney or your tax advisor to be sure you select the best way to hold title.
Once your offer is accepted by the seller, we will recommend professional inspectors to evaluate your home’s major systems. We will even set the appointments for you. Plan on attending all of your inspections with us and feel free to ask any question that comes to mind. During these inspections, you can learn a lot about how your new home functions as well as anything that may be wrong with it. We may recommend other inspections, including but not limited to roof, chimney/fireplace, property boundary survey, well, septic, pool/spa, arborist or mold. Remember, knowledge is gold.
Appraisal and the Loan Process
Keep in close communication with your lender, who will let you know when additional documents are needed to approve your loan application and fund your loan. The lender will often send an appraiser out to the property and you may pay a fee for this service. Appraisers are specialists in evaluating properties, based on a combination of square footage measurements, building costs, and recent sales of comparable properties, all to make sure you are not paying too much for the property. Ask for a copy of your appraisal. When you are within two weeks of closing, double check with your lender to be sure the loan will go through smoothly and on time.
Final Walk-Through Inspection
A few days before you take possession of the property, we will visit the property together one last time. This final visit ensures that the property’s condition meets your expectations compared to its condition when you made your offer. We will have a checklist for you to note any last minute details for the seller to attend to.
Home Services and Utilities
You will need to change the services and utilities into your name: We can provide you with a list of phone numbers to call the local utilities and services providers, to put everything under your name as of the date escrow will close.
If Things Get Complicated
Sometimes everything doesn’t go according to plan. This is when you really need an experienced real estate agent. Maybe something doesn’t work in the new house, or the seller can’t move to their next home as scheduled; there are a lot of variables. We’ve been through this countless times and have a number of strategies and options to smooth out this transition as much as possible for you.
Close of Escrow
When your transaction is nearly completed, the title company will provide you with a “closing statement” that details all of the financial details of your home purchase (i.e., pro-rations on property taxes and all the transaction-related costs.) We will go over this with you to be sure it is accurate. At the last step in the buying process, the title company will have you sign the final documents, including loan documents (“deeds of trust”). When everything is complete, the title company will record the transaction for you at the County Assessor’s Office, and you will become the official new owner.