A Guide to Buying a Home
This post was originally written for Tahoe Mountain Realtor, a luxury real estate specialist with a robust blog on the current market, trends and advice for Lake Tahoe real estate buyers and sellers.
Buying your new home can be an exciting adventure, but a bit of a process nonetheless – from the crucial steps you should take at the beginning through closing negotiations on your new home. While there are a lot of details involved, taking the right steps and making informed decisions will make your purchase go smoothly as possible.
Define Your Goals
Before beginning your home search, make sure to have clearly set goals:
Desired neighborhoods: There are several types of communities within Truckee, here is a quick overview of all of them.Type of home: While Single Family Homes are the most common, Truckee has a diverse range of other options including Townhomes, Fractional Ownership and ski-in/ski-out Condos.Must-have amenities: While resort properties offer amenities such as direct gondola access and heated parking, the larger communities offer acreage, recreation centers and golf courses.
As you get into the market, you may need to be flexible on some of these requirements, but starting with a best-case list will be helpful.
Examine Your Finances
Before purchasing a home, it’s important to make sure you have your finances lined up. Many buyers think they can do this after they find the home, but in this competitive and seasonal market a prepared buyer will always have a leg up. Recruiting a professional to assist in making a detailed budget and plan in place to support your home purchasing goals is extremely advantageous for serious buyers. Contact me for a list of local mortgage consultants who have years of experience and local expertise to help set you on the right path.
The same list of mortgage consultants I mention above can also aide in exploring differences in rates, fees, and financing options customized to your specific needs and goals. Finding the right mortgage lender and package is important.
Pre-approval is a good idea at this stage – you’ll have more power as you submit offers and negotiate with sellers if you are already approved for a mortgage. For every property you are interested in, I offer a complimentary ‘net sheet’ analysis, which breaks down closing costs and any other fees associated with the home, giving you a detailed view beyond just the listing price.
By this point, you have a good grasp of the type of property you’re looking for, the communities you are considering and the purchase price you’ll be working with – and that’s just the beginning. Home-buying can be a storm and you want a good captain that you’ll trust and can leverage for expertise. Many people are unaware of the services that (good) real estate agents provide and thus do not take advantage of them. From the net sheet analysis to financial consultant referrals to property cash flow analysis for income potential, there are several details buyers should be using their real estate agents to research and analyze for them.
Search for Homes
Now is where the fun starts for me – utilizing my network, board of realtors knowledge and Tahoe Mountain Realty’s extensive reach allows me to search for homes that meet your goals and criteria in a more comprehensive and timely fashion than any other local brokerage. You’ll also want to make sure you view homes in person – pictures are awesome, but can sometimes be misleading. And on top of that, each showing gives you a chance to learn more about what you can get in this area at your price point.
Make an Offer and Negotiate
Once you’ve found the home you’d like to buy, it’s time to make an offer. Here’s where a good agent earns their money – showing you the home is the easy part. Shepherding you through offer and closing is where great agents prove their worth.
Sellers can counter your offer, inspections can reveal possible repairs, and you can suddenly find your budget at risk and maybe even question if this is the right home for you. Above all, leverage your agent to drive this process and continue to communicate with everyone involved. Good agents are honest, forthright and will always steer this process towards what is in the best interest for YOU.
Secure Your Financing
You’re almost there – remember, your lender wants to ensure that this is a good move for everyone, so they may ask for more information at this point about income, the condition of the house, or your credit history. Providing accurate and timely responses keeps the process moving and gets you to your desired outcome the fastest.
Close the Deal
The timing for closing can vary, but the average is 30 days. Typically, within 48 hours prior to closing, you’ll do a final walk-through to check that all agreed-to repairs are completed and that the home is in the expected condition.
You can expect to meet with your lender and agent to finalize the paperwork. There may also be attorneys present, the seller’s agent, a representative from the title company, and the designated closing agent. During the closing all paperwork will be finalized, including: the deed, title, financial/funding, closing statements, insurance, contract, etc. My biggest tip here – ask questions until you are confident that you understand the terms, risks and obligations.
At this point, you’re done with everything and you will be ready to move into your new home!