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5 Questions First Time Home Buyers Most Often Ask
I’ve been in real estate less than ten years but I am often asked the same questions by first-time home buyers and buyers who have lived in their current home for many years. I thought it would be beneficial to ask and answer those questions for all interested parties.
What is the first thing to do when you decide to purchase a home? The very first step in the home purchase process is to secure a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter from a lender of your choice. If you don’t know a lender, ask your family or friends to recommend one they’ve had a good experience with.
Why is that pre-approval or pre-qualification letter so important? The letter covers two very important steps in the home purchase process: a) it tells you (and your real estate agent) the price point for which you qualify to purchase a home and, b) it assures that you are ‘ready’ to submit an offer when you find the right home. The pre-approval/pre-qualification letter must be submitted along with the offer on most listings. The letter assures the seller that you qualify to purchase the home you are offering on.
How and when do I choose a real estate agent? You’ll likely get differing answers from everyone you ask about this one. My advice is to start out by asking friends and relatives that have had a good experience with an agent to recommend an agent. You can also search online. You can select a company and do a search of local agents. There are many ways to find us. Once you’ve limited your choices to two or three, meet with them. Sit with them and decide whether the agent “fits” you, is competent and will best represent you and your family. Trust. You should feel that you can trust the agent. If not, keep looking. If you can, I recommend my clients sign a Buyer Representation Agreement. The Agreement, among other things, assures the Buyer that the Agent will work to find a home for them. It also assures the Agent that the Buyer will work exclusively with them.
What if I change my mind about a home after I sign a contract? When purchasing a home, there is no automatic 3-day period in which to change your mind like there are in other contracts. Any rights that you may have to terminate are contained within the contract. If, for example, the Termination Option was exercised (page 8, 23. Termination Option) and the agreed upon fee was delivered to the Seller (or the Seller’s agent) within 3 days after the effective date of the contract, the Seller grants Buyer the unrestricted right to terminate the contract by giving notice within the agreed upon number of days stated in the contract. The fees paid to the Seller will not be refunded when this Option is exercised. The earnest money will be refunded to the Buyer. If the Termination Option was not added to the contract, you may need to see an attorney. Talk to your agent.
After the inspection, how do I know what to ask for in repairs? If you are a first-time home buyer, you may need some assistance determining what to ask the Seller to repair or replace. Your real estate professional should be available to guide you. I remind my clients, particularly first-time buyers, that the home is not new and will likely have general maintenance issues that are common to existing homes. I generally recommend they ask for the life and safety issues such as electrical items to be repaired, followed by those issues that impact the soundness of the investment including the roof and then mechanical issues such as the air conditioning system. Your agent will be your best advisor when considering repairs.
If you are in the San Antonio area and have decided to purchase a home (or sell one and purchase another home), I will make time to answer your questions. If, after I’ve answered the questions, you’d like to talk about finding the perfect home, let’s talk. I will be available.
Sharon is a military wife who moved at the direction of the U.S. Army for nearly 30 years, a Federal employee who retired after 30 years of service, an active Broker Associate/REALTOR in San Antonio w....