MONOPOLY: So your family has decided to play Monopoly? Refill your beverage, grab a snack and change into comfortable clothes. You’re going to be there a while.
LESSON: Buying real estate is a process. There’s pre-approval for a loan, interviewing agents, searching for homes, submitting an offer, maybe submitting another offer, the home inspection, the appraisal, and final loan processing before you get the keys. Needless to say, buying a home can take some time. Instead of getting frustrated, focus on all of the great reasons you decided buying a home was right for you. Staying in close communication with your agent throughout the process will help, too.
2. Neighborhood Matters
MONOPOLY: Everyone starts the game with one corner in mind: Boardwalk and Park Place. The high-priced properties have the best returns on investments, and the players who snag them first tend to do well in the game.
LESSON: Location is often a major consideration in real life as well. Home values, your lifestyle and so much more are factors in your neighborhood choice. Work with your agent to learn all you can about the neighborhoods that pique your interest.
3. Keep an Open Mind
MONOPOLY: Baltic and Mediterranean Avenue have a bad reputation because they’re the cheapest properties on the board, but they also present opportunity. Add a few houses and hotels and your return could be bigger than the one on nearby Connecticut Avenue.
LESSON: Keep an open mind when shopping for a home. An up-and-coming neighborhood may have appeal you didn’t see before, and more value for your budget.
4. Be Prepared
MONOPOLY: You’re a Monopoly mogul! You have a handful of desirable properties and a steady stream of income from your houses and hotels. Then comes the Chance card: “Make general repairs on your property – for each house pay $25, for each hotel pay $100.”
LESSON: You never know what card you’re going to draw. But unlike Monopoly, the real world has home insurance available to help you prepare for unexpected repairs and disasters. A variety of plans, customizable to any budget, are available. Some homebuyers also opt for warrantiescovering potential appliance issues after move-in.
5. How to Win a Bidding War
MONOPOLY: Trading properties keeps Monopoly exciting. And there are no strict rules as to how a seller determines to accept an offer. Sibling rivalry, bribes involving candy or even business sense can play into a player’s decision.
LESSON: Sellers don’t always accept the highest offer. Writing a letter about why you fell in love with their home can sometimes sway their decision in your favor.
6. The Importance of Strategy
MONOPOLY: Monopoly is a game of strategy, but few players are inclined to study ways to win. What if you had a coach sitting next to you, advising how much to bid for a property, where to look next, and whether or not mortgaging a utility to buy Boardwalk is a smart idea? You would be unstoppable!
LESSON: Buying a home is an infrequent occurrence; for some it happens only once in a lifetime. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have someone on your side who is up-to-speed on laws for your state, knows which neighborhoods would best fit your lifestyle and helps you navigate a bidding war? That’s the value an experienced agent provides
If you’re a first-time homebuyer who has succeeded in saving enough for a down payment (remember, you don’t necessarily need 20%) on your very first home – congratulations! You’ve tackled one of the hardest parts of the homebuying journey with success, but you haven’t crossed the finish line to homeownership just yet. Now it’s time for the follow-up work that can take you from prepared to purchase.
Do you know your credit score? If not, it’s time to request a copy of your credit report from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian to find out your score and what it means to your future financial picture. Start working to resolve any errors or outstanding debts before it’s time to make an offer on a house. It’s important to determine your DTI, or debt-to-income ratio, by reviewing assets and debts. The higher your DTI percentage, the riskier the investment is for lenders – which can lead to higher interest rates.
Prepare the Paperwork
Begin gathering all necessary documents now to make the process run smoothly. Depending on your situation, this may include income documentation, proof of assets, personal documents, pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, IDs, previous addresses and Social Security numbers. Study the documents as you collect them to familiarize yourself with your financial situation, motivate your home search and keep your debt-to-income ratio low.
Get Pre-Qualified or Pre-Approved
After you find the right agent, the next step is to make an appointment with a loan originator (find one near you). A loan originator can help you with pre-qualification or pre-approval. Keep in mind that many homeowners borrow less than the maximum to account for other expenses and opt in to lower monthly payments. Revisit your financials with these new numbers in mind and, if necessary, make any final edits to your budget and payment plan.
Start your first homebuying experience off the right way by finding a real estate agent who works for you.
1. You don’t have enough saved up for the down payment
Surprise! Homes are expensive. In addition to closing costs, there can also be unexpected fees around every corner. Make sure that you have significant cushion savings in addition to whatever you plan on putting down for your house-you never know how these things will play out.
2. You don’t have your ducks in a row
Staying organized is essential when you’re house hunting. Are you serious about the bid you’re putting down? Make sure that you’re fully aware of all deadlines, contingencies and paperwork involved in moving forward with your home purchase.
3. You’re shopping way out of your budget
As Andie Anderson puts it in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, “You can’t lose something you never had.” Looking for houses that are priced outside of your budget is the first way to “lose a house” – you’ll lose out on a home that you never had a chance of buying. Pre-plan for the strong possibility of putting in an offer above the asking price. This may mean looking at homes listed a few thousand below your budget to create padding in your budget to make a higher offer.
4. You lose a bidding war
Quick, decisive, assertive-these are all necessary traits to win a bidding war. Working with an experienced RE/MAX agent who can negotiate on your behalf is a great way to ensure you play your cards right. Remember, all is fair in love and [a bidding] war.
5. You come down with a bad case of buyer’s remorse
What’s the most obvious symptom of buyer’s remorse? Cold feet. Sales contracts fall through all the time because buyers back out at the last second, succumbing to the fear of such a life-altering decision. Keep your wits about you and trust your gut.
6. You close too slowly
Sellers are trying to get sales contracts through as swiftly as possible. In this climate of high demand and limited inventory, residential real estate is a hot market. There will almost always be someone behind you, vying for your potential future home – if you really want it, work hard to satisfy the seller and make things official as soon as possible.
7. Your inspections aren’t timely
Speaking of closing quickly-inspections are sure to take some time. If you’re lucky, all you’ll need is one inspection. If an inspector discovers any problems, you’ll have to start making appointments with specialists to look further into the house’s issues. This is a race against the clock, limited by the timeframe set out in the sales contract. Don’t waste any time getting the inspections going or you might find yourself without a house to inspect.
8. Your seller isn’t happy with their appraisal
An appraisal that comes in lower than anticipated is always taken by the seller as a personal blow. This proves to be an issue for the buyer, too. Either the seller will become difficult or, even worse, you’ll have to pay the difference between the appraisal and the sales price out of pocket. Make sure to keep communication with the seller open and diplomatic when frustrations are running high.
9. You can’t secure a mortgage
You’re so close to the finish line-and then your mortgage application is declined. Apply for pre-approval so the seller knows that you’ll be able to buy their home. If you are proactive throughout the buying process the odds of you losing the home are significantly slimmed.
10. You don’t have an agent on your side
None of the above issues are simple. Having someone on your side that knows the ropes of the home buying process is the most valuable tool in your home-buying box. Don’t go it alone-let a professional help you with the most important purchase of your life.
Going agentless can leave you more vulnerable to losing a house you have your eye on. Without an agent you’ll find yourself drowning in the details. Don’t make a bet or pick someone random-hire a RE/MAX agent.
Buying a new home can be scary – at first. Nothing can be more intimidating than sitting down to fill out paperwork for one of the biggest purchases of your life and realizing that you may not speak the language that you’re reading: the language of real estate. Take the boo out of buying and selling; RE/MAX agents aren’t afraid of explaining anything you don’t understand. Start with this list that will help you slay the top 10 scariest real estate terms.
Adjustable Rate Mortgage – a loan program with a non-fixed interest rate which means your house payments may fluctuate along with changing interest rates.
Covenants, conditions and restrictions are administered and monitored by a Homeowner’s Association or HOA.
Short for comparable properties to the home your trying to sell or buy and as a point of reference for property value.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
These funny-sounding nicknames are for The Federal National Mortgage Association – one of the largest mortgage providers in the country, along with Freddie Mac or The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation; the two providers have around $5 trillion in combined mortgage assets.
Fair Isaac Company provides the software used to calculate credit ratings; a FICO score is based on the amount you currently owe on your debts and your payment history, along with any recently opened lines of credit, length of credit history and the types of credit you use.
A Good Faith Estimate is a form that gives you an idea of what your closing charges and loan terms will be if you are approved for a home loan.
Multiple Listing Service is a database for all properties listed for sale. There are many MLS companies in different regions, separated locally and by states and territories.
This is an easy one – the National Association of Realtors, which is the largest trade association representing 1.3 million members including RE/MAX agents.
Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance – the four parts of a monthly mortgage payment. The principal pays down the loan, the interest pays the lender for loaning you the money and the taxes and insurance typically go straight into an escrow account each month.
This is a lending regulation. The acronym hybrid of two other acronyms: TILA or Truth in Lending Act and RESPA or Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act Integrated Disclosure Rule. TRID pertains to transparency of loans, helping borrowers fully understand what their contracts mean.
Don’t worry, there’s no quiz or need to memorize these terms – that’s where your professional RE/MAX agent comes in to translate for you – visit remax.com to find your agent today.
© 2019 Chad Siebert. All rights reserved.