Buyer FAQs

Below you'll find answers to many questions real estate buyers have. For more information, just contact a REMAX Advantage agent.
 

Questions

How do I begin?
How much money do I need to buy a home?
How do I choose a REALTOR?
What's a Buyer's Agent and why would I want one?
What's the difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved?
How can I help my REALTOR find me a home?
Why are real estate taxes shown on the MLS print-outs?
I found the house of my dreams, now what?
How much should I offer?
Earnest deposit and other considerations.
What about a home inspection?
Will I need a survey?
When do I apply for a mortgage?
What's title insurance and why would I want it?
What's a closing?
When do I get to move in?

Answers

 
How do I begin?
You could start by educating yourself with the local real market, visiting homes that are held open by area real estate firms, surfing the Internet and looking at the HOMES Magazine. All those methods work, but why not employ the services of a real estate professional to really assist you?
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How much money do I need to buy a home?
In the "old days" it usually took 10 - 20% down payment to secure your dream home. Nowadays there is a vast array of financing options that can even allow you to obtain a new home with NO down payment. There is also FHA and VA mortgages that can get you started with little or no money down. With today's rental rates skyrocketing, it may be less expensive for you to own your own home than to rent. There may be additional tax benefits besides pride of ownership and the ability to paint and decorate your way!
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How do I choose a REALTOR?
One of the best methods of finding a real estate professional is from a referral from friends or co-workers that have been satisfied in their real estate experience. Speaking of experience, RE/MAX agents typically have more years in the real estate business and outsell the competition up to 4 to 1! You want an agent that listens to your needs and wants and will assist you in defining a strategy at finding the home that is the best fit for you. See agent profiles.
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What's a Buyer's Agent and why would I want one?
A Buyer's Agent will be your advocate in the transaction, looking out for your best interests (see Dual Agent for exceptions). You will be able to freely share your thoughts and desires for a home purchase with your agent and the common goal will be to obtain the very best home for you. Using the services of a Buyer's Agent should not increase your costs of obtaining a home, in fact many times, the Buyer's Agent will actually save you money! A Dual Agent is an agent that is employed by you and the seller in the same transaction. While the agent will no longer represent you exclusively, they will take no action that will put you at a competitive disadvantage with the seller. The agent will act essentially as a facilitator, assisting both you and the seller to a mutually satisfactory transaction.
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What's the difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved?
Become the next best thing to a cash buyer by being pre-approved for your mortgage loan. Pre-approval often time will include payment of a small fee to the lender to draw a credit report on you and possibly verification of employment. That way you can confidently make an offer on a home and virtually eliminate risk for the seller. When other buyers may be offering on the home you desire, the pre-approved buyer has a distinct competitive edge, even over the pre-qualified buyer.
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How can I help my REALTOR find me a home?
While it might be tempting for you to anxiously await each new issue of the HOMES Magazine or the daily newspaper to find your home, the delay from submitting an ad to actual printing and distribution of print media may mean finding homes that are already sold or really don't match your criteria. A real estate professional will use many techniques to find your dream home, including the computerized Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which will enable your "profile" to be input to find new listings that match your criteria.
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Why are real estate taxes shown on the MLS print-outs?
Taxes, State Equalized Value (SEV) and Taxable Value are there for information only. After you purchase, taxes probably will increase, based on the sale price. A quick method for computing potential taxes is to multiply 50% of sales price by the millage. The good news is because of Proposal A, your new taxes will have some maximum increases in the future. There are substantial savings for homes that are owner-occupied, receiving millage rates based on Homestead Exemption.
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I found the house of my dreams, now what?
Now the real work begins. In most cases, you will be provided copies of a Seller's Property Condition Disclosure and, if your home was constructed prior to 1978, a Lead Based Paint Disclosure. Your agent will prepare a Buy & Sell Agreement based upon your particular situation. The Buy & Sell Agreement will essentially become the roadmap of the sale, spelling out the expectations of all parties. It probably will contain numerous contingencies to protect you. You will be advised at that time to retain an attorney to review all documents and to be sure the terms of sale are as you desire.
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How much should I offer?
Always a tough question, but if you have seen a number of homes in this price range, with similar features, you should have a fair idea of the value. You might request your Buyer's Agent to perform a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) to help determine what's right for you. In the Kalamazoo market, the statistics indicate homes have been selling within 97% of asking price. If there are other buyers bidding, it's not unheard of to offer above asking price! It would be a shame to miss your dream home for a relatively small amount, that when financed my only be a few dollars per day.
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Earnest deposit and other considerations.
Earnest deposit is really "down payment on down payment" helping to assure a seller that you're serious about the purchase. Real Estate license law dictates that the funds be deposited in a non-interest bearing Trust Account within 2 banking days following a full signed Buy & Sell Agreement. This is the time to establish a tentative date in the future for closing and possession.
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What about a home inspection?
Your REALTOR will typically recommend that you have several inspections performed on the property. The inspections must be completed within the strict time frame set in the Buy & Sell Agreement. A home inspection performed by a professional is designed to expose hidden or latent defects in the property that fit within 3 areas, health, structural or safety. After review of the inspection you may direct your REALTOR to prepare an Addendum to the Buy & Sell Agreement requesting certain corrective actions by the seller. See partners/vendors.
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Will I need a survey?
Your lender may require a "location report" which shows that the improvement are within the property boundaries. Although the "location report" is a drawing it is not a substitute for a stake survey. A stake survey, although more expensive will have property corners marked. See partners/vendors.
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When do I apply for a mortgage?
The time frame established in the Buy & Sell Agreement will dictate not only when you will make a formal loan application, but also when a conditional loan commitment must be provided. The lender will have any number of requirements to complete the mortgage for you. One might be an appraisal, which is designed to insure that the home has a value that's acceptable to the lender for the amount of the loan.
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What's title insurance and why would I want it?
An Owner's Policy of Title Insurance will be provided at the seller's expense. The insurance is designed to protect your interests in the property in the event someone else attempted to make a claim of ownership. See partners/vendors.
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What's a closing?
This is where it all comes together. The seller will supply a deed to you which will be recorded with the Register of Deeds to document your ownership of the home. You will need to bring the balance of your down payment to the closing in certified funds. Your REALTOR will review the closing statement with you in advance of the closing.
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When do I get to move in?
Possession date will have been determined by the Buy & Sell Agreement. The seller will supply keys to the home and arrangements should be in place for utility transfers. Congratulations on your new home. Now it's your turn to refer your REALTOR to your friends. See agent profiles.
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