Home Buying 101: The Service Providers You Need for Your Home Purchase

When it comes to buying a home, there are more things to consider than you may realize. After all, it’s a lot more complicated than walking into the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk!

Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases the average person makes. As such, you can expect there to be a lot of preparation, negotiation, and paperwork involved. In addition to obtaining a mortgage and signing the paperwork, there are a number of other tasks that need to be completed before you can open the doors to your new home.

Here’s a quick crash course in Home Buying 101: what service providers you need to hire while purchasing your new home.

Mortgage Lender

Man and a woman speaking with a bank lender holding pens.Ideally, you should start talking to lenders before you even begin looking for homes—and get pre-qualified for a mortgage as soon as possible.

Pre-qualification involves reviewing all of your finances, including income, expenses, and savings, with a lender.

Then, the lender will do some math and let you know exactly how much the bank is willing to loan you.

Home Inspector

Before you purchase the home, you absolutely must schedule a home inspection! This usually happens after you negotiate a price and sign the initial Purchase and Sale Agreement with the seller.

The home inspector will carefully go through every room of your new home (including basement, attic, and roof) to ensure everything is in proper working order. If the inspector finds any major issues, you can negotiate with the seller to get them fixed.

The average home inspection costs around $315, but it may end up being higher depending on the size of your home as well as any other add ons. For a larger home greater than 2,000 square feet, it may cost upwards of $400 or $500.

Appraiser

Woman at a computer explaining a home appraisal.After the home inspection comes the appraisal. Your lender requires an appraisal because they want to protect their investment by making sure the home is worth at least as much as they’re lending you.

The appraiser will take a close look at key features in the home and compare them to the features in other homes (and what those homes have sold for). If the appraiser values the home at less than the sales price, the bank will lower the amount of your mortgage to match it. If this happens, you have several options.

Depending on the contract you signed with the seller, you may be able to get your deposit back and walk away. You can also dispute the appraisal by talking with your Realtor about property values. Another option is to negotiate the price with the seller.

Title Company

Title insurance promises peace of mind when buying a home. Basically, when you purchase title insurance, a title company will come in and ensure the seller actually owns the home and the title is valid. This protects you down the line, in case any issues come up regarding past taxes, contracts, or prior mortgages with the home’s title.

It’s also a good idea to purchase owner’s and lender’s title insurance to protect yourself and your lender from any issues with claims to the title of your property.

The cost of title insurance depends on the size of your mortgage and your location.

Have any Questions? We’re Here for You

For even more information on how to navigate the purchase of your home, including all the fees, paperwork, and legal jargon, give us a call today. We’re always here to help.

3 Over-the-Top Home Improvement Projects that Just Aren’t Worth It

If you’re planning on selling your home within the next year or so, you’ve probably already started thinking about the best ways to increase its value. But if you’re not an experienced home flipper or contractor, it can be tricky to know which projects are worth it and which simply aren’t.

To save you time and money (and a lot of hassle), here are some home improvement projects that just aren’t worth it (and what you can do instead).

Replacing Old Cabinets

Beautiful completely upgraded kitchen with new cabinets.Depending on what kind of cabinet material you choose, you could be looking at an estimate anywhere between $1,000 to over $9,000 to completely replace your kitchen cabinets. Materials like laminate are certainly less expensive, but prices on real wood can quickly skyrocket.

As an alternative to completely re-doing your cabinets, you might consider sanding them down and re-staining them yourself (or painting, if they’re laminate) to give them an upgraded appearance.

Extensive Master Bathroom Remodel

Sure, there are plenty of homeowners dreaming of a spa-like master bathroom, but with a bathroom remodel averaging anywhere from $5,000 to over $14,000, it’s probably not worth it.

Instead of dropping thousands of dollars into a complete overhaul, consider some smaller upgrades that can still significantly boost your value. You can give your bathroom a much-needed uplift simply by replacing old sink fixtures, re-caulking the tub and shower, or adding in a stylish backsplash.

Adding on a Room

Man using a power-saw to cut through a floor.The national average for building an additional room on to your home is $42,000. And even with the added square footage, there’s no guarantee it will add much (or any!) resale value to your home. How badly do you need that extra room?

A more worthwhile alternative might be removing or adding a wall to create more space (or another room) without increasing the square footage. Another option is to add a deck, which typically costs only around $6,000 and adds desirable outdoor entertaining space (which has been shown to positively affect home values).

Get More Money From Your Home Sale

With so many home improvement options, it can be tough to decide which ones are best for adding resale value to your property. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced Realtor to sell your home.

If you’re interested in selling your home, or simply want to chat about your real estate plans, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We would love to assist you in making your real estate goals a reality.

So, What Does a Realtor Actually Do for Home Buyers?

If you’re actively looking for a new home to buy, it may be tempting to try and do it yourself, without a Realtor. After all, the agent isn’t really working for you, right?

Two-story suburban home made of brick and stucco.There’s a common misconception that real estate agents are only working for sellers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

When you’re buying a home, a real estate agent can help you make the right financial decision while maintaining your sanity.

Real estate agents live and breathe real estate, so they know how to navigate the market unlike anyone else.

The Right Buyers Agent Will Make All the Difference

An experienced Buyer’s Agent will keep you on top of the market, show you hard-to-find homes for sale, negotiate your buying terms, handle the bulk of your paperwork, and more. And it won’t cost you a penny!

In fact, here are the 4 things real estate agents do to eliminate stress from your home-buying process.

Help You Find the Right Home

Nice kitchen interior with bar seating and a chrome fridge.You don’t have to spend hours on Zillow wading through thousands of home listings in your area. Need a home with 2,000 square feet, at least two-and-a-half bathrooms, and a large backyard? Tell your Realtor!

Using your guidelines, they’ll provide you with a list of homes that meet your needs. Realtors have access to many homes that are not actively advertised on public sites like Zillow or Trulia.

Negotiate the Terms of Your Contract

In general, Realtors handle the bulk of the paperwork details so you don’t have to!

Contract negotiations are just one example of where it really pays off to have an experienced agent on your side. An experienced agent knows the rules and regulations of buying a home, so they’ll be able to negotiate a contract with the seller to ensure the best terms for you.

Prioritize Your Financial Wellbeing

When you enter into an agreement with a real estate agent, their job is to help you build your new investment in a smart way that ultimately protects your money and your interests.

Their obligation is to helping you decide whether a potential home will be a good, and affordable, financial investment for you.

In short, their primary responsibility is to protect you and your finances.

Answer All Your Questions

Let’s be real, buying a home is one of the biggest financial investments you’ll ever make! Naturally, you’re bound to have a couple of questions — both before and after the close.

Your Realtor will be there to clear things up, every step of the way.

Ready to Find Your Dream Home?

So are we. If you’d like help finding the perfect home, please give us a call.

We’re here to make your life, and your home purchase, as easy and stress-free as possible. Feel free to reach out to us so we can get started!

What Do Those Home Selling Terms Even Mean?

Real estate lingo can be hard to decipher because, well, there’s so much of it! It might even seem like your Realtor is speaking another language.

From fancy acronyms to words like “escrow” and “riders,” there are a lot of terms out there that might seem totally foreign. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to know what they mean!

If you’re in the process of selling your home, here are a few real estate acronyms you really should know.

CMA: Comparative Market Analysis

Man's hand resting on the mouse pad of a silver laptop.A comparative market analysis is a great way to research the market and find out what homes in your neighborhood are selling for. It’s an in-depth report that lists the prices of sold homes that are similar to your home (otherwise known as “comps” or “comparables”).

CMAs provide information about homes that were recently sold, home that are currently on the market, and homes that were on the market but were not sold within the listing period.

FSBO: For Sale By Owner

Home sellers who opt not to use a Realtor will list their home as For Sale By Owner. This simply means the homeowner is selling their home without the help of a Realtor and is taking on all the responsibilities of selling their home.

When you choose to sell without a Realtor, you may be saving money on their commission fee, but you’re taking on a lot of additional work and responsibility. Plus, you may end up losing money in the long run if you don’t know how to stage and photograph your home, market it effectively, or price it correctly and competitively.

Escrow

Escrow refers to a number of documents, payments, and other material that are held by a third party. Once you’ve negotiated the sale of your home with a potential buyer, you’ll want to make sure there’s a proper escrow set up.

Basically, when a buyer makes an offer on your home, they’ll write you a check for “earnest money” (kind of like a security deposit or holding fee). This money is held by a neutral third party until you and the buyer negotiate a contract and close the sale.

Since you can’t use the money and neither can the buyer, the money is considered to be in “escrow”.

Contingency

When you’re negotiating the contract of your home sale with the buyer, there are likely to be a few contingencies in your contract. Contingencies protect the buyer if they fail to qualify for a loan, if they are dissatisfied with the results of the home inspection, or if something else falls through.

Carefully consider all terms of the contract, including specific contingencies, when reviewing offers. The more contingencies an offer contains, the riskier it is to accept the offer, as there are more ways it could potentially fall through. Work with your Realtor to negotiate a contract that benefits you and the buyer.

Need a Translator? We’ve Got You Covered

Allow us to handle all the details of selling your property, giving you more time to focus on finding and relocating to your new home. We’ll be there to guide you through every aspect of selling your home, from pricing it to signing the closing paperwork.

Give us a call today to get started.

The Most Popular Features in Multimillion-Dollar Properties

Ever wonder why some homes sell for millions of dollars? As different as each listing might be, many share a number of common features that are known to bolster home values.

If you’re on the hunt for your dream home, some of these features could be yours! Don’t worry about breaking the bank; prioritizing your wants and needs can help you determine which of these luxury features will fit your lifestyle and your budget.

Here are 5 features of multimillion-dollar homes you can get at affordable price tags.

In-Ground Pool

In-ground pool with small cabana and water slide.Who needs a neighborhood pool when you could have your own?

Imagine spending those warm summer days cooling off by your own private pool.

It’s not uncommon to see multimillion-dollar homes outfitted with gorgeous entertaining spaces, all centered around a luxurious in-ground pool—but many homes in lower price ranges also feature great backyard pool areas, too.

Expansive Outdoor Entertaining Space

It’s often said that your home’s exterior is equally as important as its interior. That’s why we’ve been seeing more and more multimillion-dollar listings with extensive outdoor entertaining spaces.

Common features of outdoor entertaining areas such as these include built-in barbecue grills, full bars, and spa-like outdoor amenities. Multimillion-dollar condos and townhomes might come with a huge private balcony complete with breathtaking views of nearby scenery.

In more affordable homes, outdoor entertaining spaces may consist of patios, porches, and, as we mentioned before, private pools.

Luxurious Master Bathroom

Oversized shower with tiling.At the end of a long day, nothing beats kicking back and relaxing in a spa-like master bathroom. It’s really no surprise that two of the top selling points for a home are the master bathroom and the kitchen.

Oversized glass-paneled showers are a must-have for multi million-dollar properties, as well as soaking tubs and stylish backsplash. Homes in lower price ranges may also feature stylish master bathrooms with upgrades like these.

Guest House or In-Law Suite

Commonly referred to as a “casita” or simply a guest house, this is a smaller dwelling separated from your main home.

Casitas are becoming more and more popular because of their versatility. Use them as a pool house, guest room, or even a source of low-maintenance rental income.

Wine Cellar

Wine cellar with glass bottles.The creme de la creme of luxury listings is… the wine cellar. You know you’ve made it when your home comes with its very own wine room.

Bonus points if your wine room comes with temperature-controlled shelving.

While more affordable homes may not come with wine cellars, you can still find homes with extra space for an excellent home theater, study, mini-library, or game room.

Your Dream Home Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

In fact, if you budget correctly, you can find the perfect home for you that has a number of special features. Correct prioritizing is key here. So, if you really can’t picture life without that in-ground pool, it may mean you won’t get an extra-special master bathroom or guest house.

Need some additional help working out the details in your home search? We’re here to help. Simply give us a call today to get started finding the home that’s right for you.