Q: Should I get pre-approved before starting my home search?
Although it's not a requirement, getting mortgage pre-approval prior to starting your home search has many benefits. Obtaining lender pre-approval helps you to narrow your search to homes that fit your budget and shows sellers that you are a serious, qualified buyer. Need recommendations for experienced, reputable lenders? Just ask!
Q: Should I buy my new home first or sell my current home first?
This is a tricky one. If you buy a home before you sell your current home, you may end up overextended financially. On the flip side, if you sell your current home first, you may be left scrambling for a place to stay while hunting for your new home. There are ways to do both at once with minimal risk, such as including a contingency sale in your contract. This means you only agree to buy a home if you can sell the one you're in. In a hot housing market, though, it might be challenging to find a seller who will agree to these terms.
Q: How many homes should I view before making a decision?
As many as it takes to find the perfect place. Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make and you should feel confident that you are making a good personal and financial decision. Together with your agent you can narrow down your home search by identifying what's most important to you in a new home. Location? Square footage? Schools? New construction or an existing home? Once you've made your Must Have List, you can sign up for a free account on this site and easily search, save and share listings. Automatic email alerts will let you know when new listings that match your criteria hit the market.
Q: What is a fair offer price?
Whatever the seller is willing to accept. Generally speaking, an offer of 5% below list price won't cause you to lose out on your dream home. Unless, that is, it's a seller's market in which case you may need to make an offer over list price. Bottom line: The longer a home has been on the market the more likely it is that the seller will be willing to negotiate.
Q: How quickly can I move in?
From the time the seller has accepted your offer until the time you close (the escrow period) is typically between 30 to 45 days. This can vary depending on how smoothly the loan process goes.
Q: Do I really need a home inspection?
YES. An inspection can tell you if the home's structure and mechanics (roof, electric, heating and air, plumbing, etc) are in good shape. If the inspector finds problems you can negotiate with the seller to have them repaired or replaced prior to closing. Once you've closed on the house, it's too late.
Q: Do I really need a Realtor when buying a home?
Up to you, but Yes. A licensed Realtor represents your best interests when buying a home and can help navigate the complex process as well as avoid costly mistakes. Be sure to interview several agents before deciding on one you feel comfortable working with.
Q: Who pays the Realtor fees when buying a home?
In most cases the seller pays the Realtor fees. Which means that for buyers there's no reason to try to go it alone.