Buying a Home
Buying a home may be one of your most significant investments in life. You're not only buying a house, you're investing in your future and possibly your children's future. You're most likely investing a large portion of your hard earned money into this venture so it'll be important to know what you're buying and understand the home's potential. The more prepared you are to make the best decisions, the less overwhelming and chaotic the buying process will be. The goal of this page is to provide you with detailed information to assist you in making an intelligent and informed decision. Remember, if you have any questions about the process, I'm only a phone call or email away!
Step 1 - Wish List
Most people have a good mental picture of what they want in their home, especially if they currently own a home or have owned one in the past. And you may have a price in mind that you believe you'll find your home within this price. Once you start looking, your wish list begins to change and you begin to prioritize what is most important. I recommend to all of my buyers to make a list of Wants & Needs and prioritize those 2 lists. You may notice how items on your lists tend to move around, or, maybe not. Either way, it still helps both you and me, your Realtor when searching for that perfect house to call home.
Step 2 - Financing
Before you venture out to find your castle, you must first meet with a Lender. Once you decide which lender to use, they will let you know how much house you can afford according to your income and debt. Debt to income ratio and payment history are deciding factors which effect your FICO score, which is what is used to determine whether you qualify for a loan and how much you can borrow to purchase a home. Your lender will inform you of the current Interest Rates and keep you updated on any changes. Once you locate a property, you can have your rate locked in until you complete the purchase process. You will be responsible for closing costs and Down Payment unless you qualify for a VA loan or are using a Down Payment Assistance program. There are often different Down Payment Assistance programs available so ask your lender if you would qualify, and how you may or may not benefit from using one.
Step 3 - Locate the house and Make an Offer
There are many steps to follow once you locate the house that you wish to purchase. As your agent, I will walk you through the Purchase Contract and all other documents required. Some may be property specific, for example an HOA Addendum or Lead Based Paint Disclosure . I'll help you to determine a fair offer and negotiate any necessary items to help you get the best deal possible. Once you have a fully signed contract, I will walk you through the next step. There are deadlines to be followed and investigations to be completed before you start moving in and I'll be there every step of the way.
Step 4 - Inspections
Inspections are designed to help you learn and understand the overall condition of a property before you actually purchase it. An inspection may uncover something that you may not have noticed until after you've moved in. This can sometimes be a costly risk and potentially save you considerable time and hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs. Some of the inspections may be required by your lender and all inspections are generally recommended by your Realtor.
General Home Inspection
The areas to be inspected shall include but not limited to: the lot and grounds, structure, roofs, exterior surfaces, garage/carport, electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, fireplace, appliance condition and attic, crawlspace and basement if there is one present. Remember that your inspection rights are clearly stated in the Purchase Contract and vary in price and areas of inspetion. The person whom is hired to do the General Home Inspection should go over what they do and don't inspect. You have the right to have any and all inspections, even for a home that is being sold "as-is". You do have the right to waive any inspections unless required by your lender.
Pool/Hot Tub Inspection
Determines the overall condition and operability of a pool and/or hot tub's equipment. Additionally, the condition of the pool deck will be inspected for deterioration and/or other noticeable defects. Not all Home Inspectors are qualified to inspect pool/hot tub equipment. Check with your home inspector first. There is an additional fee for pool/spa equipment.
A termite inspector will inspect the property for the presence of wood-destroying insects (WDI) or wood destroying organisms (WDO, i.e. fungus) and conducive conditions that exist. Inspection requirements vary by state and/or Lender. The Termite inspector will supply a report, called WDIR, of their findings which may be required by the lender. If there are signs of termites or other pests, they will attach a proposal for treatment to the report.
Lead Paint Inspection
Painted surfaces of a home can be evaluated to determine the presence of lead based paint. Homes that were constructed before 1978 may contain lead-based paint. You should receive a pamphlet from your Real Estate agent about Lead poisoning. Lead exposure can be harmful to young children and babies. Children with lead in their bodies can suffer from damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and headaches. So better to know what's in your new home. Lead based paint generally isn't hazardous unless it's chipping and cracking which is where it becomes a danger to children, in case they would ingest paint chips. Awarenss is key to keeping everyone safe.
A general home inspector will typically inspect the roof but unless they are a licensed or highly experienced roofer, they may not see everything, therefore it's best to get a roof inspection from a licensed roofing company. They will include in their inspection, a proposal for recommended repairs. It is sometimes necessary to get 2-3 estimates if indeed roof repairs are necessary.
On-Site Waste System (SeptiChekTM) Evaluation
SeptiChekTM is an evaluation performed by an on-site waste management professional. It involves accessing the cover of the septic tank to examine the fluid level inside the septic tank. The tank is then pumped to check the condition of the tank and its baffles. The leaching field is probed to check the level of sub-surface liquid waste (effluent). This test alerts the buyer to a wide range of potentially costly septic system repairs or failures. The SeptiChekTM evaluation provides more reliable information of potential problems than a septic dye test.
Private Well Flow and Potability Inspection
Designed to determine whether or not a private well adequately supplies water to the house. Samples are sent to a lab for potability (drinkability) analysis. This inspection should be done on any property in which is solely on a well, whether private or shared.
Should the Home Inspector find something outside of their expertise, they may recommend further investigation on other items such as:
Electrical Power Supply
It's possible that an older home now has more electrical components that it didn't have when it was first built and the power supply may be insufficient. This requires a licensed electrician to inspec the incoming power supply and the Breakers which control the electricity to specific ares of the home
The home may have initially had an Evaporative Cooling system which may be still working or not. Many homeowners have added Central A/C units or A/C-Heating combo units. If the heating and cooling sytems are outdated, not working properly or maybe insufficient for the square footage of the home, it may be necessary to get it inspected by a licensed Heating/Cooling specialist and someone who could also do any necessary repairs.
Your home inspector may find trouble with the drain lines from the house to the main sewer lines at the street. It may be necessary to have the sewer lines scoped with a special camera. Or, if the home has an unusually high water bill without anything to explain why, you may need to have a leak test done to see if there are leaks in the water lines from the street to the home or possibly inside the home. Some leaks are so small, they wouldn't be detected for months, maybe even years.
Radon Gas Inspection
Radon levels are detected and measured. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that between 15,000 - 22,000 deaths per year result from radon exposure, therefore they recommend that all homes be tested for radon. EPA recommends that homes containing 4.0 or more Picouries per liter be remedied. (The average indoor radon levels of Pima County, as determined by radon test results from Air Chek, Inc, is 1.4 pCi/L )
Lab analysis will determine if asbestos fibers are present and evaluate their condition. If friable or non-friable conditions exist, buyers should seek professional assistance.
Underground Storage Tank (UST) Inspection
The most common methods for testing a UST, typically used to store oil for heating homes, are either the soil test or vacuum test. The soil test consists of random core samples taken around the location of the tank and submitting them for lab analysis. This will determine if any product has contaminated the soil at that particular area and to what extent. The vacuum test consists of having a technician seal off and place the tank under a vacuum. Readings are periodically taken to determine whether or not the tank is losing its vacuum. With this test immediate results are available for the buyers.
Since USTs are predominately made of metal they rust and corrode over time, causing hazardous materials to contaminate soil and potentially aquifers that supply drinking water to surrounding communities.
The majority of UST problems occur in the northeastern states due to the older properties located there.
Obtaining the proper inspections for a home prior to purchase is one of the best ways to make a smart purchase decision and protect your investment. The above is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all of the types of inspections that may be necessary on a particular home, but it is meant to provide general information on some of the most common types of inspections.
Step 5 - In the meantime . . .
While you're working on getting all the inspections completed, your lender will be doing what they do best and that is to make sure they have all the necessary papers from you. Your lender wants to make sure your loan will pass through what's called Underwriting. From the moment you apply for a loan to the day you sign on the dotted line, YOU MUST BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT SPENDING! Even though you are qualified for a loan, doesn't mean you can go out an buy your new furniture for the home. ANY changes in your Debt status may effect your borrowing qualifications. New charges to a credit card can change your debt to income ratio just enough to disqualify your loan. The lender will run your credit up to the day before they award the funds. SO BE CAREFULL! This is the final step before the lender will provide the funds to purchase the home.
Step 6 - Whew, inspections are Complete, now what?
Once you have completed all of the inspections you wish to have done, you have the option to ask the seller to repair any items you feel are important. The most important repairs are anything relating to safety and preventative measures such as a water leak or eletrical issues. Even though you have agreed upon a sale price, you'll now need to agree upon any repairs you wish to have completed by the seller. Once both buyers and sellers agree and additional documents are signed, you can move to the next step, which is . . .
Step 7 - Packing
Whewhooo, what fun! Don't forget that if you're in a lease agreement, that you have given proper notification to your landlord, otherwise you could be responsible to pay for 2 places and you don't want that. About 1 week out, you'll be reminded to contact the utility companies and have your services transfered to your new address, as of the sale (Closing date). Juggling work and packing can be stressful so it can be helpful to start packing when you start looking for a home. You can always pack things you won't need for the next 3-6 months and at the same time, get rid of items you won't be taking with you. Why move it if you're not going to keep it. If you're moving close to the 1st or the 15th of the month, I would recommend reserving a moving truck as soon as you have a confirmation that all is good. No one wants to get stuck cramming stuff in their car and making a 100 trips back and forth, if that's even possible plus, you could end up paying more to extend your current lease. You could also mess up the schedule of the next person moving into your old place.
Step 8 - Final Walk-through
Before signing all those loan documents, you'll want to verify that the home you're purchasing is how it is expected to be. All requested repairs should be completed and the condition of the home should be the same or better than the day you made the offer. If it's not, you'll have time to inform the sellers so they can do what is necessary. The last thing anyone wants to do is postpone the closing date, especially when you've got a moving van waiting for you. As long as everything is acceptable, you're good to go.
Step 9 - Purchasing Proceeds
A few days prior to signing your final closing papers, you'll receive a copy of the Estimated Closing Costs statement, which will show all charges and credits by the lender, the title company and any other fees involved in the purchase such as HOA Fees, Tax Prorations and impounds for insurance, etc. You will also know the amount for which you will need to bring a Cashier's Check with you to the title company the day of signing. If there are any adjustments, you will receive an updated copy and sign a final copy along with the other loan documents.
Step 10 - Signing Final Closing Documents
You'll have an appointment scheduled, usually through your agent, with the Title company who is holding the escrow funds for the transaction. The Title/Escrow agent will review and explain to you all of the loan documents and any additional closing documents required.
Step 11 - Final Closing
Once you've signed everything and given your down payment and paid for your closing costs, the title company will see to it that the proceeds are received from the lender and distributed to the proper parties. Once this is completed, they will contact the County Recorders Office and submit the details to have the Deed transfer into your name. Once this is completed, you will be contacted through your Realtor that you are officially the new owner. Once the proper documents are recorded, you'll receive the keys to your now home! CONGRATULATIONS!
Step 12 - Move-in Day
This day could be the same day you signed papers, depending on how early in the day that ocurred. Hopefully you've remembered to have the utilities transferred into your name and arranged for your mail to be delivered to your new address. It's not to late, if you haven't done these things, do it right away. You will begin making cherished memories from this moment, for years to come.
As your Realtor, I will be there every step of the way. Making sure everything goes according to schedule and resolve any issues that may occur. Remember to make special arrangements if you have pets and children. Pets can get anxious so be prepared to keep them safe. It's a good idea to walk with them around your new neighborhood so they get familiar with where their new home is. Children may be changing schools and may also become a little anxious about making new friends and getting to know their new neighborhood too. Locating local parks and activities helps them to start meeting other kids in the neighborhood.
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Let's find you the right home at the right price.