All of your most frequently asked questions, all in one place.
What is the first step of the home buying process?
If you plan to use a loan to purchase a home, getting pre-qualified for a mortgage is the first step of the home buying process. The pre-qualification process is generally a quick one (1-3 days depending on how quickly you can supply the lender with the required paperwork) and helps demonstrate that you are a serious buyer to both your Realtor and the person selling their home. Typically we require all our buyers to get pre-qualified prior to viewing any homes in person.
The pre-qualification will tell you if you can qualify for a loan, but also how much you are approved for to purchase. Knowing how much home you can afford will help narrow down your home search and ensure you don’t purchase a home outside of your means. Pre-qualification limits also help prevent disappointment caused by falling in love with homes out of your range.
Your lender will help show you a clear picture of what is financially required to buy a home. You’ll know how much money is required for the down payment and closing costs or if you qualify for any free grant down payment options. If you have credit concerns they can also help you put a plan together to increase your credit score. Our team has several preferred lenders that can help walk you through this process.
I have my pre-qualification letter, what’s next?
Congratulations, it’s almost home shopping time! The next step is to setup an in-person buyer consultation where we explore your wants/needs, learn more about what is important to you in your future home, and understand your individual situation so we can make the process go as smoothly as possible. We will then narrow down your criteria in your own search portal. We will also show you off-market properties that are not accessible on the MLS or Zillow. We pride ourselves in our quick response time and accessibility. The great homes sell fast and we understand how important it is to be accessible and available for you. Our team will work closely with you to set up showings around your schedule. We even have a dedicated Showing Agent, who’s sole job is to show homes at your convenience.
How do I search for a home?
We’ve found that sites like Zillow and Realtor.com aren’t the most accurate sources of information. Once you begin the home buying process with us, we will provide you with a customized search portal that gives you direct access to homes on the MLS. This search portal is updated every two minutes, both when new homes hit the market and when current homes go under contract. This is the best and most efficient way for you to search for homes.
I found the perfect home, now what?
Once you find the home you’d like to make an offer on, timing is of the essence. Our team will quickly put together a written offer, utilizing digital signatures that you can sign from your phone or computer. We will also take the time to run a detailed analysis (searching for comps) to determine what the true market value is for the home you are interested in. This ensures you’re offering a fair price and not overpaying. Depending on current market conditions, we will help guide you on how to make your offer the most competitive and attractive to the seller.
I already own a home. Can I sell and buy a home at the same time?
If you plan to use the equity in your current home for the down payment on the next home, and don’t want to move twice, a simultaneous buy/sell is your best option. However, a simultaneous buy/sell is complicated so all parties need to be on their game. Our team is very experienced in simultaneous closings and recognize that each scenario is a little bit different. We recommend you talk to one of our agents about the specifics of your situation and we can guide you accordingly.
Why should I buy a home instead of renting one?
Oftentimes, it is more cost-efficient to buy a home rather than rent one. When you buy, you are investing in your own future. When you rent, you are helping your landlord to invest in his or her future. There also are financial perks like tax deductions and home equity that come along with owning a home. There are also low down payment and grant down payment options available.
What is an earnest deposit?
If you’re ready to make an offer on a particular home and also want to prove to the home seller that you’re serious about your offer, providing a good amount of earnest money is a way to do this. When a buyer and seller enter into a contract, the seller takes the home off the market while the transaction moves through the escrow process to closing.
Earnest deposits are typically 1-2% of the purchase price, however at higher price point homes that percentage may fluctuate. Typically the higher the earnest money deposit, the more serious you will look to the seller. This deposit is typically made within 24-48 hours after your offer is accepted and is paid to the title company and held in escrow. This money will be used towards your closing costs and down payment. If the deal falls through due to a failed home inspection or any other contingencies listed in the contract, you typically get the earnest money back.
Should I get a home inspection?
Once your offer is accepted, most purchase agreements will give you a 10 day inspection period. This gives you time to do all of your due diligence, most commonly a general home inspection and termite inspection (termites are very common in Arizona). You may also choose to do other inspections on the roof, AC, or foundation. We recommend you start with a general home inspection and go from there. Even though your excitement is at its highest, you can’t bypass one of the most important aspects of the home buying process, the home inspection. The typical cost of an inspection can range between $400-$700 depending on the size of the home and features of the home: pool, guest house, etc.
How quick is the escrow process?
If you’re getting a loan, a standard escrow is between 30-45 days. This can be expedited if needed but will need to be confirmed with your lender. You’ll need enough time to have the inspection, conduct an appraisal of the property, and have your loan underwritten and approved.
If you’re not getting a loan and paying cash, this process can be as quick as 2-15 days, depending on if the community has an HOA and if there are any clouds on title.
What is an appraisal?
An appraisal is an opinion of value, determined by a professional appraiser who works for the lender. The appraised value is the amount a mortgage lender will let you borrow for the property. Appraisals must be conducted by a licensed, third-party appraiser who has no connection to the buyer, seller or lender. That way, all parties can be sure the determined market value is fair, unbiased and free of any influence from any party that could benefit. The appraisal is typically paid for by the buyer but included in the closing costs that the lender quotes you.
How much do I have to pay a Realtor to help me buy a house?
Home buyers pay little or no fees to their Realtor when buying a home. For most home sales, there are two real estate agents involved, one that represents the seller and another who represents the buyer. In Arizona, for most transactions the home sellers take care of the Realtor fees on both sides.
Navigating a real estate purchase is tricky business. The internet has made it possible to do a lot of the legwork yourself, but there’s no substitute for an experienced professional. An expert negotiator who knows the market can save you time, money and heartache by helping you make the right offer, playing hardball when necessary and staying on top of the process.
Should I use my friend or relative as my Realtor?
This is a common question because the average person in Arizona knows 8 Realtors. Your friend just got their real estate license, and they’re struggling to find clients. You may feel bad and almost obligated to use them. But do you really want the sale of your largest financial asset to be a training camp for your friend?
Any time you’re facing a large financial decision, like buying or selling your home, it’s wise to work with an experienced professional to guide you through the process. Once word gets out that you’re looking for a real estate agent, you might be bombarded by friends and family members asking you to hire them for the job. Your cousin’s mother in law, who has only been in the business for six months, is not going to have the same networks in the real estate community as a real estate expert who has been in the business for years.
Think of it like this: A real estate transaction is likely going to be the biggest money deal you make in your lifetime, and there really is no room for mistakes. It is not the time to toss a bone to your friend or relative who just got a real estate license and lives 20 miles away.
Real friends will respect your decision and not make you feel guilty about it and so will any agent you’d want to do business with. You have to ask yourself if you would hire that person if you had no relationship with them, never hire a Realtor because you feel bad. At the end of the day this is a business decision for you and your family.
Do I need a Realtor when buying a brand new home?
Definitely! Never visit a model homes without your Realtor – Builders require that you are with your Realtor upon your first visit to the model homes. The Sales Consultants in the office represent and work for the builder, the opposite person to you in a transaction. If you go in alone it is risky and if you end up buying you may be unrepresented, meaning you will have no one on your side, reviewing the legal documents and looking out for your best interests. Builders are not able to give you a better deal if you do not have a Realtor, but having an experienced Realtor on your side can actually help you save money. Our team is very experienced in new builds and we can walk you through each step. Please call us before visiting any model homes.
What are your thoughts on discount agents?
If you have been searching for a home online you may have seen ads for “discount agents”, or agents that will pay you to use them. You’ll want to beware of any of these tactics to get your business. There is a lot that goes into a real estate transaction, a lot of room for error and there is no substitute for having an experienced Realtor on your side. Navigating these issues takes experience. Given enough years, an experienced agent will see just about every issue you can think of. This could be the difference between a blown up deal, and one that holds together.
Ultimately, you have to decide which route is right for you and your family. Odds are going with a discount broker probably really won’t help you walk away with a better deal when all of the final numbers are negotiated and calculated. There are many reasons why traditional agents and brokers stick around through even the toughest real estate markets and new discount brokerages tend to pop up only when the market is hot.