Maine Real Estate

Buying A Home


Homeowners to Be…

Understanding how to find and finance the perfect “Wow Factor” home for you

Buying a house requires a lot of time and effort, but these 10 steps can help make the home buying process manageable and help you make the best decisions possible.

Step 1: Start Your Research Early

As soon as you can, start reading Web sites, newspapers, and magazines that have real estate listings. Make a note of particular homes you are interested in and see how long they stay on the market. Also, note any changes in asking prices. This will give you a sense of the housing trends in specific areas.

If you’d like to receive customized home buyer content that could help you get into a home faster, contact me today. I will give you Home buying tips. It’s free and sent right to your inbox!

Step 2: Determine How Much House You Can Afford

Lenders generally recommend that people look for homes that cost no more than three to five times their annual household income if the home buyers plan to make a 20% down payment and have a moderate amount of other debt.  There are multiple options in lending. You will need to speak with a lender (see Lenders on this site) to find what loan fits you and your future.

But you should make this determination based on your own financial situation. Use my mortgage calculator to see how much house you can afford.

Step 3: Get Prequalified and Preapproved for Your Mortgage

Before you start looking for a home, you will need to know how much you can actually spend. The best way to do that is to get prequalified for a mortgage. To get prequalified, you just need to provide some financial information to your mortgage banker, such as your income and the amount of savings and investments you have. This will tell you the price range of the homes you should be looking at. Later, you will get pre-approved for your mortgage, which involves providing your financial documents (W-2 statements, paycheck stubs, bank account statements, etc.) so your lender and you can verify your financial status and credit.

Contact and get pre-qualified today with a Preferred Lender!

Step 4: Find the Right Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents are important partners when you’re buying or selling a home. Real estate agents can provide you with helpful information on homes and neighborhoods that isn’t easily accessible to the public. Their knowledge of the home buying process, negotiating skills, and familiarity with the area you want to live in can be extremely valuable. Best of all, it helps you get to your end result, finding the perfect home.

Step 5: Shop for Your Home and Make an Offer

Start touring homes in your price range. It might be helpful to take notes on all the homes you visit. You will see a lot of houses! Make sure to do drive by’s do your home work before setting up an appointment to view a home. Make sure it is in a location you want to be in, has curb appeal, sit on the street and watch what goes on, check out the neighbors.  It can be hard to remember everything about the homes you view, so you might want to take pictures or video to help you remember each home.

Make sure to check out the little details of each house. For example:

  • Test the plumbing by running the shower to see how strong the water pressure is and how long it takes to get hot water
  • Try the electrical system by turning switches on and off
  • Open and close the windows and doors to see if they work properly

It’s also important to evaluate the neighborhood and make a note of things such as:

  • Are the other homes on the block well maintained?
  • How much traffic does the street get?
  • Is there enough street parking for your family and visitors?
  • Is it conveniently located near places of interest to you: schools, shopping centers, restaurants, parks, and public transportation?

Take as much time as you need to find the right home. Then work with your real estate agent to negotiate a fair offer based on the value of comparable homes in the same location and neighborhoods. Once you and the seller have reached an agreement on a price, the house will go into escrow, which is the period of time it takes to complete all of the remaining steps in the home buying process.

Step 6: Get a Home Inspection

Typically, purchase offers are contingent on a home inspection of the property to check for signs of structural damage or things that may need fixing. Your real estate agent usually will help you arrange to have this inspection conducted within a few days of your offer being accepted by the seller. This contingency protects you by giving you a chance to renegotiate your offer or withdraw it without penalty if the inspection reveals significant material damage.

Both you will receive a report on the home inspector’s findings. You can then decide if you want to ask the seller to fix anything on the property before closing the sale. Remember the inspections are for you to learn about the home, future maintenance plan, structural issues.  Not to try and get the price down because it needs new paint or cosmetic work because you do not like something.  It is to know about the bones of the home and its longevity.  Before the sale closes, you will have a walk-through of the house, which gives you the chance to confirm that any agreed-upon repairs have been made.

Step 7: Work with a Mortgage Lender to Select Your Loan

There is a wide range of competitively priced loan programs and  you need to find one that works for you. All the lenders I have provided have a great reputation for exceptional customer service. You will have many questions when you are purchasing a home, and having one of my experienced, responsive mortgage lenders assist you can make the process much easier.

Every home buyer has their own priorities when choosing a mortgage. Some are interested in keeping their monthly payments as low as possible. Others are interested in making sure that their monthly payments never increase. And still others pick a loan based on the knowledge they will be moving again in just a few years.

Step 8: Have the Home Appraised

Your Lender will arrange for an appraiser to provide an independent estimate of the value of the house you are buying. The appraiser is a member of a third party company and is not directly associated with the lender or the lending institution you use. The appraisal will let all the parties involved know that you are paying a fair price for the home.

Step 9: Coordinate the Paperwork

As you can imagine, there is a lot of paperwork involved in buying a house. That is where I come in, to handle all of the paperwork and make sure that the seller is the rightful owner of the house you are buying and you are buying a home that meet all your wants and needs.

Step 10: Close the Sale

At closing, you will sign all of the paperwork required to complete the purchase, including your loan documents. It typically takes about an hour at the closing table. Once the check is delivered to the seller, keys are handed over and you are ready to move into your new home!

Insurance 101 for First-Time Homeowners

home insuranceIf you’re thinking of becoming a homeowner, you’ve likely spent time budgeting for additional expenses – property taxes, lawn care, a big-screen TV to fill up that extra space…you get the idea. But have you factored in protection for your new home?

While you’re crunching numbers, remember to include homeowners insurance. A standard policy will cover exterior and interior damage from incidents like vandalism, fire, wind and lightning. It also covers loss of use expenses, damage to structures like sheds or gazebos, and liability and medical costs if someone is injured on your property. Personal property is covered, too – good news if you really do have your eye on that big-screen TV.

Still, standard policies aren’t comprehensive. To help you estimate how much you’ll spend on insurance, keep these points in mind:

  • Standard policy coverage can be for the cash value of your home and possessions (which may depreciate over time), repair or rebuilding costs based on the original value of the home, or replacement costs that exceed your limit if necessary. Coverage does not equal the sale price of your home.
  • Projects like building a porch or another bathroom can add significant value, so you may need to adjust your policy if you’re planning to renovate your new home. Upgrades (like a new roof) can lead to discounts if they mitigate risks, but potentially hazardous features (like a pool) may require up to $500,000 in coverage.
  • Ninety percent of natural disasters result in some form of flooding – that’s a risk insurers just don’t want to take. Even if your home isn’t in a flood area, you may want coverage anyway if you have a finished basement. You can obtain a separate flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). And don’t delay – it takes 30 days for new policies to go into effect.
  • Residents in earthquake-prone areas might also want to supplement their standard policy, which doesn’t cover damage directly resulting from seismic activity. However, if a quake leads to further damage, such as a burst gas line causing a fire, your standard policy will cover it.

It may seem costly, but protecting what’s likely the largest investment you’ll make in your lifetime is worth it – and peace of mind is priceless.