Buying A Home in Dallas

Well the DFW real estate market went through whiplash recently. Both the mortgatge rate increases and the lack of meaningfuil home price reductions has created a great buyers market. Be sure to sign up for a FREE market update for any neighborhood you are interested in when buying a homes in Dallas.

Building a new home in DFW

Are You Ready to Buy?

The first question many people ask is “Am I ready to buy?” and the answer to that question will vary from person to person. When you buy a home, you are making an important investment for you and your family’s future and it isn’t something that should be taken lightly.

HERE ARE A FEW QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

  • How are your finances and how much debt do you currently have?
  • Do you have money saved for a down payment?
  • Can you afford a monthly mortgage payment?
  • Are you ready to settle down?
  • Are you prepared to maintain a home?

What Should I Prepare?

Trying to determine how to prepare to buy a home can sometimes be overwhelming. There are a lot of different sources of information on the topic and sometimes you can get lost in all of the noise.

Here are a few actions you can take to prepare:

  • Check your credit.
  • Pay off debt.
  • Start saving for a down payment.
  • Look into any down payment assistance programs available.
  • Get an idea of how much you want to spend.

What Can I Afford?

Knowing you financial situation’s specifics and a full breakdown of your monthly income and expenses are a great place to start. Once you have those items figured out, you will have a solid understanding of what your budget will be.

To calculate your monthly budget you must know:

  • Your monthly household income.
  • Your monthly household debt payments. (credit cards, auto loans, student loans, other fixed monthly payments.)
  • Any other monthly bills.
  • Your average monthly cost for food and other living expenses.
  • Your desired amount for monthly savings or investments.

Once you have a handle on your monthly budget, you should also consider these things that you will need money to cover:

  • Down payment.
  • Home inspection and/or appraisal.
  • Money for maintenance and repairs.
  • Property Taxes and HOA fees.
  • Homeowners insurance.
  • Moving costs.
  • Closing fees. (if any)

Should You Use A Buyer's Agent?

A good Buyer Agent is worth their weight in gold. Enlisting in the aid of a buyer agent is the one single best thing a buyer can do.

Why? Because the seller has agent representation in the form of the “listing agent”. The buyer should have his own representation. That person should not be one and the same person.

When a seller puts his house on the market to sell, he hires an agent to be his “listing agent”. This person owes all his loyalty to the seller, who hired him. By law, that agent must represent the seller, not you.

Hiring a buyer agent to represent you in finding a house, you also get an agent to represent you. When you find the right house, that agent will go to bat for you, not the seller.

The best part of all, it typically doesn’t cost you anymore for representation. Most likely, it will save you time and money. A buyer agent's compensation comes from the cooperation fees offered by the listing broker on the property that is purchased. There are a few exceptions, but they are not typical.

Finding a buyer agent that will work for you is important. It’s not just about finding a home, it’s also about finding a home in the right place for your budget, lifestyle and taste. It’s about paying a fair price, closing on time without serious headaches and enjoying the experience.

How Does The Home Search Process Work?

Now we can get to the fun part, looking for your new home! Our team is full of experts in this process and can help you find the best home that meets your requirements without breaking the bank.

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER:

  • Determine what your wants are.
  • Determine what your needs are.
  • Find neighborhoods that you like.
  • Keep your price range in mind.
  • Keep your expectations realistic.

The 5 Steps To Buying A Home...

These five simple steps will take you through the process of pre-paring to purchase a home. They make sure everything is done in the proper order to set you up for success and cause you to have a great experience buying your forever home...

  1. Get Pre-Approved: When you meet with one of our mortgage agents, they will help you find out how much you can afford ( try our mortgage calculator), answer all your questions, walk you through the mortgage process and provide you with a pre-approval letter so sellers know you are serious.
  2. Do You Need To Sell: Are you are considering selling your current home? If you are, then contact us now. We will create a market analysis for your home. We will show you how much your home will sell for and how fast it should sell.
  3. Search For Homes: We have three ways to search: our  advanced search, our  map search and our  property tracker. Of course, if you need help setting up your searches, just reach out to your agent and they will set up all your custom searches.
  4. Why Not New: Many of our clients choose to build a new home. We are certified new construction experts and have tons of YouTube videos documenting our building expertise.
  5. Still Have Questions: Want more details? Do you love learning the nutts and bolts of a process? Just fill out the form below and one of our local agents will reach out right away to start getting those questions answered.

First Time Home Buyers

If you are a first-time home buyer, use the guide below for helpful hints and tips and learn how to avoid common mistakes when buying your first home in Collin County, Texas.

  • Pre-Qualification: Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home.
  • Pre-Approval: While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You'll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home you're interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.
  • List of Needs & Wants: Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.
  • Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller.
  • Focus & Organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:
    1. One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.
    2. A file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you have cut out from the newspaper.
    3. Paper and pen, for taking notes as you search.
    4. Instant or video camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you are attending a series of showings.
    5. Location: Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and negative (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area?
  • Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
  • Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
  • Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don't forget such essentials as:
    1. Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
    2. Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.
    3. Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
    4. You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).

All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please contact us directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.

What Are Closing Costs?

You've found your dream home, the seller has accepted your offer, your loan has been approved and you're eager to move into your new home. But before you get the key, there's one more step--the closing.

Also called the settlement, the closing is the process of passing ownership of property from seller to buyer. And it can be bewildering. As a buyer, you will sign what seems like endless piles of documents and will have to present a sizeable check for the down payment and various closing costs. It's the fees associated with the closing that many times remains a mystery to many buyers who may simply hand over thousands of dollars without really knowing what they are paying for.

As a responsible buyer, you should be familiar with these costs that are both mortgage-related and government imposed. Although many of the fees may vary by locality, here are some common fees:

Appraisal Fee: This fee pays for the appraisal of the property. You may already have paid this fee at the beginning of your loan application process.

Credit Report Fee: This fee covers the cost of the credit report requested by the lender. This too may already have been paid when you applied for your loan.

Loan Origination Fee: This fee covers the lender's loan-processing costs. The fee is typically one percent of the total mortgage.

Loan Discount: You will pay this one-time charge if you have chosen to pay points to lower your interest rate. Each point you purchase equals one percent of the total loan.

Title Insurance Fees: These fees generally include costs for the title search, title examination, title insurance, document preparation and other miscellaneous title fees.

PMI Premium: If you buy a home with a low down payment, a lender usually requires that you pay a fee for mortgage insurance. This fee protects the lender against loss due to foreclosure. Once a new owner has 20 percent equity in their home, however, he or she can normally apply to eliminate this insurance.

Prepaid Interest Fee: This fee covers the interest payment from the date you purchases the home to the date of your first mortgage payment. Generally, if you buy a home early in the month, the prepaid interest fee will be substantially higher than if you buy it towards the end of the month.

Escrow Accounts: In locations where escrow accounts are common, a mortgage lender will usually start an account that holds funds for future annual property taxes and home insurance. At least one year advance plus two months worth of homeowner's insurance premium will be collected. In addition, taxes equal approximately to two months in excess of the number of months that have elapsed in the year are paid at closing. (If six months have passed, eight months of taxes will be collected.)

Recording Fees and transfer taxes: This expense is charged by most states for recording the purchase documents and transferring ownership of the property.

Make sure you consult a real estate professional in your area to find out which fees--and how much--you will be expected to pay during the closing of you prospective home. Keep in mind that you can negotiate these costs with the seller during the offering stage. In some instances, the seller might even agree to pay all of the settlement costs.

How Much Down Payment is Needed to Purchase a Home?

Although each lender has a specific requirement for determining your down payment, there are some common factors that lead to their decision. These factors are the purchase price, the length of the loan, your credit rating and whether you are a first-time buyer.

For conventional mortgages, down payments are normally 20% of the purchase price. These loans are targeted to buyers that currently have a home and want to upgrade. These are not the only loans available.

It is possible to reduce your down payment below the 20% range. For example, government-insured mortgages such as those offered by the Veterans Administration can help you achieve a lower down payment rate. First-time home buyers can find low down payment programs with local housing agencies and some commercial lenders.

Other options for lending and getting a great deal on your down payment can be achieved through your local credit union (if you belong to one). This type of funding varies with the credit union involved, your credit history, and your length of service with the company.

Don’t be satisfied if the first mortgage company requires a large down payment. Research other options until you find one that suits your personal needs. There are a large number of lenders that all want the possibility of funding your new home. Spending time locating the right lender will mean whether you are happy and secure in your home or always on edge.

Making An Offer

Before the offer to purchase is created, it is very important that you have been at least pre-qualified or better yet pre-approved by a lender.

This is one of the best negotiating tools a buyer can have. It shows the seller that you are financially able to purchase the home. After you have found the right home, it is time to prepare the offer.

When you are buying a home, there are many problems that the seller is obligated to disclose. For example, in most states, it is illegal to withhold information about major physical defects on the property, but, these disclosures don't always paint the entire picture of the home. Here are six questions you may want to ask that can offer additional insight about the prospective home before you make a final decision.

1) Why is the seller selling the house? This question may help you evaluate the "real value" of the property. Is there something about the house the seller does not like? If so, you may be able to adjust the purchase offer accordingly.

2) How much did the seller pay for the home? This question can, in some instances, help the buyer negotiate a better deal-maybe even get the seller to carry part of the loan. However, it is important to remember that the purchase price is influenced by several factors, like the current market value and any improvements the seller may have made to the home. The original purchase price might not have anything to do with the current value of the house.

3) What does the seller like most and least about the property? By asking the seller what he or she likes most and least about the property, you might get some interesting information. In a few cases, what a seller likes the most about a home might actually be something the buyer is looking to avoid. For example, if the seller describes his house as being in a "happening community," the buyer might consider this a negative factor because the area may be too noisy or busy for his or her taste.

4) Has the seller had any problems with the home in the past? It is also a good idea to ask the seller if he or she has had any problems with the home while living there. Has the seller had problems with a leakage from the upstairs bedroom in the past? If so, even if the leak has been corrected, the floor and walls around the bathroom might have been damaged. You should also check that these items were repaired properly.

5) Are there any nuisances or problem neighbors? Use this answer to find out about any noisy neighbors, barking dogs, heavy airplane traffic or even planned changes to the community, such as a planned street widening. This may give you insight on why the seller is really moving.

6) How are the public schools in the area? Because the value of a community is usually greatly influenced by the public schools in the area, finding out the buyer's perception can give you some insight about the quality of the area's schools.

Knowing all you can about a prospective home, not only helps you decide if it's the home of your dreams, but what offer to make as well. Your real estate professional can help you get your key questions answered and give you advice on how to evaluate your findings.

What Should I Expect During The Offer and Closing Process?

Now that we have found you that “dream home”, it is time to make your offer and seal the deal. There are many quickly moving parts and steps during this final phase of the process, but we will be here with you every step of the way!

REMEMBER THESE FEW TIPS:

  • Never make an offer that too low, to risk the seller denying your offer.
  • Never make an offer that is too high, to risk overpaying.
  • Patience is important.
  • Be timely with your communication and responsiveness.
  • You’re not in this alone, leave the heavy lifting to us.

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