Tips For Buyers

Identifying your needs and goals, finding quality professional assistance, and

understanding the current real estate market, are some of the topics homebuyers should address. This section provides helpful information regarding the home buying process as well as useful tips on how to get started.


The Buying Process

Needs & Goals

Once you have decided to move, clearly identify your needs and desires before

beginning to search actively for a new home. What characteristics must a house include

in order to meet your basic needs? What qualities will truly make it your home?

Characteristics To Consider In Determining Your Needs

Price range

Minimum number of bedrooms and bathrooms

Minimum amount of living area

Special requirements, such as wheelchair accessibility

Characteristics To Consider In Determining Your Desired Home

Styles you like (and those you do not)

Lifestyle (lot size, townhouse/condominium, active, urban)

Condition (new construction, move-in condition, a 'fixer-upper')

Location (main street, close to town center, cul-de-sac, waterfront)

Public services (water, sewer)

Features most important to you (fireplaces, wood floors)

Professional Assistance

Hiring a real estate professional can help ensure that the home buying process is a

successful, enjoyable experience.

What To Expect From A Real Estate Firm

Reputation for honesty, integrity and fairness

Professional standards and support for agents

Broad, consistent market coverage

Complete range of homeownership services

Online technologies to simplify your home search

Commitment to customer satisfaction

What To Expect From A Real Estate Professional

Legwork to help complete the transaction

Expert guidance through a complex process

Vigilance for market dynamics

Insight about homes and communities

Related Home Buying Services

Mortgage Assistance: It is recommended that you get pre-approved early in the


Insurance Coverage: Home protection is recommended even if you are not financing

your home

Home Search

Key Steps For Productive Home Searches

Access Experience

Once you find the right professional, be sure to explain your goals completely and ask

to be informed as soon as relevant homes become available. Also, understand what

additional resources the firm offers to assist your search. Tour homes with your agent

and visit Open Houses; this will give you a sense for the

market, and provide helpful information to the agent.

Be Flexible

New listings may become available on a daily basis from participating Multiple Listing

Services (MLS). In a competitive market, these properties may sell rapidly. Inform

yourself about local home values and obtain mortgage pre-approval early in your home

search process, so that you can move quickly.

Home Values

Key Factors In Home Values

Recent sales of comparable houses (in terms of size, features, location and style)

The condition of the interior, exterior, major systems, and grounds

Local market conditions, including the inventory of comparable homes

The existence of other competing buyers

These factors only provide part of the answer. Your own motivations also weigh heavily

on any determination of value: how well does the house meet your goals? A

homeownership professional specializing in the local market is best qualified to give you

an accurate assessment of a home's current market value, and to help balance market

realities with your dreams. Considering all of these factors will allow you to make a

competitive offer.

Making an Offer

The Formal Offer

Offers must be in writing, signed and dated by all buyers, and include the following:

Offer Price: how much you are agreeing to pay

Expiration Date: when the offer expires, if not accepted

Closing Date: when you can take ownership, including elimination of all contingencies

Deposit: the amount you will place into an escrow account to secure your offer

(typically 5% - 10% of the selling price)

Contingencies (if any): such as mortgage financing and inspections

The above is only an overview; how an actual Offer to Purchase is submitted and

progresses through a transaction varies from state-to-state, and often from town-totown.

It is wise to become familiar with the offer and purchase contract practices in you

market area, with legal assistance if appropriate.

Negotiating An Offer

The seller has the following options when considering offers:

Accept the offer as proposed

Reject the offer (and perhaps submit a counter offer)

If the seller rejects the offer, they may modify one or more terms and submit a counter

offer. However, they are under no obligation to do so. Once all terms are agreed to by

both parties the home inspection process begins, after which the parties proceed to

execute the purchase contract (typically within 5-10 days), and begin the closing steps.

Home Inspections

It is common for buyers to make an offer contingent upon one or more home

inspections. These inspections are performed for, and paid by, the buyer. The seller

must consent to the inspection, but is not required to correct, or provide compensation

for, any problems identified. If the seller agrees to an inspection as part of accepting the

offer, the seller must allow the inspection within the time specified in the offer. If the

inspection findings are acceptable to the buyer, the closing process can begin.

Property inspections should be conducted by professional inspectors - someone trained

in the field that has no outside interests in the property. The buyer should be present

when inspections are performed, so that the inspector can describe the process and

findings personally.

The Inspector Should:

Look for any serious structural, mechanical, and/or other major defect in the property

Examine all systems, including heat, air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing

Examine the general construction quality and condition of the house

Spend time checking the exterior of the house, including the roof, foundation, and


Check the basement, including wiring, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning

Check the attic for proper insulation and venting

Check all interior rooms for proper venting, insulation, and electrical outlets

Run all appliances and plumbing fixtures to verify working condition

Check all bathrooms to see if moisture has affected the areas around the tub or


Inspect for other items you may have requested, such as insects, termites, and other


Lead Paint And Lead Hazard Inspections

Beginning in 1978, federal law mandated the removal of lead as an additive in

residential paints, and prohibited the use of lead paint in the construction of homes built

after that date. As a result, properties built after 1978 should be free from lead-based

paint, although a risk assessment and/or inspection is still recommended. Properties

built before 1978 may present exposure to lead from lead-based paint that may place

young children at risk of poisoning. The federal law is particularly concerned with

protecting children under six years of age and pregnant women. Some states' laws are

even more stringent than the federal law, and directed at lead hazards other than those

associated only with lead-based paint. Buyers should familiarize themselves with

relevant laws in their states.

The Closing

What to Expect In The Days Before Closing

Closings usually occur thirty (30) to ninety (90) days after a signed Purchase & Sale

Agreement. In the period leading up to closing, the buyers and their homeownership

service providers are normally focused on removing contingencies, which would include

conducting inspections and processing the mortgage application(s).

The home buyers should also begin planning to move their personal goods.

What to Expect At Closing

All parties will be present or represented at the closing for final review and signing of

papers. Closings are administered by a Closing Attorney or Settlement Agent. If the

seller cannot attend, there are alternative arrangements, which typically involve signing

papers in advance, and/or granting Power of Attorney to their representative. You will be

asked to sign the mortgage and any other papers that the lender, and/or other

interested parties, may require. If you are financing the purchase through a lender, the

lender's attorney will often be present, in order to review documentation and protect the

lender's interests. At conclusion, the lender's attorney will record the new deed and

mortgage, and discharge all previous obligations of the seller.


Contact me today to discuss your real estate questions. 617-429-2488 or