Frequently Asked Questions
“Knowledge Is Power … Accurate Information Is Essential”
Q. What is the first step to buying a home?
A. Ask yourself these questions. Are you ready to purchase a home? Do you have a steady income? Is your debt lower than your income? Do you have enough money for the down payment & closing costs? Do you have good enough credit? A home needs care & attention. Will your budget allow for repairs and upkeep. If you can answer yes to these questions you are ahead of the game & much closer to becoming a homeowner.
Q. How much can I afford?
A. The general rule of thumb is that you can buy a home that costs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. A good real estate agent or lender can determine how much you can afford and estimate the maximum monthly payment based on the loan amount, taxes, insurance and other expenses.
Q. Is it best to save for the ultimate dream home or begin with a less expensive starter home?
A. It can take a long time to save for that perfect dream home. Meanwhile, the market has been flooded with some of the most favorable mortgage interest rates in years. Low rates make housing more affordable, which is why so many buyers have jumped on the home buying bandwagon. Home-price appreciation has also been strong, making very solid gains in communities across the country. In fact, home prices are expected to increase 2.5 percent to 3 percent annually over the next five years. If you purchase a starter home today, you can potentially begin to build value that can lead to the purchase of a larger, or more desirable, trade-up home in the future.
Q. Why do you need a Century 21 Agent if I can find a home by myself?
A. While more buyers now use the Internet to gain access to listings, or available properties for sale, it is still a good idea to use an agent. The agent brings value to the entire process: he or she is available to analyze data, answer questions, share their professional expertise, and handle all the paperwork and legwork that is involved in the real estate transaction.
Q. What does a Buyer’s Agent do?
A. A buyer’s agent represents the buyer exclusively. This means he works to protect your interests in the transaction and helps to negotiate the best purchase price and terms.
Q. Can I use an agent to purchase a newly built home?
A. Yes. In fact, some builders pay agents to find prospective buyers. But you also can use a buyer?s agent to help negotiate the price and upgrades on a new home. An agent can be particularly valuable directing you to newly built developments that match your needs, as well as helping you select reputable builders who are financially sound and respond promptly to buyers? concerns. Builders normally require an agent to be present on your first visit to the site. This is a sensible procedure that allows the agent to be paid a commission should you decide to buy.
Q. What is a lease option?
A. It is an agreement between a renter and a landlord in which the renter signs a lease with an option to purchase the property. The option only binds the seller; the tenant has a choice to make a purchase or not. Lease options are common among buyers who would like to own a home but do not have enough money for the down payment and closing costs. A lease option may also be attractive to tenants who are working to improve bad credit before approaching a lender for a home loan.
Q. Do I need an attorney to buy a home?
A. Some states require an attorney and others do not.
Most homebuyers can generally handle routine real estate purchase contracts as long as they read the fine print and understand all the terms. But pay close attention to any clauses, contingencies, and other special considerations that will allow you or the seller to back out of the contract. When in doubt, consult an attorney. Ask relatives and friends, or your real estate agent, for recommendations. Call to inquire about their fees and to check their level of experience. Expect that more seasoned attorneys will cost more.
Q. What are closing costs?
A. Closing, or settlement, costs are expenses over and above the price of the property. Both the buyer and seller incur some of these expenses when transferring ownership of a property. Who actually pays, however, often depends on local custom and what the buyer or seller negotiates. Closing costs normally include title insurance, loan points, escrow or closing day charges, property taxes, and document fees. The lender provides an estimate of closing costs for prospective homebuyers.
Q. Why buy a condo?
A. They are an appealing way to enter the housing market if the cost of a single-family home is out of your reach. Condos are especially popular among single homebuyers, empty nesters, and first-time buyers in high-priced housing markets. Unlike a house, condos offer a lifestyle that is free of yard work and exterior maintenance and repairs. Many condominium communities also offer amenities such as exercise rooms, tennis courts, and swimming pools that you might otherwise be unable to afford if you purchased a single-family home.
Q. Where to buy?
A. Location remains the single most important factor when choosing a home. It can make or break the value and desirability of a home. Because everyone?s preferences vary, your lifestyle will determine the best place for you to live. Some people prefer the suburbs while others thrive on downtown living. If you favor city living, find out what part of the city suits you best ? a fast-paced neighborhood or one slightly more subdued. Talk with the neighbors and keenly observe such things as traffic patterns, lifestyles, and even sounds and smells.
When choosing a town, take property taxes, schools, accessibility to work, services, recreation, and the character of the community into consideration.