Purchasing a property is most likely the biggest financial decision you will ever make. Whether this is your first purchase or you are an experienced buyer, this decision must be made carefully
Why Do You Want To Buy?
Are you tired of paying rent? Have you decided to pay your own mortgage and not your landlord’s? Have you outgrown your current home? Are you looking for an investment portfolio? Are you looking for a rental property? Would you like a larger yard? Would you rather live in a different area? Do you want to shorten your commute? Having a clear sense of your reasons for buying will help you choose the right property.
Has Your Income Grown?
Property ownership is an excellent investment; whether you are looking for your dream home, a rental property, or to expand your investment portfolio. Owning real estate is one of the least risky ways to build equity or to obtain a greater return on your initial investment.
Before you start shopping for your property, it is a good idea to make some preparations.
Build Your Green File
A green file contains all your important financial documents. You will need it to secure financing for your property. The typical green file should contain:
Check Your Credit Rating
Your credit score will have a huge impact on what type of property you can buy, and at what price. It is first recommended to check your credit rating with an experienced lending institution so that we can determine what you can afford. The lender will research your credit ratings from the three credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. We will be happy to recommend experienced, knowledgeable lenders in the residential, construction, and commercial and investment real estate fields.
Be Careful With Your Finances
Now is not a good time to make sudden career changes or large purchases. You want to approach your property purchase from a position of financial stability.
Buying or selling a property requires making many important financial decisions, understanding complex issues and completing a lot of paperwork. It helps to have an expert in your corner when undertaking such a large purchase. We can guide you through this process, and also provide you with access to property listings before they hit the general market.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing your real estate professional:
Once those preparations are out of the way, it is time to find the right property for you.
Take a Drive
Get to know the neighborhoods, complexes, or subdivisions, which interest you. Drive around and get a feel for what it would be like to own a property in the area. Start getting a sense of the properties available in those areas.
Narrow Your Search
Select a few properties that interest you the most and have your real estate agent make appointments to visit them. Ask your real estate agent about the potential long term resale value of the properties you are considering.
Time to Buy
Once you have picked out the property you want to purchase, your real estate agent can help you make an offer that the seller will accept. A good agent will investigate the potential costs and expenses associated with the new property. An agent can also help you draft your offer in a way that gives you the advantage over another offer.
Typically, it costs under $50 to check your credit. With your permission the lender will order a review of your outstanding loans and your repayment history from a third party credit agency.
Application / Processing Fee
This cost, typically a few hundred dollars, is charged to cover the lender’s work to evaluate your ability to repay the loan. Some lenders will credit this back to you upon closing.
What is APR?
The APR, or annual percentage rate, is the sum total of all your borrowing costs expressed as a percentage interest rate charged on the loan balance.
For example: After fees, the original interest rate quote of 5.875% might work out to a 6% APR loan, where the interest costs about $6,000 per year for every $100,000 borrowed, and the principal payments are calculated based on the length of the loan term (for example 15, 20, or 30 years).
The interest rates on variable loans readjust periodically based on changes in an index. Typical indexes include the Federal Funds Rate, Treasury Bill.
When mortgage companies are competing by offering lower interest rates, they may charge you a one-time pre-paid interest payment calculated as a percentage of the loan. Called points”, this may range from 0.25% to 2% of the loan balance, and is usually paid up front. Points are tax-deductible; consult with your tax advisor.
Lenders hire experienced, often independent appraisers to evaluate the property’s purchase price, condition and size compared to similar recent neighborhood sales. This helps ensure the purchase price is not too high, and gives the lender more confidence in getting repaid in the event they are forced to sell the property if the borrower defaults. The appraisal costs vary depending on the property, type of appraisal, and region.
Expect to see various charges incurred in the processing of your loan which might include notary, courier, and county recording fees.
These vary widely, so be sure you know in advance if your lender will charge a penalty if you refinance or sell, and the certain period during which the penalties apply.
Inspections and Appraisals
Most buyers will have the property inspected by a licensed property inspector within the time frame that was agreed upon in the effective contract to purchase. Some buyers will have several different inspectors inspect the property, if they wish to obtain professional opinions from inspectors who specialize in a specific area (eg. roof, HVAC, structure). If the agreement is conditional upon financing, then the property will be appraised by a licensed appraiser to determine the value for the lending institution via third party. This is done so that the lending institution can confirm their investment in your property is accurate. A buyer of a commercial property may also have a complete environmental audit performed and/or soil test, if required by the lending institution.
The Closing Agent
Either a title company or an attorney will be selected as the closing agent, whose job is to examine and insure clear title to real estate. After researching the complete recorded history of your property, they will certify that 1) your title is free and clear of encumbrances (eg. mortgages, leases, or restrictions, liens) by the date of closing; and 2) all new encumbrances are duly included in the title.
A contingency is a condition that must be met before a contract becomes legally binding. For instance, a buyer will usually include a contingency stating that their contract is binding only when there is a satisfactory home inspection report from a qualified inspector.
Before completing his or her purchase of your property, the buyer goes over every aspect of the property, as provided for by purchase agreements and any applicable addendums. These include:
Depending on the outcome of these inspections, one of two things may happen:
1. Either each milestone is successfully closed and the contingencies will be removed, bringing you one step closer to the closing; or
2. The buyer, after reviewing the property and the papers, requests a renegotiation of the terms of contract (usually the price).
How do you respond objectively and fairly to the buyer when a renegotiation is demanded, while acting in your best interests? This is when a professional listing agent can make a real difference in the outcome of the transaction. Having dealt with various property sales in the past, we guarantee our expertise and total commitment to every customer, no matter what their situation is.
Loan Approval and Appraisal
We suggest that you accept buyers who have a lender’s pre-approval, approval letter, or written loan commitment, which is a better guarantee of loan approval than a pre-qualification or no documentation from a lending institute. Expect an appraiser from the lender’s company to review your property and verify that the sales price is appropriate.
If you have come this far, then this means that it is almost time for a congratulations, but not yet. Do not forget to tie up these loose ends:
Final Walk-Through Inspection
More of a formality than anything else, the final inspection takes place a day before, or the day of the closing. You will visit the property to verify that all is in working order, everything is the same as when you last viewed the property, that there are no extra items left behind, and that everything included in your purchase is still at the property.
Home Services and Utilities
We will provide a list of useful numbers for the activation of home services and utilities after the closing occurs.
We are ready to assist you should an unforeseen glitch pop up, even at this last stage. Something at the property breaks down, or some other minor detail – no need to worry. We have encountered these problems before so we know how to handle them efficiently and in a stress-free manor.
The closing agent will furnish all parties involved with a settlement statement, which summarizes and details the financial transactions enacted in the process. You and the seller(s) will sign this statement, as well as the closing agent, certifying its accuracy. If you are obtaining financing, you will have to sign all pertinent documentation required by the lending institution. If you are unable to attend the scheduled closing, arrangements can be made depending on the circumstances and the notice that we receive. If you are bringing funds to the transaction, you can elect to either have the funds wired electronically into the closing agent’s escrow account, or bring a certified bank check to the closing in the amount specified on the settlement statement. The seller should arrange to have all property keys and any other important information for you at the closing so that you may receive these items at this time.
Residential Purchase Forms
Start A Green File
A Green File should contain all of your important financial documents. Regardless of the loan type, lenders will need information about you. Make copies of financial statements; bank accounts, investments, credit cards, auto loans, recent pay stubs and two years’ tax returns.
Check Your Credit Rating
Credit scores range between 400 and 800. 620 + is considered “good”. 680 + is considered “premium” and may possibly help get you a lower interest rate.
Below you will find the contact information for the 3 major credit reporting agencies to help you determine your credit rating. Ask your lender how to improve your credit score if you need to. Going forward, treat your credit like gold.
|Trans Union||transunion.com||(800) 888-4213|
Savings & Debt
If you are buying real estate, try to accumulate funds towards your down payment, closing costs (appraisal, miscellaneous fees, escrow, title insurance, etc.) and expenses such as inspections. Furthermore, try to pay down existing revolving and high interest rate debt like credit cards.
Toe The Line
Now is not a good time to change careers, move your money around, or buy big ticket items. Lenders like stability. So if you are considering any major changes, it pays to meet with a lender and ask them how to proceed before you make any changes! If you are tempted to buy a big ticket item, consider the following:
A $500 a month debt payment (like a credit card or auto loan) could lower the amount of home you can afford by about $83,000! *
* Based on a 30 year mortgage at 6% interest.
How to Find a Lender
Today, lenders can be found through a variety of sources. In addition to calling on ads in the newspaper, you can also find and apply to lenders over the internet, and through referrals from your REALTOR. We would be happy to suggest lenders we have used successfully, who have proven themselves competitive and capable even with problem properties or poor credit.
Choosing the Right Lender
Interview several lenders to evaluate the following:
Choosing the Right Kind of Loan
Today there are so many types of loans on the market that it is beyond the scope of this page to list or explain them all. Your lender is the best person to help you select a loan program to suit your needs. Below is a summary of the three most popular loan types we see in practice; for more detailed information click the link at the end of this page.
Does it Help to be Pre-Qualified by a Lender?
The pre-qualification process can be completed fairly quickly, based on less information than is required for getting pre-approved. While it is fast and it does help, a pre-qualification letter is an opinion from a lender of the maximum amount of real estate you can qualify for. In a competitive seller’s market, an offer from a buyer with a pre-qualification letter could lose out to a person who is pre-approved.
Get Pre-Approved by a Lender
There are several benefits to going the extra mile and getting a pre-approval letter. First of all, you will know exactly how much real estate you can afford. When you find a property you want to buy, your offer will be in a better positioned than someone less prepared. Finally, being pre-approved is more efficient; it reduces the amount of time it will take your lender to fund your loan. Be prepared to provide comprehensive documentation, which the lender may independently verify, including but not limited to:
Mortgage Brokers and Lenders – Who Does What?
The mortgage broker is the person or company who is your main contact throughout your loan. They are often able to work with a number of lenders, who actually provide the funds for the loan. Typically, the lender pays the mortgage broker a fee for acting as the intermediary and providing all the customer service.
Filling Out the Application
There are standard forms to be completed when applying for a loan. Some mortgage brokers keep these on their website so you can fill out and submit the forms on line. The information will be verified and used to qualify you for your loan, so take the time to answer questions accurately.
The mortgage broker will need copies of the documents you began gathering in the first phase of the loan process, including:
Stay in Communication
The lender will have an analyst, usually called an “underwriter”, crunch your numbers and verify your documentation to confirm your ability to repay the loan. Once you are in contract on a property, there may
also be a loan approval committee which will meet to review the underwriters’ conclusions regarding your creditworthiness, and to evaluate the property on which they are lending. This is called the underwriting process, and questions are bound to arise. Be sure to return your mortgage broker’s calls promptly to keep the process moving forward smoothly. Check in with your broker periodically.
When the lender is ready to “close” your loan, or “fund” it, your real estate agent and your mortgage broker will have you sign the final loan documents. Signing will typically take place in front of a notary or an escrow officer. Ask your mortgage broker if there is anything you need to do to prepare for this, such as bringing a photo ID or perhaps a cashiers’ check if you are purchasing real estate. Allow yourself enough time to review the documents for accuracy.
If funds are being wired: “Wiring instructions” direct the electronic transfer of money between financial companies. If possible, arrange to have the wiring instructions in place ahead of time and checked for accuracy by both the sender and recipient of the wire. It is critical that these instructions be exact, and even so, delays are all too common.
Your mortgage broker will probably call you to confirm that the money has been transferred and the loan has closed. Always follow up with a phone call to confirm that your loan funds went where they were supposed to go. It is a good idea to keep records of this critical phase of the transaction once completed.
Buying and selling a home requires making many important financial decisions, understanding complex issues, and completing a lot of paperwork. It helps to have an expert in your corner. We look forward to helping you buy, sell or invest in one of the Triangle’s outstanding communities.