I don’t mean to be an alarmist. I just want you to know that, once you have a contract in hand to purchase a new home, there’s more to do to get the transaction closed.
Statistics from various organizations show that, for various reasons, anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of pending home sales don’t close. That sounds high to me, but failed closings do happen. Our work together — as home buyer and realtor — isn’t finished until the papers are signed and the keys are in your hands.
In this post The Brent Germany Team takes a look at what happens after your offer is accepted — and what can go wrong.
Errors in Processing Documents
One of the most common closing problems is an error in documents. These can be as simple as misspelled names, incorrect addresses, transposed numbers, or a missing page. No matter the reason, errors cause delays.
The Brent Germany Team recommends asking to see every piece of paperwork far in advance, if possible. By law, you will receive your Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms three days before closing. Look at them immediately and carefully. If you don’t understand something, let us know. We are involved until the very end.
Mortgage Delays and Last-Minute Requests
In a hot real estate market, lenders are inundated with requests. Your file could easily fall to the bottom of a pile on an loan officer’s desk with more urgent loans to process. Lenders also ask for information at the last minute, and that can leave you scrambling and lead to closing delays.
I remind home buyers to find out early what documents, exactly, are needed to complete your file and write the loan in...
If you are a first time home buyer, chances are you’ve never encountered a home inspection. They’re an interesting balance between really helpful information and too much information.
Here’s why they are important and, sometimes, a nuisance — like Aunt Betty who keeps showing up unannounced.
Home Inspections and Inspectors
Simply put, a home inspection is performed by a professional inspector, who visually inspects every aspect of the home you are considering purchasing — the structural integrity of the house, the mechanical systems, pretty much everything you can think of.
I tell clients that home inspections are an essential part of the buying process because you want to know what you are buying, making sure big ticket items are in working order:
• The air conditioner and heater are working properly.
• There are no hidden leaks in the plumbing and there’s no deterioration or incompatible materials used in the system.
• The major appliances work well.
• The roof is in good shape.
• There are no bulges, deflections, and other irregularities in the roof framing, exterior and interior wall framing, or cracks in the foundation.
And so on.
Home inspections average somewhere between 25 and 30 pages and document things you wouldn’t even think of. And that’s the rub: If an inspector...
There’s so much information about real estate on the internet these days that it’s easy for first-time home buyers to become confused and drown in viewpoints and opinions.
The Brent Germany Team strives to keep answers simple, whether we’re having a conversation in the office or at a coffee shop, whether we’re answering an email or text message.
We’re asked all the time: “What do you need to buy a house?” Instead of inundating potential buyers with an exhaustive, detailed list of A to Z answers, we prefer to start with an overview or the major steps required for most home purchases.
Pre-Approval for Mortgage Loan
Once you decide to purchase a new home, the first step to take is acquiring the money to actually buy it, which means getting a mortgage. There are hundreds of mortgage lenders in the Dallas area, and The Brent Germany Team can recommend ones our clients have had success with and speak highly of. Or you can ask family, friends, or business associates for recommendations.
A good mortgage lender will explain the process, help you understand borrowing terms and options, and make the experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. Essentially, the lender will run a credit check, ask questions about your current financial situation, and determine eligibility based on these answers.
Find out what ratios lenders are using to determine if you quality for a loan. “28 and 36” are the most commonly used ratios — 28 percent of your gross income (before taxes) must cover your intended housing expenses. Monthly payments on outstanding debts, when combined with housing expenses, must not exceed 36 percent of gross income.
It’s one of the great, simple debates in real estate. Nothing like the state of the industry, what’s next for MLS, or emerging business models due to the internet. It’s just:
What are the pros and cons of renting versus buying a home?
Is it better to rent?
Is it better to buy?
The Brent Germany Team has answered these questions many times over the years. I always respond that there are many factors that go into this decision, including:
• Financial situation
• Employment circumstances
• Lifestyle preferences
• Relationship status
To help you along, here are some of the top pros and cons and associated costs for renting or buying a home based on The Brent Germany Team’s experience.
The Pros of Renting
No Responsibility for Maintenance or Repairs
Every home, no matter who owns it, requires maintenance and repairs over time. Ignore them and they get worse. When you rent, repairs are the responsibility of the landlord or management company (this also can be a con, by the way). If you have a good landlord, your maintenance worries are minimal.
No Property Taxes
A very enticing reason to rent. Property taxes are the second highest cost of home ownership for most people — next to the mortgage payment, of course. Home owners insurance, by the way, is a close third and is often overlooked by new home buyers when working up a...
Whether it’s your first or third time, buying a new home is exciting — and stressful. There’s that extra room and bigger back yard to dream about . . . and the search for the ideal place, getting a mortgage, filling out forms, and all the paperwork.
Helping people navigate the buying process, from start to finish, is one of the things I absolutely love about being a realtor. It can be fun, it can be tricky, but in the end there’s popping the champagne cork — clients buying their first house or moving into their dream home.
Over the years of buying (and selling) homes for clients throughout the Dallas area, The Brent Germany Team has assembled a start-to-finish list of things for new home buyers (and those who need a refresher) to consider when buying a home.
#1 Is It Time?
To buy that first home?
To buyer a bigger house or move into a new neighborhood or part of town?
Only you (and your spouse or family) can answer that. And in today’s crazy Dallas-area real estate market, it’s not an easy question to answer — housing prices are up, availability of homes that interest you may not be easy to find, and there’s always mortgages and financing to consider.
My advice is: If you have an inkling, even a tiny notion that you want to buy that first home or upsize or downsize the house you’re in, it’s never too early to familiarize yourself with the process.
#2 Finding that Perfect Home — Online
So you think it’s time to buy. Or nearing the time to buy. It never hurts to start looking. Finding the right house, in the right location, with everything...
I’m going to get straight to the point: When thinking about what NOT to do when selling your home, this tops the list:
Do not think, in today’s day and age, that you don’t have to change anything in the house prior to selling because it’s better to let the buyer do whatever he or she wants to do to the house. It’s not.
I’m not sure where this belief same from. Maybe it’s a holdover from the pre-cable TV and pre-internet days. But it’s an outdated way of looking at selling one’s home. Let me give you an example.
A couple of years ago The Brent Germany Team had a client with a lovely two-story home — I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say, there were a few things that needed attention. One: the carpets needed replacement. Two: the shower stall in the master bathroom needed replacement.
The owners thought the housing market was so hot their house had to sell no matter what. They chose to offer a generous allowance for new flooring and the shower stall, which would have allowed the buyers to install much higher quality materials. They reasoned: “It’s better to choose what you want.”
Not a thing. People who walked through the house, said they loved its layout and location, but no offers were made because no one wanted to do the work required to replace flooring and a shower stall. One lady told me, “I don’t even want to call a contractor.”
In today’s real estate market, buyers want turnkey properties where they buy, move in, and everything is done. No need to shop for flooring or call a contractor.
Everybody has their process. Designers. Engineers. School teachers. Realtors are no different when it comes to selling a home. There is a process to follow.
The number of steps vary from realtor to realtor, but The Brent Germany Team has found over the years that sellers can generally can expect:
#1A: Finding a Realtor (something to consider)
Ideally this is the starting point.
But, before you find a realtor, I’d like to interject this: If you think you want to sell the house in the near future, don’t wait to find a realtor to get started.
Here’s why: There are plenty of articles on the web — including ones from The Brent Germany Team (here) — detailing what homeowners can do to prepare their houses for sale. Preparation is a big step in the selling process and, depending on what needs to be done, may take some time (and money) to complete.
Why not start preparing as soon as you can — even if you don’t have a realtor?
#1B: Finding a Realtor
If preparing your home for sale is not a daunting issue and you don’t need extra time, then plow ahead and find a realtor you are comfortable working with. He or she will certainly advise you on what needs to be done to prepare your home for sale.
Now how to do you find me?
How do you find a realtor you like and can work with?
Most people find a realtor through referrals from friends or neighbors, but you don’t have to take the first one you come across. Take some time to research. Drive around neighborhoods. Who are the...
With all the resources available on the internet and the real estate smartphone apps for on-the-go access, I understand why people would want to be their own realtors. For Sale by Owner — or FSBO — is easier than ever. Or is it?
Not surprisingly, Brent Germany Team members are hearing that homeowners who are considering selling their houses are looking at FSBO not to just save the commission fees but because “it looks so easy” with all of the real estate apps and resources available these days.
Whenever people ask me about FSBOs, I like to “peel away the onion” with them and look deeper at the relationship between realtors and FSBOs. There are so many more benefits working with a realtor and greater risk when going the FSBO route.
#1: Realtors Usually Sell Homes Faster than FSBOS
There are many reasons for this, but I’m only going to look at a few.
- Experience: Many realtors have years of experience working with homeowners and homebuyers. We know our way around the entire process — selling, buying, marketing, pricing, inspections, appraisals, negotiation. We are nimble, can react quickly, and know how to get to information, people, and solutions much quicker than FSBOers because we’ve been there, done that.
- Resources: The Brent Germany Team has better access to real estate resources than most FSBOers. Not only that, we know the ins and outs of using specific tools, what the data we dig up means, and how to use what we find. Again, this allows us to sell homes faster than most FSBOers, who are slowed by not knowing how...
I talk with people every day who want to sell their homes. And always, without fail, I’m asked what they need to do before putting their house on the market.
It’s a great question because, for the most part, they just want to sell the house and don’t realize how much more work it will be than buying one.
In order to help people understand this, the Brent Germany real estate team collected what it considers critical steps to take before listing a home for sale.
#1: Find a Realtor
Before climbing too far down the rabbit hole of making repairs and spending money, find a realtor who has:
- A demonstrable record selling homes not only in Dallas but in the area of the listing. He or she will know the ins and outs of the location and what buyers are looking for.
- A support team of other realtors and real estate professionals. This is important because you want a realtor who has access to resources that will give you a competitive edge to sell your home as quickly and for as much money as possible, which is everybody’s goal.
- An easy-going personality. This is important because, as I’ve said, selling a home is a lot of work and can be exhausting — physically and emotionally. You want to be comfortable working with the realtor you choose because you’ll be working closely for as long as it takes to prepare and sell your home.
#2: Set the Right Price
This is critical and a reason why you want to work with a realtor in the first place.
Why? A lot of people tell the Brent Germany team they expect their home will list as high as it...
I get this question a lot: What does a realtor do? It depends, I say, if you are selling a house or buying one. If you are selling we do this, this, and this. If you are buying, we do that, that, and that.
The common thread that runs through a realtor’s life is his or her relationship with you, the buyer or seller. We represent you when it comes to real estate transactions and it’s something we at The Brent Germany Team take very, very seriously.
But what does “represent” mean? How does it differ from what a realtor does?
I’m focusing on representation because these are overarching traits and characteristics that I want you aware of. These are things that make great real estate agents.
So here goes.
#1: A Good Realtor Listens and Understands
I am your advocate. By that I mean that, yes, of course, I listen to your needs, wants, and goals. I walk in your shoes. But I also walk in mine. The thing is I walk with you, side by side, through the entire process — a process that is intimidating for most people.
Every client is different, just like every home is. Some people want to list their house “as is.” Others need advice on how to stage or what repairs to make. Still others may have special requirements like the company they work for is moving the family ASAP.
When buyers tell me their circumstances, often times I have to dig deeper to understand what they’re really telling me. Someone once said that’s understanding “unexpressed needs” because they don’t express something because they’re...