Home Buying Basics
This should be your very first step! Since 2008, lenders have changed their guidelines dramatically. These guidelines may change on a monthly basis. Start your home buying journey by knowing what you are approved to spend, and also, knowing what you are comfortable spending. Talking with a loan officer will help you figure out many things, and will answer some questions. What kind of a monthly payment are you comfortable making? How much of a down payment will you have to make the purchase? These are just a few of the questions you’ll want to think about in advance. This is a really important step to take BEFORE starting to search for your home. Starting to look for homes in one price point and then learning that you must move your price point down can be frustrating… This can be eliminated by knowing exactly where you stand and what you are approve to borrow. There are many well qualified loan officers – I’m happy to recommend someone to help you get started.
Finding a Home
This is the fun part! Atlanta has many wonderful neighborhoods from which to choose – you can check them out right here on this website.
Writing an Offer
Okay, so you’ve found the perfect home – now it’s time to write an offer. First, I’ll do some analysis: How long has the house been on the market? What did the current owner pay for the house? How does it compare to other homes in the neighborhood based on size and level of finishes? These are some of the factors that go into formulating our offer. All offers must be in writing, and we’ll use the Georgia Association of Realtors form. Other than the purchase price, we’ll specify a closing date, specify the amount of time we’d like to perform an inspection and perhaps a survey.
Inspecting the Property
The Georgia Association of Realtor (GAR) contract moved to resemble that of a commercial real estate contract a few years ago, offering buyers a “due diligence” period. Our due diligence period will be a specific number of days, during which we’ll have a general inspection performed, and a pool or stucco inspection if necessary. All inspections will be done during this due diligence period. If, during this time period, items are discovered to be defective and in need of repair, another round of negotiations may occur, as buyers and sellers negotiate which items shall be repaired. You can also buy a home “as is”, which means you accept the home with all of its faults. Homes that are being sold by an estate or by a bank are often sold “as is” and may usually be purchased for a price below market to compensate for the “as is” status. However, selling a home “as is” does not relieve the seller from disclosing any known defeats. Most often in these situations, the seller hasn’t ever occupied the home, so may not know of any defects. I always recommend that a home inspection be performed during your due diligence period. If the inspection reveals shortcomings that you didn’t anticipate, or that you’re not comfortable with, you have the right to terminate the contract during your due diligence period and have your earnest money returned.
So, the inspection is complete and we’ve negotiated some necessary repairs. Once the repairs are completed, buyers generally go back to the house to do a final walkthrough - making sure the repairs have been completed properly and that the home is in generally the same condition as it was when we went under contract.
Both buyers and sellers typically attend the closing. There are documents for both sides to sign, but the buyer definitely has many more documents to sign! The entire closing usually take about an hour. The closing table is generally a friendly exchange where the seller shares nuances about the home and the neighborhood, and hands over their keys and garage door openers.