Advanced Home Buying Q&A

Expert real estate agents offer their wisdom

If the thought of buying a home gives you a brain freeze, have no fear. We’re here to help. We sat down with three CENTURY 21 agents from across the country to discuss the home buying process and what to keep in mind while you’re standing in your potential new living room during an open house. Without further ado, we are proud to present our agents: Lara Marquess, Justin Udy, DeAnna Haskett, and Justin Bobson.

What's the best way to find out whether a house is in a good neighborhood?

Justin U.: Knock on the neighbor's doors, ask questions, and find out about the neighborhood first hand from those that live there. Look online at details about the community, their schools, crime rates, and if it fits your lifestyle.

When do you start going to open houses to see what you want in a home?

DeAnna: You should get pre-approved with a lender before you start going to open houses to make sure you're not looking out of your price range. Then you can start going to open houses and work with a great agent.

Justin B: I’d say go to open houses as soon as you feel comfortable touring homes. It’s the easiest way to see homes without bringing a realtor along and gives you the ability to see what you like and most importantly, what you don’t like in a home. It’s also important to get pre-approved so you don’t fall in love with something you can’t afford.

How many homes should I see before making an offer?

Lara: Honestly, there's no number. There are times where buyers see only three, and they find the house they love and others where buyers have seen 13. If you've seen more than eight houses and you've seen nothing that you like, either the agent is showing you the wrong houses, or you're looking in the wrong price range for what you want.

DeAnna: There is no magic number. If the first home you see is what you've been wanting and the price works you should make an offer in a hot market so you don't miss out on the opportunity.

How do I know if it’s a good deal?

Justin: A good deal vs. the home you want to live in may be two different things. A good deal is the home that hits my top five musts, matches my buying criteria, and fulfills my wants and needs. I would rely on the expertise of your agent to help evaluate that it’s the right price, has the right features, and is truly a good deal for your buying criteria.

DeAnna: Your agent can run a market analysis for you on a home that you want to purchase to see what other homes have sold for in the area to determine if the home is priced fairly.

How long does a closing typically take?

Justin U.: Typically 30-35 days from the date of putting the home under contract (or in escrow) to close. Closing itself will likely only take an hour to sign all the necessary paperwork.

Should I get a home inspection?

DeAnna: I always recommend getting a professional home inspection. The things that they may find aren't worth the risk.

Justin U.: Absolutely. You should also consider additional inspections depending on your location. Ask your agent.

From a financial standpoint, what do I need to have in order to buy a home?

Justin B.: You can have as little as 3.5% down with an FHA loan. In a hot market with multiple offers on properties you will want to have 10-20% down to stay competitive.

Lara: There are many different types of money-assistance programs out there... some as low as 3% down and some for people with not-so-great credit. The key is to meet with a lender to get pre-approved.

How would you describe the current market for first-time homebuyers?

Justin U.: Excellent. You can lock into a loan at a historically low-interest rate that will save you money short term and long term. Also, there are several loan programs and assistance programs that can help buyers get into a home where before they could not.

Aside from personal preferences, what should I look for when viewing homes?

Justin: Make sure the property is in-line with your budget, lifestyle, and needs. Once you have established that, then find homes that you can see yourself in for the next few years.

What’s the biggest mistake a buyer can make?

Justin B.: Every buyer is different and has different needs in their home purchase. A big mistake can be not looking past minor issues like paint and carpet that can be easily replaced. Also micro focusing on a particular area and not keeping an open mindset to other regions can limit a buyer and be a mistake. I think the biggest mistake a buyer can make is not getting pre-approved thinking that they can’t afford a home or condo and continuing to rent. You would be surprised what you can afford if you allow yourself the opportunity.

DeAnna: To not take steps to make sure you're working with a good lender and a good agent that will educate you in the process and make sure that you're surrounded by professionals that are looking out for your best interest and making sure that you're protected and taken care of throughout the process.

See, home buying isn't so hard. It's not advanced physics (phew). It just requires becoming familiar with the process. Apply these tips to your home buying masterplan and go forth knowing that if you ever need a hand, you know where to find us.

 

Lara Marquess is an agent at CENTURY 21® Union Realty in Torrance, CA.

Justin Udy is an agent at CENTURY 21® Everest Realty in Salt Lake City, UT.

DeAnna Haskett is an agent at CENTURY 21® Everest Realty in Salt Lake City, UT.

Justin Bobson is an agent at CENTURY 21® Everest Realty in Kirkland, WA.

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