Licensed in MD, DC, VA, AZ
Eco First Realty
9420 Key West Avenue Suite 105
Rockville, MD 20852
Direct: (202) 413-3052
Home Buyers Guide
Buying your new home is a chapter in life that should not be rushed. Besides the financial commitment, there are many other important aspects need to be examined. Due to his many years of experience in the Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia Real Estate Arenas, Kacem Benali has a strong understanding of what is involved in buying a new home. He has made that knowledge available to you by providing these helpful tips that you will find useful in the home buying process.
Buyers List of Needs & Wants: Before you do anything else you should make 2 lists. The first list should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.
Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller. An agent who is working for the Seller will use his expertise to assist the Seller, not you. If you are unsure about what to look for in an Agent, we have built our Real Estate Agent Guide as a resource to help you through the process of choosing a good Real Estate Agent who can guide you through the acquisition of your new home.
Focus & Organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:
- One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.
- A file of the properties that your real estate agent has shown to you, along with ads you have cut out from the newspaper.
- Paper and pen, for taking notes as you search.
- Location: Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective home buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and negative (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area?
Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light and space? It is important to make sure the property will adequately fill your needs, as failures here can mean a lot of headaches after you close the deal.
Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the Real Estate Market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don't forget such essentials as:
- Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
- Have the property inspected by a Professional Home Inspector.
- Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
- You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional REALTOR represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. If you have any questions do not hesitate to email or call Kacem directly at Kacem@DMVProperties.com or (202)413-3052 to discuss any of these matters in further detail.
How to Negotiate with Sellers
Research the housing market in the target area. Once you have information about the general area, focus on the particular property and seller. Look for answers to questions such as:
- Why is the homeowner selling? (If they're moving because they find the area undesirable, you might want to consider this issue.)
- How long has the home been on the market? (If it has been on the market for a long time, perhaps there are negative facts about the property that you need to know.)
- How much did the seller pay for the home compared to the current asking price? (If the seller paid more, find out why. Was it a general real estate trend, or did property values in that particular neighborhood go down?)
- What is the seller's time frame for selling and moving? Does it fit within your needs?
- Are there any defects in the home or problems with the surrounding neighborhood? (For example, is the roof so old that it will likely leak during the next storm? Is there a new construction project in the area that will lead to major traffic congestion?)
As the potential buyer, you want the advantage. While you want answers to all your questions to the seller, reveal very little about your circumstances. Do not give the seller personal information such as your income, the maximum you are able to pay for a down payment or the home, or when you want to move. Make sure that your agent knows not to reveal any such information to the seller or his/her agent.
Also, do not let the seller see how much you want the property. If you appear desperate or overly enthusiastic, the seller then has the stronger bargaining position. When meeting with the seller or listing agent, keep your emotions in check.
Establish a Timeline
Find out if the seller needs to have the sale closed sooner rather than later. If the seller is feeling pressured to sell, use that to your advantage in negotiating. Even if you, the buyer, are the one with the deadline for purchasing a home, don't let yourself be rushed into making concessions or a purchase you may regret later.
You've Opened Escrow, Now What?
Congratulations, you are on your way to owning your very own home! Follow these suggestions (and your realtor's advice) so that escrow and settlement with go as smoothly as possible.
You will be asked for a down payment on the home you are purchasing. You can choose to put down as much or as little as you want (depending on your mortgage), but remember, the more you put down toward the total price of your home, the less time it will take you to pay off and the less your mortgage payments will be every month.
During this period of purchasing your home, you are going to need an Escrow or Settlement Company to act as an independent third party to guide you through when and who to give your money in order to get the deed to your new home. The escrow or settlement company will hold your deposit and coordinate much of the activity that goes on during the escrow period. This deposit check may also be held by an attorney or in the broker's trust account. Make sure that there are sufficient funds in your account to cover this check.
The deposit check will be cashed. Assuming the sale goes through, this money will be applied to the purchase price of the home. If for any reason the sale is not consummated, you may be entitled to receive all of your deposit back, less standard cancellation fees. In certain instances, the seller may be able to retain this money as liquidated damages. Prior to executing a purchase contract, it would be wise to speak with your counsel regarding whether or not it is your best interest to have a liquidated damages clause as part of the contract.
The period that you are "in escrow" is often 30 days, but may be longer or shorter. During this time, each item specified in the contract must be completed satisfactorily. By the time you have opened escrow, you have come to an agreement with the seller on the closing date and the contingencies. Each contract is different, but most include the following:
1. Inspection contingency: this should be completed as soon as possible after the contract to purchase is signed as unsatisfactory results of the inspection may mean that you will want to cancel the contract.
2. Financing contingency: once the contract is signed, you have a period of time to secure funding. If, for any reason, you are unable to secure funding during the period of time granted to you by the contract (and the seller will not provide a written extension of time), you must decide whether you want to remove the contingency and take your chances on getting a loan. You may choose to cancel the purchase contract.
3. A requirement that the seller must provide marketable title. With an attorney or title officer, review the title report. The title must be "clear" to ensure that you do not have legal issues regarding your ownership.
Check into local and state ordinances regarding property transfer and make sure that you and/or the seller have complied with them.
Secure homeowner's insurance. This will probably be required before you can close the sale. Due to such requirements as special fire and earthquake insurance, obtaining this insurance may require a lengthy period of time. It would be in your best interest to apply for insurance as soon as possible after the contract is signed.
Contact local utility companies to schedule to have service turned on when you close escrow.
Schedule the final walk-through inspection. At this time, you should make sure that the property is exactly as the contract says it should be. What you thought to be a "permanently attached" chandelier that would come with the property might have been removed by the seller and replaced with a different fixture entirely.
You've made it! Once the sale has closed, you're the proud owner of a new home. Congratulations!
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