STEPS TO BUYING A HOME
It is a GREAT time to buy a home in the Atlanta area now! Interest rates a at historic lows, but the process can be very frustrating due to changing lender requirements so hang in there and let’s get going!
The best advice we can give you is to NOT PUT THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE! Evaluate you own personal financial situation–be honest–and determine the price range that best suits your income and lifestyle–which sometimes are not the same. This may be the most difficult step in the process of home buying and relocation. Stress and anxiety can be faced and managed head on by doing this. FIRST! Not only will you save countless hours of non-productive wishful thinking but it will place you in a strong negotiating position from the get go! YOUR SERIOUSNESS WITH THIS STEP WILL RESULT IN A SELLER’S SERIOUSNESS IN CONSIDERING YOUR OFFER!
LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!
IT’S UP TO YOU! But first take a thoughtful, emotional, and financial look at what is REALLY the PRIORITY to you. Longer commute times to work mean less time with family and increased travel costs but may give you a quieter environment and more home for the money. You may want to be near family or relatives —or as far away as possible. What amenities do you want? Swim, Tennis, Golf, Lake Access, Acreage, Low Maintenance? Do you have children with special educational needs? Are you aware of the nuances of navigation through challenging metropolitan Atlanta traffic?
Dream Street is comprised of agents who are seasoned, experienced, local natives, who know the ropes and YOUR PRIORITIES WILL BE OUR PRIORITIES!
SELECT YOUR Realtor
COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY! It doesn’t matter how many designations and qualifications a Realtor has, if they are not listening to you and your communication is poor. Dream Street treats all of our clients like family and are readily available to communicate, educate and serve you to the best of our ability. Unlike Large mega franchises, we can promise that you will not be pawned off on a “Assistant”, Thrown into the Voice Mail Merry Go Round, and not kept up to date on every aspect of your transactions. Dream Street and its agents have been on the cutting edge of the latest technology even prior to the opening of Dream Street and we use this technology as an interwoven communication service to fit into your busy schedule. If you are technology challenged we are personally available to take care of you throughout the entire process.
INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY
WELCOME TO DREAM STREET HSN (HOME SHOPPING NETWORK)!
For years, we have had clients tell us (even the technology challenged ones) how easy it was to search for their dream home by using our web MLS search, above, site either directly or as a conduit to certain databases. It is our goal to continue to maintain and improve this service on an ongoing basis. Dream Street is a member of both of the major Multiple Listings Systems (MLS) in Metropolitan Atlanta, Surrounding Counties, and the State of GA. All “members” are required to update these databases within 24 hrs. of any change, unlike general web information that may fall behind. It is a benefit to you by having the most current and up to date information as possible by working with the professionals at Dream Street. The web is a useful tool to do preliminary home searches from a consumer standpoint and Dream Street is here to verify, confirm status, educate, and research information, perform market comparables of your selections through our Professional Databases and Tax Records in preparation for your personal tour and visit to the actual properties.
TODAY’S CHANGING MARKET
THE MARKET HAS BEEN CHANGING FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS.
Values are dropping in many areas and you see more and more short sales, foreclosures and auctions. Let’s take a look at these terms.
1. Short Sale. A short sale is when a mortgage lender is willing to accept less than is owed on a home to sell it. This is a LONG process! Many listing agents will put a low price in a listing to try to get offers to submit for a short sale. This is misleading because it causes a lot of listings to have prices that are not a “buy today” price. In other words, it is not really a listing! So some of the prices you see on homes that are too good to be true, just may not be true! The short sale process can take from a few weeks to several months. There is usually a lot of extra paperwork that goes along with the delays. This paperwork is usually addendums that make it clear that you know that you are buying the house “AS IS” and wave other of your rights.
2. Foreclosure. This is when the homeowner just is not making their payments and the bank takes it back. The foreclosure usually takes less time than the short sale, but still may have a lot of addendums that wave a lot of your rights. These are usually “AS IS” too.
3. Auctions. The auction is usually a last resort for a house that has not sold on the normal market. The thing that you need to know is that the owner of the house being auctioned DOES NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT THE HIGHEST BID even it is a no reserve (no minimum bid) auction.
YOU MAKE YOUR MONEY WHEN YOU “BUY” A PROPERTY!
Dream Street Properties, prides itself on going the extra mile to assist you in the decision making process by helping to keep you focused on the value and financial impact of your property selections. There is no question that buying a home for your personal residence has a large emotional component that sometimes influences your actions versus buying commercial or investment property. We consider it our ethical and educational duty to gently provide information to the fullest extent of our ability to help you make a wise and prudent decision based not only on your emotional needs but your financial needs as well. As professional we will provide you with educational information, market analyses, tax records, disclosures, market conditions, product liability issues, and any factor that will determine and influence your bottom line should you ever be in a position to sell that dream home in the future. The Georgia real estate market is not the same as the California Market or the Colorado Market–one size does not fit all. We feel that it is our ethical obligation to educate you on the differences, however there are some agents and companies that can and do take advantage of your naivety.
This is where a good Realtor is really needed. Making the right offer requires research and should include:
- A market analysis, CMA, showing the listings in the neighborhood that are active, under contract, withdrawn, expired, and sold. This will give you an idea of the market conditions in that community. For the sold listing you can see the “days on market” and the seller contribution to closing costs. The house you are considering may have 1 or more expired or withdrawn listings.
- Look up the tax record. This will normally tell you what the seller paid for the house and the square footage. Square footage is not allowed in either MLS that serves the Atlanta area so this is the only place you are likely to get this information unless you are in a new home community. The square footage in the tax record is normally information provided by the builder at the time the building permit was applied for. At least 1 county in the Atlanta metro area, Forsyth, actually measures the house as it is being built. If you and your agent think there may be a lot of rental properties in the neighborhood, the tax records will show absentee ownership.
- Once the research is complete you are ready to make a sensible offer on the property. This depends on how the house is priced, how long other homes are taking to sell, and the number of withdrawn and expired listings.
The offer needs to be in writing and have earnest money with it. The earnest money is used to show that you are serious about making the offer and it is applied to your funds at closing. It is NOT an additional cost for you.
NEGOTIATING THE OFFER
This depends on your motivation and the market conditions. You may want to pay the asking price for a home priced right in a fast moving neighborhood or go in low in an area where the market condition favor the buyer. You Realtor will be a valuable asset in this process.
Now you have completed the negotiation and have a home under contract. You are not done!
GET AN INSPECTION!
Even on a new home, get an inspection by an accreted home inspector. A few dollars spent now can save you thousands in the long run. A good inspector will also explain the systems and features of the house and show you areas you may need to look after as you live in and care the home.
The inspection does NOT cover cosmetic appearance items, so make sure you address these issues in your initial offer.
The inspection creates another negotiation process depending on how you want to work it out. The new contracts have an additional section in the inspection paragraph called a “Due Diligence” or “Free Look”. You now have 3 options for the inspection process.
1. Take the “free look” and inspect it for condition, termites and/or suitability for your needs. You may either walk away at any time during the Due Diligence or accept the property “AS IS”.
2. Take the property “AS IS” or
3. The traditional inspection process can be added to the special stipulations of the contract where you have the right to hire an inspector and request repairs.
This is where this changing market is causing delays. Many lending institutions have gone out of business causing a greater work load on the remaining companies and the lending requirements are changing even during the loan process. Yes, they are “moving the goal posts” while the loans are in process!
Be patient, expect these delays and hang in there!
Your mortgage person and your Realtor will make sure that all contracts with amendments, homeowner’s association information, and closing package get to the closing attorney on time. You may be asked for more information for your mortgage so don’t pack your financial information. Also, do not do anything to affect your financial condition. This means do not make any major purchase before closing like buying a car or new furniture.
Georgia does NOT use the “Escrow” process. Attorneys close real estate in Georgia. It is normally done at a specific time, “closing date”, with all parties at the same table at the same time. If it all goes well, you walk out with the keys or an appointed time to get them and the seller has their check.
At closing you will need:
1. Picture ID.
2. Proof of residency if you are not a US citizen.
3. The declaration page of your homeowner’s insurance policy.
4. Certified funds for your down payment and required closing costs. Many closing attorneys are requiring the funds to close to be wire transferred by your bank prior to closing. The closing attorney can take a personal check up to $5,000 if you did not bring enough money. You will be given a check from the attorney if your funds exceeded the amount required to close.
We hope to see you soon!
Dream Street Properties, LLC
Dream Street Properties, LLC