FAQ’s

Q: What home can I afford?

That depends, of course—on your income and other financial obligations; plug them into realtor.com’s Home Affordability Calculator  for a ballpark figure. And do it before you start shopping. If you see houses you love outside your price range, it opens you up to disappointment. Meet with a lender to get pre-approved for a home loan (added bonus: pre-approval makes you much more attractive to sellers).

Q: Can I buy a home and sell my current one at the same time?

Yes, you can—but it's the real estate equivalent of walking a tightrope. On the one hand, if you buy a home before you sell the one you’re in, you’re overextended financially; if you sell before you buy, you might need to rent awhile before finding a new place. But there are ways to do both at once, and one option is to instate a “sale contingency” in your contract. This means you only agree to buy a home if you can sell the one you’re in. The only downside is if your seller doesn’t agree (which is possible if they want the timing set in stone).

Q: Is there a “best time” to put my house on the market?

Along with economic factors such as supply and demand, the time of year you choose to sell can impact both the length of time it takes to sell your home and its ultimate selling price. Typically, the real estate market picks up around February, continues strong through late May and June, and tapers off during July and August. The summer is usually the busiest time for moving since school is out and buyers may be looking to get their children in school before the new school year. September through November generally marks a rally not as strong as late winter and spring, followed by a slowdown from Thanksgiving through and beyond the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

Q: How many homes should I see before making an offer?

Up to you, sport! While home shoppers these days can look at hundreds of homes online, they only hoof it to check out 10 homes on average before they put in an offer. Some people find their home within hours of hunting. For others, it takes months. If you want to streamline the process, it can help to really hone in on a particular neighborhood you’re keen on; that said, if you feel limited by your options, it may be time to expand to surrounding areas.

Q: What do you think the seller will accept as a fair price?

As a rule of thumb, knocking 5 percent off the list price won’t ruffle any feathers. If it’s been sitting on the market for months, you can venture below that, but the bottom line is you never know how low a seller will go, as they have different motivations for selling. If the sellers are eager to move, you could luck out and score a deal.

Q: How do I know if the property is a good deal?

While there’s no crystal ball on whether a certain home is a bargain and will appreciate, rest assured that with research, you can keep surprises to a minimum. The best way is to check out comps—what similar properties are selling for in the area—and whether those prices have been going up or down in the recent past.

Q: How quickly can I close?

Typical escrow periods are 30 to 45 days. This gives you enough time to do the investigation on the property and get a loan completed. And yes, this due diligence counts (see our next point).

Q: Should I get a home inspection?

While buyers often wonder if a  home inspection  is truly necessary, most Realtors unequivocally say yes, yes and yes. A home inspector takes a weight off of your shoulders by looking into the condition of the roof, electricity, heating and air, plumbing. Ensuring these things work prevents you from paying to fix them in the future. If some things are not up to par, you can negotiate with the seller to get those fixed before you sign the paperwork.

Q: When can I back out if I change my mind?

While buyers can always back out of a deal, doing so without good reason may forfeit their  earnest money  (the cash put down to secure the offer, typically around 1 percent – 2 percent of the home’s price). But there are some ways to walk with your earnest money in hand.

Q: What is the difference between being prequalified and preapproved for a loan?

If you’re prequalified it means that you POTENTIALLY could get a loan for the amount stated to you, assuming that all of the information you provide to the bank is accurate and true. This is not as strong as a preapproval. If you’re preapproved, it means that you have undergone the extensive financial background check, which includes looking at your credit history, previous tax returns and verifying your employment - and the lender is willing to give you a loan, basically meaning you’re approved! You will usually be provided an accurate figure that shows the maximum amount that you are approved for.  Most sellers prefer buyers that have been preapproved because they know that there will not be any problems with the purchase of their home.

Q: Can I back out of my contract with one buyer and accept a new, higher offer

from a second buyer? It would be very unwise to try to back out of the contract because a purchase offer that’s accepted is a legal contract that the buyer can seek legal remedies to enforce.

Q: What are closing costs?

Closing costs are expenses incurred by buyers and sellers in transferring ownership of a property.

Q: What is a contingency?

A contingency is a provision included in a sales contract stating that certain events must occur or certain conditions must be met before the contract is valid.

Q: Why should I use a real estate agent?

A real estate agent is more than just a sales person. A real estate agent may act on your behalf, providing you with advice and guidance when buying or selling a home. Due to the constant changing of the market, the information available on listings is not always 100 percent accurate. There are times when you need the most current information about what has sold or is for sale, and the only way to get that is with a real estate agent. If you are in the market to buy, it would be advisable to use a Buyer’s Agent. They can make recommendations on what terms and prices to offer as well as negotiating a deal with your best interest in

 
 

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