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Ruth Lerner Real EstateThere are two phases to becoming a homeowner: Searching for a home and purchasing a home.  Take a look at the blog for great home buyer tips.

Phase I.  Searching for the Perfect Home

Customized plan

The first step of your home search is to have a search plan, customized for your needs and around your schedule.  Considerations include the kind of home you want, choosing the best communities, customizing your home search and sources of data.

Data Sources

Nearly all of the home information you’ll receive will be through Multiple Listing Service. (MLS).  You will have access to my database and daily email updates of new listings and price changes.

The first time you log on to your MLS access, you will find a very long list of houses currently on market fitting your criteria.  This may be overwhelming and we can eliminate most of them together.  Subsequent emails will be much shorter, with only the new listings and price changes from the past 24 hours.  This will make it easy to stay updated and never miss a new listing.

Once you are on my database, I highly recommend not searching through sites like Zillow, Homes.com, and Trulia where the information is often stale and incomplete.  I regularly receive calls from people looking at listings from five years ago!

Although most For Sale By Owner homes are on MLS, some will not be.  I utilize multiple additional avenues to identify those listings regularly and I will let you know of any houses fitting your criteria.

Looking at Homes

Open Houses—I highly encourage you go to open houses in your early stages of looking at  properties.  Open Houses are a great way to get familiar with areas, neighborhoods, and the difference in values very quickly.

Private Showings—Once your search criteria are  well defined, I recommend private showings over open houses.  This allows you the privacy and time necessary to carefully look through a home.  I will accompany you to private showings, which we will schedule in advance.  We will be able to uncover the pros and cons of a home and to discuss it’s value.

Phase II.  Purchasing the Home

Brookline Real Estate Agent Ruth LernerOnce you choose a home, the home buying process begins.  The most important and complicated part of my job begins once you choose a home.

My Role Includes:  oversee and manage the whole process, be in contact with all the parties including mortgage broker, listing broker, and attorney, provide you with updates and explanations at every step,  and consult you in every decision.

Here are the steps that take you from choosing a home to moving into it:

1. Offer.  We will write an offer together which will outline the terms and conditions of your purchase, including price and timing.  A deposit of $1,000 is necessary.  There are contingencies in the offer to protect your interests and your deposit.  These contingencies are:

  • Inspection contingency
  • Mortgage contingency
  • Appraisal contingency
  • Condominium Documents and financial records review contingency (when applicable)
  • Additional contingencies we can include are lead  inspection, radon inspection, etc.

My Role Includes: create a market price analysis for the homes you choose, craft with you the best terms and conditions for the offer, write your offer, review all the offer’s clauses and contingencies with you, present offer to the seller’s agent and possibly the seller.

2. Negotiation.  The terms of the offer will be negotiated.  The end result must be such that all parties are happy with the outcome.   This process may take several days and can be complicated.

My Role Includes: representing you in the negotiation of the price and other terms of the offer, relaying information from the seller and seller’s broker, assisting you in making decisions about negotiation including how to handle counter offers,  and knowing if and when to walk away.

 3. Inspection.  Once an offer is accepted, you will have your home inspection within a week or so.  The inspection can take several hours, depending on the size of the home.  You will receive an inspection report from the  inspector.  If any part of the inspection is unsatisfactory, the terms of the offer can be renegotiated.  Either the price will be adjusted or the seller will be responsible for repairs.

My Role Includes: reviewing the issues uncovered during inspection, assisting in finding appropriate repair people for quotes if necessary, presenting any concerns to the seller and seller’s agent, renegotiating the contract which may include repairs to be done by seller or reducing the purchase price.

4. Purchase and Sale.  This is the binding agreement between the buyer and the seller outlining all the terms and conditions of the sale.  This should be finalized within  a week  or two after inspection.  The purchase and sale will be written and negotiated by attorneys for the buyer and seller, with agents’ involvement.

understanding purchase and sale agreementThe purchase and sale outlines the following:

  • Detailed description of the property
  • What is included in the sale, (appliances, fixtures, etc).
  • Any encroachments / easements
  • Sale price agreed upon after inspection
  • Mortgage and appraisal contingencies, and any others outstanding
  • Title search contingency
  • Seller and buyer responsibilities

My Role Includes: overseeing the attorney’s negotiations of the contract, reviewing the document for key issues, coordinating between mortgage broker, appraiser, attorney, any repair people, and the listing agent.  I will also guide you through the tasks you must do before closing – outstanding mortgage requirements, buying insurance, booking movers, etc.

5. Mortgage Commitment. This is one of the most important days in the whole process if you are taking a mortgage. The financing contingency expires on a certain date which is outlined in the Purchase and Sale. This deadline protects you in case the bank does not approve your loan. If the bank rejects your application, it is by this date you need to notify the agent and your attorney in order to recover your escrow. If you miss this deadline and your loan is rejected, you risk losing the whole deposit, 5% of the purchase price.

Issues are rare but the ramifications are big enough that paying attention is essential.

My Role: Ensure you meet your deadlines, stay in touch with the mortgage broker for updates.

6. Closing.  With the mortgage in place, we are ready to close.  At the closing, the seller signs the deed and the buyer signs the mortgage  paperwork.  You’ll receive the keys to the home on this day!

My Role Includes: scheduling and accompanying you to the walk-through the property before the closing, accompanying you to the closing, delivering the keys to your new home.

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