Buying Process

HomeBuyersBuying Process

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Review our buying process timeline below


Why Do You Want To Buy A Home?
SouthLakeAssociates.com has every tool you’ll need to have a successful property buying experience. We invite you to take full advantage of our industry insider knowledge and our resource bank full of useful tips and checklists for buying your new property.

If this is your first property purchase, visit our First-Time Property Buyer area to see how much house you can afford with our mortgage calculators. Use our site to view credit reports and learn more about property insurance, mortgages programs and more.

Make an Informed Decision on Buying A Property-
There are lots of good reasons for buying a property. Perhaps you’re tired of paying rent, or are looking to find a property that’s better suited to your current lifestyle. No matter your reasons, it’s a good idea to sit down and detail your reasons to help you choose the property that best meets your needs.

Is Your Income Increasing?
Congratulations on your success—often one of the first purchases made with increased salary is a new property purchase, and it’s one of the smartest investments you can make. In addition to your property’s natural appreciation, every month’s mortgage payment increases your equity and your net worth.

Can You Afford To Buy?
You almost can’t afford not to— if you’re renting, you might be shocked when you add up what you’ve spent on rent over the years—with no equity gained. Another advantage to purchasing is the tax advantages that make property ownership less expensive than renting. Experts recommend spending between 33-40% of your income on housing. Want to see if a property purchase will save you money? Click here to find out with our rent vs. buy calculator.

Facts about Down Payments-
It’s a common misconception that buying a property today requires a hefty down payment. But while there may be advantages to making a large down payment, there are many loan programs available that help achieve property ownership with little or no down payment. Click here for further details in our finance center.

The Benefits of Tax Breaks-
It sounds too good to be true, but in many cases, buyers can qualify for larger mortgages because the tax benefits from a mortgage actually lower income taxes. We invite you to discover how much you qualify for by visiting our finance center.


Start a File:

Organization is pivotal in making a real estate transaction as quick and painless as possible, and the creation of a file is a good step in that direction. Your file should contain every financial document, so begin by making copies of all financial statements; bank accounts, investments, credit cards, auto loans, recent pay stubs and two years’ tax returns. If you don’t have a down payment, start saving for one and put aside extra funds for incidental property buying and closing costs (i.e., inspections, appraisals, title insurance, etc).

Check Your Credit Rating-
Credit scores range between 400 and 800. 620 + is considered “good”. 680 + is considered “premium” and can help in securing a lower interest rate.

Below is contact information for the 3 major credit reporting agencies to help you acquire your credit rating. Your lender will also have advice and tips on how to improve your credit score if necessary. Remember that your credit rating is one of your most prized possessions—treat it accordingly.

Equifax- http://www.equifax.com (800) 685-1111
Experian- http://www.experian.com (800) 392-1122
Trans Union- http://www.transunion.com (800) 888-4213

Get Pre-Approved By A Lender-
Seeking out pre-approval for a mortgage is a smart decision that can improve your chances of getting the house you want. A Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval letter will assure sellers that buyer has the ability— and the intention— to complete the real estate transaction. Pre-approval takes the guesswork out of deciding how much real estate you can afford, which offers peace of mind to both you and your Realtor®. And when it comes time to make an offer on a property, your offer will be better positioned than a potential buyer who lacks a Pre-Approval letter. In short, being Pre-Approved makes your purchasing experience more efficient and enjoyable.

Lenders typically need the following information:

  • Job and career status
  • Income
  • Monthly debt payments
  • Cash available
  • Total assets and debts

Think before you do anything!
When anticipating a real estate purchase, it is best to keep things as they are—that means that it’s prudent to avoid changing careers, moving funds around or purchasing that big ticket item. Especially on credit cards—lenders don’t want to see large outstanding credit balances. Lenders also like stability, so if you are anticipating any major changes, you’ll benefit from meeting with a lender and if you can’t resist buying that new plasma TV, consider this: A $500 a month debt payment (like a credit card or auto loan) could lower the amount of property you can afford by about $83,000! *

* Based on a 30 year mortgage at 6% interest.

When to Buy – When to Sell-

Unless you have considerable financial resources, it is often risky to make an offer on a new property before your current one is sold. Statistically, you are likely to lose the opportunity to purchase the new property in this situation, or possibly need to make payments on both properties until the first one sells.

Selling Takes Patience-
It may very well take longer than anticipated to sell your first property; be aware that it can take several weeks simply to get the property listed for sale, and another few months to find a buyer and a few more for the buyer to close the deal.

Expert Advice Means Better Negotiations-
At South Lake, our responsibility is to put you in the strongest negotiating position possible: As trusted real estate professionals, we handle over 50 transactions each year. We encourage you to leverage our knowledge and experience when advise you that sellers prefer buyers who make a “strong” purchase offer.

Sellers always prefer qualified buyers who are prepared and ready to close a transaction quickly and easily. If you are serious about buying, we can help you prepare and position yourself so can make the strongest offer possible.

Where You Will Live Now?
This is a common concern when simultaneously handling a purchase and a sale. Don’t worry—we have many solutions to help you! For example, we often negotiate a rent-back period for our clients, so they can rent their first property from the new buyer for an interim period—typically month or two, while we assist in the new property search and purchase. Rest assured that we will help you find the most convenient and affordable solution, that minimizes your concerns during this time.

South Lake Real Estate Professionals are Here for You-
Our trusted South Lake consultants are intimately familiar with your local market, and will help prepare your property for sale. We offer many helpful initiatives to make your property look its best, by helping you budget for clean-up costs or any repairs that may assist in making the property sell faster. We can also offer guidance in deciding which inspections should be completed prior to listing your property for sale.

We are adept at pricing properties fairly and accurately, with the result that your property will not sit on the market for an extended period without receiving offers. We’re also ready to go the extra mile to keep both your purchase and your sale transactions going smoothly.

What Does an Agent Do for You?
It is possible to find and buy a property without an agent, but the process is extremely detail oriented and can be derailed if a single element goes wrong—not something you’d want for one of the largest purchases and most important decisions you will ever make. Your new property may account for a third of your monthly spending and a significant part of your assets. The property purchase transaction invariably requires many important financial decisions, comprehending complex issues, not to mention a large amount of paperwork. It is definitely in your best interest to have someone who is well-versed in the process looking out for your best interests—and that’s where South Lakes’ real estate professionals come in.

Buyers & Buyer’s Agents-
Buyers’ agents listen to what you want and then help you find your ideal property—we represent you and your interests. Our duties include notifying clients when an appropriate property comes on the market; we set up viewings at the earliest opportunity.

One important distinction is that buyer’s Agents are FREE—they aren’t paid until you successfully buy your property. Our trusted South Lake professionals have a wide network of resources we share with you, helping you select inspectors and recommending service providers such as lenders, insurance agents, landscapers and contractors.

Knowledge is Power-
Real Estate agents are always in the know—we often are aware of properties that are available but not yet listed; we’re first in line to learn about price reductions and other factors that will impact your purchase. Consequently, you can consider your Real Estate agent as your own personal expert and advocate. We will leverage our knowledge and experience to best represent your interests during negotiations with sellers, and educate you on all the decisions you make. Our goal is to make your transaction go as smoothly as possible.

Selecting the Right Agent-
When selecting an agent, don’t go for the dilettante who does real estate part time—go for a full-time agent who lives, eats and breathes real estate. Since they in effect become your employee and work for you, take the time to interview a few agents to determine how knowledgeable they are, and how familiar they are with the neighborhood you want to live in.

Find an agent who is comfortable with computers; today’s transactions depend heavily on the Internet, and anyone not online is not tuned in. Determine how much time the agent will devote to your search or sale, and if they have a licensed assistant. This is important because the most successful agents are the most efficient, and can afford to pay a knowledgeable assistant who will always be available to answer your questions.

Ask about their credentials and education: A good agent is always educating themselves about the latest real estate trends. Another litmus test of a good agent is simple: how long does it take them to return your calls? Time is money when attempting to buy a property.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a list of properties they’ve sold or a list of references. Another sign of a good agent is that they truly listen to you, interviewing you to make sure they understand exactly what you want and what you’re comfortable with.

Time to Go Shopping-
Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to go shopping for your new property. By now you should have a checklist of the qualities and features that you’re looking for in a property, which will keep you focused on properties that match. Since you had the foresight to seek pre-approval from your lender, your pre-approval letter lets you know exactly which properties you can afford.

Know Your Neighborhoods-
It’s a good idea to take a drive around some of the properties to familiarize yourself with the neighborhoods to see exactly what your money will buy. We are also happy to escort you on a guided tour of properties in your chosen neighborhoods, as it provides us the opportunity to understand your preferences.

Selecting Properties & Making Appointments-
Pick the few properties that embody your ideal qualities and instruct your real estate agent arrange viewings. We look at hundreds of properties each year, and can offer insight into each property’s features and strengths, and drawbacks. Typically we can provide printed fact sheets for each property, including pictures, to help you keep track of the properties you liked. We often serve as a sounding board to contrast your favorite properties.

Make an Offer-
Leverage our knowledge and experience when formulating your offering price; specifically in providing comps (what similar properties sold for) and assisting in writing an offer that is likely to be accepted. We also guide you in understanding the possible costs for any deferred maintenance and repairs prior to making an offer. We are also comfortable making recommendations for a title insurance company and an escrow company to help make the purchase process go even smoother. We also make sure that the proper safeguards for your purchase offer are in place, covering issues like loan contingencies and physical inspection contingencies.

Purchasing a property is an emotional, potentially stressful situation, so it very important to have your trusted Real Estate professional watching over your interests during your interactions with the seller.

Escrow: when an earnest money deposit and purchase offer is accepted by the seller. Escrow ends when you become the official new owner, registered in the county records.

Title Company and Escrow Holder-
We can help you select a title company and escrow holder (often the same company), which is responsible for serving as a neutral third party that holds all instruments necessary to the sale, including funds and deed with instructions as to their use. The title company provides a critical service by researching the complete recorded history of this property, to insure that the title is free and clear of encumbrances (outstanding loans, title liens or clouds) by the date of closing and that all new encumbrances are properly added to the title.

You will receive what’s known as a preliminary report that will show current encumbrances and easements. For example, some properties are subject to CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) which may limit various activities from building to parking restrictions. There may be recorded easements and encroachments, where others have limited rights to use your property. We will always explain the title report to you in detail to ensure you completely understand any CCRs and their impact on your purchase.

How to Hold Title-
There are many ways to own property, each having its own inherent legal, estate, and tax implications, specifically regarding selling, transferring, or disposition upon death. We advise you to consult with an attorney or your tax advisor to ensure you select the best way to hold title.

Inspections-

Once the seller accepts your offer, we will make a selection from our pool of professional inspectors to evaluate your property’s major systems and arrange the appropriate appointments. Plan on attending all inspections with your agent and be confident that you can ask any question of the inspector or your agent. During inspections you can learn a considerable amount of information regarding how your new property functions as well as any flaws or issues that need to be addressed.

Your agent may recommend other inspections, to determine the soundness of other systems like roof, chimney/fireplace, property boundary survey, well, septic, pool/spa, arborist or mold. Knowledge is the key to securing the best possible deal for you—so set out to acquire as much knowledge as you can.

Appraisal and the Loan Process-

It’s wise to keep an open line of near-constant communication with your lender, who will let you know when additional documents are necessary for approval and funding. The lender will often send an appraiser out to the property; be ready to pay a fee for this inspection.

Appraisers are specialists in evaluating properties, based on a combination of square footage measurements, building costs, and recent sales of comparable properties, which ensure you, are not paying too much for the property. Ask for a copy of your appraisal and within two weeks of closing, confirm with your lender that the loan requirements have been fulfilled.

Final Walk-Through Inspection-
A few days prior to taking possession of your new property, you will visit the property together one last time with your trusted DiTo professional. This final visit ensures that the property’s condition meets your expectations—that the condition remains unchanged since you made your offer. A checklist will provide you to note any last-minute details for the seller to attend to.

Property Services and Utilities-
It is necessary to change the services and utilities into your name, and we are happy to provide you with contact information for local utilities and service providers so everything is in your name at the close of escrow.

Expect the Unexpected-
Sometimes unexpected issues can arise, and this is when an experienced real estate agent can really prove their worth to you. There are so many variables in the average real Estate transaction that it’s not uncommon. But don’t panic—it’s not the end of the world. We’ve been through the purchase process countless times and subsequently have a series of strategies to easily overcome these issues and conclude the transaction as quickly as possible.

Close of Escrow-
When your transaction is nearly completed, the title company will provide you with a “closing statement” detailing all the financial details of your property purchase, with items like pro-rations on property taxes and all the transaction-related costs. We take you step-by-step through this document to ensure accuracy. When everything is complete, the title company records the transaction at the County Assessor’s Office and you become the official new owner. Congratulations!

Keys-
We will coordinate the delivery of your keys to coincide with the recording at the County Assessor’s Office.

Feedback-
A good agent is always looking for ways to improve their service, and to do that, DiTo Properties will ask for your written feedback after you settle into your new property. We welcome your comments regarding our service, and you can do so by click here.