Buyers

Purchasing a primary residence has long been and is still considered by financial experts as the best investment an individual can make. This is especially relevant today given current extraordinarily low interest rates and reasonable home prices. Buying a home is one of the largest investments and major decisions you can make. As with any major purchase, the advice of a team of professional experts can prove to be invaluable. Those involved include a REALTOR®, mortgage lender, lawyer, insurance agent, home inspector, and others.

While owning your own home is a great investment, it requires thoughtful planning and decision making. Buying a home is a worthy goal, but it is also a financial and emotional decision that only you can make. Seeking guidance from those who know the ins and outs of the home buying process will help to create a win/win experience. Following are FAQs that will help you in making this all important decision.

Where do I start?
Buying a home is a complex step by step process. Finding a person to direct you through each step is highly recommended. That person is a REALTOR®. A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate agent who has pledged to adhere to a strict code of ethics and the highest professional standards set forth by the National Association of REALTORS®. Don’t be afraid to seek recommendations from those you know and conduct interviews. Just like anyone you meet, you will have a sense of who you feel comfortable with and can trust. I welcome the opportunity to listen to your needs, be your advocate and look after your best interests to find your next home.
What price home can I buy?

Most home buyers will need a mortgage to finance their home purchase. Your REALTOR® is a good source for recommendations to help you choose a lender. Begin a file of important documents. Initially you’ll need to provide documentation including employment history, pay stubs, W-2’s and/or tax returns, residence history, bank and asset account statements, driver’s license, social security card and revolving and installment loan account detail. There may be an application fee. With the proper documents, most lenders can pre-approve you for a mortgage.

It’s best to have this done as early as possible so you can:

  1. Identify the documents you will need for the final loan application
  2. Find out problems with your credit, such as errors on your report that need addressing
  3. Get an idea of how much you can borrow. Your lender can talk to you about loan programs and give you an idea of how much cash you’ll need to buy a home.
How much can I finance?

Typically a down payment will be required, so planning ahead is important. There are 100% programs available for some, including veterans. In Mississippi, properties in some rural areas are eligible for 100% financing. On average, 3.5% to 5% down payment will be required, depending on the loan program and credit rating.

What if I’m a first time home buyer?

It’s a great idea to participate in a home buyer class. Many nonprofit and government organizations offer classes that can help you prepare for homeownership financially, and help make sure you can handle the responsibilities of owning a home. Both your lender and REALTOR® should be knowledgeable about classes offered. Although it varies, many times there are special programs available for first time home buyers, such as those that assist with a down payment. Be sure to ask if you meet the criteria to qualify for these.

How do I find the home that’s right for me?

With your REALTOR®, review your price range, express your desires and discuss the features that are important to you. Your REALTOR® has access to information about all homes for sale in the local multiple listing service and can show you any of these homes. They can also obtain information about homes for sale by owners. Together you can narrow the search field focusing on the neighborhoods, amenities, distance to work, schools, size and price that best meet your needs and wants. A priority list detailing what is most important to you is helpful. Your REALTOR® will schedule the showings, arranging a time that will work for you.

I found a home I love. What’s next?
To make an offer to purchase a home, a written sales contract will be completed and signed along with other documents that disclose information to you. Your REALTOR® will provide important information about the home to help you decide on an offer price and terms. Depending on each individual home, this may include the list price, current market conditions, analysis of similar properties that have sold recently, details of the seller’s property condition statement provided, and motivation of the seller if known. The type of financing you will obtain and the estimate of closing costs will also be considered to determine a fair price. It is also a good time to obtain several homeowner’s insurance estimates specific to the home, so that you can factor this into your investment. Earnest money and a qualification letter from your lender should accompany the offer. The offer is presented to the seller who may accept, reject or execute a counter offer back to you. Your REALTOR® is most important to you during this process, and will work to negotiate the best transaction for you. Once all parties have agreed in writing to the terms, both the seller and you will be under a legally binding contract.
Who pays what?

The REALTORS® commission is usually paid by the seller. Your lender may collect an application fee when you first meet. These and other fees such as those for the appraisal, pest inspection, survey, attorney, title exam, title insurance, recording, notary and any other closing costs can be negotiated and outlined in the sales contract. Your lender will provide a good faith estimate detailing all expected fees.

How can I be confident of the condition of the home?

Obtaining a home inspection is highly recommended. For a fee, a professional independent home inspector will take a thorough look at the property and provide an extensive written report about the condition of the home. An inspection clause is included in the written contract that allows time for an inspection to be completed and states the agreed terms in the event issues are found. Additionally, home warranty programs are available that you may want to consider purchasing.

When can I move in?

The move in date is negotiated with the sales contract, but is typically the same as the loan closing date. For most purchasers, there are several steps to complete to finalize the transaction. If you are obtaining a mortgage, your lender will begin the process of obtaining final approval for your loan. It is extremely important stay in contact with both your lender and REALTOR® and provide any additional documentation requested in a timely manner. Be mindful of your credit rating, and do nothing during this time that might alter that rating. An appraisal will be completed to estimate the value of the home. It also assures you do not pay too much. Your contract will be contingent on whether the appraisal is for the agreed price or higher. An attorney will conduct a title examination to assure you will receive clear title to the property. A survey of the property is done to determine the house is within the perimeter of the property, there are no encroachments by neighbors and to show any easements. A pest inspection will also be done to examine the home for current or prior infestation. You will need to make a firm decision on where you will obtain homeowner’s insurance, inform your lender, complete an insurance contract with your insurance agent when a closing date is provided, and make payment if required. Also, arrangements need to be made to transfer utilities into your name. The time period for this process will vary with lenders, and may take 30 to 45 days.

What should I expect on the day of closing?

A Settlement Statement reflecting the terms of your sales contract will be provided by the closing agent for your review. It contains a detailed description of all costs associated with closing your loan and transferring title to you, and informs you of the exact amount of funds you should bring to the closing. An opportunity will be given for a walk through of the property prior to closing to assure the condition of the home has not changed since the time of completing the contract. Check with your lender regarding any documents to take to the closing such as valid driver’s license or other identification forms. Typically you will go to the office of a title company or attorney at a time arranged by your lender. The closing agent will coordinate the signing and recording of documents as well as collection and disbursement of funds.

Is there anything I need to follow up with?

Recording documents may take a few weeks. The closing agent should be in contact with you, or mail your recorded documents within this time period. Definitely follow up on these forms. They are very important documents that you should keep in a safe place. If the home you purchase is your primary residence, you qualify for a property tax credit. You can file for homestead exemption through the county tax assessor’s office January 1st through April 1st the year following your purchase. Be sure to maintain your homeowner’s insurance and touch base with your insurance agent at each renewal to review your coverage. Enjoy your home and be proud of your investment!

10 Step Guide to Buying a Home

Your REALTOR® is your go to person to guide you through this process. It is a relationship of utmost confidence meant to last a lifetime. You should feel comfortable making future calls to seek advice, ask questions, work with them again, or pay the greatest compliment by referring a friend.

Home Value Estimate

Current Rates

Sellers

The basics of selling your house include preparing it to be attractive to buyers, setting the right selling price, effective marketing, being certain your house is shown at its best, negotiating an acceptable deal and completing the transaction. An experienced and trusted REALTOR® will help you through each step of the sales process offering expertise to obtain the most beneficial transaction for you.

Many people sell their own house. Do I really need a REALTOR®?
Yes, most definitely. With the complexities of the current market, a REALTOR® has the expertise to assist you in securing the best price in the most reasonable amount of time, depending on your circumstances. A REALTOR® is required to stay current with education and must adhere to a strict and rigorously enforced Code of Ethics. As specialists in their field, they are a great asset when it comes to marketing, networking and negotiating on your behalf.
How do I list my house for sell?
Once you find a REALTOR® you are comfortable with, a listing agreement and disclosure forms will be completed and signed. A good amount of information will be needed, and it is important to provide as many details about your house as possible. Expect an overview explaining the process involved in placing your house on the market and following through with negotiating and closing the transaction.
What might I do to help my house bring top market value in the most reasonable time?
First impressions are crucial to a prospective buyer. An experienced REALTOR® can advise you if improvements in the way of renovations, upgrades and repairs, reorganization and maintenance may help your house sell at the top of the market. Minimally, anything broken or not in working order should be repaired. Many times small things can go a long way. Clearing clutter, a thorough polishing and cleaning, touching up paint, repainting a front door, a new welcome mat, adding a few flowers to outside beds, placing pot plants to welcome visitors, power washing siding, concrete drives, patios, as well as outdoor furniture are just a few things that can improve your home’s curb appeal. A REALTOR® will help you determine items that should be on a “must do” list and other optional helpful things to consider.
How do I know what my house is worth?
Determining the best asking price is the most important aspect of selling you house, but can also be the most challenging. Basically, your home’s value is determined by what the market is willing to pay for it at a given time. A Comparative Market Analysis prepared by a REALTOR® will prove to be the best gauge in setting a price. This report compares recent sales of houses that are similar to yours as well as houses currently for sell. It gives the most accurate picture of how the market is performing at the time you decide to sell. Strategically pricing your home is of utmost importance, and seeking advice from a professional REALTOR® in this area will serve you best. The closer your house is priced to its eventual true market value, the higher percentage there will be of potential buyers who will look at and consider the house.
How long should I expect my house will be on the market?
There is no magic frame of time, and the given market does greatly influence how well and quickly real estate sales occur. The key elements are to make sure at the time of listing, your house is not overpriced, it is clean, clutter free, and in good repair, a good marketing plan is in place, and to keep in constant communication with your REALTOR®. A REALTOR® has the knowledge, expertise and resources to implement a plan that will effectively coordinate all activities needed to maximize the sale of your house in the least amount of time.
What might an effective marketing plan consist of?
It includes all the things we’ve talked about, an experienced and trusted REALTOR®, strategic pricing, creating a good first impression and finally, effectively exposing your home to the marketplace through a variety of advertising media. Today’s primary source for real estate is internet based. So many great avenues are available that provide information to prospective buyers, including websites, social media, blogs, REALTOR.com®, etc. Other advertising sources are yard signs, open houses, print ads, direct mail, television and simply spreading the word through networking. When your house is listed with a REALTOR®, information is shared with all real estate agents who participate in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Multiple Listing Service, exposing your home for sell to all of their clients as well. It is a multi-faceted effort, and this is where a REALTOR® is your greatest asset.
In what ways can I provide help to my REALTOR®?
It is especially important to keep your home available, attractive and ready for showings. An effort is always made to schedule showings, giving you plenty of advanced notice, but being ready at all times is helpful. An electronic lockbox can be placed on a door. Allowing this provides additional ease of showing. It is also very important to be forthright and disclose all information about your property to your REALTOR®, whether you think it is important or not. Your REALTOR® is obligated to provide confidentiality, and will only share information with others that they are legally entitled to know.
If I receive an offer to purchase, what is involved?
A prospective buyer will provide a written sales contract including disclosure forms where they acknowledge the information you provide about your house. Your REALTOR® will review and explain the offer price and terms, including a time frame for closing, moving date, and the buyer’s financing and costs involved. Once the offer is presented, as the seller, you may accept, reject or execute a counter offer back to the buyer. Your REALTOR® is most important to you during this process, and will work to negotiate the best transaction for you. Once all parties have agreed in writing to the terms, both the buyer and you will be under a legally binding contract. Your bottom line is determined by the contract terms. It is very important that you understand it. Do not be afraid to ask questions, and keep asking until you have a complete understanding. An inspection clause is included in the written contract that allows time for an inspection to be completed by a professional, and states the agreed terms in the event issues are found.
Who pays what?
If a buyer is obtaining a mortgage loan, there are numerous fees connected with securing the loan. These and other fees such as those for the appraisal, pest inspection, survey, attorney, title exam, title insurance, recording, notary and any other closing costs can be negotiated and outlined in the sales contract. In most cases, the commission paid to the REALTORS® involved is usually paid by the seller and is also a part of the contract negotiations.
What should I expect on the day of closing?
A Settlement Statement reflecting the terms of your sales contract will be provided by the closing agent for your review. It contains a detailed description of all costs associated with closing a loan, if applicable, and transfer of title, and details what your bottom line is. An opportunity will be given for the buyer to walk through of the property prior to closing to assure the condition of the home has not changed since the time of completing the contract. Typically you will go to the office of a title company or attorney at a time arranged by the lender or REALTOR®. The closing agent will coordinate the signing and recording of documents as well as collection and disbursement of funds.
Is there anything I need to follow up with?
If you have a mortgage, it will be paid off by the closing agent from the proceeds of the sale, and your lender should execute and mail a release of mortgage to you. It is always a good idea to follow up if you do not receive this.

7 Step Guide to Selling a Home

Your REALTOR® is your go to person to guide you through this process. It is a relationship of utmost confidence meant to last a lifetime. You should feel comfortable making future calls to seek advice, ask questions, work with them again, or pay the greatest complement by referring a friend.

Home Value Estimate

Current Rates