Home Buyer Resources
Recommended Service Providers
Over the years, Paris Group Realty, LLC has developed strong relationships with a variety of vendors and service providers in the Portland Metropolitan area. If you’re looking for trusted companies to complete projects on your property, give us a call at (503) 926-5213 or email us and we’ll be happy to provide you a list of our preferred vendors.
Tips & Tricks
Research the housing market in the neighborhood(s) where you’d like to live. Once you have information about the general area, focus on the particular property and seller. Look for answers to questions such as:
Why is the homeowner selling?
Personal and life cycle reasons usually aren’t a concern, however, you may want to consider any house-related reasons.
How much did the seller pay for the home?
If the seller paid more than the current asking price, find out why. Was it a general real estate trend, or did property values in that neighborhood go down?
How long has the home been on the market?
If it’s been on the market a long time, perhaps there may be negative issues about the property you need to know.
What is the seller’s time frame for selling and moving?
Does it fit within your needs? If the seller requests the ability to rent the home from you for a period after the purchase is complete, known as a ‘rent-back agreement,’ it could affect your move date.
Are there any defects in the home or problems with the surrounding neighborhood? Is there a new construction project in the area that will lead to major traffic congestion? Are apartments being planned that might change the character of the neighborhood? These are great questions to ask prior to making a homebuying commitment.
Hold your cards close to your chest
As the potential buyer, you want the advantage. While you want answers to all the questions you pose to the seller, you should reveal very little about your own circumstances.
For example, do not give the seller personal information such as your income, the maximum amount you are able to pay for a down payment or the home, or when you want to move. Make sure your agent also knows not to reveal these details to the seller or his/her agent.
Establish a timeline
Find out if the seller needs to have the sale closed sooner rather than later. If the seller is feeling pressured to sell, use that to your advantage in negotiating the terms.
Even if you, the buyer, are the one with the deadline for purchasing a home, don’t let yourself be rushed into making concessions or a purchase you may regret later.
Be Prepared & Thoughtful
Advice For First-Time Buyers
All the basic considerations someone new to a home purchase should consider before and during the process.
Meet with a mortgage broker to find out how much you can afford to pay for a home. It’s important to not only know how much a lender will pre-approve for a loan, but to determine what kind of mortgage payment you’ll be comfortable making each month. Think about your monthly budget and decide what is a good number is for you – not only now, but in the future.
Take future changes into account, too. How stable is your income? Are there any major life changes in your future? Couples should consider how much they can afford if one person stops working due to a layoff, medical issue(s), or childcare duties.
While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers that have been pre-approved by a lender. You’ll also avoid being disappointed by touring homes that are out of your price range.
With a pre-approval letter, you’ll actually apply for a mortgage and receive a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property, assuming the home you’re interested in is at or under the amount for which you are pre-qualified.
Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan. You will have your lender create a pre-approval letter for each home, especially if there is a large difference in the listing price. For example, if you’re pre-approved for a $500,000 home, however, the house is listed at $450,000, you’ll have another letter showing your pre-approval for $450,000.
List of needs and wants
Make two lists. The first list should include items you must have, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, and the type of layout required. The second list is for your wishes. These are features you would like to have, such as a pool or an extra bedroom, but are not necessary. Realistically, first-time buyers will most likely not get everything on their wish list, however, it’s important to keep these elements in mind while looking.
Representation by a professional: Hire your own real estate agent. Your agent should work for you, not the seller.
Focus and organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. These may include:
- One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted
- A file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with listings you have found online
- Paper and pen for taking notes as you search
- Your phone to take photos and videos to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you are attending a series of showings
Location: Would a prospective buyer find it attractive? Are there lots of parks and restaurants nearby? Are you far enough away from the train that you don’t hear it? Are you located in a good school district? Pose these types of questions and look at a potential property as if you are the seller.
Visualize the house empty with your decor
Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light? Is there enough storage?
Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? This a big decision and inventory changes frequently, so don’t make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don’t forget such essentials as:
- Including inspection and mortgage contingencies in your written offer
- Having the property assessed by a professional inspector
- Requesting a final walk-through to take place within 24-hours of closing
- Checking to make sure that no changes have been made that were not agreed upon. For example, a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale was replaced by a cheap ceiling light prior to closing.
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep track of all the details is highly recommended. Contact Paris Group Realty, LLC today to discuss any questions.
Making profitable choices
Advice For Investment Buyers
Real estate investing is an exciting and often profitable endeavor, however, it’s not without risk. If you’re looking at jumping in, here is some basic advice you should consider:
This isn’t the time to start making decisions based on your desires or what a few neighbors said.
You’ve got to become an expert in your market, which includes being informed on current trends and current stats, such as the average rent, income, crime rates, and more. Start researching emerging areas so you can be aware of up-and-coming neighborhoods that maximize your profits.
Terms are important too
Most buyers are laser-focused on price, but the seller’s terms are valuable details as well. These can include increasing the earnest money, closing sooner, limiting appraisal and/or financial contingencies, and using the seller’s escrow agent.
By offering flexible terms, you might beat a higher offer.
Be cautious about fixers
Homes that require significant rehab might seem like a smart investment opportunity. Unless you’re an expert, however, you may want to tread carefully.
Steer away from properties requiring structural improvements and look for those that need cosmetic updates, like drywall repairs, new floors, and bathroom remodels.
All About Escrow
Congratulations, you are on your way to owning your very own home! Follow these suggestions, and your realtor’s advice, so that the final stages of your purchase go as smoothly as possible.
You will be asked for a down payment on the home you are purchasing. You can choose to put down as much or as little as you want, depending on your mortgage. Remember the more you put down toward the total price of your home, the less time it will take you to pay off, and the less your mortgage payments will be every month. However, this isn’t always beneficial. A difference of $10K won’t change your monthly payments significantly, however, that same amount could cover home improvement projects. It depends on your needs and your goals.
During this period, you’ll need an escrow or settlement company to act as an independent third party so that you know when and who to give your money to in order to secure the deed to your new home. The escrow or settlement company will hold your deposit and coordinate much of the activity that goes on during the escrow period. This deposit check may also be held by an attorney or in the broker’s trust account.
Pro tip: Make sure there are sufficient funds in your account to cover your escrow!
The deposit check will be cashed. Assuming the sale goes through, this money will be applied to the purchase price of the home. If, for any reason you do not complete the sale, you may be entitled to receive all your deposit back, less standard cancellation fees. In certain instances, the seller may be able to retain this money as liquidated damages. Prior to executing a purchase contract, it would be wise to speak with your realtor regarding whether it’s in your best interest to have a liquidated damages clause as part of the contract.
The period that you are “in escrow” is often 30 days, however, it may be longer or shorter. During this time, each item specified in the contract must be completed satisfactorily. By the time you have opened escrow, you have come to an agreement with the seller on the closing date and the contingencies. Each contract is different. Most include the following:
Your inspection should be completed as soon as possible after the contract is signed because unexpected inspection results may mean you’ll want to cancel the contract.
Once the contract is signed, you have a period to secure funding. If, for any reason, you are unable to secure funding during the time outlined in the contract, and the seller will not provide a written extension of time, you must decide whether you want to remove the contingency and take your chances on getting a loan. You may also choose to cancel the purchase contract.
seller must provide a marketable title
A marketable title indicates that the home is free and clear of defects.
What Else Must Be Done During Escrow?
- With an attorney or title officer, review the title report. The title must be “clear” to ensure that you do not have legal issues regarding your ownership.
- Check into local and state ordinances regarding property transfer. Make sure that you and/or the seller have complied with them.
- Secure homeowner’s insurance. This will probably be required before you can close the sale. Due to such requirements as special fire and earthquake insurance, obtaining this insurance may require a lengthy time period. It would be in your best interest to apply for insurance as soon as possible after the contract is signed.
- Contact local utility companies to schedule service activation. Schedule your home’s utility and service activations when you close escrow so that they’re available when you move into your new home.
- Schedule the final walk-through inspection. At this time, you should make sure the property is exactly as the contract says it should be.
Emotions In Real Estate
The homebuying process can be extremely stressful, especially for first-time buyers or those who are experiencing a change in life, such as a death or divorce.
What might you feel during your real estate journey? You may feel stressed and anxious if you and your partner can’t agree on a property or you haven’t yet found anything you love in your homebuying journey. When you do find a home you love, you’ll likely be worried about other buyers coming in with a better offer. When your offer has been accepted, you may feel stress about the home inspection process or about the money you’re going to spend. Even in best-case scenarios, you might become impatient at how long the process is.
We’re not trying to scare you! These emotions are incredibly common and completely understandable. Our agents want buyers to understand what they might feel and prepare for those feelings. That’s why we take care to support you throughout our relationship and provide you with what you need to feel confident and calm. Just try to remember that you’re purchasing a home to establish wealth and invest in your future.