Buying A Home In Metro Atlanta
Finding and purchasing a home that will meet your needs is a significant and often stressful time. Our goal is to make this transition as smooth as possible. We are experts in the area. Once we learn what it is you’re looking for, finding your dream home is simple.
Before you start looking for a home you should ask yourself a few questions:
- Where do you want to live? Are there particular neighborhoods or communities that you like? Are schools important?
- What kind of house would you like (need)? Are you looking for a particular style? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want?
- Is a home office a necessity? Do you need a bonus room or flex-room?
- Do you entertain often? Is a home suitable for entertaining something you’re looking for?
- Do you want a yard, pool, gated or guard gated community?
- Have you determined your price range or consulted a lender to determine the best price range?
Searching for your dream home can be a time-consuming experience. Working with our professional team will make the process much more efficient! If you're not sure where to start, read through our buying F.A.Q. page for answers to many of the most common questions. Or, go ahead and complete our buyer's consultation request form and one of our real estate agents will be in contact with you.
Making An Offer
Before the offer to purchase is created, it is very important that you have been at least pre-qualified, or better yet, pre-approved for financing by a lender. This is one of the best negotiating tools a buyer can have. It shows the seller that you are financially able to purchase the home. After you have found the right home, it is time to determine what to offer.
When you are buying a home, the seller is obligated to disclose current and/or past issues with the property. They'll do so by providing you with a completed seller's property disclosure. This disclosure details the major physical defects to the best of the seller's knowledge; but, these disclosures don't always paint the entire picture of the home.
Here are six additional questions you may want to research before you make your final decision:
- Why is the seller selling the house? This question may help you evaluate how motivated the seller may be. Are they moving out of state due to a job transfer? Has their family outgrown the home... or do they need to downsize? Do they have financial problems and trouble paying the mortgage? Is there something about the house the seller does not like? The answer to these questions will help you determine the seller's level of motivation; a key component in the negotiation process.
- How much did the seller pay for the home? This question can, in some instances, help the buyer negotiate a better deal if the seller is motivated and has plenty of equity. However, it is important to remember that the purchase price is influenced by several factors, like the current market value and any improvements the seller may have made to the home. The original purchase price might not have anything to do with the current value of the house.
- What does the seller like most and least about the property? By asking the seller what he or she likes most and least about the property, you might get some interesting information. In a few cases, what a seller likes the most about a home might actually be something the buyer is looking to avoid. For example, if the seller describes his house as being in a "happening community," the buyer might consider this a negative factor because the area may be too noisy or busy for his or her taste.
- Has the seller had any problems with the home in the past? It is also a good idea to ask the seller if he or she has had any problems with the home while living there. Has the seller had problems with a leakage from the upstairs bedroom in the past? If so, even if the leak has been corrected, the floor and walls around the bathroom might have been damaged. You should also check that these items were repaired properly.
- Are there any nuisances or problem neighbors? Use this answer to find out about any noisy neighbors, barking dogs, heavy airplane traffic or even planned changes to the community, such as a planned street widening. This may give you insight on why the seller is really moving.
- How are the public schools in the area? Because the value of a community is usually greatly influenced by the public schools in the area, finding out the seller's perception can give you some insight about the quality of the area's schools.
Knowing all you can about a prospective home, not only helps you decide if it's the home of your dreams, but what offer to make, as well. Your real estate professional can help you get your key questions answered and give you advice on how to evaluate your findings.
Under Contract: Now What?
Congratulations, you are on your way to owning your very own home! Follow these suggestions (and your real estate agent's advice) so that you can get to closing without a hitch.
Once your offer is accepted, you'll be asked for a down payment, also known as an earnest money deposit. You can choose to put down as much or as little as you want (depending on your mortgage), but remember, the more you put down toward the total price of your home, the less time it will take you to pay off the loan, and the less your mortgage payments will be every month.
The earnest money check will be cashed. Assuming the sale goes through, this money will be applied to the purchase price of the home at closing. If for any reason the sale is not consummated, you may be entitled to receive your deposit back. In certain instances, the seller may be able to retain this money as liquidated damages, depending on what was agreed to in the purchase & sale agreement. Prior to executing a contract, it would be wise to speak with your counsel so you fully understand your obligations and how the earnest money will be applied.
Due-Diligence & Contingencies
In Georgia, it's common for buyers to negotiate a "due-diligence" period. This is a set period of time where the buyer can further evaluate the property (and neighborhood) before proceeding with the sale. We've come up with a comprehensive list of things to do during due-diligence that will help uncover the potential pitfalls in a perspective home.
The purchase & sale contract may also include certain items that must be completed satisfactorily, also known as "contingencies". Each contract is different, but many include the following:
- Inspection contingency: This should be completed as soon as possible after the contract to purchase is signed as unsatisfactory results of the inspection may mean that you will want to cancel the contract.
- Financing contingency: Once the contract is signed, you have a period of time to secure funding. If, for any reason, you are unable to secure funding during the period of time granted to you by 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 choose to cancel the purchase contract if you are unable to obtain financing, despite your best efforts.
- Clear title: A requirement that the seller must provide marketable title. The closing attorney will conduct a title examination and 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 and make sure that you and/or the seller have complied with them.
- Homeowner's insurance: If you are financing the purchase, this will be required by the lender before you can close the sale. Even if you're paying cash for the property, it's highly advisable to carry insurance. Obtaining this insurance coverage may require time, so start getting quotes early.
- Switch utilities: To schedule to have service turned on when you close escrow.
- Final walk-through inspection: At this time, you should make sure that the property is exactly as the contract says it should be. What you thought to be a "permanently attached" chandelier that would come with the property might have been removed by the seller and replaced with a different fixture entirely.
What Are Closing Costs?
You've found your dream home, the seller has accepted your offer, your loan has been approved and you're eager to move into your new home. But before you get the key, there's one more step--the closing.
Also called the settlement, the closing is the process of passing ownership of property from seller to buyer. And it can be bewildering. As a buyer, you will sign what seems like endless piles of documents and will have to present a sizeable check for the down payment and various closing costs.
As a responsible buyer, you should be familiar with these costs that are both mortgage-related and government imposed. Although many of the fees may vary by locality, here are some common fees:
- Appraisal Fee: This fee pays for the appraisal of the property. You may already have paid this fee at the beginning of your loan application process.
- Credit Report Fee: This fee covers the cost of the credit report requested by the lender. This too may already have been paid when you applied for your loan.
- Loan Origination Fee: This fee covers the lender's loan-processing costs. The fee is typically one percent of the total mortgage.
- Loan Discount: You will pay this one-time charge if you have chosen to pay points to lower your interest rate. Each point you purchase equals one percent of the total loan.
- Title Insurance Fees: These fees generally include costs for the title search, title examination, title insurance, document preparation and other miscellaneous title fees.
- PMI Premium: If you buy a home with a low down payment, a lender usually requires that you pay a fee for mortgage insurance. This fee protects the lender against loss due to foreclosure. Once a new owner has 20 percent equity in their home, however, he or she can normally apply to eliminate this insurance.
- Prepaid Interest Fee: This fee covers the interest payment from the date you purchases the home to the date of your first mortgage payment. Generally, if you buy a home early in the month, the prepaid interest fee will be substantially higher than if you buy it towards the end of the month.
- Escrow Accounts: In locations where escrow accounts are common, a mortgage lender will usually start an account that holds funds for future annual property taxes and home insurance. At least one year advance plus two months worth of homeowner's insurance premium will be collected. In addition, taxes equal approximately to two months in excess of the number of months that have elapsed in the year are paid at closing. (If six months have passed, eight months of taxes will be collected.)
- Recording Fees and transfer taxes: This expense is charged by most states for recording the purchase documents and transferring ownership of the property.
Make sure you consult a real estate professional in your area to find out which fees, and how much you will be expected to pay during the closing of you prospective home. Keep in mind. You can negotiate many (if not all) of these costs to be paid by the seller, known as seller paid closing costs. This is why it is so important to work closely with your loan officer before you even consider writing an offer.
Understanding your costs, obligations, and what to expect throughout the entire process will help make owning your dream home, a reality!