Important Info For Buyers
Deciding To Buy
Preparing To Buy
Choosing An Agent
Time To Go Shopping
Escrow, Inspections & Appraisals
Deciding To Buy
Purchasing a home is always a major financial decision. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or have owned many homes over the years, each step should be taken with care.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO BUY?
Are you recent empty-nesters that are thinking of downsizing? Maybe you’d like a bigger place to welcome adult children and grandchildren into your home for visits. Are you looking for a maintenance-free retirement community? What about a home that suits your active adult lifestyle? Would you like to be in a certain part of the area for family, healthcare, work, or other reasons? Understanding your reasons for purchasing will help you choose the right community and property.
HAS YOUR INCOME CHANGED?
Owning property is an excellent way to build and maintain wealth. Whether you are looking for your dream retirement home in a community like Solivita, a rental property, or to expand your investment portfolio, you have plenty of options. Owning real estate is one of the lowest risk ways to build personal equity and get the greatest return on your investment.
Preparing to Buy
Before you begin shopping for a home in the Orlando and Kissimmee area, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re fully prepared.
BUILD YOUR GREEN FILE.
Securing your home loan is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle in your journey towards owning a home. Even if you are paying cash, you’ll still need to present proof of funds in the amount of the purchase price of the home.
If you plan to finance with a mortgage, begin by building your green file, which is a collection of your important financial documents. At a minimum, it should contain:
- Recent pay stubs
- Bank statements
- Two years of tax returns
- Credit cards
- Auto loans
- Investment accounts
- Pension award letter
- Copies of leases for investment properties
CHECK YOUR CREDIT RATING.
Your credit score will have a significant impact on the type of property you can purchase. Before you begin shopping for a home, you should first check your credit rating with a reputable lending institution. The lender will pull your official credit ratings from each of the three major bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you haven’t chosen one yet, we’d be happy to recommend a lender that is knowledgeable and has experience with people buying in retirement communities such as Solivita.
EXERCISE CAUTION WITH YOUR FINANCES.
Once you begin your homebuying journey, it’s a good idea to use extra caution with your finances. For instance, it’s never a good idea to make any major purchases or career changes that might impact your financial stability or credit rating.
Choosing an Agent
The home buying process starts with having the right professionals in your corner. You are making financial decisions based on complex issues that could impact your future. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to having an expert on hand that understands your goals. Our team can not only guide you through this process but also provide access to some of the most attractive residential and retirement community listings before they hit the general market.
As you weigh your options, here are some of the factors to consider when selecting a real estate professional:
- Look for a full-time agent as opposed to someone that dabbles in real estate part-time.
- Interview several agents. How familiar are they with the Orlando and Kissimmee area?
- Ask the agent about their education and credentials. The best agents will be prepared to show you their license and tell you about how they continue to improve their skills.
- Find out how much time the agent can devote to your search. Are they available when you are, such as in the evenings or on weekends?
- Ask for a list of references or a list of properties sold similar to yours. For example, if you are interested in retirement communities like Solivita, what is their experience in those areas?
- Does the agent return your calls, texts, or emails promptly? If they don’t, you might miss an opportunity.
- Do you feel comfortable with the agent? Have they listened to your concerns and made your needs a priority?
Time to Go Shopping
Once you’ve done your financial homework and found the right agent, it’s time to choose your new home.
TAKE A DRIVE.
Before you fall in love with a home, it’s better to get attached to a neighborhood or community. In other words, you don’t want to buy the “perfect” home in a terrible area. Get to know the communities in the area, like Solivita, so that you have a sense of what it would be like to own property and live there.
NARROW YOUR SEARCH.
Once you’ve chosen a few communities of interest, select some properties that meet your criteria. Your real estate agent will prove invaluable during your search. They can present you with a list of properties, their potential long-term resale values, as well as make appointments for showings.
BUYING A HOME.
When you’ve chosen your dream home, your real estate agent will help you with the negotiation process. A reputable and experienced agent will research the comparable sales in the area to advise you of a fair offer price considering other market conditions. They will also present your offer to the sellers in a way that gives you the best possible advantage.
Escrow, Inspections & Appraisals
Finding the home you want to buy is just the beginning of the purchase process. Your real estate agent will guide your efforts as you make your way towards closing.
THE INITIAL AGREEMENT AND DEPOSIT.
The initial agreement is a legal arrangement between you and the seller. To streamline this process, you should:
- Keep written documentation of everything. Even when you have verbal agreements, take notes, and follow up in writing to create a record. We will assist in creating the documentation you need.
- Stick to the schedule. There are specific timelines laid out in your agreement marking deadlines for meeting different requirements. We will also make sure to keep you updated regarding your rights and responsibilities.
THE CLOSING AGENT.
Your closing agent will be either a title company or an attorney. This is the party that will research the history of the property to ensure there are no encumbrances or undisclosed restrictions. They will also hold onto the deposit in escrow until closing.
HOLDING THE TITLE.
You have several options for holding the title of your new home. Some have different tax and legal implications. You may wish to consult with a tax advisor or attorney before letting the closing agent know your wishes.
Once you have a contract on a home, you will need to have it inspected within the time frame listed in your agreement. In addition to a home inspection, you can opt to have some specialized inspections that look at different areas such as the HVAC system or roof.
Depending on the outcome of your inspection(s), you have two options:
- You can go forward with the purchase of the home, moving on to the next step in the process, or
- You can request cancellation of the contract or a revision based on the findings.
APPRAISAL AND LENDING.
Buyers must also remain in close communication with their mortgage lender, who may need additional documentation to process, approve, and fund the loan. If your agreement is contingent upon financing, then the lender will schedule an independent appraisal to determine the value of the property.
The appraiser takes a variety of factors into account in their assessment, including the condition of the home, its features, comparable sales in the area, etc. Provided you are borrowing more than the appraisal value, you shouldn’t have a problem with your lender.
Many retirement communities have homeowners and condo associations. A few examples are Solivita and Trilogy. Some property purchases even require the approval of the association. If yours does, our real estate agent will walk you through the process. This might include submitting an application and fee to the association as well as setting up an appointment for a short interview.
When you finance your home with a mortgage, the lender will require that you purchase homeowners’ insurance with certain limits. This protects both your and the lender’s investment. We’d be happy to provide you with some recommendations for knowledgeable insurance agents in the Orlando and Kissimmee area, as well as share some tips for saving money on your policy.
You are likely anxious to reach the finish line during the final stages of purchasing your home. If any unforeseen roadblocks appear or minor details need to be addressed, you can relax. We have plenty of experience handling just about any type of issue and will be happy to step in on your behalf.
FINAL INSPECTION & WALK-THROUGH.
Your final inspection and walk-through generally takes place the day before closing and is a formality in most cases. You should ensure that nothing has changed since you last viewed the property and that items that were supposed to be left behind (appliances, etc.) are still there.
HOME SERVICES & UTILITIES.
Well in advance of closing, we will provide you with a list of local numbers to activate utilities and home services.
The closing agent will provide you with a final settlement statement, summarizing the financial details of your transaction. You and the seller will sign the statement to verify its accuracy. When you have a mortgage, there will also be plenty of paperwork to sign from the mortgage company.