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Buying or selling a home can be a complex process with many questions. We provide you with clear and concise answers to the most common inquiries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you're a first-time home buyer, a seasoned seller, or looking to learn more about our services, we have the information you need. Explore our FAQs to gain insights and feel confident every step of the way. If you can't find what you're looking for, don't hesitate to contact us directly. We're here to help!

When can I move in?

You can move in once the closing is complete and you have the keys. The exact timing can vary, depending on the terms agreed upon in the purchase contract. Some deals allow for immediate occupancy, while others may have a different arrangement.

What are closing costs, and how much should I expect to pay?

Closing costs are the fees and expenses you pay to finalize your mortgage, and they typically range from 2% to 5% of the loan amount. They can include appraisal fees, title insurance, attorney fees, and loan origination fees. Your lender will provide a Closing Disclosure form listing all the costs a few days before closing.

What happens at closing?

At closing, you'll sign a lot of paperwork to finalize the purchase, including your loan documents. You'll also pay your down payment and closing costs, unless you've negotiated for the seller to cover some or all of them. Once everything is signed and the seller receives the payment, you'll receive the keys to your new home.

Can I negotiate the sale price?

Absolutely! The sale price is always negotiable. Your negotiation power depends on market conditions, how long the home has been on the market, and how motivated the seller is. Your real estate agent can provide invaluable advice on crafting a competitive offer that aligns with market values while also appealing to the seller.

How do I know how much I can afford?

Your affordability is determined by your income, debt, credit score, down payment, and the current mortgage rates. A common rule of thumb is that your home cost should not exceed three to five times your annual household income. However, it's important to consider your entire financial situation and future plans. Online mortgage calculators can also provide a rough estimate, but consulting with a lender for pre-approval is more accurate and recommended.

How much should I save for a down payment?

The traditional advice is to save 20% of the home's purchase price for a down payment. However, many lenders offer loans with lower down payment requirements, sometimes as low as 3-5% for first-time buyers. Keep in mind that a smaller down payment might mean higher monthly mortgage payments and potentially paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI).

What should I consider when choosing a neighborhood?

When selecting a neighborhood, consider factors such as safety, school district quality, proximity to work, amenities (like parks, shops, and restaurants), and overall lifestyle fit. Think about your long-term needs, especially if you're planning to grow your family. Visiting the area at different times and days can provide a clearer picture of what living there might be like.

What does a home inspector look for?

A home inspector assesses the condition of the home's major systems and structure. This includes the roof, foundation, HVAC, plumbing, electrical systems, and appliances. They look for issues that might require repair or replacement, ensuring you know what you're getting into before you buy. This information can be crucial for negotiating repairs or adjusting your offer.

How many homes should I view before making an offer?

There's no set number, but viewing 5-10 homes can give you a good sense of what's available in your price range and what you value in a home. Some buyers fall in love with the first home they see, while others might take longer to find the perfect match. It's key to balance being open-minded with having a clear idea of your non-negotiables.

What's the first step in the home buying process?

The first step is getting pre-approved for a mortgage. This involves a lender reviewing your financial background (income, debts, assets, and credit score) to determine how much they're willing to lend you and at what interest rate. Pre-approval helps you understand your budget, making your home search more focused and efficient.

How can I balance selling my current home and finding a new one?

Balancing selling and buying requires careful timing and flexibility. Work with your real estate agent to align closing dates as closely as possible or negotiate leaseback agreements if needed. Staying organized and maintaining open communication with all parties involved will help manage the complexities of dual transactions.

What happens at closing?

At closing, you'll sign documents to officially transfer ownership to the buyer. You'll also receive payment for the home, minus any outstanding mortgage balance and selling costs. The process typically takes place at a title company or attorney's office and concludes with handing over the keys to the new owner.

How long does it take to sell a home?

The time it takes to sell a home varies widely based on market conditions, location, and pricing. In a seller's market, homes can sell quickly, often in days or weeks. In a buyer's market, it may take longer. Your real estate agent can provide a realistic timeline based on current dynamics in your specific area.

What is a home inspection, and how should I prepare for it?

A home inspection, typically initiated by the buyer, is a detailed examination of your home’s condition. To prepare, ensure the inspector has access to all areas, including the basement and attic. Address any known issues beforehand to avoid surprises. Be prepared for the buyer to request repairs or a price adjustment based on the inspection results.

How do I handle multiple offers?

Handling multiple offers is a good problem to have and involves strategizing to get the best deal. Consider not only the offer price but also the buyer's financing strength, contingencies, and flexibility on closing dates. Your agent can guide you through evaluating offers and negotiating terms that best meet your needs and timeline.

What are the costs associated with selling my home?

Selling a home involves various costs, including real estate agent commissions (typically 5-6% of the sale price, split with the buyer's agent), closing costs for the seller (which can include attorney fees, transfer taxes, and other miscellaneous fees), and potential repairs or concessions to the buyer. It's important to account for these expenses when calculating your net proceeds.

How does the selling process work if I’m buying another home at the same time?

Selling and buying simultaneously requires careful planning and coordination. Options include making the purchase of your new home contingent on selling your current one, or vice versa. Bridge loans or temporary housing might be necessary if timing doesn't align perfectly. A real estate professional can help navigate these complexities, ensuring both transactions proceed smoothly.

How do I prepare my home for showings?

Preparing your home for showings involves decluttering, deep cleaning, and possibly staging your home to showcase its potential. Remove personal items to help buyers envision themselves in the space. Enhancing curb appeal, ensuring good lighting, and addressing any odors are also key steps. Your agent can offer specific advice tailored to your home's features and the target buyer demographic.

Should I make repairs before listing my home?

Generally yes, making necessary repairs before listing can increase your home's appeal and value. Focus on obvious defects that a home inspector might flag, such as leaking roofs, outdated electrical systems, or broken appliances. Cosmetic updates, like painting and minor landscaping improvements, can also make a significant difference. However, consult with your real estate agent to determine which repairs will offer the best return on investment.

How do I determine the right price for my home?

Setting the right price for your home is crucial. It should be based on a comparative market analysis (CMA), which considers the sale prices of similar homes in your area, adjustments for differences, and current market trends. A real estate agent can provide a CMA and help you set a competitive price that attracts buyers while ensuring you get a fair return. To get a CMA for your home, you can request a complimentary home value from our team.

How can I improve my chances of smooth underwriting?

To improve your underwriting experience:

  • Maintain a good credit score by paying bills on time and reducing debt.
  • Keep your employment and income stable throughout the buying process.
  • Save enough to cover the down payment, closing costs, and an emergency fund.
  • Avoid any major financial changes or purchases during the underwriting process.
  • Respond quickly to any requests from your lender for additional information or documentation.

What happens after closing?

After closing, the buyer officially owns the home and can move in. The closing agent will record the new deed with the county recorder's office, and the buyer will begin making mortgage payments according to their loan terms.

How long does closing take?

The closing process itself usually takes a few hours, but the total time from the start of closing to when you receive the keys can vary, especially if there are any complications or delays.

What happens to the funds at closing?

Funds are distributed by the closing agent. The buyer's closing costs and down payment are paid, the seller receives payment for the home, and the real estate agents receive their commissions. Any remaining funds are disbursed according to the settlement statement, including paying off the seller's mortgage.

When do I get the keys?

The buyer typically receives the keys to the property at closing, once all documents are signed, and the funds are distributed. However, the exact timing can vary based on local custom or the terms of the purchase agreement.

Can anything go wrong at closing?

While rare, issues can arise at closing, such as last-minute disputes over repairs, errors in documents, or delays in funding. Being prepared, reviewing all documents beforehand, and having a good real estate agent or attorney can help address these issues smoothly.

How much are closing costs, and what do they include?

Closing costs typically range from 2% to 5% of the loan amount and can include:

  • Lender fees: Origination, application fees, and credit report fees.
  • Third-party fees: Appraisal, attorney fees, and inspection fees.
  • Prepaid expenses: Homeowners insurance, property taxes, and mortgage insurance.
  • Title fees: Insurance and search fees to ensure the property is free of liens.

What do I need to bring to closing?

Buyers should bring:

  • Photo ID: Such as a driver's license or passport.
  • Proof of funds for closing costs: If not already provided to the escrow account.
  • Proof of insurance: Evidence of homeowners insurance and any other required insurance policies.
  • Closing documents: It's helpful to bring copies of all documents you've received during the home buying process, including the Closing Disclosure for review.

What documents will I sign at closing?

Buyers typically sign a number of documents, including:

  • Closing Disclosure: Summarizes the final loan terms and closing costs.
  • Mortgage Note: Your promise to repay the loan.
  • Mortgage or Deed of Trust: Secures the note and gives the lender a claim against the home if you fail to meet the terms.
  • Certificate of Occupancy: For new construction, this is required before you can move in.

Sellers will sign documents transferring property ownership, such as the deed and bill of sale.

Who attends the closing?

The people present at closing can include the buyer, the seller, their respective real estate agents, attorneys (in some states), and a closing agent (who might be a representative from the title company, an escrow company, or an attorney). Sometimes, the mortgage lender may also attend.

What is mortgage underwriting?

Mortgage underwriting is the process by which lenders assess the risk of lending money to a borrower. Underwriters review and verify the financial information provided in the mortgage application, assess the property's value, and ensure that the loan meets all the lender's and regulatory requirements. The goal is to determine the borrower's ability to repay the loan.

What is the final approval?

Final approval, also known as the "clear to close," means the underwriter has reviewed and satisfied all conditions of the loan. At this point, the lender is ready to fund the loan, and you can proceed to closing.

What is a conditional approval?

Conditional approval means the underwriter has approved your loan, but with a few conditions that need to be resolved before final approval. These conditions often involve additional documentation or verification steps.

What happens if the underwriter rejects my loan?

If an underwriter rejects your loan, they must provide a specific reason for the decision. Common reasons include credit issues, insufficient income for the desired loan amount, or appraisal problems. You can address the issue and reapply, appeal the decision, or seek a mortgage from a different lender.

What is a loan condition?

A loan condition is a requirement that must be met before the underwriter can give final approval. Conditions can be related to additional documentation, such as proof of insurance, clarification on bank deposits, or resolution of discrepancies in the application.

Can I expedite the underwriting process?

While you can't control the underwriter's workload, you can help expedite the process by:

  • Providing all requested documentation promptly.
  • Ensuring all information is complete and accurate to avoid back-and-forth clarifications.
  • Staying readily available to respond to any additional requests or questions from the lender.

What could cause delays during underwriting?

Delays can occur due to incomplete applications, missing documents, issues with the property appraisal, verification of employment and income, or last-minute credit activity that affects your financial profile. Avoid making large purchases, changing jobs, or applying for new credit during this time.

What do underwriters look for?

Underwriters look for several key factors, including:

  • Credit history and score: To assess your reliability as a borrower.
  • Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: To ensure you can comfortably afford the mortgage payments.
  • Employment history and stability: To verify a steady income source.
  • Assets and savings: To ensure you have enough for the down payment, closing costs, and reserves.
  • Property appraisal: To confirm the home's value meets or exceeds the purchase price and loan amount.

How long does the underwriting process take?

The underwriting process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the lender's backlog, the complexity of the borrower's financial situation, and how quickly all necessary documents and appraisals are provided. It's one of the final steps before loan approval and closing.

How can I improve my chances of getting approved?

To improve your chances of approval:

  • Work on boosting your credit score by paying down debt and making payments on time.
  • Save for a larger down payment to lower your loan-to-value ratio.
  • Decrease your DTI ratio by increasing your income or reducing your debt.
  • Maintain stable employment, as lenders look for a consistent income stream.
  • Choose a property that is appraised for at least the purchase price.

What happens if my mortgage application is denied?

If your application is denied, the lender must provide a reason for the decision. Common reasons include a low credit score, high DTI ratio, insufficient income, or appraisal issues. You can address these issues and reapply, or you can seek a loan with different terms or from a different lender.

What is a loan estimate, and when will I receive it?

A loan estimate is a document provided by the lender within three business days of your mortgage application. It outlines the key terms of the loan, including the interest rate, monthly payments, and closing costs. This estimate allows you to compare loan offers and understand the costs of the loan.

Can I negotiate the terms of my mortgage?

Yes, some terms of your mortgage may be negotiable, such as the interest rate, points, and certain closing costs. It's essential to shop around and compare offers from multiple lenders to negotiate the best terms. Having a strong credit profile can also give you more leverage in negotiations.

What is the difference between pre-approval and applying for a mortgage?

Pre-approval is an initial evaluation of your creditworthiness and an estimate of how much you can afford to borrow. Applying for a mortgage is a more detailed process that occurs after you've chosen a property and involves a thorough examination of your financial situation and the property itself to secure actual loan approval.

How long does the mortgage application process take?

The mortgage application process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the lender, the complexity of your financial situation, and how quickly you can provide the necessary documentation. It also includes time for the home appraisal and any required inspections.

How do lenders determine my eligibility for a loan?

Lenders determine your eligibility based on factors like your credit score, income, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, employment history, and the value of the property you're buying. They assess your ability to repay the loan and the risk they take on by lending you money.

What documents do I need for a mortgage application?

The required documents usually include:

  • Personal identification (e.g., driver's license or passport)
  • Proof of income (e.g., W-2 forms, pay stubs, tax returns for the last two years)
  • Proof of assets (e.g., bank statements, investment account statements)
  • Credit history (the lender will pull your credit report)
  • Employment verification
  • Details about the property (the purchase agreement, property listing, proposed use of the property)

When should I submit a mortgage application?

You should submit a mortgage application after getting pre-approved and once you have a signed purchase agreement for a home. Pre-approval gives you an idea of how much you can borrow, and the purchase agreement outlines the terms of the sale, which are needed to finalize the loan.

What is a mortgage application?

A mortgage application is a formal request to borrow money from a lender to purchase real estate. The application requires detailed information about your finances, employment, the property you intend to buy, and more. It's used by the lender to assess your creditworthiness and determine whether you qualify for a loan.

Can I afford more than my pre-approval amount?

While you might be able to afford a mortgage higher than your pre-approval amount, it's important to consider your overall financial situation, including other debts, living expenses, and savings goals. Just because a lender is willing to lend a certain amount doesn't mean it's financially wise for you to borrow that much. Stick to a budget that allows for comfortable monthly payments and long-term financial stability.

What if I’m denied pre-approval?

If you're denied pre-approval, the lender should provide specific reasons why. This might include issues like a low credit score, high debt-to-income ratio, or unstable employment history. Use this feedback to address the problems. Improving your credit score, paying down debt, or saving for a larger down payment can help you become pre-approved in the future.

Can I get pre-approved by more than one lender?

Yes, you can—and should—get pre-approved by more than one lender to compare rates and fees. However, keep in mind that each lender will pull your credit report, which can impact your credit score. Try to limit your applications to a short window of time (typically 14 to 45 days) to minimize the effect on your credit, as multiple inquiries during this period are usually treated as a single inquiry for scoring purposes.

Does pre-approval guarantee a mortgage?

No, pre-approval does not guarantee you'll get a mortgage. Final approval depends on an appraisal of the home (to ensure it's worth the purchase price), a title search, and a final review of your financial condition at the time of closing. Changes in your financial situation, interest rates, or the housing market can also affect final approval.

How long does the pre-approval process take?

The pre-approval process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the lender and the complexity of your financial situation. Providing complete and accurate documentation up front can help speed up the process.

How long is a pre-approval letter valid?

A pre-approval letter is typically valid for 60 to 90 days, as lenders recognize that financial situations and credit scores can change. If your pre-approval expires before you find a home, you'll need to reapply or update your information with the lender.

How does my credit score affect pre-approval?

Your credit score significantly impacts both your ability to get pre-approved and the interest rate you're offered. Higher scores generally lead to better rates because they indicate to lenders that you're a lower-risk borrower. Scores below a certain threshold (often around 620 for conventional loans) may limit your options for lenders and programs.

What documents do I need for mortgage pre-approval?

You'll typically need to provide:

  • Proof of income (W-2 statements, recent pay stubs, and tax returns for the past two years)
  • Proof of assets (bank statements, investment account statements)
  • Credit report (the lender will pull this)
  • Employment verification
  • Identification (driver's license, Social Security number)

Why is getting pre-approved important?

Getting pre-approved is important because it:

  • Provides a clear idea of what you can afford, helping to narrow your home search.
  • Shows sellers that you're a serious buyer with financing already in process, which can be a significant advantage in competitive markets.
  • Speeds up the actual mortgage application process once you find a home you want to buy.

What is mortgage pre-approval?

Mortgage pre-approval is a process where a lender evaluates your financial background (including your income, debts, assets, and credit score) to determine how much they're willing to lend you for a home purchase, and at what interest rate. It's a more thorough step than pre-qualification and gives you a more concrete idea of your buying power.

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