The fun and not-so-fun of buying a home

Castles in the Sand

Labor Day has just passed and in some parts of the country, that signals the end of summer – but not in Florida. We still have plenty of hot weather and hurricane threats, think Irma, but September does signal the beginning of buying season or at least the beginning of the thought process of buying a home.

Looking for a new home is fun with a capital F. Who doesn’t love HGTV, online home listing websites and going to open houses? It’s getting to the actual making of an offer and getting it accepted that is the not-so-much-fun part.

Choosing a realtor to purchase a home may not seem as important as choosing one to sell a home, but it is every bit as important. You want someone who has the proper sales credentials in the area of your choice, who understands the values and what’s been on the market and for how long. You want someone who can guide you in applying for a mortgage, recommend an attorney and tell you which schools are in the area.

But most of all, you want someone you connect with and who will communicate with you on a regular basis, especially one who has their pulse on the market and is keyed into new listings as soon as they hit. Keep in mind that this person may not be your best friend or your brother-in-law in spite of how much you love them.

Once you’ve found the perfect home, you will complete the offer-to-purchase form with your broker or with an attorney. In addition to the actual dollar offer, other details will be the amount of financing, if any, the down payment upon contract or earnest money; the requirement to have the home inspected; closing date and whether or not you plan on employing an attorney. The earnest money is kept in a broker’s escrow account and is returned to the buyer if the transaction does not close.

All of the above are considered contingencies to the contract and have specific guidelines. For example, if you’re applying for a mortgage you will have a specific number of days to obtain a mortgage commitment after contract. Usually property sales that involve financing are contingent on the buyer getting a mortgage commitment; no commitment, no contract. A bank appraisal will be required prior to a mortgage commitment, and if the appraisal is below the agreed-upon price, the deal is off unless the buyer and seller come to different terms. Other contingencies also are a home inspection within a specific number of days, clean termite inspection, well and septic tests.

Generally, after an initial offer, there is a counteroffer. Counteroffers can be in the form of a higher sale price, removal of some of the contingencies, a different closing date and even personal property within the home. This is a negotiation process, and all parties to the transaction should attempt to work with an offer, even if at first it appears to be unworkable.

Finally, you’re in contract, all inspections are good to go, your mortgage commitment is in and the movers are booked. There is one more final and very important step – the final walkthrough. Just prior to closing, usually the day of or the day before, the buyers will do a final inspection of the property to verify that there haven’t been any major changes since the last time they were there. If repairs were required, check to make sure they have been made satisfactorily and that the property is broom clean except for personal items or furniture that both buyer and seller agreed to leave.

That’s it. You did it; you bought a home. Now wasn’t that fun?

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