Top 10 Questions + Answers Buyers Have

How do I find the right real estate agent?

Finding a reputable real estate agent can be a daunting task, but there are several ways to find a good agent. Here are a few tips:
Referrals: Ask friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations. Word of mouth is often the best way to find a reputable agent.

Online reviews: Check online reviews and ratings from sites like Zillow, Yelp, or Google. These platforms provide feedback from previous clients, which can be valuable when selecting an agent. Check out Jason Buffington Realty’s 5 Star Reviews.
Research local agents: Jason Buffington has lived in North Georgia his entire life and worked in the real estate market for over 14 years. His team of local and knowledgeable agents can help you with any neighborhood in North Georgia and beyond.

Consider compatibility: Finally, make sure you choose an agent who you feel comfortable working with. Buying a home can be a long and sometimes stressful process, so it’s important to find an agent who you trust and feel comfortable communicating with throughout the process.

What is the home buying process and how long does it take?

The home buying process typically involves the following steps:

Determine your budget: Before you start looking for a home, it’s important to determine how much you can afford. This involves reviewing your finances and getting pre-approved for a mortgage.

Find a real estate agent: Working with an experienced real estate agent can help you find homes that meet your needs and negotiate the best possible price.

Search for homes: Your agent can help you identify homes that meet your criteria and schedule viewings.
Make an offer: Once you find a home you like, you’ll need to make an offer. Your agent can help you draft and submit an offer that reflects the price and terms you’re comfortable with.

Home inspection: After your offer is accepted, you’ll typically have a home inspection to identify any potential issues with the property.

Obtain financing: You’ll need to finalize your mortgage financing and complete any necessary paperwork with your lender.
Closing: Finally, you’ll attend the closing, sign the necessary paperwork, and pay the closing costs to finalize the purchase of your new home.

The length of time it takes to complete the home buying process can vary depending on a number of factors, including how quickly you find the right home, how long it takes to obtain financing, and how smoothly the closing process goes. In general, the process can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on the specifics of your situation.

What is a pre-approval, and how do I get one?

A pre-approval is a process where a lender reviews your credit and financial information and provides an estimate of how much money you may be eligible to borrow to buy a home.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is an important step in the home buying process because it can help you determine how much you can afford to spend on a home and give you an advantage when making an offer on a property.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you will need to provide the lender with information about your income, debts, and assets, as well as authorize a credit check. The lender will then review this information and determine how much you may be able to borrow, based on your credit history, income, and other factors.

To get started, you can reach out to a lender or mortgage broker to start the pre-approval process. Many lenders offer online pre-approval applications that you can complete from the comfort of your own home. It’s important to compare rates and terms from multiple lenders to find the best deal for you.

Keep in mind that pre-approval is not a guarantee that you will be approved for a mortgage, but it can give you a good idea of how much you can afford and help you shop for a home with confidence.

What is a home inspection, and do I need one?

A home inspection is a professional assessment of the condition of a home, typically performed by a licensed home inspector. During a home inspection, the inspector will visually examine the major systems of the home, including the plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and roofing systems, as well as the foundation, walls, and ceilings.

The purpose of a home inspection is to identify any issues or defects with the property that may not be readily apparent to the buyer. This information can be used to negotiate repairs or price reductions, or to walk away from a potential purchase altogether.

While a home inspection is not typically required by law, it is highly recommended for anyone considering purchasing a home. A home inspection can provide peace of mind and ensure that you are making an informed decision about a major investment.

If you’re buying a home, it’s generally a good idea to make the purchase agreement contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection. This will allow you to walk away from the deal or renegotiate the terms if the inspection uncovers significant issues with the property.

How much money do I need to put down on a home?

The amount of money you need to put down on a home will depend on a variety of factors, including the price of the home, the type of mortgage you are applying for, and the lender’s requirements.

In general, most lenders will require a down payment of at least 3% to 20% of the purchase price of the home. However, some lenders may require a larger down payment if you have a low credit score or other risk factors.

If you’re applying for a conventional mortgage, you may need to put down at least 20% of the purchase price in order to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI is an additional fee that is tacked onto your monthly mortgage payment to protect the lender in case you default on the loan.

If you’re applying for an FHA loan, the down payment requirement is generally 3.5% of the purchase price. There are also other types of mortgages, such as VA loans and USDA loans, that may offer low or no down payment options for eligible borrowers.

It’s important to keep in mind that your down payment is just one of the costs associated with buying a home. You will also need to factor in closing costs, which can add up to several thousand dollars.

What are the closing costs, and who pays for them?

Closing costs are the fees and expenses associated with the purchase of a home that are paid at the closing of the real estate transaction. The specific costs and amounts can vary depending on a number of factors, including the location of the property, the lender and real estate agent involved, and the type of loan.

Some common closing costs that buyers may be responsible for include:

Loan origination fees
Appraisal fees
Home inspection fees
Title search and insurance fees
Property taxes
Attorney fees
Homeowner’s insurance

In addition to these costs, there may be other fees or charges depending on the specific circumstances of the transaction.

Who pays for these closing costs can vary depending on the terms of the purchase agreement and the negotiations between the buyer and seller. In some cases, the buyer may be responsible for paying all of the closing costs, while in other cases, the seller may agree to pay for some or all of the costs.

It’s important to work closely with your real estate agent and lender to understand the specific closing costs associated with your home purchase, and to budget accordingly. Your lender will typically provide a loan estimate that includes an estimate of the closing costs you’ll be responsible for.

What are some common mistakes first-time homebuyers make?

Here are some common mistakes that first-time homebuyers make:

Not getting pre-approved for a mortgage: Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is an important first step in the homebuying process, as it gives you an idea of what you can afford and what type of loan you qualify for. Not getting pre-approved can result in wasted time and disappointment if you find a home you love but can’t afford.

Not budgeting for additional costs: In addition to the down payment, there are many other costs associated with buying a home, such as closing costs, property taxes, and home insurance. Failing to budget for these costs can result in financial stress and difficulty making ends meet.

Not researching the neighborhood: It’s important to research the neighborhood before buying a home to ensure it’s a good fit for your lifestyle and preferences. Consider factors such as schools, transportation, and local amenities.

Skipping the home inspection: A home inspection is an important step in the homebuying process, as it can identify potential issues or costly repairs that may be needed. Skipping the inspection can result in unexpected expenses down the road.

Falling in love with a home without considering the long-term: It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a new home, but it’s important to think about the long-term. Consider things such as the resale value, the potential for appreciation, and whether the home meets your long-term needs.

Not working with a real estate agent: A good real estate agent can be an invaluable resource for first-time homebuyers, as they can help guide you through the process and provide valuable insights and advice.

By being aware of these common mistakes, first-time homebuyers can be better prepared and more confident when making one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives.

What is a home warranty, and do I need one?

A home warranty is a service contract that provides coverage for the repair or replacement of major home systems and appliances that may break down due to normal wear and tear. This can include things like heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical systems, and kitchen appliances.

Whether or not you need a home warranty depends on a number of factors, including the age and condition of the home and its systems and appliances, as well as your personal preferences and financial situation.

One advantage of a home warranty is that it can provide peace of mind and protection against unexpected repair costs. However, it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions of the warranty, as not all repairs may be covered and there may be limitations and exclusions.

Additionally, some buyers may prefer to save the money they would spend on a home warranty and instead set it aside for future repairs or upgrades.

Ultimately, the decision to purchase a home warranty is a personal one that should be based on careful consideration of the benefits and costs, as well as an assessment of your individual needs and priorities.

How can I compete in a seller’s market?

Competing in a seller’s market can be challenging, but there are several strategies that buyers can use to increase their chances of success. Here are a few tips:

Get pre-approved for a mortgage: Having a pre-approval letter from a lender can demonstrate to sellers that you are a serious buyer who is ready and able to make an offer.

Work with an experienced real estate agent: An experienced agent can provide guidance on pricing, negotiating, and other aspects of the home-buying process that can give you an edge in a competitive market.

Be prepared to act quickly: In a seller’s market, properties can sell very quickly, so you need to be ready to move fast when you find a home you like. This may mean being available to see properties as soon as they come on the market and making an offer as soon as possible.

Offer a strong, clean offer: In a seller’s market, it’s important to make an offer that is competitive and free from contingencies or complications that could give the seller pause. This may mean offering above the asking price, waiving certain contingencies, or making other concessions that can make your offer more attractive.

Be flexible: Being flexible with your closing date or other terms of the sale can make your offer more appealing to a seller who is looking for a smooth and stress-free transaction.

Don’t give up: In a competitive market, it’s possible that you may lose out on a few properties before you find the right one. Don’t get discouraged and keep looking, as the right home may be just around the corner.

What happens during the home appraisal process?

During the home appraisal process, a licensed appraiser will visit the property and assess its value. The appraiser will typically look at several factors, including:

Location: The appraiser will evaluate the property’s location, including the neighborhood and nearby amenities.
Size and layout: The appraiser will measure the property and evaluate its layout, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Condition: The appraiser will evaluate the overall condition of the property, including any needed repairs or upgrades.
Comparable sales: The appraiser will research recent sales of similar properties in the area to determine the value of the property.

Features and amenities: The appraiser will evaluate any special features or amenities of the property, such as a swimming pool, fireplace, or high-end appliances.

Once the appraiser has gathered this information, they will use it to determine the value of the property. The appraiser will provide a written report that includes the value of the property, as well as details on how the appraiser arrived at that value. This report is typically used by the lender to determine the amount of the mortgage they will provide. If the property does not appraise for the agreed-upon purchase price, the buyer and seller may need to renegotiate the price or find other solutions, such as increasing the down payment.