FINANCIAL FRIDAY: Housing Market Normalizing
Tips for First Time Homebuyers in a More Stable Housing Market
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Homebuying Process can be complicated and time-consuming. In the last two years, we’ve also seen record high prices making the process even more difficult for first-time home buyers.
If this is your first time buying a home or you are just gathering information, Todd Howard, the President of Redstone Title Services has this advice to help you get started.
- Get an agent to help you narrow the choices. You really don’t know what you don’t know and all your internet research can’t replace the years of collective real-world experience and local insight of a real estate agent and their team.
- Get a preapproval letter from a mortgage lender. This lets the agent know that you have the financial means to actually purchase a home and lets sellers know you are serious. Also, Howard says, don’t take out other loans while trying to purchase a house! No car loans or other loans until AFTER closing.
- Narrow down a list of properties and visit them with your agent.
- Once you find your dream home, work with your agent. When working with your agent, try to determine a reasonable offer and submit it based on market research, analysis of comparable home sales, and your agent’s experience.
- If the offer is accepted, the next step is to move forward with a home inspection and appraisal. This usually includes a termite inspection. Termite inspections aren’t always required, but in the South, always recommended. Don’t forget to include radon testing. After getting the inspections and appraisal, additional negotiations may take place for repairs or pricing due to the appraisal.
- Before closing, a final walk-through is conducted to make certain that the property is in the same condition as when you made the offer.
- Remember, Alabama is a buyer beware or caveat emptor state. This means it is completely on you, the homebuyer, to find out what is wrong with the home. The only exception to this is if the seller or realtors are aware of something that would affect the health and safety of the home. Also, if you ask, they must be truthful, or they could be committing fraud.
- Once you sign a contract, a title company is hired to search the title records on the property and make sure there are no legal matters involving the seller or even a previous owner that could affect the title to your property. The title company will coordinate the closing and act as an escrow agent ensuring the funds are handled securely and distributed to the right parties.
- Redstone Title Services (a subsidiary of Redstone Federal Credit Union) recommends getting an owner’s title policy. For the most part, it really is the only fallback you have if anything with the title is missed. Also, title companies charge varying fees. Call around and get the best deal.
Howard also wants to remind first-time homebuyers, that after closing you have to change over the utilities, and your address and have the property accessed in your name at the county tax assessor’s office. If it is your residence, you may be entitled to discounts such as the homestead exemption that if you do not apply for, you will not get, thus costing you money.
For more ways to save, and financial tips be sure to tune in at noon every Friday for WAFF 48′s “Financial Friday” segment.
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