Some Advice When Starting The Home Buying Process in the Kingsland-St. Mary's GA Area from Barbara Ann Scott...

Real Estate Agent with WOWza Realty

 Some Advice When Starting the Home Buying Process in the Kingsland-St. Mary's GA area
Barbara Ann Scott...
    Retired Military Wife, ABR®-Broker/Realtor® & Military Relocation Specialist 

So you think you can't afford a home?  How do you know?  Have you talked to a qualified Georgia lender?  Make sure that you ask your Realtor® for a list of lenders that they deal with on a daily basis; that way you can have the security of knowing that the lender that you are working with has your best interest at heart.  Shop around and get the best deal; you want to feel comfortable sharing your financial status with the lender, as this is sometimes the most difficult part of the home buying process.  You should have confidence that your lender is getting you the best deal possible.  Ask your lender if there are any special programs that you might be eligible for; such as GA Dream, USDA Guarantee Rural Housing Program, etc...  

 Today, buying the home of your dreams is easier than ever before.  Real estate values have always risen steadily.  Of course there are highs and lows, but the long term trend for making this investment is a consistent increase.  What that means for you... every time you make a mortgage payment-the principal goes to paying down the loan, therefore; the value you have in your home increases.  The more value you have and the less you owe on your mortgage you start building "equity".  This is a good reason to make this investment; a very good reason you can't afford not to buy a home.   

Sit down and talk to a lender and find out how much home you can afford or feel comfortable affording; make sure you aren't going to be "house poor" after you purchase your home.  There are more expenses involved with owning a home than just a mortgage.  Ask your lender to help you budget and get your list of new expenses in order.  Also ask them if you are getting pre-approved or pre-qualified for a loan.  (When a lender gives you a commitment letter for purchasing a home-that helps your negotiating power in getting better terms when purchasing your home.  In addition, it gives the Seller the security of knowing that you are financially qualified to purchase their home.)

 Now, you know how much homeyou can qualify to purchase and you feel comfortable with all the expenses that you are going to incur, you need to hire* a Realtor®, or a Buyer's Agent (ABR®).  Real Estate transactions have become complex and overwhelming; legal contracts to fill out, laws, technology constantly changing, and competition from other buyers with agents, time frames and procedures, are just some of the things involved that are needed to get you to Closing.  *You do need to decide if you want to be represented as a client or customer in the state of Georgia.  The way that you will be represented will differ.    

I would specifically suggest an Accredited Buyers Representative, or ABR®.  Like me!  They have addition education specifically to help Buyers find the best home, the best lender and the best inspectors.  When you hire a Buyer's agent to represent you; rest assured knowing they have your best interest at heart, not the sellers.  Best of all, in the majority of cases, the Buyer's agent is paid by the Sellers, even thou s/he works for you!  

A few more things about Buyers Representatives you need to know...

When you work with a Buyer's agent, you are guaranteed to have someone on your side with a keen sense of today's market and how real estate works.  Buyer's agents have a fiduciary duty to you; which means that they are loyal to you only & obligated to look out for YOUR best interest not the Sellers.  Unlike when you call an agent on a yard sign; they have signed an agreement to promise to get the Sellers the best deal possible on the sale of their property.  (WOWza Realty is unique in the fact that we list homes, have our signs in their yard, however; we DO NOT REPRESENT SELLERS.  They represent themselves.  We just help out with marketing and advertising to get their home for Buyers to take advantage of.  We do not advise them in anyway.)   

When you find a Buyer's Agentyou feel comfortable with, sit down and tell them your story.  In other words, tell them what you would like in a home; then what you actually need at this time.  You don't have to have all the bells and whistles; remember... the first home you purchase doesn't necessarily remain your home forever.  I suggest making a list of what you are looking for in a home; check off the features on the list as you walk thru homes and compare.  In my experience, I have found that once clients start looking at homes, certain criteria/features they didn't think about in a home they added to their list; while other criteria/features they thought they would like, delete from their lists. Personal preference is a given when people purchase homes, so remember this when you start looking at homes.  Everyone has likes and dislikes.  With that said, remember that if it is something cosmetic, you can personalize it to your taste (paint, carpeting, landscaping, etc...) 

Now the fun starts!  You start looking at homes that are within your price range and have the criteria/features you are looking for in a home...  (Do you want to be in a subdivision that has amenities that you can utilize?  If so, what fees are associated?)  I would suggest when you make your check list; compare about 5 homes at a time.  When you start looking at more than 5 homes within a certain period, things start to blend and you can't fully appreciate what you have seen, or haven't.  If you are on a time crunch and can only see a handful of homes, ask your Buyer's agent to weed out which homes they think might fit what you are looking for. 

I access the market dailyto see what homes are the best deals, which homes have been on the market for a long period of time, price reductions, distress sales; walked thru and see numerous homes weekly. My office works very closely together.  We are all Buyers' agents, and talk constantly to see what in the market that would be good deals for buyers.  I also work with numerous builders; that way if you have time and would like to build your home from the dirt up, that is an option also.  I can't express to you how important to have someone on your side, a Buyer's agent; someone that is constantly in tune with the area market and housing pricing trend  

Once you find the home that you want; the process starts with the Purchase and Sales Agreement.  There are a few things that you will need at this time in order to proceed.  Have at least $1200-1500 set aside for items that will need to ensure that you are getting the best deal and best home possible! 

  • Earnest or Good Faith Money (Usually $500)
  •  Appraisal Inspection (Approximately $400)
  • Home Inspection  (Approximately $300)
  • What type of loan?  FHA, VA, Conventional
  • Closing date (Time you want to move into home)  

There is a lot of information that needs to be filled out in the Purchase & Sales Agreement.  The Buyer's agent will fill out the form for you, and help you make knowledgeable decisions concerning all the different terms and conditions that you need to complete.  Make sure you understand what you are signing.  This is a legal document and you will, and can be held liable.  Don't be shy, ask questions; if you have concerns, voice them and be satisfied with the answer.   

 A quick rundown in a normal home buying process, after finding the home... 

  • Write upthe Contract, which has a time-frame in which the seller will accept or counter offer.
  • Once accepted, you become a binding agreement.  Congratulations, you are on your way to home ownership! The time starts clicking at this point.
  • Have a home inspection.  From the inspection, the inspector will write down concerns or safety issues; your Buyer's agent will write up a list of repairs you would like the seller to fix.  Cosmetic repairs/dislikes aren't addressed (paint-stains, etc...). You are back into negotiating, just the repairs, not the price or any other terms and conditions that have previously been agreed upon.
  • Ensure everything the lender needs, they have, so you can get the commitment from them, in writing- that you are guaranteed to get the loan-minus the usually contingencies.
  • DO NOT CHANGE YOUR FINANCIAL STATUS UNTIL AFTER THE CLOSING. Don't buy new furniture, etc...  Even after the closing, make sure that it is within your budget.  Remember, you want to be able to enjoy life, not suffer...
  • Start inquiring about getting your utilities either turned on or transferred.  (I strongly suggest you do not have anything changed into your name until the day of closing*)  *Things sometimes happen... dates change!
  • Termite Clearance letter-this is the responsibility of the buyer, unless otherwise agreed upon or stipulated.  Must be dated within 30 days of closing
  • MAKE SURE THAT YOU DO A WALK THRU OF YOUR HOME, PRIOR TO CLOSING or SIGNING ANY DOCUMENTS STATING YOU ACCEPT THE HOME.  (Have your Buyer's agent set up an appointment to do a walk thru prior to closing; making sure the house is acceptable and in the condition that was agreed upon in the Contract.  Once you sign the closing documents, the house is yours... You don't want any surprises left behind... The home will be yours with all its faults...  So make sure you do a walk thru, and if there are any concerns address them than, DO NOT WAIT or hold your tongue!)    

Getting a home to Close is a huge process and most people don't realize there are so many people involved.  To start with you have normally... 

  • Seller's Agent
  • Buyer's Agent
  • Seller's Real Estate Office
  • Buyer's Real Estate Office
  • Seller
  • Buyer
  • Lender
  • Loan Officer
  • Processor
  • Underwriter
  • Attorney
  • Paralegals
  • Office Administrators
  • Mortgage Companies
  • Home Inspector
  • Home Repairman
  • Termite Inspector
  • Appraiser
  • Movers
  • Utilities
  • Post office

Just think... if one persondoesn't do what they are required to do in the time-frame specified on the contract, this can make the whole process go out of whack.  That is why it is of the up-most importancethat everyone is aware of what their responsibility or job is and the time-frame it is required to be completed in.  Buyer's agents are specifically trained to help the buyer with this process. 

You will have a roller coasterof emotions when going thru the home buying process, and don't worry... this is quite common.  If you didn't, I would worry.  Ask questions and voice concerns.  Put your mind at ease.  Allow me to help you, by utilizing my education and valuable experience, with your largest and smartest investment.  I promise to guide and navigate you with patience and persistence, when it comes to your home buying process, from beginning to long after you move in!     

I hope that you find this information helpful in this exciting and sometimes stressful time of your life!  Please know that this is just a brief overview and to fully understand this process in more depth, I would be more than happy to sit down and explain it in more detail.  Remember, I have your best interest at heart, use my experience and knowledge of the housing market to benefit YOU!

 Feel free to contact me at: 

912-674-0562 My Cell Number
912-882-5193 My Business Number
866-882-5155 Toll-free Number


WOWza Realty
1891 Hwy 40 East, Suite 1109
Kingsland, Georgia 31548
(We are located in the Regency Plaza, next to Trade Winds Coffee & Tea)

Stop by, we can chat and have a coffee and some cookies!  See you soon!
Barbara Ann

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