For a smooth transaction, choose the right providers
If you are a first time home buyer, you may feel a bit confused and certainly overwhelmed by the huge amount of information that suddenly seems to cascade over you. Let’s face it, the real estate industry has changed significantly such that if even if you’re an experienced home buyer you may feel a bit confused and overwhelmed too. Choosing your service providers before you begin searching for a home can assist you through the different phases of the process as well as build a foundation for a smooth transaction.
Taking the time to interview and choose a Realtor, lender, home inspector and title agent before you begin searching for a home will create a team of professionals to guide you through the major aspects of home buying. It may sound a bit much, but when you are embarking on (probably) the most expensive purchase of your life, it’s important to know you are well represented.
Although the Realtor is generally known to assist in home searching and negotiating sales contracts, the agent you choose should be by your side throughout the transaction to help when the road gets bumpy. Besides asking how long the agent has been licensed, you should also ask if the agent is full-time so they may be accessible throughout the day. Additionally, calling an agent’s list of references of recent clients can shed light on the agent’s strengths and weaknesses.
Consulting with a lender prior to making an offer on a home is important; narrowing your choices by interviewing loan officers can help you learn more about their attention to detail as well as focus on customer service. The loan officer will help you through the mortgage process and should be available to assist you from application to closing. Comparing mortgage costs is more than comparing interest rates, asking for and comparing lender fees and points can help you differentiate total lender costs.
After you enter into a contract, you will most likely want to conduct a home inspection to determine the condition of the home. Many home buyers don’t consider choosing a home inspector and rely on the real estate agent to arrange the inspection; however, experience and scope of inspections can vary significantly! Choosing the right home inspector can help you not only accurately determine a home’s condition, but also put you understand age related problems of a home (such as settling) and prepare you for future maintenance. Make sure that the inspector you choose is available by phone and willing to return to the home if you have questions about the inspection.
Like the home inspection, choice of a title agent is often left to the real estate agent. However, choosing a title attorney early in the process may provide you a strong and useful advisor- a title attorney. The title attorney will not only help you understand the closing process, some title attorneys will make themselves available to answer legal questions that may arise from your home purchase.
Taking the time to interview and choose the providers whom you feel comfortable with is important to help guide you through the ups and downs of the home buying process. For more information on the home buying process, please visit the Department of Housing and Urban Development (www.hud.gov/buying).
This column is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of August 3, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dan Krell.