Ready to Buy a Home


While every real estate transaction is different, buyers and sellers often fall back on standard negotiating techniques to get to a signed contract both can live with. Understand the dynamics of negotiation so you can stay focused and emotionally detached during a sometimes anxious process.



Ready to Purchase

How to Search

Lending Info

How to Make Offer

Closing Info

Roles of Players


Negotiation Tips

Appreciation Info


The Fine Print

Good Faith Estimate

HUD1 Statement



  Get It in Writing
Do all of your negotiating in writing. It may seem cumbersome, but there are no guarantees with oral agreements or commitments. Avoid discussing terms with the seller or the seller's agent while your offer is on the table.

Deciding to Buy - Get a Loan - Get Organized - Shop for a Home - Make an Offer - Close the Deal


Are you ready to buy a home? Ask yourself these questions:


What are your personal reasons? - Do you need more room for a growing family, or want to move closer to work or schools? Make a list and think it through; it's a good way to balance out the financial factors in your decision.

How long do you plan to own this home? - You may be better off renting if you expect to move or get transferred within two years. Calculate if you should rent or buy?

Do you have enough cash for a down payment, closing and moving costs? - For a $100,000 home with a 20 percent down payment, you may need less than $25,000. Calculate how much you can afford.

Can you afford to carry a monthly mortgage and still pay your bills? - A mortgage should take no more than one third of your net income. Budget to buy and determine how much your payments will be. If you're carrying extra debt, take steps to reduce it.

Do you need the tax break? - Many homeowners rely on tax deductions as a budget necessity--and one way to accumulate savings.


Get a Loan


The first step in the loan process is to get pre-approved.

Submit your records - The lender will ask for your financial records. You may also have to answer tough questions about your financial history. Be prepared: gather your financial documents ahead of time.

Check interest rates - Interest rates tend to fluctuate. If interest rates are low, you may ask your lender to lock-in, or commit to that rate, that day. Just make sure the lock-in period includes the day you close on the house and doesn't incur extra charges.

Choose a loan - You may think you want a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, but an adjustable-rate mortgage may be more appropriate for your circumstances. Some special loan programs are geared to first-time buyers or veterans.


Get Organized


It pays to get organized. Put your finances in order, get pre-approved for a loan, and you'll know what you can afford to buy. Start a file for papers, sales brochures and other information you'll accumulate, including:

Credit data - Check your credit and correct any credit problems you may have before the lender gets your credit report.

Loan documents - Gather financial information the lender will request.


Shop for a Home


Start by using - You've already made the first step in shopping for a home by using Jo Tipton. With this website you can search our listings or the entire MLS database. We are your one-solution environment.

Take a checklist of Questions to Ask When You See the House - Get all the information you need to compare and contrast later. A beautiful Victorian may be a favorite until you revisit your notes and discover it needs new plumbing and wiring.

When you find a home that interests you, research the neighborhood - Go on your own at different times of the day, and talk to neighbors and local businesses to get a feel for what it's like to live there. If everything checks out, you're ready to prepare your offer.


Make an Offer


Always make an offer within your ability to pay. To strengthen your offer, include a letter of pre-approval from a lender. Attach standard contingencies, or conditions, to your offer. You usually have to include a deposit with your offer, to be applied to the down payment if the deal goes through.

The seller may accept, reject or counter within hours or days, depending on the quality of your offer and the seller's desire to sell. You can then accept the counteroffer or "counter the counter." Once the seller accepts, a third party (a lawyer or an escrow or title company) completes the transaction with your lender. Also find out:

  • Current market conditions

  • Prices of comparable homes sold in the area recently

  • Current value of the home.

  • The seller's motivation

Close the Deal


On closing day, the seller officially signs the house over to you. To avoid last-minute surprises:

Set a closing date that works for you - If you're renting, set a closing date near the end of your lease to avoid paying unnecessary rent. The date of closing can also affect your closing costs.

Estimate your closing costs - Lenders are required to give good-faith estimates of closing costs within three days of a loan application. They can also give you an itemized list of closing costs, so be sure to ask for one.

Schedule a final walk-through - Make certain the seller has completed any repairs specified in the purchase contract and has satisfied any other contingencies involving the home's condition.