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cando
07-25-2007, 09:49 PM
Hi!

My husband and I finally decided to stop moving and settle down for a few years here in CO :yay:.
So now we're looking for a house to purchase. It'll be just the two of us and possibly a doggie friend.

I tried googling to find property listings and some info on what to look for and what to check. The sheer amount of info is overwhelming!
So I'm turning to you guys for help.. anyone have any good websites for me to read? This will be our first home and I have no clue about what is involved. What do I need to check when we go see the home? What questions to ask? What records to check?

Thank you so much! :muah:

auburnchick
07-25-2007, 10:05 PM
I don't know if you've already raised children or plan on having any in the future. If so, I would check out the schools. Find the best district and then start shopping from there.

figaro
07-25-2007, 10:33 PM
We are buying our 2nd home right now and what I would suggest is sit down with your husband and decide what you really want in your home-bedrooms, bath-that type of stuff and of course your price range. Then check with your friends who have bought a house and see what their opinion of their realtor was, I know I would recommend ours to anyone cause for the past 5 months she worked very hard for us. For us, she really listened to what we wanted and sent us (via email) the listings and price changes as often as they came in. We ended up using the website through our realtor and it worked great for us but you can also go through www.realtor.com (http://www.realtor.com), for houses to check out.

As I read bailsmom's post it reminded me that getting a pre-approval letter from your lender does help you out if someone else is bidding on the house you want and it tells the owners that you have the money ready and waiting.

For us also the house being a little bit of a fixer upper was not a bad thing, in fact the house we will have needs a new kitchen and work in the bathrooms but that is fine with us. Be sure to get a home inspection when you do find one you like, the very first house we tried to buy, the inspector looked at the foundation was falling apart so we backed out as fast as we could.

And although we put bids on other houses, this was the only house that we both had a feeling that we would get and were excited about it. After the second visit (I would recommend that too) we drove away and I told him that I thought we would get this one and we did!

I hope what I said helps you out, it can be a little frustrating but in the end it is worth it! Good luck!

bailsmom
07-25-2007, 10:36 PM
When DH and I were looking a few years back after we got pre-approved for the loan we found out there was a first time home buyers class that was being offered at the YMCA. Free too. I would strongly recommend finding out if you can get into something like that.

They had different people come to the class and talk about their part in the whole process. Like a banker, a home inspector - that one was really informative - and a real estate agent.

It really opened our eyes to things we never would have known to ask for and things to do on our own.

That would be my suggestion for you. Good luck!! :thumbsup:

cando
07-25-2007, 11:56 PM
Knew I did the right thing asking here :)

auburnchick, we don't any children and aren't planning any for the next few years. So, I guess any school district works for us.

The info about home buyers classes was very helpful, I found a number to call for my city and will find out tomorrow morning about upcoming classes. Also helpful to know that a pre-approved letter is good to have.

I do have a question about realtors - what is normally their commission? And is it unthinkable to try to buy a house without a realtor?

Thank you!

Inis
07-26-2007, 12:11 AM
If you're in Colorado Springs, I can hook you up with a stellar realtor team. Seriously, they showed us 20+ properties without getting testy about it ;)

The most important thing about real estate is the location. You can change practically everything else -- carpet, kitchens, yards, add on to make it bigger -- but you will never be able to move it.

Even if you don't have kids, pay careful attention to the school districts. That will be important for re-sale later on.

If a home you're interested in is in a newer area or adjacent to undeveloped property, check with your local government(s) to see how the adjacent property is zoned and if a development plan has been submitted. You don't want to be stuck next to a tire place :teehee: or a car stereo place.

Find a GOOD inspector, ALWAYS get an inspection, and ALWAYS make any offer contingent on your satisfaction with the inspection.

Shop around for your mortgage. Rates may be similar, but some mortgage companies charge nickel and dime fees that really add up.

Lastly, be sure to leave enough room in your budget for repairs and spruce ups. Blinds for a new home will cost upwards of $500. Most Colorado sellers offer home warranties like Blue Ribbon that cover things like the frig, furnace, etc. But things like lawn mowers are on you.

Good luck and have fun house hunting!

DianaM
07-26-2007, 12:47 AM
In the Denver area, find Lynn Zenger. The guy's a kickass realtor. Good luck with your search!!

cando
07-26-2007, 01:11 AM
Terrific points to make a note of. So, before I hunt for houses I need to find a good lender, a good realtor and a good house inspector.

What is considered an average down payment on a house priced between 150-200? I read that there will be other costs associated with closing etc. approximately how much does it add up to?

We're looking in Fort Collins, anyone know of any excellent realtors here?

Sorry about the numerous questions.. we just moved here a month ago so we have no friends or contacts to ask. I'm trying to get a handle on just how much money we're thinking about before getting started :)

Susan P.
07-26-2007, 02:32 AM
And whatever you buy ensure you have a building inspection done. Not sure if you have the same system there but here we have a pest control and a building inspection done - usually - before contracts are finalised (after deposit is down). I only know ONE instance where a pest controller completely failed to identify extensive white ant damage and he's since had to make good on all the repairs. In this case almost $20K worth as one was a major bearer. Given the extensive inconvenience the family faced he's lucky he got away with JUST that much.

Susan P.
07-26-2007, 02:36 AM
By the way, most agents will recommend a house inspector. To be honest, I've lived in two homes where an inspector paid by the agent came and they did a VERY superficial job. In one instance there was a lot of bathroom water damage which he admitted to me went right into the wall cavity but on the report he minimised it.
I would cross compare prices and see what an independent would charge. If anything is picked up you can negotiate a lowering of the price to have the issue addressed OR have current owners address it prior to sale. Whatever you feel best. I would tend to negotiate a price drop to ensure work was done to my satisfaction.

I liked the previous comment about an agency not being concerned at showing many places. In my last town one agent rarely kept homes on their books for more than a month or so because they were very realistic on price and had similar wonderful 'nothing is too much trouble' service. Other agents who overpriced had houses on their books for months.

nik
07-26-2007, 09:56 AM
We're looking for a house now. The first thing you want to do is run credit reports on yourself and fix any errors and do things to boost your score now. This is the link that gives you the credit report free, but I think you still have to pay $10 or so for your score. www.annualcreditreport.com

The book, Home Buying for Dummies is really good and one of the most popular books out there.

Remember that you have exactly 1 week to apply for mortgates without the credit checks impacting your score.

Closing costs vary a lot, and you'll need earnest money too. If you don't put 20% down you'll pay PMI. A lot of people don't put 20% down so don't feel like you have to have a huge down payment. Many people don't put anything down at all.

You need to be pre-approved to seriously start looking. Most people won't take you seriously if you don't have pre-approval.

LibraryLady
07-26-2007, 01:18 PM
I learned from a realtor, that some will specialize as either buyer's agents or seller's agents.

A seller's agent is ALWAYS more concerned with getting his client's homes sold than finding you your dream home.

A buyer's agent is ALWAYS going to look for what you WANT - your dream home. They don't tend to have an inventory of homes they want to sell for clients, they go find what you want.

Another piece of advice I was given is to take a class at a local community center or school similar to what's been described above so you know the lingo/terminology. It can be very confusing if you don't know what they mean when they are talking to you. 'They' being everyone; from the banker, to the agents to the inspectors.

Good luck and let us know how it goes! And when you find your dream home, just remember...



PICS!!!! We want pics!!! :)

LL

vaknitter
07-26-2007, 01:21 PM
Here's my two cents on home buying learned from buying my own home and watching friends buy homes :

Hire an independent home inspector - mine was about $300 here in VA and the best money I ever spent

There are free credit reports, if not from your bank, I think equifax.com or call BBB they will suggest one

NEVER show the realtor your pre-approval letter unless you plan on spending every penny of that ( I got approved for more than I wanted to spend and had to change realtors b/c once the realtor saw that letter there was no spending less) Their commission is based on selling price ...seller pays it so not your concern

IMHO do not get caught up in adj rate mortgages or other schemes, my friend was talked into taking out a loan to pay closing costs and mortgage ins on an adj rate mortgage, so now her interst rate is going up and she's paying off a house she can't afford on top of having to pay off the loan she took out to pay the closing costs etc. As someone else mentioned, make sure when you decide how much of a down payment you can afford (I think 20% gets you the best rate) make sure you save money (more than you think you will need) for home repairs, grills, lawn mowers, weed eaters, gardens, garden hoses, decorations, new furniture, etc etc.

Whatever you do look at a ton of houses !! I loved every other house I looked at so had to make a spread sheet of pros and cons to decide which ones to take a 2nd look at. I looked at my house 3 times before putting in an offer. Feel free to make notes about houses and what you like or dislike as you walk through.

Okay - one more thing....I am not an advocate of running balances on credit cards, but after buying my house I did take advantage of the Lowe's and Home Depot offer where you could buy things on their store credit card and pay no interest for a year. I bought my fridge, washer/dryer, and hard wood floors this way. Gives you a year to save money and pay if off without any interest.

Have fun !!

cando
07-26-2007, 05:04 PM
Wow you guys are so helpful. I'm reading each post several times so that I understand perfectly what you said. Thank you so much for taking the time to help out.

vaknitter, I have a question about something you wrote. You said "Their commission is based on selling price ...seller pays it so not your concern". Does this mean that even if I hire a realtor they don't charge me a commission? I was under the impression that when a purchase is made, the realtor charges commission to both the seller and the buyer.

We're trying to be as accurate as possible in budgeting because it's so easy to underestimate and land in trouble. And once we find our home, I'll be sure to post plenty of pics :)

LibraryLady
07-26-2007, 06:05 PM
vaknitter, I have a question about something you wrote. You said "Their commission is based on selling price ...seller pays it so not your concern". Does this mean that even if I hire a realtor they don't charge me a commission? I was under the impression that when a purchase is made, the realtor charges commission to both the seller and the buyer.

not vaknitter, but I'll try to help.

Check with your realty agent on how they will do this. Closing costs which can include the commission can be paid by the seller or buyer, but generally the latter. Contracts can be written either way, depending on what the seller/buyer wants and what the laws are in your area.

In addition, the commission is split between the buying and selling agents, so a realtor may try to get you to buy one of the houses in their inventory so they get both sides of the commission. Again, look for a seller's agent as they are more impartial as to what you're looking at.

There are many variables, depending on what state you live in. Make a list of questions like this and make sure you ask your banker, your agent and anyone else involved in the transaction. If their answers aren't the same, ask how come and if you don't like their responses, find someone else to work with.

No offense to anyone in the industry, but realtors, bankers/mortgage lenders are a dime a dozen, so make sure you're happy with the ones you are working with. It's a very competitive market to provide the services to you, the public.

On my last house, the broker wasn't responsive enough to our phone calls, took more than a day to call us back, so we went elsewhere. We lost a house due to his slowness.
Don't feel obligated to work with a certain person, they are providing you a service and are working FOR you. They should be willing to answer all your questions.

As you can see, I'm very picky about people providing me a service. If I don't think the person is looking out for MY interests, I walk. You aren't under any obligation, unless you sign a contract, to continue working with them.

Good luck! Have fun!

LL

misha rf
07-26-2007, 06:07 PM
You'll want to make sure that your inspector is a member of ASHI. They've got pretty high standards. Our inspector was, and did a fantastic job. The pricing tends to be pretty standard (if I recall correctly, it's set by the organization). If radon is an issue in your area (it is where I live), you'll want to make sure they do a radon test.

I can't really say anything about the realtor aspect--we bought one that was "for sale by owner."

You really do want to research the neighborhood. We'd talked about buying the vacant lot behind us so we'd have more privacy. Two hours after the movers left, a crew started clearing the lot to build a house. We've gotten over it (thankfully, the view from the front is spectacular!), but it was a bit of a surprise. And it was our fault for not looking into it.

You also might want to try driving around the neighborhood at different times of the day, just to see what it's like. That way, you can find out if the house next door likes to party all night--*before* you decide to buy. :mrgreen:

Good luck, and have fun!!

vaknitter
07-26-2007, 09:12 PM
Here is VA the seller pays the commission (major reason I plan to sell my house by owner), typically 6%, which is split btwn the buying and selling agents. There are ways a house can be listed such that the seller states that they will only pays a commission to their own realtor, but in my experience that is rare b/c very few realtors are going to bring clients to see a house and then say - oh yeah and if you buy this house you pay an additional x% to me.

Check with your local area realtors for specifics in CO though.

Something else I thought of - go to open houses in areas you think you might like to live whether or not the houses are in your budget. I am constantly dragging my DH to open houses. It is great to go without your realtor trying to sell you the house. Look around, discuss with your DH what you each like or dislike in the houses you tour.

itsjustmeghan
07-26-2007, 09:51 PM
i work for a mortgage lender, and i definitely suggest finding a broker you LIKE and trust. why? because you will be dealing with this person a lot once you decide to buy a property. your realtor will orchestrate the looking and the negotiations and the closing, but it's all that financing stuff where people get screwed.
before you start looking, buy mortgages for dummies or something like that. you definitely need to learn the lingo before you dive into this adventure. know what an arm is, know what a balloon is, know what a prepay penalty is, know what PMI is, know what escrows are, know the difference between APR and your rate, know all of it. you need to be an expert to protect yourself. i think a LOT of the foreclosures that have happened recently happen because people don't take the opportunity to educate and protect themselves. definitely find a broker you trust to do your financing. it's stressful times, and you don't want to choose someone who is a used car salesman the entire time. put together a budget and figure out what you can afford COMFORTABLY. depending on your lifestyle, you might qualify for more then you can actually AFFORD. others can afford more then what they qualify for. just because someone says you are approved for it, doesn't mean that you can keep living the way you are living once you pay that payment.
find a realtor you like. if you don't like them, don't use them. until a contract is signed you aren't obligated to use that person. go to open houses in areas that you want to look in. talk to the realtors working there. a lot of my friends buying houses in new towns saw this as a way to shop for a realtor instead of just looking at the house. realtors working an open house usually know the area. and some will have brokers there with them to help you get financing.
for credit, it wouldn't hurt to do a "soft hit" on your credit and see how it looks. get an idea of your credit score and what is going on. you can actually lower your credit score if you pull too often, so be a little careful with that. for the credit cleaning up, your mortgage broker should help you out with that (clearing out duplicate loans, clearing off any collections you've paid and accounts you've settled, etc).

overall, good luck! don't rush into anything! educate yourself before you start! it's a big step, so take the time to learn how to swim before you jump in!

Doodknitwit
07-26-2007, 10:03 PM
there's the neatest city park there with all the statutes...
don't you love the area!!! :yay:

You may look at new homes the developers sometime have incentives with specific lenders and the developer will pay a chunk of your closing costs!!!! Right now the developers have alot of inventory and are willing to deal!!! :hug: