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Becoming a Home Buyer

The Home Buying Process

You are about to embark on one of the most important and exciting decisions in your lifetime, the selection and purchase of a home. It is a decision that will bring you years of comfort and joy. Yet, the idea of spending your free time evaluating homes and neighborhoods, figuring your down payment and monthly costs, applying for a loan, and finalizing the purchase can be an overwhelming process. For some buyers, the process is tedious and confusing. This is why consulting a professional realtor is a smart decision.

The Benefits of Working with a Licensed Realtor®

A licensed real estate agent can help you find a house, efficiently and quickly. Discuss with your agent the type of home you believe will be right for your needs. Is your family growing? Do you entertain a lot? Garden? Barbecue? Work at home? Are you a chef? A wardrobe buff? Are you a fixer-upper or a total couch potato?

Your realtor’s expertise and experience will be crucial in helping you find the right home of your dreams. He/she has access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which provides information on virtually every home for sale in the market. This is a useful tool because it provides the most current comparative information available for more informed home shopping.

Working within Your Price Range

In addition, your agent will show you homes that you can comfortably afford. They will have the resources to help you understand how much a lender will let you borrow and on what basis it is calculated. Once you have calculated a price range, your realtor will work with you to establish the criteria that will lead you to the right home.

The Offer Process

When you are ready to make an offer, your realtor can assist you. Your realtor cannot suggest a lower price than what is listed, but they can tell you what comparable homes are selling for in the same neighborhood. Your realtor will act as the intermediary between you and the seller who is likely to also be represented by an agent of their own. If there are negotiations over price, closing dates, contingencies, and items – such as appliances – to be left or taken, your realtor will be your representative.

Once your offer is accepted, you will have a lot to do in a short period of time. Your realtor will direct you to a lender, and inspection and insurance professionals and a title company for your escrow and title needs. Your realtor will keep you on track and organized.


Things You Should Know About The Escrow Process

What Is An Escrow?

When opening an escrow, the buyer and seller establish terms and conditions for the transfer of ownership of that property. These terms and conditions are given to a neutral third party known as the Escrow Holder or Title Company. The Escrow Officer, in turn has the responsibility of seeing that the terms of the escrow are carried out. The escrow is an independent third party – the vehicle by which the interest of all parties to the transaction are protected.

How Does The Escrow Process Work?

The Escrow Officer takes instructions based on the terms of your Purchase Agreement and the lender’s requirements. The Escrow Officer can hold inspection reports and bills for work performed as required by the Purchase Agreement. Other elements of the escrow include hazard and title insurance, and the grant deed from the seller to you. Escrow cannot be completed until these items have been satisfied and all parties have signed escrow documents.

What Does The Escrow Holder Do?

The Escrow Holder is a neutral third party that maintains the escrow and impartially oversees the escrow process, ensuring that all conditions of the sale are properly met. The Escrow Holder’s duties include:

Serve as the neutral agent and the liaison between all parties involved.
Prepare the escrow instructions.
Request a Preliminary Title Search to determine the status of title to the property.
Comply with the lender’s requirements as specified in its instructions to escrow.
Receive and handle purchase funds from the buyer.
Prepare or secure the deed and documents related to the escrow.
Prorate taxes, interest, insurance and rents.
Secure releases of all contingencies or other conditions imposed on the escrow.
Record the deed and any other documents.
Request the title insurance policy.
Close the escrow pursuant to instructions supplied to the seller, buyer, and lender, if any.
Disburse funds as authorized by the instructions, including charges for title insurance, recording fees, real estate commissions and loan payoffs.
Prepare final statement for all parties involved that account for the disposition of all funds held in the escrow account.

How Do I Open An Escrow?

When your offer is accepted, Landmark Properties will open an escrow. As soon as you execute the Purchase Agreement, Landmark will place your initial deposit (earnest money) into an escrow account at the Escrow/Title Company you will be working with.

Written evidence of the deposit is generally included in your copy of the sales contract. The funds will then be deposited in a separate escrow account and processed through your local bank. You will receive a receipt for the funds from the Escrow/Title company.

What Information Will I Have To Provide?

You may be asked to complete a Statement of Identity as part of the paperwork. Because many people have the same name, the Statement of Identity is used to identify the specific person involved in the transaction through such information as date of birth, social security number, etc. This information is strictly confidential.

How Long Is Escrow?

The length of an escrow is determined by the terms of the Purchase Agreement and can range from a few days to several months. The average length of an escrow is usually 30 to 45 days.

When Do I Sign Escrow Instructions … And Where?

A few days before closing, your Escrow Officer or Realtor will contact you to make the appointment for you to sign your escrow instructions, grant deed and final papers. At this time, your Escrow Officer will also tell you the amount of money you will need to bring in.


Why Is A Home Warranty So Important?

What Is A Home Warranty?

A Home Warranty is basically an insurance policy. It insures the mechanical, electrical and plumbing parts and systems of a house. A Home Warranty provides the same comfort as any insurance against unforeseeable events. Many homeowners claim that their warranties have more than paid for themselves.

How Does A Home Warranty Work?

While each Home Warranty company operates a little differently, there are some basics that apply. Each has a “basic” plan that covers routine heating, plumbing and electrical systems. In addition, they offer optional coverage for air conditioning, pools and spas, appliances, etc. charged on a per item basis. Some companies offer more comprehensive “basic” plans than others, including such features as irrigation systems and garage doors openers.

A Home Warranty plan can be ordered at the time of listing to protect the seller during the listing period, usually not exceeding six (6) months, then assumed by the buyer at the time of the sale. A Warranty may be purchased during the escrow process, and some Home Warranty companies allow the buyer to make the decision to have a plan after purchasing the home.

The Process Step-By-Step

First the application is completed and submitted to the Home Warranty company, either by phone or by fax. The application should delineate which plan and options are being ordered, and include the agent’s and the property’s information. Some companies offer different plans depending on whether it is for a listing or for a sale. For example, some companies allow more options to the buyer at the time of the sale then to the seller at the time of the listing. There are companies that require a mechanical inspection prior to approval of the application. It is considered an advantage during your “walk through” to check for any “red flags”. In this case, a report of the inspection is faxed to the ordering agent with the results. Upon approval, the policy is in effect.

Depending on the company, when service is needed, the policy holder may either call the warranty company, and provide their policy number and state the problems, then wait for a call from an outside service company to arrange for service. Or call their in-house service department directly to arrange service.

At The Close Of Escrow

Most Home Warranty plan payments are not due until the close of escrow. At that time, a copy of the invoice, listing the coverage ordered, is sent to the escrow company for payment, along with an inspection report, if requested. A copy of the policy is mailed to the new policy holder. During the transit period, the policy is in effect.