Blog   Tagged ‘home buying’

4th step to buying a home: searching & making an offer

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Have you:

Good! Then it’s time to start house hunting. As a mortgage loan officer for the last 10 years, I certainly have a lot of knowledge in real estate, but still always refer to experienced realtors for this next step. Their knowledge of the housing market, along with expertise in real estate contracts, are the key to making the best selection of the property in which you could spend at least 5 years (but for some of you, potentially the rest of your life). I referred to Anita Trozzolo, a Kansas City realtor to give us some guidance for this next step.


Create a priority list

You are making perhaps the biggest purchase of your life, and you deserve to have that purchase fit both your wants and needs.

Your priority list should include the basics, such as:

  • neighborhood and size
  • number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • basement (finished or unfinished)
  • a kitchen that comes with appliances

If you can’t get a home at your price with all the features you want, then what features are most important?  Start prioritizing.  For instance, would you trade fewer bedrooms for a finished basement?  A longer commute for a larger home and lower cost?

What type of home best suits your needs?

You have several options when purchasing a home from a traditional single-family home, duplex, townhouse or condo.  Each option has its pros and cons, depending on your wants and needs, so you need to decide which type of property is best for you. You can also save on the purchase price in any category by choosing a fixer-upper. Keep in mind, though, the amount of time and money involved to turn a fixer-upper into your dream home might be much more than you expected.

Regardless of your choice, it’s important to target your search. By using options such as general location and affordability, you can refine your search and focus on homes that offer the most desirable features. However, based on my experience with the hundreds of first time home buyers for whom I successfully found and negotiated their first home, it is imperative to nail down location first.  The majority of buyers purchase homes from their choices in their most desired location.

Here are some more tips for your search:

  • Make sure your realtor understands your wants and needs.
  • Your agent must be patient, and show you as many homes as you would like to see. This is most likely the largest purchase of your life!
  • Have your agent set you up on an automatic home search program. This is an efficient way to guide you in your search.
  • Drive through neighborhoods on your off time to check out the area.
  • Choose your favorites before submitting an offer, and tour as many times as you feel comfortable.  Oh, and don’t forget to bring parents and friends. The more eyes the better!

Submit an offer, and most importantly understand the sales contract.  Your agent will assist you with the following:

  • To determine how much to offer, your realtor will show you a market analysis of all the recent sold properties comparable to the home or homes you’re interested in.
  • Obtain all material defects known from the seller through the seller’s agent.  
  • Discuss types of insurance that is required.
  • Counsel you on what price to offer the seller.
  • Make sure closing costs are explained and negotiated.
  • Make sure home warranty is explained and negotiated.
  • Explain the sales contract and all other forms associated with the contract.
  • Present your offer to the seller.
  • Negotiate your offer and counteroffers.
  • Set up inspections.
  • Provide the contract to the lender and closing company.
  • Stay in constant communication with the lender.
  • Arrange and attend the closing.
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Jackie Ahumada is a mortgage loan officer with UMB Bank. She has more than 10 years experience in the mortgage industry and more than 18 years in management of customer service delivery and operations.

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Financial Words of the Week: Points, Origination Fees and Closing Costs

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All three of these terms refer to costs associated with applying for a loan. Lenders sometimes charge these fees to cover the cost of underwriting, appraisals, document preparation and other parts of the process. Generally, the fees will be higher with mortgages than other loans. Mortgages have more complicated requirements compared to other loans. Origination fees are one-time flat fees that cover the costs of processing the loans. By comparison, closing costs may include expenses associated with the real estate transaction that cannot be included in the mortgage amount. A point is one percent of the dollar amount financed. Lenders may let you pay points to lower the interest rate or they may charge points instead of origination fees. Some examples of possible closing costs:

  • Appraisal: The cost of hiring a real estate professional to determine the value of the house
  • Inspection: Hiring an engineer or building professional to examine the structural condition
  • Flood Certification: By law, every mortgage made through federally-regulated or insured lenders must include a flood certification. This assessment determines if the property resides in a high-risk flood area. Homeowners with mortgages in high-risk areas must have flood insurance.
  • Realtor Fees: Real estate agents are paid based on the cost of the house, normally around 3 percent of the selling price.

Mortgage laws vary greatly from state to state. Additionally, each mortgage lender has different products and offers. Because of these complex issues, your costs may be different from those listed above. The best way to learn more is by working with an experienced mortgage loan officer. They can walk you through the full process and help you understand the costs involved. Be sure to check the blog for our “steps to buying your first home” series. So far, we’ve covered Pre-Approval (Step 1) and Choosing the Loan that’s Right for You (Step 2).

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.

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