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Why use a REALTOR®

Once you know how much you can and want to invest, the next step is to find the properties that most nearly fit your needs. This is the time to choose a real estate licensee. When picking a real estate agent look for one who is also a REALTOR®. A REALTOR® is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, a real estate trade association, and all members agree to abide by a Code of Ethics. A REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market. It will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.

All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR "®" logo on their business cards or other marketing and sales literature. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties in a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a high level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.

You be the judge Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®!

House Hunting Tips

Before jumping in and buying the first home you see, you need to do some homework. Thoughtful preparation in the beginning of your home search will help you find the home of your dreams that also fits your family’s unique needs. The key is to stay organized and focused on the ultimate goal of finding your ideal home.

Here are a few simple tips to help you pick the perfect place:
  • Make a checklist. Before walking into a single home, determine what your family truly needs in a new home. Prioritize your list and decide what features are a must have and what amenities can be sacrificed. Thinking about the positives and negatives of your current home is a great way to start your list.
  • Obtain a mortgage pre-approval. A pre-approval will give you a sense of what you can afford to spend on your new home. You will also have a realistic idea of the price range of homes you should be visiting and eventually purchasing. Plus, having a pre-approval will demonstrate that you are a serious buyer to sellers.
  • Location, location, location . Location is crucial when searching for your home. Only you can decide which location is best for you. A few considerations include: How far do you want to commute to your job? Are the Community schools highly rated? Do you require nearby neighborhood services such as public transportation, shopping and senior resources? You should also think about the location’s impact on the resale value of the property if you are anticipating selling in the next few years.
  • Get on the Web. One of the best ways to start your home search is on the Internet. On Web sites such as ours you can search for properties, determine mortgage payments, research communities and so much more from the comfort of your own home.
  • Seek professional help. Realtors are experts in the real estate industry and can help you with everything from gathering community information to taking a home tour to finding moving services. There is no one better who can help you find the home of your dreams. Plus, Realtors can greatly reduce the amount of pressure you feel during this stressful time.
  • Take notes. While touring homes, write down a few notes about things you particularly like in the home and others that you may not. This way, when you evaluate the homes you have visited, you will have the pros and . cons of each. Bring along a camera. We all know “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Snapping some photos of the houses you see while on a home tour will give you a visual to jog your memory at the end of the day. Just remember to jot down which photos go with which notes.
  • Have a friend tag along. Having another pair of eyes while visiting potential homes can help you notice the strengths and weaknesses of a property, and if nothing else, can deter you from making hasty decisions.

Buying a Home

Whether you've spent years saving and preparing to buy a home, or you're unsure if you can afford it, the questions surrounding home buying can feel endless.

You can find the answers - and peace of mind - by working with Wood & Associates Real Estate, the industry leader in experience and service.

Here are some tips to help you become your own landlord through home buying.

1. Hire a real estate professional. An important first step is selecting a home buying professional to help you find your dream home and fine-tune your financial expectations. Working with a buyer agent is worth consideration because he or she is legally responsible for representing the buyer’s interest in a real estate transaction. Your Wood &Associates agent can guide you through every step of home buying.

2. Shop for mortgage rates and terms. A difference of even half a percentage point can mean a considerable savings over the life of a loan. For example, the difference in the monthly payment on a $100,000 mortgage at 8 percent vs. 7.5 percent is about $35 per month. Over 30 years, that's $12,600.

3. Prequalify for a loan. Also early on, you’ll want to get prequalified for a mortgage loan, which determines how much you can afford. It allows you to move swiftly when you find the right home, especially when there are other interested buyers. It also indicates to the seller that you are serious about home buying and can afford to buy the property.

4. Outline what you want. The next step in home buying is to create a realistic idea of the property you'd like to buy. What features are most important to you? Make two lists: one of the items you can't live without and one of the features you would enjoy. Refine the lists as you house-hunt. It is also helpful to search online to see what is currently available on the market. Your real estate professional can then show you houses that meet your expectations.

5. Visit properties. Now you’re ready to visit houses. Ask your Wood & Associates agent to help in your home buying process by arranging showings. Be sure to keep track of the properties you’ve seen. Each time you venture out to see more properties, revisit your notes to immediately eliminate any that clearly do not meet your standards.

6. Rate the houses you tour. After touring each home, write down what you liked and didn’t like. Develop a rating system that will help narrow the home buying field. For example, pick the house you like best on day one and compare all other houses to it. When you find a better one, use the new favorite as the standard. Avoid trying to track more than four top choices at any given time since this can quickly become overwhelming.

7. Make an offer. Once you’ve pinpointed your dream home, it’s time to get serious about the financial and contractual side of the purchase. Let your Wood & Associates agent guide you through this sensitive home buying process. Because you and the seller have different goals, rely on your agent’s experience and expertise to bring order and calm to the process – and help both parties reach a favorable outcome.

8. Arrange for a home inspection. After your offer is accepted, set up a home inspection. It's common to find problems, including leaky roofs, cracked walls, insect infestations and foundation problems. Your real estate professional can help find a reputable inspector, and will negotiate to get you the most for your money once the inspector's report is final. If you negotiate repairs as part of the purchase, ask for a "walk through" before finalizing the home buying paperwork. Ask your real estate expert about home protection plans, which may save you money in the near future.

9. Close. Before your closing date, make sure you’ve made all necessary deposits and completed the paperwork – including mortgage, title, homeowner's insurance and any other paperwork required by local or state governments when home buying. Your Wood & Associates agent will be there to help you complete that closing checklist and avoid any last-minute snags. You deserve to enjoy every moment of the home buying process.

10. Prepare for life in your new home. Before rolling out the welcome mat, turn on electricity, water and gas, cleaning or replacing the carpet, and notifying your local post office of your new address. The best time for renovations is often before you move in.

If you have questions about any information on this page please call one of our experienced Real Estate Professionals to answer your questions. (765) 653-3755 or Toll Free 1-888-710-WOOD

Guide to real estate lingo and acronyms

When you are ready to purchase a property, it is important to know something about the terms used in real estate language. These terms might be unusual for a first time buyer, but it is advantageous to know more about the real estate lingo, to not fall behind during a conversation with your Realtor or with the seller.

Of course, always ask questions when you see or read something in the paperwork which you do not understand.

  • Assum. Fin. Usually refers to assumable financing that pertains to the financing that the buyer is planning to use.
  • Fixture This refers to any important thing that is connected to the actual property. According to real estate lingo, real estate is termed as real property, and any movable part is termed as personal property. If you still have doubts about what could be termed as a fixture, here are some examples: wall-to-wall carpeting, light fixtures, window coverings, and landscaping are some of the examples of fixtures. There have been many differences between the buyer and seller regarding fixtures. Hence, to be on the safe side, make sure you get your agreement on fixtures in writing.
  • Frplc, fplc, FP. These three acronyms are usually referred to a fireplace in the property.
  • Gar Refers to garage.
  • Gard This usually refers to a garden in the property.
  • Grmet kit This refers to the availability of a gourmet kitchen in the property.
  • HDW, HWF, Hdwd. These three acronyms refer to hardwood floors in the property.
  • Hi ceils Refers to availability of high ceilings in the house.
  • In-law potential This often refers to the possibility for a different apartment, subject to local zoning restrictions.
  • MLS Acronym for Multiple Listing Service, which is an organization that collects, compiles, and distributes information about homes listed for sale by its real estate agent members. Although the public cannot make sure of this information that is supplied by this institution, realtors can buy this information for their use.
  • Poss Possible
  • Pot'l Potential
  • Pvt Private
  • Pwdr rm. Half bathroom or powder room
  • Lsd prk. This refers to the leased parking area. This area may or may not come with an additional cost.
  • Large E-2 plan This refers to one of many floor plans that are used in a particular building.
  • Lock box. This refers to a locked key-holding device connected to a for-sale house so that real estate agent can enter the property after getting permission from the listing agent.
  • FDR This refers to the formal dining room in the property.
  • Dk Deck
  • Expansion pot'l This is the acronym for expansion potential, which means that there could be the chance of adding a room or even an upper level. However, this is subject to local zoning restrictions.
  • Contingency This refers to a provison in an agreement that can withhold the seller from making the agreement fully legal, before a certain condition is met. For example, if there is some repair to be done in the house, it is the responsibility of the seller to make these repairs before an agreement for it to be sold can become absolutely legal.
  • Closing costs This refers to the entire miscellaneous expenses package, which is supposed to be paid by the buyer and seller when the real estate deal finalizes. These costs include brokerage commission, mortgage-related fees, escrow or attorney's settlement charges, transfer taxes, recording fees, title insurance etc. These closing costs are generally paid through escrow.
  • CMA This is an acronym for comparative market analysis or competitive market analysis.

Don’t forget your Pre-Approval letter

1. A preapproval letter is more reliable than a prequalification letter.

Getting a prequalification letter is easy. You just call a mortgage broker or lender, provide some basic financial information, then wait a few minutes for the letter to come through your fax machine. Getting a "prequal" from a Web site is just easy. Enter some information, click "submit" and presto.

A preapproval letter, on the other hand, involves verification of the information. Rather than taking your word on faith, the lender will ask for documentation to confirm your employment, the source of your down payment and other aspects of your financial circumstances.

Granted, a preapproval is more time-consuming (and possibly more stressful) than a prequalification. The additional due diligence is exactly why the preapproval carries more weight.

2. You'll know how much money you can qualify to borrow.

Most home buyers have a rough idea of how much they would feel comfortable paying every month on their mortgage. However, there's no quick-and-dirty way to translate that monthly payment into a specific maximum mortgage amount because other factors - down payment percentage, mortgage insurance, property taxes, adjustable interest rates and so on - are part of the calculation. And, you might not be qualified to borrow as much as you think you should be able to borrow, depending on your income, your debts and your credit history.

3. You'll have more leverage in negotiations with the seller.

Sellers often prefer to negotiate with preapproved buyers because the sellers know such buyers are financially qualified to obtain the financing they need to close the transaction. A preapproval letter is an especially favorable point in a close multiple offer situation. And, you might feel more confident about making an offer with a preapproval letter in hand and the knowledge that you'll be able to obtain a mortgage.

4. A few stipulations:

Preapproval letters aren't binding on the lender, are subject to an appraisal of the home you want to purchase and are time-sensitive. If your financial situation changes (e.g., you lose your job, lease a car or run up credit-card bills), interest rates rise or a specified expiration date passes, the lender will review your situation and recalculate your maximum mortgage amount accordingly.

The Wood Team

Wood & Associates Real Estate, Inc.   /    Wood Builder, Inc

1001 S Bloomington Street, Suite 201, Greencastle, IN 46135

765-653-6774 (office) * 888-710-WOOD (toll free) * 765-653-4140 (fax)