Michael Billings - Certified Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist - Realtor

Guidance for Home Buyers

Step One: Hire a full time REALTOR, and choose your REALTOR carefully.

Determine a comfortable price range that is suitable for you and share that with me.
I will not push homes that exceed your price range. As your REALTOR and confidential advisor, I need you to tell me in advance of finding a home if you can pay cash or need a mortgage. I will talk with you about the level of debt you can comfortably handle. (If you need help choosing a lender I will recommend lenders we believe are easy to work with).

Make sure you are qualified for a loan before you find "the one". When we find the property you want we must be able to move quickly and get it under contract immediately. More than ever, sellers want to know that a buyer is serious. The best way to demonstrate that you are a serious buyer is to submit (with your offer) either "proof of funds" or a document from a lender certifying that you are qualified/approved for a loan. Providing evidence with your offer that you are a serious and qualified buyer increases the odds that your offer will be accepted.

Before we start touring homes, we will identify your specific preferences. Location is the first step. From there we simply refine the neighborhood, number of baths, bedrooms, and so on.

You are now ready for the most exciting part ? touring homes!

On the days we meet to tour homes I will provide you with detailed information on each home. Since we have appointments for the homes we are touring I will attempt to keep us on a flexible schedule. Most homes are owner occupied or rented year round. I try not to inconvenience renters or owners any more than necessary.

We will discuss size, floor plan, style, and whether a home meets your criteria. I will to the best of my ability answer questions you have about flood danger and insurance. We will rate each home you preview. Experience shows that we should write down the pluses and minuses of each home. I have found that after viewing 4-5 houses it is hard to remember which homes made the short list. We repeat this process until (hopefully) we find the home you want.

I am finding that it is a good idea to provide prospective buyers with a generic copy of a purchase contract to review before it is time to make an offer. As your REALTOR I will explain the contract and answer your questions. Doing this helps you become familiar with contract terms and develop an understanding of standard practice in our area with respect to seller and buyer expenses. For example, it is customary in Franklin County for sellers to pay for title insurance and document stamps (deed recording). Buyers generally pay the mortgagees (lender) policy premium and document stamps on the mortgage. It is also customary in our area for sellers to pay commissions.

After we find the house you want I prepare your offer on a contract (contract to purchase).

A rule of thumb in buying and selling is: you can get your price or your terms, but generally not both. (I am passionate about trying to get both). It is important to write a "strong contract". Writing a strong contract increases the odds that your offer is accepted. (NOTE: Before writing the offer I will provide data on recent sales and the current difference in "list price" versus "sales price". A strong offer falls within the current range of the list vs. sales difference. For example, the difference for a house listed at $550,000 that sold for $528,000 is 4%. If that is within the going range we know that a strong contract must offer 96% of list price (or more). When your offer is accepted the home is under contract.

Most home buyers write a contract contingent on an acceptable home inspection. This is considered a wise choice. No home is perfect and it is common to find problems such as clouded windows, cracked paint, plumbing or electrical issues, and so on. I will recommend several home inspectors. Home inspections range $500 and up depending on square footage. This is a buyer expense.

Once all contingencies have cleared we are ready to make final preparations for closing the sale.

I recommend allowing 7-10 calendar days between the last met contingency deadline and closing. A title search is not started before all contingencies are met and the transaction is clear to close. Selection of the Closing Agent is normally a contract term that has already been resolved. St. George Island Realty has extensive closing experience. We will do the best we can to get you closed when scheduled. We schedule closings mid-month if a loan is involved. We prefer closing on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Loan closers and closing agents are generally not as busy at these times and are able to give your closing a higher priority. We want your closing to be as stress free as possible. Current closing procedures are such that most closings are done electronically or by mail and parties need not be present.

Well in advance of the closing date I will talk with you and make sure you've made all necessary deposits and/or completed your loan application. Additionally, I will remind you of other steps you need to take so we can close. We have found that sales "do not close themselves". You will also need to make arrangements for homeowner's insurance, address changes, transfer of utilities and services, and other like details.

Cash transactions can close within 2-3 weeks after contingencies have been met. We must allow 30-45 days to close a transaction involving a loan because of the time involved in processing a loan application and lender survey and inspection requirements.

Once closed you take possession of your new home. If renovations are called for, the best time to do that is before moving in.
RSPS logo - Resort and Second Home Property Specialist

115 West Gulf Beach Drive
St. George Island, FL 32328

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ABR logo - Accredited Buyer's Representative