Considering Buying a Home?
Did you know that, as a buyer, you will never have to pay me any type of fee or commission? And, in the end, you'll probably end up getting a better deal on the home of your dreams!
Purchasing a home is a big step whether you are a first time home buyer or a repeat buyer. I am here to make the process as easy as possible and help you find just the right home. My experience in the real estate industry will help guide you through the negotiation and loan process, protecting both your interests and your cash. My buyer services include extensive market research and knowledge, home searches, buyer tours, and explanation of home financing options. You will be advised of comparable home sales in the Baton Rouge area, the best price to offer and more. My goal as your buyers agent is to secure the property that you want, at the most reasonable price possible. For more information, with no obligation, contact me today at 225-229-0451 or email@example.com. I'm excited to help you take this exciting step!
A great place to start is my Buyer Questionnaire. This will help me understand your needs and wants in a new home and tailor a plan just for you. For more information about the buying process, please visit the links below:
For additional resources, visit my Resources page.
Steps to Home Ownership
For millions of people, owning a home is a source of wealth and freedom. The road to home ownership can be daunting, but a good realtor will take you through every step of the process and help you find the home of your dreams. I have extensive experience as a buying agent in the Baton Rouge area, and I will make sure you feel confident about the home buying process. Purchasing a home is a major investment, and it is often easier to see the entire picture by breaking it up into parts. Below, I have prepared a guide showing the key steps to owning your own home. For more information, contact me at 225-229-0451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Find a Realtor
Your real estate agent is your guide through the entire process. I will help connect you with a lender if you do not have one. As your Baton Rouge area realtor, I will help you find your home and negotiate the best deal. As we go through the process, I will guide you through the legal documents, regulations, and requirements to secure your home.
2. Get Pre-Approved
For a preapproval, the lender verifies the borrower's information and documentation to determine exactly how much it would be willing to lend to that borrower. This allows you to shop for your home without worrying about whether you can afford it. A pre approval is not a loan commitment, but it helps speed up the loan approval process and is usually required to make an offer on a home. I can provide a referral to a lender if you don't have one.
3. Start Shopping
Now it's time to have fun and find the home that fits your financial and lifestyle needs. Determine what is important to you, such as particular schools, neighborhood amenities, monthly mortgage payment, public transportation, walkability, etc. Make sure you include home owner’s assessments, utilities, and taxes when calculating the monthly mortgage payment. As your realtor I will keep you up to date with new listings on the market, show you the homes on the market that fit your wish list, and go beyond the aesthetics and tell you important details about homes you’re considering.
4. Make an Offer
Once you find the home you love, it's time to negotiate. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of occupancy, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, I will make sure the purchase agreement provides a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. I will make sure you are confident about this step of the process and protect your interests. If your offer is accepted, you are now under contract and one step closer to owning your new home.
5. Get Home Inspected & Appraised
Home inspections are not required by lenders, but are crucial for the buyer and strongly recommended. A home inspection is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home that gives the buyers information on any deficiencies of the property and recommended repairs. If the inspection reveals problems, you can either back out of the sale or you and the seller can negotiate how to handle the repairs if you are still interested in buying. See my Home Inspection Guide for more information on this process. Home appraisals are estimates of the market value of a home made by professionals, according to guidelines established by the industry and state regulation. This is required by lenders and must be completed before final loan approval. The average cost for an appraisal is $400 and is paid for by the buyer.
6. Final Loan Approval
If you're pre-approved, much of the legwork is already done and your loan may process more quickly. The lender may require additional documentation. Based on the documentation submitted by the loan processer, the underwriter decides whether the loan is approved or denied. It is also during this step that the buyer is required to secure homeowner's insurance and flood insurance if applicable.
7. Time to Close
At closing, you'll sign papers and get keys to your new home. The closing will be handled by an escrow agent who acts as the neutral third party that holds the legal documents and funds for the buyer, seller and, at times, a lender. The agent will distribute all necessary documents and funds according to lender instructions and ensure that both the seller and the buyer meet their contract responsibilities. Ownership is now legally transferred from seller to buyer.
8. Move In
Congratulations! You are now the owner of a new home! But my services don't stop the day you move in. I'm still available and happy to help with any questions or concerns you have now that you own your new home, and to provide recommendations for any new services you may need.
Buying Vs Renting
There are pros and cons to renting or buying a property. I am here to provide you with information so you can decide which option is best for you financially and for your lifestyle. Many people assume they cannot afford a mortgage note or could not qualify for one, however, I find that many times people are paying more in rent than they would a house note for a comparable property. There are many types of loans available that can accommodate different financial situations. For those that are not in a financial position to buy yet, I am happy to provide guidance on how you can better prepare and qualify for a home loan in the future. Below is a list of some pros and cons to renting or buying a property. For more information, call me at 225-229-0451 or email email@example.com. With my experience in the Baton Rouge area, I can help you find the perfect home to lease or purchase.
Your Guide to Home Loans
Considering purchasing a new home in the Baton Rouge area, but find the loan process confusing? There are many types of home loans available and having a clear understanding of each type will help you be better able to choose the loan that is right for you. I am here to help you explore your options. Below is a brief description of the most common home loans utilized today. Need help connecting with a lender? I have access to many lending resources and can guide you through the financial part of buying a home.
Fixed Rate (Conventional) Loan - These loans are usually structured with repayment terms of 15, 20, or 30 years. The lender will agree to charge a fixed interest rate over the life of the loan. With this loan type, your monthly mortgage payments will remain the same for the length of the loan.A conventional mortgage is offered by a bank and is not insured by the federal government. This makes it a slightly higher risk for the bank, so the qualifications are stricter. For example, it may require a higher down payment or a lower debt to income ratio. Like other types of mortgages, the interest rate that you pay is based on the prime mortgage rate and your credit score.
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loans- FHA loans are made by private lending institutions such as banks, savings & loans, or mortgage companies to eligible borrowers for the purchase of a home. FHA loans are designed for borrowers who are unable to make a large down payment. They allow the borrower to borrow up to 96.5% of the value of the home. The 3.5% down payment requirement can come from a gift or a grant, which makes FHA loans popular with first-time buyers. If the loan is approved, FHA will insure a portion of the loan's value to the lender. This loan does have property condition requirements.
Rural Development (RD) Loans- This program assists approved lenders in providing low- and moderate-income households the opportunity to own adequate, modest, decent, safe and sanitary dwellings as their primary residence in eligible rural areas. Eligible applicants may build, rehabilitate, improve or relocate a dwelling. This loan is backed by the Department of Agriculture. Rural areas are defined by the USDA, which includes some parts of Baton Rouge and many of its suburbs. Contrary to its name, this is not a farm loan. 100% financing is available and the interest rates are comparable to FHA and VA loans. This loan does have property condition requirements.
Veterans Administraton (VA) Guaranteed Loans- VA home loans are available to qualified veterans and their spouses. Private lending institutions issue the loans which are in turn guaranteed by the Veteran's Administration. The backing provided by the VA allows veterans who would not normally qualify for a mortgage loan due to credit or other issues to purchase a home. The VA does not require any down payment on VA loans and allows the borrower to receive a competitive, fixed interest rate. This loan does have property condition requirements.
Adustable Rate Loans (ARMS) - Also known as variable-rate loans, these often offer a teaser rate for the initial period of the loan. This introductory interest rate is usually lower than rates offered for fixed rate mortgages. The interest rate will fluctuate over the life of the loan based on market conditions. Changes in rate happen at certain time periods, and the lender can set both a maximum and minimum on the rate of fluctuation. Deciding if an ARM is right for you depends on the length of time you plan to own your home and assessing your financial future. If you plan to live in your new home for many years, an ARM might not be the best choice due to the possibility of an increasing interest rate and increasing monthly payments. If you are purchasing a home as an investment or plan to live in the home a short period of time, an ARM can give you a lower interest rate and lower payments.
- Mortgage Shopping Consumer Information
- FHA Government Loan Information
- USDA Income and Property Eligibility Site
- Veterans Benefits Home Loans Information
Your Guide to Home Warranties
A home warranty is a subject that concerns many home buyers. They can cover a multitude of items and systems, so it can be a good idea to get a home protection plan. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about home warranties.
Who Pays for the Home Warranty?
It varies. Generally, the buyer pays the cost of a home warranty policy; however, the seller may buy a policy for the benefit of the buyer. If you are selling, a home warranty plan can add to your selling points. Potential buyers will know that coverage is there if a system breaks down after the purchase. If you are buying, you have the added security of knowing that systems and fixtures will be covered when the sale is complete. Premiums are paid at the time you close the transaction.
How Much does a Home Warranty Cost?
They are fairly inexpensive, typically ranging from $425 to $650, depending on the size and age of the property and the amount of coverage you choose. It is may be less than the replacement cost of the systems and appliances it covers. There is usually a deductible of between $35 and $75. Home warranty companies sometimes run special sales and either discount policy prices or offer additional coverage for the same price. The policies are prepaid for a year in advance, at which time they expire or can be renewed.
How Do They Work?
Although specific plans provide for specific types of coverage, most operate the same way.
- If a home system or appliance breaks or stops working, the home owner calls the home warranty company.
- The home warranty company calls a provider with which it has a business arrangement.
- The specific provider calls the home owner to make an appointment.
- The provider fixes the problem. If an appliance is malfunctioning and cannot be repaired, depending on contract coverage, the home warranty company will pay to replace and install the appliance.
- The home owner pays a small deductible.
What Can Cause Denial of Payment?
- Improper maintenance
- Code violations
- Unusual wear and tear
- Improper installation
- Lack of home inspection
Most basic plans, for example, will usually cover your water heater, refrigerator, washer, dryer, garbage disposal and microwave oven (if it is built in).
Higher-end policies can cover air conditioning, ductwork, garage door openers, pools, spas, sprinkler systems, well pumps and plumbing fixtures. Each plan is different, so be sure to shop around before you decide which coverage is best for you and read a sample policy before purchasing.
What's the difference between a home warranty and homeowner's insurance?
Home warranties cover appliances and household systems like plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems. Homeowner's or "hazard" insurance covers the structure of a home. Insurance also covers personal belongings and provides liability coverage in case someone is injured on the property. Home warranties are optional in real estate transactions. Homeowner's insurance is almost always required, especially if the buyer has a mortgage.
Your Guide to Home Inspections
One of the many steps in a real estate purchase is to have a home inspection on your future home. A licensed home inspector will have the experience and training to provide information that will assist the buyer in making an informed decision. Problems that the seller or the Realtor® may not be aware of become the financial responsibility of the buyer if they are not corrected prior to the final sale of the house. During a home inspection, the home inspector will concentrate on the condition and structure of your home and point out observed safety concerns. The home inspection is a visual inspection of the house – home inspectors do not do any invasive testing, nor can they inspect what they cannot see. The inspector prepares and delivers to the client a written report of findings. The buyer should plan to be present for the inspection. I have a great deal of experience working with inspectors in the Baton Rouge area and can help you navigate this step of the home buying process.
What to Expect from a Licensed Home Inspection?
- Exterior Home Site
- Building Foundation
- Exterior Home Walls
- Roof Coverings, Flashings & Gutters
- Roof Support Structure
- Insulation Quality
- Visible Interior and Exterior Plumbing
- Central Air and Heating System
- Interior Condition of the Home
The inspection report should clearly identify the components and systems of the property observed by the inspector. Many inspectors will include photos and these reports can be up to 50 pages of information. They will often recommend if further inspection of a system is necessary by a licensed professional in that area. A home inspection is not technically exhaustive and does not imply that every defect will be discovered. Some inspection companies offer limited warranties to protect clients from unexpected mechanical and structural failures; otherwise, inspectors are not responsible for future failures.
What NOT to Expect from a Licensed Home Inspection?
A home inspection is not a code compliance inspection and a home inspector will not inspect inaccessible areas of the home. There are certain aspects to your home that home inspectors are not required to inspect and some inspections that the average home inspector is not allowed to perform due to specific license requirements. Here are some of the things you will not find on your basic inspection report, however, there are more comprehensive inspection reports for additional fees.
- Hot tubs and swimming pools
- Central vacuum systems
- Lawn sprinkler systems
- Fire and smoke detection and suppression systems
- Alarm/intrusion detection systems
- Television antenna or satellite dishes
- Detached structures like a garage or shed
- Well systems
- Code compliance
- Environmental hazard report like radon, asbestos or lead
- Termite and pest report
How Much Do They Cost?
Costs vary depending on the region, size and age of the house, scope of services and other factors. A typical range might be $300-$500.
Be sure to read the Pre Inspection Agreement!
Obtain a copy of the pre-inspection contract before the inspection takes place. Read and understand the document before the inspector starts the investigation. Ask the inspector to clarify anything you do not understand. The agreement should contain the scope of the inspection services the person intends to perform as well as the cost of the services.
If you have further questions, contact me at 225-229-0451 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I personally recommend Advantage Services Home Inspection to my clients.
Buying Foreclosures & Short Sales
Buying a home that is a short sale or a foreclosure can save you money. And so, as you enter the market either for the first time or as a seasoned buyer, you should be on the lookout for “distressed” sales. You might find a great property you’d otherwise have overlooked if you disqualified foreclosures and short sales. Distressed sales tend to be priced from 5 percent to as much as 15 percent below the current market value. But it also can turn out to be an expensive mistake if you don't shop carefully and get help from a real estate professional with experience negotiating these transactions. I have helped many buyers successfully navigate the process of buying these types of properties. Here's some information about buying Baton Rouge area foreclosures and short sales. For more information, contact me at 225-229-0451 or email@example.com
In a bank foreclosure sale (also called Real Estate Owned or REO), the previous owner of the property has either given the keys back to the bank and abandoned the home, or the bank has taken back the property and forced the former owner to leave. In either case, the bank owns the property. Banks are often eager to find a qualified buyer and unload these properties, so the buyers of these properties often pay less than they would have if they had purchased a similar property in the same neighborhood that wasn't in foreclosure. The bank sells the home “as-is” and requires the buyer to sign documents releasing the bank of any liability.
The foreclosure process is lengthy, so often times these properties have been sitting unoccupied for months, if not longer, and have suffered damage due to weather and neglect. It's important to have a thorough inspection to minimize your risks, but understand that the inspection is for informational purposes only. The bank will not make any repairs. On foreclosed properties, it is typically the buyer's responsibility to have the utilities turned on for inspections. Doing your homework with a foreclosed property will save you time, money, and complications. Knocking on neighbors’ doors to see what information they have about the home, the neighborhood or the previous owners can prove valuable.
Owner's insurance policies are optional when purchasing a home, but they are recommended for properties that have been through foreclosure. These policies will protect you. They pay court costs and attorney's fees if someone challenges your ownership or tries to collect on an unsatisfied lien arising from work done before you took ownership. If a claim is found to be valid, owner's insurance will cover your actual loss—up to the face amount of the policy.
In a short sale, the owner of the property is trying to sell it at a price that is less than he or she owes on the mortgage. Before the purchase agreement can be accepted and the transaction can close, the seller's mortgage lender must agree to accept that amount. For this reason, this can be a more difficult purchase than a foreclosure. Not only must the first mortgage holder agree, but also second mortgage holders can delay or stop these transactions. That means the negotiations can be time consuming, taking several months, and frustrating for a buyer who has little control over the process.
A short sale is being sold by the owner, so they are required to fill out a property disclosure form telling you of known problems with the home. This is an advantage over a foreclosure. While short sellers are motivated to sell and repair their credit, they could have skimped on essential maintenance. A thorough inspection will minimize your risks and inform you of needed repairs, however, the lender or the owner will not pay for repairs. This will be the responsibility of the buyer.
If you have a home to sell before you can close on the purchase of the short sale property—or you need to be in your new home by a certain time—a short sale may not be for you. A lender will not accept a contingent purchase agreement on a short sale property.
4 Weeks Prior to Move
- Make a "Move" file folder to keep track of documentation and records of the moving process.
- Set up a calendar for your move to mark deadlines and reminders.
- Hold a garage sale to rid yourself of furniture, clothes and other items you'd prefer not to move.
- Contact a local charity to donate any unneeded furniture and items not sold in the garage sale.
- Collect boxes, tape, rope, wrapping/padding material and other moving supplies.
- Line up a moving company (or make reservations to rent a moving truck if you plan to move yourself).
- Gather doctors, dentists, other medical and school records.
- Put together (and keep accessible) all financial, tax, and employment documentation that may be needed during your loan process.
- Contact your insurance company to transfer your policies (life, auto, homeowners).
3 Weeks Prior to Move
- Set a cutoff date with your current utility providers (this can include telephone, gas, electric, water, garage, and cable).
- Establish a start date for utility services at your new home.
- Let friends and relatives know of your upcoming move.
- Donate canned goods and other non-perishable food items to a local charity to save the expense of moving them.
- Verify your Voter Registration information and make any necessary changes in light of your move.
- Register your new address with your subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and association memberships.
- Complete a change of address card with your local post office.
- Research and keep record of tax deductions on moving expenses.
2 Weeks Prior to Move
- Transfer stocks, bonds, bank accounts, and contents of safety deposit boxes to a trusted financial institution near your new home.
- Organize the clothes you will be moving; separate them into suitcases, keeping those you need readily available.
- Review the moving checklist so far, making sure you are still on track for the move.
1 Week Prior to Move
- Drain outdoor equipment: water from hoses, propane tanks from barbecue grills, and gas and oil from lawn mowers.
- Discard any aerosol, paint, oils, and all flammable and/or toxic chemicals.
- Label items you need to easily access and place them in a separate room or closet.
- Schedule a pest control company to service your home before moving -- especially on new construction.
- Clean your refrigerator and let it air out at least 24 hours before moving.
Move Out Day
- Load items and boxes that you'll need first last. (Those items packed last will be unloaded first.)
- Conduct a final walk through of your home once everything is out of the house; check cupboards, closets, behind doors, attics, stairwells, overhead in the garage, outside the home, and any storage sheds.
Move In Day
- Prepare your new home before the moving trucks arrive; have it clean and be prepared to instruct where you'd like items placed.
- Take some time, sit back, and enjoy your new home!