Home Buyer’s Guide

Provided Courtesy of Realtor.com ……

If you’re like most people, buying a home represents your single biggest investment – and debt. As such, the home buying process can be one of the most exciting, but sometimes also stressful, experiences you ever go through. This may be true whether you’ve bought many homes or you’re looking to buy your first, whether you’re in the market for a new primary residence, an investment property or that perfect vacation getaway. Moreover, never has the real estate market offered more great opportunities, or been fraught with more risks, than now. There are many factors to consider and many decisions to make. That’s why, when buying, it’s crucial for you to have all the available resources necessary to make a well-informed decision, together with the time required to make complete use of them.

Generally, finding and purchasing a home includes the following steps:

1. Define Your Goals, Research Your Options, Make Your Plans Given that buying a home is such a big step, it’s all the more important for you to educate and prepare yourself as much as possible in advance. This means clearly determining why you’re buying and what kind of home you’re looking for. And because buying and financing a home are so closely related, it also means examining your current financial situation and projecting how much you can afford.  Once you’ve answered these questions, even tentatively, you’ll be in a better position to research your housing and mortgaging options, as well as create an action plan and timelines for moving forward. You may want to do this yourself, but you may also benefit by consulting an experienced REALTOR® right from the start.

2. Contact A REALTOR® Buying real estate is a complex matter at the best of times, given that there are so many factors to consider and no two homes or transactions are alike. However, with all the unique opportunities and potential pitfalls of the current market, it’s even more important for you to contact a REALTOR® once you’ve definitely decided to buy. In choosing a REALTOR® to guide you through the property search, financing, negotiation and transaction processes, you should consider their local market knowledge, experience and track record.

3. Get Pre-Approved For A Loan Generally, it is recommended that you get pre-qualified for a loan before you start viewing homes with the serious intention of buying. The preapproval process involves meeting with a lender and authorizing them to examine your current financial situation and credit history. On the basis of this examination the lender will provide you with a document that details how much you can borrow to buy a home. You may want to consider looking online to see what different lenders offer, such as on MortgageMatch.com, or contacting your local bank or credit union.

The benefits of pre-qualification include:
• You’ll have information about what you can afford and be able to plan accordingly
• As a qualified, motivated buyer you’ll be taken more seriously when you make an offer on a home
• Lenders can tell you whether you qualify for any special programs that will enable you to afford a better home (particularly if you’re a first-time buyer) Real estate financing is available from many sources, and an experienced REALTOR® will be able to suggest lenders with a history of offering excellent mortgage products and services.

4. View Homes And Select THE ONE Simply put, key to the home search process is knowing what you’re looking for. Among other things, that means distinguishing between “must-haves” and “like-to-haves”. To help you to target your search and define your home preference priorities, this guide includes a Home Search Worksheet on page 28. That said, here are a few recent facts about the search process that might put your experience in perspective: • Almost 90% of buyers use the Internet to search for homes1 • The typical buyer searches for 12 weeks and views 12 homes1 • 81% of buyers view real estate agents as very useful in the search process

There are many benefits to starting the search process at a real estate website like REALTOR.com®, the world’s most extensive source for property information. You can view many homes and their details, take video tours and access neighborhood info. However, it’s also important to view homes in person. While their property details may seem similar online, homes can actually be very different in terms of layout, design, workmanship and other aspects. In addition, you should ideally view homes with the help of an experienced and eagle-eyed REALTOR® who’ll notice things you might miss, provide expert analysis, and act as an impartial sounding board.

5. Make An Offer And Negotiate With The Seller Now that you’ve found the home you’d like to buy, it’s time to make an offer. Your local real estate association, working with legal counsel, has developed the contracts that are used for transactions in your area. These contracts enable you to specify a sale price and also include many clauses for specifying various terms of purchase, such as the closing and possession dates, your deposit amount, and other conditions. You should carefully review these clauses with your REALTOR® to ensure that they express your desired offer. In addition to drawing up the contract, your REALTOR® will be happy to address all your questions about the offer process.* Once you’ve written the offer, your REALTOR® will present it to the seller and/or the seller’s representative. At that point, the process – given that a home’s eventual sale price is subject to supply and demand – will depend on the kind of market you’re in. Generally though, the seller can accept your offer, reject it, or counter it to initiate the negotiation process.

Successive counter-offers, with deadlines for responding and meeting conditions, will be exchanged between you and the seller until a mutually-satisfactory pending agreement is reached or the negotiations breakdown. Negotiations can involve many factors relating to different market conditions, homes and sellers.

6. Secure Your Financing Once you have a pending agreement, it’s time to go back to your chosen lender to finalize your mortgage details so you can close the deal. This means finalizing your down payment, interest rate, regular payment schedule and any other financial conditions associated with the closing. As noted in the section on loan pre-approval, if you’ve already been qualified with a lender for a certain loan and home purchase, this phase of buying your new home should be a relatively straightforward matter that centers around finalizing the loan details and signing the mortgage papers. As the old saying goes, ‘let the buyer beware’. Particularly in these times, when so many buyers are suffering the consequences of having not fully understood their financing decisions, it’s crucial for you to work with people you trust. In this regard, a good REALTOR® can be a true friend for life.

7. Close The Deal If you’ve efficiently taken care of everything connected with purchasing your new home, the experience of taking ownership will be a positive joy with no surprises. Key steps to the closing, also referred to as the “escrow” or “settlement”, include: • Getting a Title Search – an historical review of all legal documents relating to ownership of the property – to ensure that there are no claims against the title of the property. It is also necessary to purchase Title Insurance in case the records contain errors or there are mistakes in the review process. • The Final Walkthrough – you’ll be given the chance to look at the home to make sure it’s in the same condition as when you signed the sale agreement. • The Settlement – typically, on the Closing Date you’ll go to a lawyer’s office to verify and sign all the paperwork required to complete the transaction. The settlement will include paying your closing costs, legal fees, property adjustments and transfer taxes. At that point, you’ll receive the property title and copies of all documentation pertaining to the purchase. Oh, and one more thing – you’ll get the keys. In most cases, Possession Date will fall within a couple days, at which point you’ll be able to move into your new home

Give me a call at (404) 641-5920 for all of your real estate needs!!

Hollowstone Subdivision – Loganville, Ga

This section of Gwinnett County has been a hot seller’s market all summer.  I was working with one buyer where we literally had to try and catch something before it went on the market for her to have a fighting chance.  The Hollowstone Subdivision is located in the Gwinnett county part of Loganville, and features lovely new construction homes by a popular builder.  As of July 31, 2017, there are 4 active listings advertised in the MLS for the Hollowstone subdivision.  You always want to make sure that you acquire a loan pre-approval letter first before you make appointments with your agent to view properties.  Builders usually have preferred lenders and will offer significant buyer incentives for you to use one of those lenders.

Before making a major purchase such as a new home, you should do some homework on factors that could potentially affect your resale value or your enjoyment while you reside in the new neighborhood.  That checklist should include the school system ratings, crime statistics, the convenience of amenities, and anything else that’s important to you.

Below is some general data for the schools in this subdivision’s zip code.  If you have school aged children, then you should probably dig deeper to investigate test scores, rankings and the student/teacher ratios of each school that services the subdivision.

Some homeowners like to know details about the demographics that they’re moving into.  Below is a chart that gives the break down of home usage within the immediate surrounding area.  Some buyers feel that if more people own their homes in the community, then they have more of a permanent stake in making sure it’s well maintained.

Another big concern from homebuyers is how their family’s quality of life will be impacted by a move.  Below is some data that pertains to the Hollowstone Subdivision that would probably be of some interest: You always want to go into a home purchase with your eyes wide open and will all of your due diligence thoroughly completed.  Your agent is there to help, so make sure to lean on that invaluable resource.  Please don’t hesitate to give me a call at (404) 641-5920 if you’re looking to buy or sell in the Metro Atlanta area!

Tuscan Ridge Subdivision (Snellville, Ga)

The Tuscan Ridge Subdivision is one of the neighborhoods in my immediate service area.  If your price range is in the mid $200’s and you’re looking to move to Gwinnett county, then you might want to consider the 2 active listings below in the Tuscan Ridge community.  These homes are move-in ready and spacious.A lot of the families that move to this community have school-aged children.  Below is some information on the schools that service this subdivision.  Gwinnett county has some award winning school districts, and as always, buyers should do the proper due diligence when it comes to selecting the proper neighborhood for their children’s education.  Just click on an image to enlarge the view.

It’s also very helpful to have some general and sales history information about a subdivision before you decide to uproot and move your family there.  Here is some data concerning the Tuscan Subdivision property characteristics, sales history and appraisal values:

From this data, you will notice that the ‘Average Appraised Value’ is less than both of the listing prices of the 2 active listings.  Don’t be alarmed!  This is very common since these appraised values from the county records are determined by the county assessor primarily for assessing property tax values.  It’s a common practice for these values to be up to 30% below fair market values.  Just make sure that your agent includes an ‘Appraisal Contingency’ addendum with your offer to protect you in the event that the devil pops up when your mortgage company orders an official appraisal to complete your loan package.

If you’re looking to buy or a sell a home in the Metro Atlanta area, please don’t hesitate to contact me for all of your real estate needs!

Audrey Williams – Broker
(404) 641-5920

Bright Water Subdivision – Snellville, Ga

As of this posting date, there are 4 active listings in the Georgia MLS for the Bright Water Subdivision ranging in asking price from $309,000 to $440,000.  This is one of the subdivisions in my immediate service area that’s within a few miles from my office.Bright Water Listings

The Bright Water Subdivision is located in the very popular and award winning Brookwood school system (elementary and high school).  Here is some information from the National Center for Education Statistics about these schools:


Subdivision Property Characteristics


Subdivision Sales Data & History


Subdivision Appraisal Values

Don’t be alarmed that the county appraisal values below are significantly less than most of the active listings’ asking prices.  The county appraiser comes up with these values for property tax purposes.  The appraisal that your loan officer will order is typically higher than the county appraisal values.  Make sure to have your agent include an appraisal contingency addendum with your offer so that you are fully protected in the event that the devil pops up.

Please give me a call at (404) 641-5920 or send me an e-mail at audrey@AWilliamsRealty.com to discuss your real estate needs!

Brannans Mill Subdivision

Brannans Mill is another Snellville subdivision where I show homes.  As of today, there is one available Ga MLS listing for a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with an asking price of $199,990.BrannansMillListingIn  the listing details, you will find that Brannans Mill is located in the Shiloh school district.  Below is some additional enrollment and demographic information from the National Center for Education Statistics for the elementary, middle and high schools.

ShilohSchoolsThe ‘Subdivision Property Characteristics’ chart below indicates that there are 69 homes in the Brannans Mill subdivision that have an average age of 18 years and an average square footage of 3099 sq. feet.

The ‘Subdivision Sales Data and History’ chart below indicates that in the past 5 years, there have been 11 sales transactions with an upward trend in the average sales price.

Please note that the ‘Subdivision Appraisal Values’ below are from the county tax assessor’s office for the purpose of determining property taxes.  The appraisal that is done for the purposes of acquiring a home loan is usually higher than the county appraiser’s values.  Your Realtor will help you avoid an appraisal pitfall by including an Appraisal Contingency addendum with your offer.

BrannansMill3Please feel free to contact me at (404) 641-5920 or send me an e-mail at audrey@AWilliamsRealty.com to discuss your real estate needs!