For Buyers

I can help buyers find homes in Asheville and areas within 60 minutes of Asheville.

My commission is paid by the seller and is included in the price of the home. If you are a first time home buyer, please check out the special section for you.

Buying a home is an exciting and stressful time in one’s life. My Buyer Services and experience range from helping you find the home that best suits you and your family, to negotiating the best price and terms, to arranging for the inspections, and helping you obtain financing in order to achieve your dreams. I even help you find vendors after you move in.

If you scroll down, you will see that I have compiled a  lot of information for you including the buying process, a buyer’s guide, forms you will encounter, what you should ask and expect from your realtor, etc.  One of the first steps in the process is the buyer’s interview where you tell me what you want in a home and why. It would help me if you would complete a brief questionnaire for me. You can download the form as a Word document, complete it, and email it back to me.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

One of the first things you need to do is to talk to a good mortgage person. They will check your credit and advise you concerning your financing options.  I always provide the names of about three people for you to talk to depending on your situation as lenders do not all have the same programs.  For example some lenders will not write a loan on condos, whereas, others will not write loans on manufactured homes.  Some lenders are more flexible with folks with less than perfect credit.  If you want to apply for any of the programs sponsored by the state of North Carolina (www.nchfa.com), you must work with a lender who has attended a special class.  There are programs for first-time homebuyers also.

Information on the process and various forms

In North Carolina, agent/brokers are required to explain to consumers how to work with a real estate agent. The Working with Real Estate Agents brochure explains the various working relationships you could have with an agent. When you have an interview with an agent, he or she should discuss the brochure with you and get your signature indicating that you understand its contents. Remember this is not a contract. You are not committing yourself to working with that agent.  Basically this is similar to “Miranda Rights” in that you are warned that anything you say can be used against you unless you have an agreement with that agent.

Most agents will ask you to sign a buyer’s agreement making that agent your representative.  You may be hesitant to do this until you feel that you like and trust your agent.  You have the option of determining the breadth and time period of this agreement. You can sign an agreement that is good for only one day or for even just one property. However, before you can make an offer to purchase a property, you have to have a signed agreement with your agent.

If the seller is not offering a home warranty, you should ask for one as part of your negotiations.  This is critical in older homes or in homes with older appliances.

When you have a contract to purchase a home, you should have a home inspection performed to determine if there are any serious problems. Depending on the findings, you may find yourself negotiating the cost of repairs. This can get very touchy as this is where some contracts fall apart. In this area, radon is a major concern, so this is another test you should request if the seller does not have a radon remediation system or a report indicating that radon is not a concern.  If the seller does not have a current survey, this is another item you may want to ensure there are no encumbrances on the property.  Please note that the buyer usually pays for all inspections

North Carolina REQUIRES a home seller (including For Sale By Owners) to provide the buyer with some type of disclosure form. What might the seller have to disclose?

A Residential Property Disclosure Form requires the home seller to disclose facts about the home’s heating, wiring or plumbing systems, including any defects that may exist, such as leaks in the roof or cracks in the foundation.

If something in the home is not working properly or needs repair, the seller needs to either fix it or disclose the material defect to the prospective buyer. However, if the property is being sold by a third party, like a bank or trustee, or the home is not owner-occupied, the seller may not know of any possible problems and will indicate this on the form. 

There are other disclosure forms, unique to each local area, that require sellers to disclose negative environmental factors or local building code issues. A lead-based paint disclosure form is required for homes built prior to 1978.

In North Carolina the buyer has a due diligence period during which they can walk away from the contract for any reason and get their earnest money back.  During this period the buyer does the inspections and must receive loan approval which includes the appraisal. The title search also occurs during this time period.

Consequently, the due diligence period can extend within a few days of the closing date.  As the home is effectively off the market during that time period, the seller may request a non-refundable due diligence fee to compensate them for the inconvenience/out-of-pocket expenses if the contract does not close.  If the contract closes, the buyer gets the due diligence money credited at closing.

Don’t worry, I will not allow you to get lost in the paperwork or the process!

Closing Costs to Expect:

  • Lender fees include charges for loan processing, underwriting, preparation and establishing an escrow account.
  • Third-party fees include charges for insurance, title search, and other inspections such as termites and radon.
  • Government fees include deed recording and state & local mortgage taxes.
  • Escrow and interest fees include homeowner’s insurance, loan interest, real estate taxes, and occasionally private mortgage insurance.

FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS

Notice to First-Time Home Buyers!!!  There is money available from the state of North Carolina to help first-time home buyers.  You must work with a lender who has been approved by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.  Contact me for more information or you can check out the NCHFA website.

Besides NCHFA there are other sources for help. OnTrack  is a wonderful agency that provides financial counseling for folks in trouble and education for home buyers. The class for buyers costs about $35 and teaches about the buying process and how to work with a realtor. It prepares folks for all of the hidden costs and benefits of homeownership. OnTrack will also inform you of some of the alternatives in obtaining a mortgage. The buyer class is a requirement for most government-backed loans…..USDA and FHA.

Self Help is a non-profit agency that helps folks through counseling and providing loans. It is a good resource for folks who cannot get loans through traditional banks.  It does take longer to get a loan through them. They can also help you obtain loans through the state (NCHFA) or the federal agencies (USDA, FHA).  They also recommend the OnTrack class.

Other programs can be found through Mountain Housing Opportunities Not only do they help with home ownership but can also help with rentals and home repairs.  Another option is Habitat for Humanity.

NCHFA, OnTrack and Mountain Housing sometimes provide down payment assistance. Check their websites for more information. NCHFA also offers mortgage credit certificate that is good for the life of the loan.  Eligible buyers could receive up to $2000 on their taxes each year.

MORTGAGE STUFF

General Mortgage Information
See the latest live mortgage rates, find mortgage providers in the area, and view a wealth of mortgage information and tips.  If you are interested in a FHA or USDA loan, you should read the government booklet on obtaining loans.

Note: A lot of changes are occurring in the fees being charged by appraisers and underwriters. For one thing it can be difficult to get a mortgage for a condo.

Preferred Mortgage Consultants: There are several good mortgage lenders/brokers in the area.  I am happy to provide with names of mortgage consultants who are knowledgeable, easy to work with, and most importantly, work hard to ensure that you will be able to obtain the financing to buy your property.

Mortgage Calculator  Use a variety of simple calculators to help you figure out your monthly mortgage payment, how much house you can afford, and much more.

Credit Scores

Your credit score will influence the interest rate for which you can qualify.  You may be aware that you are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once each year.  These agencies have set up a website to provide you this service.  Unfortunately they will not give you your score for free.  There are several websites that will provide you with your scores if you sign up for a trial period for their credit monitoring service.  You could do this and get your scores, but then you must remember to cancel the service before the end of the trial period.  There are two services that will provide you with a score indicative of, but not identical to, the widely used FICO score from Fair Isaac.  These sites are CreditKarma.com and Quizzle.com.

Pre-Qualification vs Pre-Approval

Getting pre-qualified helps you determine how much home you can afford, based on a specific financial information you share with your lender. The lender does not verify this information, and consequently there is no guarantee you will qualify for the loan amount. Getting pre-approved requires that the lender verify your financial information, and does serve as a commitment to lend a specified amount based on that verified information. This gives you significant buying power with a seller who recognizes you will be approved for a loan.