Meet Your Team
Here's the lineup of people you need to know to hit a home-run real estate deal
By Jessica Abels
Sure, you'll be the one unpacking the boxes, grilling on the patio and hanging portraits on the walls, but buying a home is a team effort. Here are the key players you'll be working with throughout the process:
The mortgage lender is the first person you should seek, says Sid Davis, author of "A Survival Guide for Buying a Home" (AMACOM, 2009). Davis suggests talking to at least three lenders, choosing the ones you think you could work with the best and asking each for a Good Faith Estimate. Once you've made a final selection based on which lender has the best annual percentage rate, you'll fill out a formal application, and the lender will run your credit. The lender then comes back with a figure of how much you can afford. Be careful though, warns Davis. "Even though lenders will let you borrow more than you can afford, you have to take some responsibility and know your own limitations," he says.
"The Realtor is there to guide you through the process from end to end," says Stephanie Singer, manager of media communications for the National Association of Realtors. A Realtor can help you speak with mortgage lenders, recommend home inspectors and act on your behalf when dealing with the seller's broker. But the Realtor's most important job, says Davis, is to sit down with you and listen to your needs, and then find you a good deal on a great home. "This is where the agent's expertise really becomes important," Davis says. "How do you know how much to offer for the house? [A Realtor] will look at all these facts and figures and has a feel for the neighborhood and may talk to the listing agent or the owners and he'll suggest an offer. And if the agent is the pro that you hope he is, you'll end up getting a good deal."
The Home Inspector
Once you've found that dream home and your offer has been accepted, it's time to find a home inspector. Often, your Realtor can recommend one, but Davis cautions against using an inspector that a Realtor pressures you to hire. "If an inspector comes back with a bad inspection report it can kill the deal," Davis says. A good place to look is the American Society of Home Inspectors Web site, www.ashi.com. When you've found an inspector, Davis recommends going with him or her during the inspection. "You want to have him explain what the problem is, how serious it is, how much it'll cost you to fix it and what you can do with it," Davis says.
Hired by your lender, the appraiser assesses the home's value to be sure you're not overpaying. If the appraiser's value comes in at or above the sale price, you're on your way to closing.
The Closing Agent
The closer can be an attorney, a title company or the real estate broker. No matter who it is, they will put together the final pieces of your home purchase. "All the closer does is just escrow funds, accept funds and provide a place to come in and sign the paperwork. They don't make any decisions on your behalf," Davis says.
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