Buyers

Deciding to Buy

The decision to purchase a home is one of the biggest and best decisions you could ever make. After all, a home is the largest investment most people will ever make. So, how do you know if it's the right time for you to buy your first home, vacation home, investment or commercial property? There is never a wrong time to buy the right home. The key is finding a good buy and taking the time to carefully evaluate your finances.  A home purchase is an important step in the path to long-term wealth. Purchasing your own home is a great investment that provides specific financial advantages, including equity buildup, value appreciation potential and tax benefits.

Hiring an Agent

When you're looking for a real estate professional to help you good agents put their clients first. This is your dream, and your agent is your advocate to help you make your dream come true. We are extremely knowledgeable of the Cape Cod market and will be an invaluable source for those buying Cape Cod property. As your agent we will:

  • Educate you about the current conditions of market.
  • Analyze what you want and what you need in your next home.
  • Guide you to homes that fit your criteria.
  • Coordinate the work of other needed professionals throughout the process.
  • Negotiate with the seller on your behalf.
  • Check and double-check paperwork and deadlines.
  • Solve any problems that may arise.

Securing Financing

Ultimately, your lender will pre-approve you for a certain amount, but YOU will decide what you're comfortable paying every month. Remember, your lender only sees your finances on paper. It's up to you to decide how much you're willing to stretch your budget in order to get into your dream home. There are many different kinds of mortgage programs available. It is best to do some research about the pros and cons of each program. We can help you understand the steps you will need to take, and can refer you to a reputable mortgage broker/lender. There are also special home buying programs available from various organizations and many local governments that offer special home buying programs to help first-time home buyers and those in a lower income bracket. Consult a lender of your choice and get pre-approved for your purchase range - this will position you favorably in offer negotiations.

The Property Search

You are preapproved and ready to begin your search - how or where do you begin? There are a lot of homes out there and without an agent it can become overwhelming and confusing.  Let us help you more accurately pinpoint homes that fit your criteria. Begin your home search by focusing on the location where you want to buy, and the amenities you want in a home. Determine how much square footage you want, how many bedrooms and baths you need, etc. Knowing what you're looking for will not only help you focus your search but will also help us understand your needs so that we can best assist you in the process. The right home will meet all your important needs, and as many of your additional wants as possible. There are several avenues to take once you begin your home search. We can supply you with listings, based on your search criteria or you can sign up for free MLS listings. Register and you can have your own custom searches that alert you immediately via email when new listings that match your criteria come on to the market. NEVER miss out on locating your dream home! It is important to familiarize yourself with as many houses as possible so that you can develop an understanding of the market and get a solid idea of what is available in your price range.

Making an Offer

Once you've found a home you love, the next step is making a compelling offer. While emotions are probably in high gear once you've found a home you think is “the one”, it's important to remember that a home is an investment. We will research similar properties in the neighborhood to help you determine the market value, and fair price, for your property. Once a buyer identifies a property that meets their needs, an Offer to Purchase is presented to the seller along with an earnest money deposit.  Negotiation can then take place and acceptance of the offer is reached if there is  a satisfactory agreement between the two parties. The three basic components of your purchase offer are price, terms and contingencies. Price is the dollar amount you are approved for, willing and able to pay. Terms cover the other financial and timing factors that will be included in the offer. Contingencies are clauses that let you out of the deal if the house has a problem that didn't exist or which you weren't aware of when you went under contract. They specify any event that will need to take place in order for you to fulfill the contract.

Inspections and Due Diligence

You'll need to have a property inspection (which we highly recommend you attend) that will expose hidden issues. Buyers are encouraged to do any property inspections that they wish. They may include structural, pest, lead paint, radon or other inspections. In Massachusetts, it is the seller’s responsibility to provide the buyer with a current Title V septic inspection should they have that type of waste disposal system on the property. Your main concern is the possibility of structural damage. This can come from water damage, shifting ground, or poor construction when the house was built. Don't sweat the small stuff. It's the inspector's job to mark everything discovered no matter how large or small. The inspectors report may be long but many items are things that are easily fixed or can be overlooked for the time being. If you have a big problem show up in your inspection report, you should bring in a specialist. If the specialist finds problems with the property, you may want to negotiate with the seller to lower the price, pay for certain repairs, or in the worst-case scenario you may even walk away from the purchase. If you are satisfied with the results of the inspection, then you can proceed to the Purchase and Sales agreement.

Purchase and Sale Agreement to Closing (Settlement)

Once you've made your offer and have completed the inspection process, it will be time to finalize the sale terms with a "Purchase and Sale Agreement” also known as the "P&S". This document is generally prepared and reviewed by the attorneys that represent the two parties (Buyer and Seller) and typically carries over the terms of the Offer to Purchase along with some additional terms. An additional deposit from the buyer is usually required with the signing of the P & S. In order to ensure that you don't put your closing date or mortgage at risk, there are a few pre-closing responsibilities that you'll need to keep mindful of. These include but are not limited to:

  • Stay in control of your credit and finances. If you are tempted to make any large purchases during this time, it's best to talk to your lender first.
  • Keep in touch with your agent and lender, returning all phone calls and completing paperwork promptly.
  • Communicate with your agent at least once or twice a week and verifying with your lender that all    mortgage funding steps are completed.
  • Conduct a final walk-through of the home with your agent.
  • Buy a home owner's insurance policy (lenders will require this) that protects you against loss or damage to the property itself and against liability in case someone sustains an injury while on your property.
  • Confirm with your agent, home insurance professional, and lender that you have the settlement statement, certified funds, and evidence of insurance lined up prior to closing.

You should always try to have both your real estate broker and an attorney present at the closing to ensure that all is in order.

Protecting Your Investment

Congratulations - you now own a “little slice of heaven”! Once the home-buying process is complete there always needs to be a maintenance plan It's now your responsibility, and in your best financial interest, to protect your investment for years to come. Performing routine maintenance on your home's systems is always more affordable than having to fix big problems later. With our cold Cape Cod winters, it’s imperative to understand the necessity of winterizing and monitoring you property in the colder months. Short dollars now save big dollars later! Feel free to speak with us at anytime for ideas, suggestions, etc.!

And remember, just because the sale is complete, your relationship with us is only just beginning! After closing, we hope to remain a valuable source in finding out about everything Cape Cod – or as we like to call it “Living Cape Cod”. From everyday concerns like finding contractors and repair services to what’s “happening” and enjoying everything the Cape has to offer – come back to us –bookmark our website. You will find it all - from the up-to-date local information to current national real estate news and trends – it’s all here!

Sellers

The Selling Process

The Market Evaluation - Pricing Your Home Realistically

It is always best to work with an experienced, local Realtor® to ensure your house is priced competitively and well-staged. Buying and selling real estate has gone through significant changes in the past several years - it is estimated that over 80% of homebuyers begin their search online today.  It’s in your best interest to work with an Realtor whose expertise will be crucial in pricing your property to reflect its current fair market value. A determination of fair market value should be exactly that—fair market value. By definition, the “market value” of a home is “the fairest price a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite in a fair sale.” To determine market value of your home, we will study comparable properties that have been listed and sold recently in your town. By performing a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis), we will evaluate comparable homes that are currently for sale as well as properties that are under contract to purchase, homes that have expired unsold and closed transactions within the last 6 to 12 months. A home that is priced correctly at the onset of marketing has a greater chance of selling for more money and better terms than a property that is priced over market value.

Be wary of broker quotes that sound too good to be true; they may be so merely to obtain the listing on your property. It’s imperative to price the property correctly at the initial introduction to market. An agent should always be working in the best interest of the Seller – you do not want to wind up playing the “price reduction game.” Despite the emotional worth you place on your property, asking more can actually bring less. Overpricing minimizes other Realtors’ avid promotion of your property, resulting in loss of that “first strike” opportunity. Instead of creating a sense of urgency with prospective buyers to make an offer quickly because of its perceived good value, you ultimately end up “chasing the market down” with inevitable price reductions resulting in lost time and money.

As a local real estate agent with over 15 years experience in both Outer Cape Cod sales and rentals , I have the long-term, wide-ranging data, knowledge and expertise that will help you to pinpoint your optimum listing price.

When you decide to sell your home, the REALTOR® will act in the role of the listing agent. The listing agreement is the contract that provides the seller representation with a particular real estate company and the listing agent. The listing presentation is the meeting where Seller and agent meet at the property and discuss such things as pricing strategies, marketing plans, etc. The listing agent will also discuss Agency and will disclose, per Massachusetts License Law, their relationship with you (see Understanding Agency Relationships). 

Marketing Your Home

In marketing your property we will:

  • Complete and review all listing contracts with you.
  • Review your entire property inside and out and make suggestions to ensure that your home is shown in its best possible light.
  • Measure and photograph your home.
  • Install a “for sale” sign. This sign is important because prospective buyers are already “pre-sold” on the neighborhood and exterior of your property before they’ve come inside.
  • Provide you with information regarding environmental issues such as Title V, radon, underground oil storage tanks and lead paint.
  • Promptly schedule the Realtor( MLS) open house tour.
  • Create a professional brochure highlighting the key selling points of your home.
  • Design an advertising program using appropriate media to target buyers.
  • Hold public open houses.
  • Review market conditions and prospect responses with you on a regular basis.
  • Keep current with all financing programs that could enhance the sale of your home.
  • Continually review and update you Comparative Market Analysis.
  • Communicate with you during the marketing and sale of your home on a continual basis.

Once the decision to list your property is made, it is in the best interest of the seller to heed these following suggestions prior to putting your home “on the market”.

1. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.

2. Organize and clean . Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.

3. Get replacement estimates . Do you have big-ticket items that are worn out or will need replacement soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home and will be handy when negotiations begin. 

4. Find your warranties . Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.

5. Spruce up the curb appeal . Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what  is your impression of the property? Here is a list to consider for soliciting serious offers:

  • Maximize the curb appeal: trim bushes, edge the lawn
  • Check for peeling paint
  • Having a new welcome mat at the front door mat helps
  • Clear out the clutter, especially counter tops
  • Make it sparkling clean and fresh – hire a professional
  • Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Complete all necessary repairs – no leaky faucets
  • Keep pets are out of the way
  • Set the stage to differentiate your home
  • Make your home look as spacious as possible, remove excess furniture
  • Get a buyer's eye view
  • Keep the garage door closed

Selling Your Home

Receiving an Offer to Purchase

Anticipate the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you’ll find acceptable. It is the listing agent's obligation to present all offers. Upon receipt of an offer from a Buyer, the agent  meets with you, the seller and provides counsel. All terms of the offer need to be presented and discussed. The agent negotiates on your behalf and most buyers and sellers want to arrive at a win-win agreement. After a mutually acceptable agreement is reached between the Buyer and Seller, the Offer to Purchase is signed by all parties and the Buyers present a check for the deposit.

The Purchase and Sale Agreement (aka P&S)

When all contingencies of the Offer to Purchase are satisfied, a Purchase and Sale contract is drawn up and reviewed by both buyer and sellers attorneys and is then signed by all parties. At this time the Buyer provides a deposit on the property (typically 10-20%) that is held in an escrow account by the listing company.  The listing agent is responsible in paying close attention to the P&S deadlines and making sure all aspects of the sale including, but not limited to, home inspections, septic inspection, confirmation of mortgage commitment and smoke/CO certificate/municipal compliances are completed and satisfied.

The Closing and Settlement

The listing agent is present when the Buyer does the final walk-through prior to closing and is with the Seller at the closing table. The listing agent and company are crucial in the sale of one’s' home - it is the role of the agent and company to successfully guide the Seller through the  entire process - from the initial listing and marketing consultation all the way to the closing table.

In summary, as your property comes closer to purchase and sale the listing agent will:

  • Present all offers and contracts to purchase to you immediately, along with earnest money deposits.
  • Assist you in evaluating the buyer’s proposal objectively.
  • Negotiate the best possible price and terms without compromising your financial position.
  • Orally qualify all prospective buyers to the best of his or her ability.
  • Attend the home inspection and any other scheduled inspections, such as pest, radon, well water, lead paint or carbon monoxide.
  • Provide comparable sales data to assist in the appraisal process.
  • Monitor the progress of the financial process.
  • Answer any questions that may arise at any stage from the initial sales agreement to the closing.
  • Accompany you to the conveyance of papers.

Seller’s Closing Costs

  • The following are most of the expenses generally incurred by the Seller:
  • Satisfying and discharging all existing mortgages and liens.
  • Drawing the new deed.
  • State Excise Stamps
  • Attorney fee for securing pay-off figures of present mortgage(s), drawing and recording discharge.
  • Brokerage fee for professional services.
  • Seller concessions, if any, plus points, if any.
  • Prorated taxes, water, sewer and any other utility bills, if applicable.
  • Betterments, if any
  • Securing smoke detector/co certificate.
  • Securing Title V septic certification, if applicable

Jane Booth is an affiliate of Kinlin Grover with offices from Bourne to Provincetown, Cape Cod, MA.
Call Jane at 508-221-7283.