BuyersGuide

BuyersGuide

 Congratulations

“Buying a home is one of the biggest investments and financial decisions you can make.  While it is a major commitment and responsibility, it is also a very exciting time in your life.  I’m proud that I will get to play a part in it, and I am excited about soon having the privilege of handing you the keys to your new home!

With that said, it’s important to keep in mind that home buying is a complicated process.  I will be working hard to make sure that everything is as rewarding as possible, guiding you at every step and making sure that your needs and desires are met.

This guide was designed to inform you about all steps of the home buying process so that you can feel confident, make informed decisions, and act as an educated buyer.  It will also help both me and you understand the things that you’re looking for in a home so that our search can be made as easy as possible.

Please take some time to review carefully all of the information presented here.  If you have any question about the topics discussed, I will be glad to go over them in detail.  Since every real estate transaction is unique, you will most likely have questions or concerns not presented here.  That’s what I’m for – to assist you at each step, to answer your questions, and help you find the home you desire!”

 

Step I

Choose a Buyer’s Agent

“What does Vicki Graham do for you?  Vicki will….

  • Simplify the entire buying process.
  • Represent you, the buyer.
  • Find you the right property…including listings that have not hit the market yet!
  • Tour properties that best match the criteria you have chosen.
  • Share evaluation of properties.
  • Listen to your feedback and fine-tune the search process accordingly.
  • Work with your current mortgage lender, or recommend a trustworthy and knowledgeable lender for your unique financing needs.
  • Negotiate the terms of your purchase.
  • Communicate and walk you through the entire process, all the way through closing.

What properties can Vicki Graham show you?  Vicki can…

  • Show any advertised property.
  • Show properties for sale by owner.
  • Homes not yet advertised as available for sale.
  • Existing homes.
  • New construction.
  • Acreage.
  • Vacant lots.
  • Investment properties.
  • Commercial properties.
  • Farm and Ranch property.

How much does it cost to hire Vicki Graham as my buyer’s agent? 

Vicki Graham is FREE to you the buyer…her commission is paid by the seller at the time of closing.

What do Vicki Graham’s past clients have to say about her?

“This is just a note to let you know how much I enjoyed working with one of your agents to sell some property.  I decided to sell 3 of my properties in Cheyenne in the last year, and Vicki Graham was the agent for them.  She did a wonderful job with each.  I can’t say enough about Vicki’s diligence in these transactions.  She was extremely responsive to my needs on each property, especially considering that one was a difficult sell.  Best of luck to you and your staff, and please pass along my gratitude to Vicki Graham for a job well done.  Thank you.”  (Paul C.)

See more testimonials at www.GrahamHouse.com/Testimonials

 

Step II

Preliminary Finance Concerns

Most homebuyers find that they need to finance at least part of their home purchase.  You’ll need to review your personal financial situation and make an informed estimate of your true purchasing power.

Your purchasing power will depend on:

  • Your Income
  • Your Credit Rating
  • Your Monthly Expenses
  • Your Down Payment
  • Available interest rate

Once you’ve made a rough estimate of how much home you can afford, it’s time to see a lender.  Your lending institution will ask you to give a complete profile of your financial situation.  In addition to your income, your existing debts and assets will determine how much money you can borrow.

Below you’ll find a list of documents you may be required to produce regarding your financial situation when you speak to a lender.  It is a good idea to gather these things now and have them on hand.  You will need to provide this information for all primary and co-borrowers.

  • Social Security Number
  • W2 Form from the previous two years
  • Pay Stubs (most recent months)
  • Employment History Summary
  • Bank Statements (Checking and Savings)
  • Creditor Information including:
    • Student Loans
    • Auto Loans
    • Credit Cards
    • Child Support
  • Federal Tax Returns (past 2 years)
  • Complete Record of Assets
    • Stocks, bond and investment accounts
    • IRA / Retirement plan
    • Life insurance policies
    • Automobiles owned
    • Construction loan
    • Gift letters
    • Documentation of other income

 

What not to do

There are a few actions that you can take that will negatively affect your credit score and therefore your home purchasing power.  If at all possible, you should avoid making a major purchase or changing your job if you’re seriously considering buying a home in the next few months.

Improving any of these areas will help you qualify for better lending terms, so keep that in mind before you speak with a mortgage professional.  If it’s possible to pay off a car loan or a credit card balance before you seek financing for your new home, the preferential financing terms that you could receive could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. 

After looking at this information for yourself, it’s time to speak to a qualified lender.  A professional advisor will not only be able to give you information on the best rates and terms available in the current market, but he or she can also explain to you what options you have given your unique financial situation.

Talking to a lender at this time will help you get a more accurate idea of what you can afford.  When we begin to look seriously at homes you’ll go back to the lender and shop around for the best loan available.  If you’re still looking for a qualified and experienced lending professional, I can provide you with a list of lenders that are highly recommended by most of my clients.”

Recommended Mortgage Lenders

Jonah Bank
Nancy Knaub
(307) 773-7815
nknaub@jonahbank.com
First Interstate Bank
Jaime Winchell
(307) 633-8445
Jaime.Winchell@fib.com

 

Step III

Which Home is the Right Home?

I’ve made a commitment to help you find a home that suits your wants and needs, so now it’s time for you to articulate exactly what those wants and needs are.  By sitting down and considering the kinds of things you’re really looking for, you can save a lot of time and frustration by avoiding houses that aren’t for you. 

 

What are you looking for?

Home Type

  • Single Family
  • Investment
  • Condominium/Townhome
  • Multi-Family Home
  • New Construction
  • Existing Home
  • Ranch
  • Bi-Level
  • Two-Story

Exterior Features

  • Large Yard
  • Small Yard
  • Fenced Yard
  • Garage
  • Car-Port
  • Patio/Deck
  • RV/Boat Parking

Location

  • Rural
  • In-Town

Interior Features

  • Air Conditioning
  • Carpeted Floors
  • Hardwood Floors
  • Tiled Floors
  • Walk-in Closets
  • Extensive Cabinet/Counter Space
  • Home Theater
  • Fireplace
  • Basement
  • Office Space
  • Master Bath
  • Minimum Bedrooms_____
  • Minimum Bathrooms_____

 

Now that you know what features the “right home” should have, you can move on to Step IV……

 

 

 

Step IV

Let the Search Begin!

Home shopping can be both exciting and exhausting, but doing some preparation before you hit the street to look at homes will help out tremendously.

Chances are you’ve already started your search online.  Please be sure to let me know about the properties you already have some interest in, as we can look at similar homes as well.  In addition to the sites that you’ve already visited, I recommend looking at the following sites too.

I also have virtual tours of many properties at www.GrahamHouse.com, so you can look there too.

When you find a listing online that you are interested in, please send it to me at Vicki@CheyenneHomes.com.   Not only will I arrange a showing time for us to view the property, I will also search the MLS for similar properties so you can look at other homes like the ones you’ve found.

Here are some great tips to keep in mind when you’re home shopping:

  • Don’t view too many properties in one day.
  • Bring a notebook, pen and a digital camera with you as you search.
  • Keep a folder with flyers or print-outs on properties you’ve viewed.
  • When you find a property you like, visit it at different time of the day.
  • Don’t be put off by interior decorations--they can and will be changed.

 

Step V

Making an Offer

When you’ve found a home that you want to own, it’s time to make an offer.   As your buyer’s agent, I will produce the necessary documents presenting your offering price and any contingencies to the seller.

You’ll want to review this document carefully and make sure it states your terms exactly.  If the offer is accepted by a seller, this contract will become a legally binding agreement.

Things to keep in mind

As a buyer, you will be in a better negotiating position if:

  • You have been pre-approved for a mortgage
  • You are not selling a house at the same time
  • You have not loaded your offer with contingencies

In addition to an offer contract, you will need to provide earnest money as well as a letter from your lender indicating your qualification to purchase.

Earnest Money typically equals between 1% to 3% of the property purchase price.   You will not be at risk of losing your earnest money as long as you do not default on your contract.  The amount will be credited towards the purchase price of the house at closing.

After you’ve made your offer, the Seller will be able to:

  • Accept your offer
  • Reject your offer
  • Execute a counter offer

Typical counter offer’s include (but are not limited to):

  • Purchase price
  • Closing Date
  • Possession Date
  • Inclusions

When you make an offer on a house, you should be prepared for the negotiations to go back and forth several times before both parties agree to the terms.  You might also have to compete with other interested buyers in certain market conditions. 

Remember, when you are in the counter-offer stage, you are not under contract, and the seller can accept another buyer's offer.

When an agreement is reached on all issues, and both the seller and you as the buyer have signed the offer, you are both under a legally binding contract.

 

Step VI

Getting to the Finish Line

Your offer is accepted!  Now it’s time to get to work.  Before we can close on the purchase of your new home, we need to take a few more steps to make sure the purchase is a sound decision.

Home Inspection

Why a Buyer Needs a Home Inspection

A home inspection gives the buyer more detailed information about the overall condition of the home prior to purchase.  In a home inspection, a qualified inspector takes an in-depth, unbiased look at your potential new home to:

•             Evaluate the physical condition: structure, construction, and mechanical systems
•             Identify items that need to be repaired or replaced
•             Estimate the remaining useful life of the major systems, equipment, structure, and finishes.

Appraisals are Different from Home Inspections

An appraisal is different from a home inspection.  Appraisals are for lenders; home inspections are for buyers.  An appraisal is required for three reasons:

•             Estimate the market value of a house
•             Ensure that the house meets FHA minimum property standards/requirements
•             Make sure that the house is marketable

FHA Does Not Guarantee the Value or Condition of your Potential New Home

If you find problems with your new home after closing, FHA cannot give or lend you money for repairs, and FHA cannot buy the home back from you.  FHA will not perform a home inspection nor guarantee the price or condition of the property.  It is important that you, the buyer, get an independent home inspection.   Ask a qualified home inspector to inspect your potential new home.

Be an Informed Buyer

It is your responsibility to be an informed buyer.  Be sure that what you buy is satisfactory in every respect. You have the right to carefully examine your potential new home with a qualified home inspector. You may arrange to do so before signing your contract, or may do so after signing the contract as long as your contract states that the sale of the home depends on the inspection.

A professional inspector will check on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the home.  This usually includes checking the following items;

  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing and waste
  • Disposal
  • Water heater
  • Insulation
  • Ventilation
  • HVAC system
  • Water source and quality
  • Waste disposal
  • Pests
  • Foundation
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Ceilings
  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Roof
  • Radon gas
  • Asbestos
  • Lead paint

You will receive a written report of the inspection and an estimate of the cost of any and all repairs.  If you choose to be present during the inspection, you can ask your inspector about unique features of the property and get his or her opinion on the necessary maintenance for each different area. 

Depending on the results of the inspection, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Get out of the written offer if major problems are discovered
  • Renegotiate the purchase price to account for necessary repairs
  • Negotiate that repairs are made by the seller before final purchase of the property

The National Association of Realtors® has recommended asking the following questions when choosing an inspector:

•             Exactly what the inspector does or does not inspect.
•             What scientific instruments are used such as moisture detectors, combustible gas detectors, and electromagnetic detectors?
•             About the inspector’s professional organization affiliations or memberships, education level, and licensing.
•             How many inspections the inspector has conducted and whether the inspector works full time.
•             What type of insurance the inspector has: does it include liability, errors, and omissions?
•             Whether the inspector is involved in any other business, such as home repair, that might represent a conflict of interest.

Recommended Inspectors

Top Shelf
Radon Inspection and Mitigation
(307) 637-5509
National Property Inspections
Radon Testing
(307) 433-0443
Absolute Electric
Electrical Inspection
(307) 421-8779
Marv’s Plumbing
Plumbing/Heating Inspections
(307) 635-4159
National Property Inspections
Home Inspections
(307) 433-0443

Recommended Insurance Providers

Farm Bureau
Chris Anderson
(307) 632-9008
Farmers Insurance
Ted or Debbie Romano
(307) 635-2856

 

Clearing the Home Title

Simply explained, “Title” is the right to own, possess, use control and dispose of property.  When you buy a home you are actually buying the sellers title to the home.  A deed is the written legal evidence that the seller has conveyed his or her ownership rights to you.

Before the closing meeting when the actual transfer of ownership occurs, the title specialist generally conducts a title examination.  The purpose of the title examination is to discover any problems that might prevent you from getting clear title to the home.  Generally, title problems can be cleared up before settlement, but in some cases severe title problems can delay settlement, or even cause you to consider voiding your contract with the seller. 

Some “clouds on title” can be corrected relatively easily while others can become quite complicated to remove.  You should insist on being kept informed of every step in the title examination process.  If title problems are uncovered, it is important for you to understand your legal rights. 

Title insurance

Title insurance is the best way to protect yourself against title defects that have occurred in the past, which may not appear until after you’ve taken ownership of the property.  Before a title insurance policy is issued, a title report is prepared based on a search of the public records.  This report gives a description of the property, along with any title defects, liens, or encumbrances discovered in the course of the title search.  It is different than casualty insurance in that you pay a onetime fee and it protects against past (as opposed to future) events.

Title insurance will protect you against title defects that were not discovered in the course of the title search.  If such a defect were discovered later, your title insurance would cover you.  If title problems are severe enough and not covered by insurance, you could actually lose your house.  A title insurance policy protects you and your heirs against title defects for as long as you own your home. 

I recommend purchasing title insurance from the following organization.

First American Title
511 W. 19th St.
Cheyenne, WY  82001
 
(307) 635-1181

Order an Appraisal

In Wyoming, appraisals are ordered by the lending institution.

An appraisal is an estimate of the value of a property made y a qualified professional.  The appraisal of your prospective home is as important as you credit history in obtaining a mortgage.  After all, the property you are purchasing serves as the collateral for the loan

Although the primary goal of the appraisal is to justify the lenders investment, at also protects you from overpaying.  Your lender will generally hire the appraiser and will charge you as the buyer a fee for the service.

If the appraisal falls short of the amount you wish to borrow, you may be refused a mortgage or offered a smaller amount on the mortgage.  Your offer contract will be contingent on whether the appraisal comes in at or above the purchase price you and the seller have agreed upon.

Closing

All the preparation is complete.  Now it’s time for closing!  Closing is the legal transfer of ownership of the home from seller to buyer.  It is a formal meeting that most parties involved in the transaction will attend.  Closing procedures are usually held at the title company.  Your closing officer will coordinate the signing of documents and the collection and disbursement of funds. 

In order to ensure a smooth closing you will need to:

  • Obtain homeowners insurance and provide the policy information to your lender or closing agent.
  • Review the Settlement Statement or HUD-1 that your lender or closing agent will provide you a couple of days prior to closing.  These documents will contain a detailed description of all costs associated with the transaction, including the exact dollar amount you will need to bring to closing.
  • Verify with your lender/closing agent any other items that you need to bring with you.  Examples are valid driver license and/or other forms of identification.
  • Conduct a walk-through of the prior to closing.  This will give you an opportunity to see that the condition of the house is the same as it was at the time of contact.  Additionally, you will be able to ensure that any repairs agreed to by the seller, based on the inspection, have been completed.

Contact Information

Photo of Vicki Graham, Broker Associate Real Estate
Vicki Graham, Broker Associate
#1 Properties
6106 Yellowstone Rd.
Cheyenne WY 82009
(307) 631-6884
Fax: Vicki@GrahamHouse.com