frequent asked questions
Frequently Asked Questions
What the first step of the home buying process?
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is the first step of the home buying process. Getting a pre-approval letter from a lender get the ball rolling in the right direction.
How long does it take to buy a home?
From start (searching online) to finish (closing escrow), buying a home takes about 10 to 12 weeks. Once a home is selected an the offer is accepted, the average time to complete the escrow period on a home is 30 to 45 days (under normal market conditions). Though, well-prepared home buyers who pay cash have been known to purchase properties faster than that.
What is a seller’s market?
- Economic factors – the local labor market heats up, bringing an inflow of new residents and pushing up home prices before more inventory can be built.
- Interest rates trending downward – improves home affordability, creating more buyer interest, particularly for first time home buyers who can afford bigger homes as the cost of money goes lower.
- A short-term spike in interest rates - may compel “on the fence” buyers to make a purchase if they believe the upward trend will continue. Buyers want to make a move before their purchasing power (the amount they can borrow) gets eroded.
- Low inventory - fewer homes on the market because of a lack of new construction. Prices for existing homes may go up because there are fewer units available.
What is a buyer’s market?
A buyer’s market is characterized by declining home prices and reduced demand. Several factors may affect long-term and short-term buyer demand, like: Economic disruption - a big employer shuts down operations, laying off their workforce.
- Interest rates trending higher – the amount of money the people can borrow to buy a home is reduced because the cost of money is higher, thus reducing the total number of potential buyers in the market. Home prices drop to meet the level of demand and buyers find better deals.
- Short-term drop in interest rates – can give borrowers a temporary edge with more purchasing power before home prices can react to the recent interest rate changes.
- High inventory – a new subdivision and can create downward pressure on prices of older homes nearby, particularly if they lack highly desirable features (modern appliances, etc.)
- Natural disasters - a recent earthquake or flooding can tank property values in the neighborhood where those disruptions occurred.
How much do I have to pay an agent to help me buy a house?
Listing brokers represent sellers and charge a fee to represent them and market the property. Marketing may include advertising expenses such as radio spots, print ads, television and internet ads. The property will also be placed in the local multiple listing service (MLS), where other agents in the area (and nationally) will be able to search and find the home for sale.
Agents who represent buyers (a.k.a. buyer’s agent) are compensated by the listing broker for bringing home buyers to the table. When the home is sold, the listing broker splits the listing fee with the buyer’s agent. Thus, buyers don’t pay their agents.
What kind of credit score do I need to buy a home?
Most loan programs require a FICO score of 620 or better. Borrowers with higher credit scores represent less risk to the lender, often resulting in a lower the down payment requirement and better interest rate. Conversely, home shoppers with lower credit scores may need to bring more money to the table (or accept a higher interest rate) to offset the lender’s risk.