Buy Smart

Your Smart Home Buying Plan

No matter the task at hand, things go better when you have a plan. The same is true with buying a home — whether you’re looking to acquire your first house or investment property. Here is our Eight Step Plan to help you through the process of purchasing your dream home. You can download a more detailed PDF version here.

Step one: Define your dreams and goals

The process of buying the right house for you begins with understanding your dreams and goals for homeownership. Have fun with this! Asking yourself “what, when, where, why and how” questions, is a great place to start.

Step two: Get pre-approved for a home loan

Securing a pre-approved loan enables you to start shopping for a home with confidence, because you know in advance just how large a loan you can expect to qualify for. Best of all, pre-approval gives you an edge when buying a home because it tells Realtors® and sellers alike that you are a serious homebuyer.

Step three: Shop for your home

Now that you know the type of house and location that best suits your needs, as well as how much home you can afford, it’s time to start shopping! Here’s where all of the work you’ve done to define your goals, dreams, and preferences will come in handy. Check out our versatile Smart Living search tools  for a quick and easy way to get started.

Step four: Prepare and negotiate an offer

Once you have found the right home, we will help you determine an appropriate offer most likely to result in your being able to buy the home at the best price possible. In the offer document you will specify the price you are willing pay, as well as list additional details relating to the purchase You’ll want to carefully review this document and clarify any questions that you may have prior to offering, because once the seller accepts your offer it becomes a binding contract.

Step five: Apply for your loan

Give your loan officer a copy of the fully signed Purchase Agreement and finalize loan terms.

Step six: Inspect the property

Once the offer and loan terms have been finalized, you will choose a home inspector from our list of qualified and experienced home inspectors, and we will help you arrange inspections to ensure your safety and the value of your investment.

Step seven: appraisal and survey of the property

If you are getting a mortgage, your lender will make arrangements for the property appraisal, which estimates the market value of the home and helps assure that you (and your lender) are getting good value.

Step eight: Bring it all together at the closing

On the closing day, you will sign all documents. The seller will be paid and you will receive the keys once the property exchange has been recorded with Doña Ana County showing you as the new owner. Congratulations! Your goal of owning your own home in Las Cruces has been achieved.

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Should I Buy New or Resale?

Why Buy New?

Sales Price

New homes may cost more than resale homes, but are often more energy efficient, and will have lower maintenance costs than resale homes.

Floor Plan

New floor plans are more open and flexible, representing newer lifestyle preferences, and incorporate more contemporary design features. And unless buying an already completed new home, you can choose your own colors and styles.


New homes can be built “green” with energy-efficient design and technology, and features that increase your health and comfort. With a certified green home, you can rest easy with independent 3rd party verification with documentation of how the home was built and how it will perform for you.

Smart Technologies

Some new homes are equipped to enable you to automate many modern features such as internet, cable and security systems, and allow you to control your home remotely.


New homes often have water-saving landscaping, especially in the front, but you may be left landscaping the back yard separately. Trees will take years to grow to an appreciable size.

Occupancy Time

If you are having a home built for you, it can take as much as six months to complete. Some builders build “spec” homes that can be available to move into right away.


New homes are often located in newer suburbs that may be away from the center of town and require a longer commute to work, schools, etc.

Why Buy Resale?

Sales Price

Resale homes general cost less than new homes, so you can usually get more for your money, in terms of quality and amenities.

Floor Plan

Older homes often have charming architectural features like crown molding or hard wood floors. Depending on their age and condition, they may need updating to meet today’s lifestyles and design preferences. Good news: renovations and upgrades can often be financed right into your mortgage.


It is a more “sustainable” choice to buy an existing home rather than to utilize more resources to build a new one. While most older homes aren’t as energy efficient as newer ones, it can be cost effective to upgrade the systems to current energy codes (or even better!).

Smart Technologies

More recent resale homes built since 2000 or so may have “smart wiring” already built in. It may be difficult to integrate smart technology into a much older home, but new wireless systems are making that a possibility.


Often the landscaping of a resale home is more established, with mature trees and shrubs. There is definite value in having a well-established yard with healthy, mature trees

Occupancy Time

Most resale homes are available for immediate occupancy after closing.


A nice advantage of resale homes is that they are often more centrally located in well-established neighborhoods, often with city amenities or transit within walking distance

Heads Up:

Not all new homes are the same! It’s often the things you can’t see (what’s inside the walls, how the home is constructed) that can make the difference between truly loving your home, or feeling it has not lived up to your expectations. At the Smart Living Team, we care about what is most important to you and will make sure you have the information and resources to make a great decision.

Contact us today and we’ll help you find a new home or home builder to meet your specific needs and goals.

Click here for information on home builders in our area.

Heads Up:

Resale homes typically are less energy efficient and have higher maintenance costs than brand new homes. At the Smart Living Team, we provide you with the resources to assess your total monthly cost to live in the home, including your mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance. With older homes, it is often very cost effective to build in the cost of renovations and upgrades right into your mortgage. We believe buyers should have a good idea of how well the home will meet their expectations and goals BEFORE they buy.

Contact us today and we’ll help you not only find the right home, but also provide the resources to identify and evaluate improvements that will make it your true dream home.

Click here for more information on contractors for home remodeling and energy upgrades.

How to find the right lender

Finding the right lender and the right mortgage loan for your situation is an important consideration in your home buying process. There are many different lenders and mortgage products to choose from. Even if you have a lender you have worked with before, we recommend that you interview several lenders before deciding who you want to go with for this home purchase.

We’ve spent years developing relationships with lenders that we work well with and trust. Download the Smart Living Directory of Lenders for updated contact information for these professionals.

Curious about just how much house you can afford to buy?


What type of loan is best? A good lender will answer by wanting to know more about your situation before recommending which loan will best fit your current needs. Beware those who push their product without finding out more about YOU first.


What are interest rates and what other costs will be associated with this loan? It is important not just to compare interest rates, but also the annual percentage rate (APR), includes the interest rate and other loan fees you have to pay. All these costs will be included on the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) which encourages consumers to compare fees from various lenders before choosing a mortgage.


What additional costs will I be expected to pay? Most loans include costs required by third-party vendors, such as appraisal (usually around $450), credit report (usually $20 to $30), title company closing fees (around $200), etc. These costs will also be included on the GFE.


Are you equipped to approve loans in-house? Ask if they can handle their own underwriting. Loan underwriters review loans and issue conditions before approving or rejecting a loan. Banks and Mortgage Companies that have their own underwriters are usually able to process loans much more quickly. Note: VA and FHA loans typically take longer to process.