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Your
Smart Home
Buying Guide

No matter the task at hand, things go better when you have a plan. The same is true with buying a home. Here is our Eight Step Plan to help you through the process of buying and living in your dream home.

Soledad Canyon Organ Mountains Sunset

Step One

Define your dreams and goals

The first step to finding your dream home is to start with your dream! Have fun with this!

• Picture yourself already living in your future home – dig into your feelings about why it is so perfect.
• Imagine how you are spending your time, and how it makes you feel.
• How is it making your life better in terms of health, comfort, and enjoyment?
• Don’t forget financial well-being – you are building a future for you and your family!
Find out what is possible! With our knowledge of the local area and the latest in home technologies, we can help take your vision to new levels.

Step Two

Plan your finances

Knowing how you will finance your home enables you to start shopping for a home with confidence.

If you plan to get a mortgage, it is important to know how much you can put down, and what monthly payments are comfortable for you. Remember to factor in utility and maintenance costs when thinking about monthly payments.
Explore different lenders to see who can best meet your needs with great service and minimal fees. Getting pre-approval gives you an edge when buying a home because it tells Realtors® and sellers alike that you are a serious homebuyer. We can help connect you with lenders who offer services that are right for you.

Step Three

Shop for your home

Now that you know what you want in a home,
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 home search tools for a quick and easy way to get started.
When you find homes that pique your interest, it is important to act quickly! Contact us immediately - our experienced team can help you determine the value of these homes so you know you would be making a great investment in your future.

Step Four

Prepare and negotiate an offer

Once you have found the right home, we can help you determine an appropriate offer most likely to result in your being able to buy the home at the best price possible.

You’ll want to carefully review the offer document and clarify any questions that you may have prior to offering, because once the seller accepts your offer it becomes a binding contract. There may be counter offers, or you may find yourself in a multiple offer situation. You will need our extensive negotiation experience on your side as you navigate through this process to be sure you are successful in getting the home you choose.

Step Five

Set up Escrow at the Title Company

When your offer is accepted, we will send your fully signed Purchase Agreement to the Title Company, who will set up an escrow account and begin to prepare for closing.

You will deposit your Earnest Money check into the escrow account and it will be counted towards the purchase price at closing. Your home purchase team now includes your Realtor, your lender, and the title company, all working together to keep things running smoothly towards closing. You will give your loan officer a copy of the fully signed Purchase Agreement and so they can finalize loan terms.

Step Six

Inspect the property

The next step is to choose a home inspector from our list of qualified and experienced home inspectors.

The property may require other inspections if it includes a septic tank, well, or swimming pool. It is also important to be aware of potential health hazards like mold or radon gas. We will help you identify needed inspections and schedule them 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 analyzes the market value of the home and helps assure that you (and your lender) are getting good value. The survey shows the exact dimensions of your lot and layout of the home and any other improvements including rock walls, patios and other structures.

Step Eight

Start a great homeowner experience

Your Realtor, the Title Officer, and your lender have all been coordinating together to prepare for your closing day.

When that day arrives, you will sign all documents required by your lender and the Title Company to allow you to take title to the property. Your lender will let you know exactly how much you need to bring into closing for your down payment and closing costs. Once the property exchange has been recorded with Doña Ana County showing you as the new owner, you will receive the keys. Congratulations! This is just the beginning of a rewarding relationship with your new home! Our goal is not only to get you into your dream home, but to help you make this home everything you dreamed of. We have resources to help you get settled in and start truly making this home your own.

Want More Information on Buying a Home?

New or Resale?

Checkout our guide to help you decide

Why Buy New?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Why Buy Resale?

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

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!).

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.

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:

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.

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.

More Home Buyer Resources:

Why Buy Now

Why Buy a Home Now

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