Buying Your Property in Hawaii
The first step in buying a property is to understand what you hope to achieve and why. When you begin to think about buying a new house, there are many questions you should ask yourself such as:
Why do you want to move?
What are the most important features to you in a house?
How much can you comfortably afford to pay?
Are there any lifestyle changes you are planning in the foreseeable future?
How soon do you want to move?
What part of town do you want to live in?
What school district do you want your kids to go to school in?
Those are a few of the many questions that I will discuss with you in our "Strategy Planning" meeting.
This 30-60 minute meeting will help you to clearly define your goals and then I will work hard with you to achieve them.
If you would like for me to start working right away on finding your perfect new home, fill out this form and email me today. Property Search Form
An important part of the home buying process is to be qualified for a loan. I will work to help you find the best rate with the best terms. I can put you in touch with many different mortgage brokers to insure that you find the best deal. You should try to get a "pre-qualification" letter before you start actively looking for a house. It typically takes 20 minutes. Some data you should have ready is your and your spouse's name, address, phone numbers, social security numbers, and past two years of employment, residential, bank, asset and debt information. If possible, you should try to get pre-approved for a loan which is a more serious level of commitment from a lender than a pre-qualification. To receive a loan pre-approval, all employment and credit is verified. This will mean that you are approved for a loan, subject to a final credit check and an appraisal of the property you choose to buy.
Make sure to inquire about all loans costs (origination fees, discount points, etc) and find out about closing costs. Closing costs are the fees for services, taxes or special interest charges that surround the purchase of a home. They include upfront loan points, title insurance, escrow or closing day charges, document fees, prepaid interest and property taxes. Studies show that the closing costs, which can average 2 to 3 percent of a total home purchase price, are often more costly than many buyers expect. Unless, these charges are rolled into the loan, they must be paid when the home is closed.
During the pre-qualification process, you will be asked if your agent can have access to your mortgage process. It is to your advantage to say yes. In that way I can keep abreast of the process of the loan and keep on top of any paperwork that needs to be completed. I will not be made aware of any of your personal financial information (e.g. salaries, bank accounts, etc.). I will only know the loan amount you've been approved for and pertinent information on the progress of paperwork.
Looking for a Home
Looking at homes can be a wonderfully exciting time or a tiring series of disappointments filled with anxiety and frustration. I try to take the stress out of the process so you can concentrate on the excitement. The first, and in some ways most important, part of this process is the Strategy Planning meeting to thoroughly and honestly discuss your hopes, dreams, plans and goals. Both you and your spouse should attend this meeting so that everyone has a chance to express his or her thoughts. At that time I will ask you to sign a Buyers Agency agreement stating that I am representing you as your sole agent. When you sign this agreement, you are engaging me to work diligently to advocate your best interests. I will advise you about house prices, neighborhoods, schools, crime statistics and a wealth of other valuable information. I will also help you through the process of making an offer, negotiating a contract, conducting an inspection, closing and moving. I will recommend several lenders to help you get pre-qualified and/or pre-approved for a loan.
Now I can go to work for you. Taking into consideration the goals you set in the Strategy Planning meeting and the pre-qualification information, I will begin to research neighborhoods and houses that might appeal to you. I often preview homes and will then make appointments to tour some targeted homes with you. After the tour, we will have a quick "debriefing" conversation so that I can continue to refine the search process. If you're driving around and see a house you like, call me and I'll give you all the details and make arrangements to visit it. Feel free to visit open houses, just mention that you already have an agent if you are asked. I can provide you with additional information about any house that interests you. Because of my in-depth research and the time I spend understanding your needs and goals, I save you time, effort and money. This helps you to focus on enjoying the fun and excitement of planning for a new life in your new home.
You've found a house that you really like, it fits your needs, it has potential and you're ready to make an offer. I will help you to determine whether or not the house is priced fairly by doing an extensive Comparative Market Analysis. I will then help you through the process of writing up an offer. At that time you will need to write an Earnest Money check (made out to a title company) to show that this is a serious offer. This check will be cashed and held in an escrow account by the title company until closing. You will set a date for possession. In the contract we typically request an option period of a certain number of days in order to do inspections. You will need to write a check (made out to the seller) for a nominal amount to pay for the house being taken off of the market during the option period. If you don't like what the inspections find, then you can change your mind without penalty and the Earnest Money (but not the option money) will be returned to you. Once you have passed this limited time period then you will forfeit the Earnest Money if you don't close UNLESS that is due to not being qualified for the loan by the lender.
Some of the words in the previous paragraph may not be familiar to you. Let's look at them:
Earnest Money - a check made out to a Title Company as a show of "good faith" that you are seriously intending to buy the house. The amount is usually around 1% of the home's value.
Escrow Account- a special account administered by the Title Company that holds your Earnest Money until closing.
Title Company- a company that verifies the validity of a title and offers insurance to protect against problems with any liens on a property or clouds on a title. This company also conducts the closing.
Closing- the actual process of transferring the title of a house from the seller to the buyer (including assigning any liens to lenders for mortgages).
An important step to protect your best interests when buying is to have an inspection done by a qualified inspector. You should also get a termite and wood eating insect inspection. You will typically pay for these inspections. I will help you set up appointment times that must be agreeable to the seller. I can provide you with several names. I will also try to be at the appointment and I would advise you to attend the inspection as well. It is a great opportunity to ask questions about your prospective home and learn important information about where everything is and how it works.
When the inspection reports come in, you will need to decide if the home is acceptable "as is". If you require repairs to be made, then you will have to negotiate with the seller. At that point you make a counter offer to the seller requesting either that the repairs be done before closing or extra money to be given to you at closing to cover repairs. The seller can either negotiate these points with you or decide to not continue to negotiate. In this case, the contract falls through and the seller would be free to accept another offer and your Earnest Money would be returned to you. When this matter is settled and you have negotiated a final contract with the seller, you need to contact your lender to request an appraisal and start planning your move. A day before closing or on the same day, it is recommended that you walk through the house to make sure that everything is in order.
Change of Address
As closing date approaches, you should file a change of address. File an official change of address form at you local post office or online in the advance so that your mail delivery will not be interrupted. Many corporations, such as credit card companies and magazine subscriptions, take 1 or 2 months to process a change of address. So begin notifying them as soon as possible. It's a good idea to have change of address labels printed so that you can easily alert family, friends and business correspondents of your address change. Leave 20-30 labels behind for the new occupants of your previous house and ask them to forward any of your mail that they might still receive.
The exciting day is finally here! I will accompany you to closing to make sure that everything goes smoothly. I always try to verify in advance that all of the paperwork is in order. I also request a copy of the statement sheet so that you can read over it before closing. Feel free to ask any questions either before the closing or during the closing itself. Typically this is when you take possession of the house so take the keys and you can move in anytime.