Most Common Home Buyer Questions

Buying real estate is a big endeavor with many steps which in turn and unsurprisingly, leads to a lot of questions. Understanding the basics of buying a home is a great place to start. That’s why we are answering the most common questions asked by home buyers below.


What is the first step in the home buying process?

The first step should be getting a mortgage pre-approval. Unless you are paying cash for a house, you will need to get a mortgage. In order to know how much home you can afford, you will need to get pre-approved for a loan. This is the first-step in the home buying process.


Should I talk with a bank before looking at homes?

Much like the first question above, there are tons of reasons why you should talk with a bank and get pre-approved before looking at homes. First and most importantly, talking with a bank before looking at homes helps you understand exactly how much you can afford. There is no reason to look at homes that are listed for $300,000 if you can only afford up to $250,000.


If you’re a first time home buyer, talking with a bank before looking at homes is strongly suggested, as there are many first time home buyer programs available. These programs can vary from state to state and county to county, so knowing exactly what’s available to you, is critical.


Finally, another important reason to talk with a bank before looking at homes is so you understand exactly what costs are associated with buying a home. There are many home buyers who don’t understand the difference between a down payment, prepaid items, and escrows, which can be thoroughly explained by a mortgage professional. A mortgage professional can give you advice on the type of financing you should be looking to obtain and also whether or not you should request the seller to contribute towards your closing costs, also known as a seller’s concession.


Do I really need a real estate agent when buying a home?

There are many reasons you want to hire a real estate agent when buying OR selling property. Buyers usually have a pretty solid idea in mind of what they want in a property, from number of bedrooms and bathrooms, to an attached garage to any number of other must-have and must-not-have factors. You’ll probably feel pretty comfortable looking at homes with that list tucked firmly in the back of your mind. But your agent will be alert for issues that might not cross your mind, such as maintenance issues, additional hidden fees, roofing problems, and mold and insect issues. An agent will recognize the telltale signs of these problems and know how best to approach them. Your agent can hand over researched, current, and reputable data regarding a neighborhood’s demographics, crime rates, schools, and other important factors. That’s a lot of time-consuming research to do on your own, particularly if you don’t know where to start. You can read more reasons why hiring a real estate agent benefits you by clicking here.


What is pre-qualifying versus pre-approval?

In pre-qualification, you are given an estimate of what you may be able to borrow. This is a quick way to know what price range you should be looking in. Pre-approval means a financial institution has agreed to work with you and has taken a thorough look through your finances.


How much money do I need for a down payment?

The answer may surprise you, but it’s no longer 20%. All loan options are different, but the average down payment is now 3% to 5%. If you or the property you’re purchasing qualifies for a VA or USDA loan, you aren’t required to put any money down. Loans can be complicated, read more about qualifying for a loan here.


How many homes should I see before making an offer?

You should see as many as you need to ensure you find your dream home! On average, home buyers will look at hundreds of homes online but will see anywhere from 8 to 15 homes in person before writing an offer. If you’re looking for a way to narrow down your search, talk to your real estate agent about getting a current up-to-date list of what’s available in your desired communities. 


Can I buy a home and sell my current one at the same time?

Absolutely! Of course, there are pros and cons to buying a home before selling your current home and the same can be said about selling your current home before buying another. The biggest benefit to buying a home before selling your current home is the fact that you have a suitable property lined up. This can reduce the stress and pressure of having to find a home once your current home is sold. 

Alternatively, the time it takes to sell your current home is unpredictable.  There is no crystal ball that exists that can tell you exactly how many days it will take.  Selling your current home before buying a new home will put you in an ideal position to negotiate on the new home you’re purchasing due to the fact you are purchasing without the sale contingency of your current home.


Who pays realtor fees?

One reason why buyers ask the question about the need of having a realtor when buying a home is because they don’t understand who pays the agent fees when buying a home. There are no guarantees, however, in most cases the seller pays the realtor fees.


When can I back out if I change my mind?

You can always back out of a deal, but you may have to forfeit the earnest money you put down with the offer. Earnest money is typically around 1%-2% of the home’s price.


Besides the down payment, what are the other fees involved?

You should also take into consideration the loan origination and closing costs. The down payment is usually the largest cost associated when buying a house and lending fees tend to be the second most. Many lenders will charge between 2% to 4% of the loan amount for loan origination fees, depending on the loan type. Conventional loans usually have lower loan origination fees, but require more money down.


When do I get the keys to my new home?

Usually, you will get the keys at the closing. Once you find a house and have an accepted offer, it usually takes around 30 days to close. If everything goes relatively smoothly between the buyer and the seller then you can expect it to take around 40 days total. In some cases, the lender will need time to fund the loan and you will need to pick up the keys after the loan has been funded. If you have a Friday evening closing and the loan cannot be funded until Monday, you may not get the keys until Monday. Make sure to coordinate your closing to get the keys on the same day, if that is what you want or need.


There are many more questions that come to mind during the home buying process. Our team at Coldwell Banker Carroll Realty has the most up-to-date information to better serve you no matter if you are in the process of buying or selling property! Our local agents will make sure you are in the know when buying or selling a home with us. We have experienced real estate professionals throughout 30a, Panama City, and Panama City Beach ready to help! Contact any of our Coldwell Banker Carroll Realty offices to get started today.