A Guide to Finding your Dream House
Buying a house is about more than seeking shelter; it’s about finding a sanctuary and a place to build your future. It’s important to us that you feel empowered and educated as you begin your search for a new place to call home.
The click-through timeline below is a step-by-step guide that explains what to expect during each phase of the home-buying process.
Finding your Dream Home
Is it a home on a lake, with a beach and a boat dock? A three-acre homestead with mature oaks, a big garden and a chicken coop? A sunny cottage with a wood-burning fireplace? We understand how important the idea of “home” is, because it’s important to us, too. And your search for the right home starts with a little dreaming about how your future space meets your values and ideals.
Initial Meeting—Let’s Get a Coffee
Meeting over coffee or drinks is our favorite way to learn about you and your plans. It’s an opportunity for you to gain insight into the real estate market, ask us questions, and clarify your goals and options. “Home” means something different to everyone and we want to understand what it means to you.
You have a lot of choices to make as you begin your search – including whether you want to navigate the purchase process alone or with the help of an experienced real estate team.
Whether you’re a first time home buyer or a seasoned real estate investor, we’ll ensure you’re well equipped to make educated decisions as you begin looking for your new home.
We Are Buyer’s Agents!
Buyer’s agents help you discover properties you many not find on your own, offer an experienced eye as you walk through each house, negotiate on your behalf, and keep track of the paperwork and timelines involved in purchasing a home. Simply put, we’re your biggest advocate.
By default in the state of Wisconsin, a buyer’s agent is a sub-agent of the listing broker. By putting a buyer agency agreement in place, we represent you and your best interests throughout your home-buying experience, usually at no cost to you.
Matt’s background in engineering, construction, and remodeling provides unique insight into how properties are built, what issues may need immediate attention, and how you could remodel a property to meet your future ideals. Havin
g an experienced partner on your team who can offer this knowledge upfront empowers you to make informed decisions, and avoid potential surprises.
A Pre-Approval Letter from your Lender
Before you begin looking at homes, it’s a good idea to work with a lender to obtain a mortgage pre-approval letter. The lender verifies your income, assets, credit score, and employment history and lets you know how much money you can expect to borrow.
A pre-approval letter plays in your favor when you find the perfect home because it shows the seller that you can obtain financing. These letters can be the deciding factor in a seller accepting your offer over another.
Your Customized Property Search Portal
We set up our clients with a customizable property search tool called a ‘portal’ that connects directly to the multiple listing service (MLS). This indispensable tool ensures you’re getting the most accurate, comprehensive, and up-to-date listing information available.
Our portal is efficient and easy to use. Once we create your username and you’ve selected a password, you can rate homes, send us messages on a particular listing, make notes on properties, request a showing, share listings on Facebook or Twitter, and create ‘custom carts’ where you gather a collection of homes that communicate your preferences and keep your
search organized. You can also see homes that already have accepted offers. No other search tool, not even Realtor.com, will show you accepted offer homes!
We can also provide additional searches, including Sold, Expired and Withdrawn listings. This information is widely varied on third web sites, and we are able to provide accurate statistics directly from the MLS. These searches allow you get a good feel for what similar properties have been selling for, as well as which ones have not been selling due to various reasons.
While third-party real estate sites like Trulia and Zillow can be a good starting point, not all real estate brokerages syndicate their listings to those sites. If you’ve been relying on one of those sites, there’s a good chance you may not be receiving all of the active listings available.
Single Showings and Multiple Property Tours
Now for the part you’ve been waiting for! We’ll organize single showings or multiple property tours to make the best use of your valuable time.
Matt’s extensive construction background and Brynn’s intuitive insight make property tours informative and fun. We’ll help you focus on everything from the mechanicals and construction materials to the aesthetics and upgrade possibilities. And we won’t hesitate to tell you when a property is overpriced or needs substantial updating compared to similarly priced listings.
When there is plenty of inventory on the market, we recommend visiting multiple homes so you can compare and contrast the amenities while each property is fresh in your mind.
Paperless Offer Process
Making an offer on a home is the first interaction between buyer and seller and can influence impressions and emotions on both sides. We’ll help you frame your offer in the best possible light and structure your terms based on the property’s characteristics as well as competition from other buyers.
Today’s technology also affords you the luxury of a completely paperless offer process. The platform, called Digital Ink, lets you electronically sign documents from anywhere with an internet connection. When competition is tight or you’re traveling away from home, you no longer need to worry about missing out on your ideal property.
Paper offers still have their place in the purchase process and can prove useful when you’ve found the perfect home, and someone else thinks it’s perfect, too!
As your agent, our number one goal is to ensure you get the property that you want. We’ll let you know what outcome to expect based on your offer terms, and which terms to adjust to ensure the highest probability of success.
Depending on the gap between offer terms and listing terms, it’s not uncommon to go through 3-4 rounds of counteroffers.
When excitement and emotions are running high, we provide a calm, experienced presence to handle negotiations on your behalf.
Offer Accepted—What’s Next?
Take a moment to celebrate! Then, on average, get ready for a fast 4-5 weeks from accepted offer to closing.
We’ll guide you through the timelines associated with any contingencies included in your offer. It’s common to have contingencies for financing (obtaining your loan), property appraisal (required by your lender), and home inspection (we’ll attend the home inspection with you).
We’re also here to help you negotiate any changes in terms that may arise as a result of working through these contingencies.
Underwriting & Loan Commitment
Once your lender has all your necessary paperwork, along with a satisfactory appraisal, they will ensure your loan meets their underwriting guidelines, and will issue a loan commitment form.
The loan commitment form is furnished to us, the listing agent, and the seller. It provides confirmation to the seller that all contingencies have been satisfied, and your offer is clear to close.
Your Pre-Move Checklist
No doubt, this is one of the biggest events of your life. There are a lot of details to keep track of as your closing date approaches. Here are a few things you should have on your to-do list at this point in the process:
- Confirm the move date with your moving company or helpful family and friends
- Set up utility and service accounts in your name
- Change your address and forward mail
- Have a yard sale
- Start packing!
Final Walk-Through & Closing
You’re almost home!
Before closing, we encourage you to perform a final walk-through of the property to ensure nothing has been damaged or changed. We will always accompany you, and it typically works best an hour or two before closing.
Your closing date is determined by the initial terms of your offer; however, we can notify your lender if you would prefer a certain time of day. Between 10:00am-3:00pm works best as it ensures there is enough time for the lender’s wire-transfer of funds to go through.
Closing usually takes place at the title company or your lender’s office. Once the closing documents have been signed, you’ll receive the keys to your new home. If the sellers haven’t pre-signed their documents, you’ll get a chance to ask them questions and wish them well as they pass their former home into your competent and waiting hands.
Congratulations on your new home! As you unpack and settle in, here are a few things to do as soon as possible:
- Change the locks
- Change the furnace filter
- Set your water heater to an appropriate temperature
for maximum energy savings
- Program your thermostat for maximum energy savings
- Meet your new neighbors
- Invite your buyer’s agents over for a cook out
- Relax and enjoy!