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Frequently Asked Questions for Home Buyers

  • What items come with the property?

    The general rule is, “If it has to be removed with a tool, it stays.” However, some items are specifically included in the contract. The drapes, window treatments, & any pool equipment automatically stay. The refrigerator & washer/dryer do not come with the house, unless written into the contract. The stove, dishwasher, & any attached microwave or vent hood will stay, along with all light fixtures. If you have a question about a specific item, please don’t hesitate to ask!
  • How do we determine what to offer on a property?

    To determine Fair Market Value, we will run a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) on the property. This shows you what comparable properties in the same or similar neighborhoods have sold for recently, so tells you what the property is worth. After we have that information, we will determine what to offer based on the time the property has been on the market, if they’ve made recent price reductions, whether it’s vacant or occupied, & whether or not there are other offers on the property.
  • What is the Option Period?

    Texas contracts include an option period, which serves as your inspection period. You will pay a nominal fee (typically $200-$500) directly to the seller for the "option" to terminate the contract. If you walk away from the contract during option, your earnest money deposit will be refunded, but your option fee will not. The option period starts as soon as all parties have agreed to all terms and signed the contract, and is usually 7-10 days. During this time you will have the property inspected and negotiate any repairs. The seller can not terminate the contract during this period; Only you have the option to terminate. When you ask for repairs, the worst case scenario is a seller says "no" and you have to decide whether or not to proceed.
  • What are my upfront costs to purchase a property?

    You will need to pay the option fee (typically $200-$500) & earnest money deposit (typically 1% of the purchase price) to put a property under contract. You will then have to pay for an inspection, which is usually in the $500 range, though it can vary based on the home's size and if there are additional systems to inspect like a pool or septic system. Some lenders require you to pay upfront for the appraisal, but most don't. Beyond these upfront costs, all other costs will be paid at closing.
  • What happens if there is more than one offer on a home?

    There are no laws governing multiple offer situations, but there is an industry standard: Typically, the listing agent will notify all parties that there are multiple offers on the property and will ask for each buyer's "highest & best offer" by a certain time & date. We won't know what others are offering and they won't know what we're offering. You will want to put together your highest offer price & we will tighten up the offer terms to make the offer as attractive as possible, without compromising your protections. We have negotiated hundreds of multiple offers and have a strong track record of winning contracts for buyers.
  • What is an appraisal & how does it affect me?

    Your lender will require that an appraisal is performed to verify that your purchase price is the Fair Market Value of the property. The appraisal is usually performed after we’ve had the property inspected, costs roughly $500, and is paid for at closing. The appraiser will use the same process we did when we ran a Comparative Market Analysis, so we very rarely have appraisal issues. If, however, the property doesn’t appraise for value, you have the option to terminate the contract. In many instances, we will try to renegotiate the price of the property to the appraised value. Sometimes, we get a bad appraiser (we’ve had an appraiser sent from Waco to Austin before) and we contest the value in that case.
  • When is the best time to buy?

    In general, there is more inventory to choose from in the spring & summer, but there is more competition. During the fall & winter, prices are generally lower, but there is less inventory to choose from. More information & statistics are available here.
  • Should I get pre-approved for a mortgage?

    While it’s not necessary to begin casually looking online, it’s definitely a good idea to get pre-approved before you begin physically looking at properties. You will need a pre-approval letter to make an offer on a property, but just as importantly, your pre-approval will help you know how much your monthly payments will be at different price points. Read more about pre-approval here.
  • How long does it take to buy a property?

    The searching process varies from buyer to buyer, but it takes 30-45 days to close on your property after you’ve gone under contract, which is what sellers generally expect. Read more about the buying process here.
  • How much are closing costs?

    Most of your closing costs will be in connection with your loan & pre-paid escrow charges (property taxes, insurance, & interest.) In general, closing costs are in the 1% to 2% range, but they do vary based on the type of loan you choose. This is one of the many reasons we recommend getting pre-approved early in the process. If you’re a cash buyer, closing costs are minimal; Generally less than $1000. Click here to read more about closing costs.
  • What is a home warranty? How is it different from homeowner's insurance?

    A home warranty covers systems and smaller repairs in your home, like an air conditioner or stove. Home warranties are not required, but sellers will usually provide one year's coverage for you as part of the purchase contract. Home warranties usually have a small "trip charge" deductible of $50-$100. Homeowner's insurance is for larger, more rare events like a fire or burglary with a larger deductible that is generally 1% of the home's value. Mortgage lenders all require that you carry homeowner's insurance.
  • Are schools important for resale?

    It depends on the market. In the suburbs, where buyers value schools highly, school ratings are very important for resale. In central Austin neighborhoods, where schools have been poorly rated for years, school ratings don’t affect resale because the buyers for these homes don’t typically care about school ratings. If you do care about schools, GreatSchools.org is an excellent resource.
  • Should I get a home inspection? Should I attend?

    Absolutely! You definitely want to have your home inspected, and it's a great idea to walk through the home with the inspector after they are finished, which usually takes an hour. Your home inspector will go through the property with a fine tooth comb and tell you exactly what condition it’s in. You will find out if there are any repairs that need to be made immediately & what repairs you can expect in the future. Your inspector will check all major & minor systems: Foundation, plumbing, electrical, roof, HVAC, water heater, appliances, windows, structural integrity, & more. While not required by a lender, we do recommend getting a termite inspection at this time. While the price will vary based on the size of your home, the inspection is in the $500 range (and is paid at the time of inspection.) After we’ve reviewed the inspection, we will typically ask for the seller to make reasonable repairs or for a repairs credit.
  • Are the sellers required to make repairs?

    Sellers aren’t required to make any repairs, but reasonable sellers will agree to reasonable repairs request or a credit for repairs. It’s important to view repairs in context. If you’re purchasing a newer home, you would expect it to be in near new condition. If you’re purchasing a 50 year old home, you would expect it to be safe & functional, but not to be new.
  • What condition will the sellers leave the home in?

    Unfortunately, the standard contract is pretty fuzzy on this topic. Generally, sellers will have the property “broom clean” at closing. If it’s important to you that the property be professionally cleaned prior to closing, we can add that to special provisions.
  • What is a Home Warranty? Do I need one?

    In most transactions, a seller will credit you $400-$500 for a residential service contract (a home warranty.) If the property has a pool, they will credit you $700-$800, so that you get the additional pool coverage. A home warranty picks up what your homeowner's insurance policy doesn't cover. An insurance policy typically has a 1% deductible, so won't cover small items like a stove, dishwasher, or air conditioner. A home warranty does cover these items, and typically with a deductible in the $50-$75 range. Home warranties are great to have, but they're a hassle to deal with, should you call in a claim. They typically send a repairman out within 2 days, which can be a long time if your A/C goes out in the middle of August. Like any insurance or warranty company, they tend to try and cover as little as possible. So, when you Google different companies, you usually find bad reviews on all of them. If, after researching the home warranty, you prefer not to ask for one, we can always ask for a seller credit to your closing costs in the same amount a warranty would have cost ($400-$500.)
  • What is a Buyer's Representation Agreement? Do I have to sign one?

    A Buyer's Representation Agreement is a written agreement between you and an agent that you will use that agent's services to purchase a property for a certain period of time. Some agents require their buyer clients to sign an agreement, but we don't require this. A common sales pitch is that, "I only legally represent you if you sign a buyer's rep agreement." This is legally incorrect. As soon as we begin working together, we've created an implied agency, so we're obligated to act in your best interest (a fiduciary relationship.) Since we pride ourselves on our no pressure approach, we don't require buyers to sign a Buyer's Representation Agreement. However, if you would like to sign an agreement with us, we're happy to prepare and sign the agreement.
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