I will answer two different questions. First time home buyer steps and short sale information.
First time home buyer tips
Are you a first time home buyer? Here are some helpful tips to get you started on the right path.
1. The first step before you do anything is to find out how much money you can borrow from a bank/mortgage company. Check with different lenders to see who can get you the best deal. Once you know what you can afford, then you can begin to plan.
2. Determine what you need in a home, not necessarily what you want in a home. Make a list of those needs to give to your Realtor. When you are searching for homes you will find that it is very rare to find a home that has absolutely everything you are looking for. If you stick to what you actually need, you will have better success in your search.
3. Research areas/communities that are of interest to you. Determine what things are important such as schools, proximity to shopping, restaurants, and local activities. Drive through the communities to get a feel for what they are like.
4. Learn as much as you can about the process of buying a home. Some local Realtors or lenders will offer first time home buying seminars. If you can find one in your local area it would be helpful to attend. If you cannot attend a seminar, look on the Internet for a home buyers guide such as the one at Bankrate.com - http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/real-estate/BuyerGuide2004/
5. Select a local Realtor to help you begin your search for a home. You can search Internet sites such as Realtor.com or Homes.com, but a Realtor has access to all of the homes in the local MLS. They can provide you with information on the home, the area and answer any questions you may have. A Realtor can show you properties of interest.
6. Learn about the contract and what is involved. Your Realtor can take you through step by step the process of a contract. After it is signed by buyer and seller, it is called an executed contract. Then you would want to get a home inspection. If everything is fine with the inspection, then you can go forward towards closing.
7. Know what happens at closing. Again, a Realtor can walk you through what to expect at closing. You will need to have money for closing costs such as title search, processing fees, taxes, and insurance.
Buying your first home is an exciting and overwhelming experience. So make sure you are prepared.
Buying a Short Sale
Buying a short sale is not like buying a property in a traditional way. A short sale may have some risk but it also can be very rewarding. When you are searching for a short sale you will want to make sure you are prepared. Here are some things you will need to consider.
First of all, you need to make sure that you have enough time. It takes anywhere from 30 days to 6 months or even more to get an answer on a short sale. It really depends on many factors. It requires a proof of funds letter if paying cash or a pre-approval letter from a lender if obtaining a mortgage. The seller must approve the purchase offer before it gets submitted to the bank. The bank may come back with a counteroffer or reject your offer completely. In some instances you may not even hear back from the bank at all.
Short sales take a long time because the bank has to review it and they are back logged with many short sales and don't have enough coverage to complete them in a timely manner. The bank typically is willing to work with the seller and buyer on short sales to help avoid foreclosure. The bank can ask the buyer to pay some of the liens or HOA fees. Some lenders will only pay up to a certain dollar amount and ask the buyer to pay the remainder or there is no deal.
One of the benefits of buying a short sale is that the bank is typically willing to accept less money for the property because of the time and risk involved. So you generally are getting the home at below market value.
If you have the time to wait, a short sale is a good way to go. One thing to be sure to ask when purchasing a short sale is, "who is handling it?" Is the Realtor an experienced short sale expert? Or is the listing agent using a Short Sale company that strictly focuses on short sales? By having someone with knowledge and expertise in short sales, it will make the process go much smoother and faster.
Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Green Lion Realty, Port Charlotte, FL firstname.lastname@example.org