1. Hiring a Real Estate Professional
The first step in my Everybody Loves Nashville Real Estate Buyers Guide is the most important. Real Estate Agents are important partners in your home buying process. Best of all, the agent is compensated from the commission paid by the seller of the house. Good news for you right?!
Note: Many agents today also charge a fee that is paid upfront when you begin the home search. This weeds out clients who are not serious about buying. The amount depends on the agent, and it is often between $100-500. They may credit this fee back to you at closing or not. Check with your agent to find out exactly how they handle this.
I also want to stress that going unrepresented in a market as hot as Nashville gives you a huge disadvantage. It benefits you to have the representation of a competent Realtor on your side of the negotiating table. If you’re ready to get started, feel free to give me a call or text at (615) 500-9513. I look forward to talking with you!
2. Pre-Qualification for Financing
Before we can start searching for a property, it’s important to have a clear idea of the budget you’re working with. If you’re paying cash, skip to step #3, but if you are going to get a loan, it’s time to call your favorite Mortgage Broker. If you don’t have one, I’m happy to suggest some great local Loan Officers who will get you pre-qualified.
And I stress the word “local.” There are many options when it comes to getting your loan, but working with someone who is local (and who picks up the phone when you call) will make a HUGE difference in your home buying process and how fast and efficiently things move.
3. Wants and Needs
Once you’re ready with pre-qualification, it’s time to narrow down your wants and needs. When I meet with you, we’ll discuss the features of your ideal property including:
- desired location (as a relocation expert, I have knowledge of neighborhoods throughout the Nashville area)
- features of the home (pool, new construction, number of stories, in-law suite, 2 car garage, acreage, and more.)
- school zones (I can give you resources to get details on area schools)
- traffic/commutes (this is a key factor in Nashville and I’m very skilled and mapping this out for you)
- proximity to recreational activities that you enjoy (golf, water sports, hiking, music venues, restaurants)
Now that we have your list of wants, I’ll work with you to narrow down to your needs. Shopping for properties is really about compromise. If you have an unlimited budget, you can get everything you want, but otherwise, there is always going to be give and take in the process.
Finding the best fit for you and your family begins with a clear understanding of what we’re looking for.
4. Daily E-mail Updates
Now that we’ve discussed your wants and focused in on the needs that are a priority, I love setting my buyers up for e-mail updates directly from the Multiple Listing Service, also known as the MLS. The listings will be fine tuned to show just the properties that meet your search criteria.
These emails are great for clients who like to keep an eye on the market but they’re CRITICAL for anyone who is actively searching for a property. I can set the search to send you an e-mail each morning or, if you want to act faster, you can be alerted as soon as a new property hits the MLS. When something peaks your interest, you’ll just e-mail or call me and we can set up a time to take a look.
6. Staying Organized in the Home Search
Now it’s time to view some homes! I will set up all the listing appointments and map out our route. I also give my clients a three ring binder with all the listing sheets for the houses we look at. Taking notes on these pages can be incredibly helpful when you’re seeing a number of houses. Trust me, they all start to run together. I also suggest that when you leave a house, you give it a score in at the top/right corner of the page so you can keep track of which ones were high on the list.
If you’re ready to see what’s currently on the market in Nashville real estate, give me a call or text at (615)500-9513.
Your perfect home may have hit the market today and I would love to help find what you’re looking for. Even if you’re just starting to think about moving, go ahead and call me so you can start getting an idea of what’s out there in your area…
7. Negotiate the Offer
Once we find a property that feels like “the one,” it’s time to make an offer. This is when having a licensed realtor on your side is CRUCIAL. Offer strategy not only involves pricing, it also includes the terms of the financing, earnest money, contingencies, home inspections, appraisal, closing costs, and the time line for the whole process. The owners will either accept the offer, reject it, or submit a counter offer.
Once an offer is accepted and bound, the clock starts on getting a number of things done. I’ll send you e-mail reminders for everything you need to do as I help to orchestrate all the tasks that will get us to the closing table.
8. Obtaining the Loan
After the Purchase and Sale Agreement is “signed, sealed, and delivered,” it’s time to work with your mortgage banker to close your loan. You already started the process with pre-qualification, so now you’ll be asked to provide additional documentation to get approved for the loan.
I will provide them with all the property information they need and also check in as we move closer to our closing date to make sure we’re on track.
9. Earnest Money/Escrow
Whatever earnest money was promised in the Purchase and Sale Agreement, now needs to be deposited and held in escrow. At Village Real Estate, all earnest money is held by the title company.
If you’re wondering “What is earnest money?” It’s a personal or certified check for a pre-determined amount that basically shows the seller that you’re serious. If everything goes well, and we get to the closing table, that money would be applied as a credit toward the buyer’s purchase price or in the form of a refund check to the buyer.
The three main contingencies that would allow the buyer to walk away from the deal and get their earnest money back. Those involve the lenders approval of the financing, the findings of the inspection, or the appraisal. I will discuss these contingencies more in-depth with you in person, because it’s so important to understand fully as we’re writing the offer on a house.
10. Select a Title Company
As the buyer, it’s time for you to select a title company. You want someone who is local, accessible, and a good communicator who picks up the phone when we call to check on things. Closings can be delayed when a Title Company is not on their game. I’m happy to give you a referral for this.
The title company will do a title search to make sure there are no liens or assessments on the title. If there are issues or defects, they will let you know. Title issues can affect the value of the property, but they’re usually able to resolve them, and clear the title. Once the title is deemed “Clear” the Title Company will issue a title commitment letter and prepare all the paperwork for changing the title.
11. Home Inspection
It’s very important that the inspection is done in a timely manner to keep our closing date on track. When Home Inspection Day arrives, it’s likely your first chance to get into the house since you made the offer. I think it is incredibly important that you walk through with the inspector and learn as much about the house as you can. Bring a note pad, ask questions, and take notes. The home inspection will cover the the following areas:
- Structural Components
- Exterior Faults
- Heating/Air Conditioning
If the Home Inspection Report comes back with issues, we have to make a decision about what’s worth fighting for. I suggest that you focus on health and safety issues, and if you feel that repairs need to be made, I will issue a Request for Repair. Then we’ll negotiate back and forth to reach an agreement.
Your mortgage lender will order an appraisal the home because the property is the underlying asset that serves as collateral for the loan. They need to get confirmation of the value. Now, getting that appointment for the appraiser to come out can take some time, depending on your location and the time of year. This is the #1 way our closing date will get held up. So, you’ll be very glad you picked a great, local mortgage lender who is on top of things and will order the appraisal in a timely fashion.
When the results come back from the appraisal, sometimes, the number is lower than the selling price. That’s a problem because the lender is not going to loan you more than what that property is worth. At that point you have a few options:
- Walk Away from the Deal
- Rebuttal of Value – Be aware that the appraiser will rarely change their findings
- Order Another Appraisal – Sometimes two or three, but you foot the bill for this
- Negotiate with the Seller
Negotiating with the Seller is the best case scenario when the seller is willing to budge a little on the price. They may say no and let the deal go, but they might feel that any future deal is going to run into the same issue and decide to split the difference. It’s a negotiation that will make you VERY glad to have a great real estate agent working with you to coordinate everything.
13. The Final Walk Through
One last step and we’ll be at the finish line. It’s best to do the walk-through within 24 hours of closing to make sure that nothing has changed since the home inspection and that the seller has completed any required repairs. This is the time when you need to:
- Check that repairs stated in the inspection summary have been completed
- Make sure to get the keys to every door lock in the house including the garage, and sheds
- Get the garage door openers and make sure they work
- Get any alarm codes if there’s a security system
- Check electrical systems by turning lights on and off (bring your cell phone charger to test outlets)
- Open and close all windows to make sure they work and that they lock
- Check appliances
- You should also do a general walk around the interior and exterior of the house to make sure they didn’t do anything crazy like take a shrub or tree out of the yard (it happens!)
The house should be left in clean condition and none of the seller’s property should be left behind unless it was included in the Purchase and Sale Agreement. This is the time to speak now or forever hold your peace.
If the walk-though reveals any repair issues, if the seller didn’t leave things they were supposed to leave with the property, or if they didn’t remove things they were supposed to, I will contact the sellers and hopefully everything can be remedied easily. If not, don’t panic. At worst, we will delay closing a bit to get everything settled.
Congrats, we made it to closing day!
In Middle-Tennessee we usually do what’s called Split Closings. This is where the buyer and seller close separately, with their respective Closing Company, so don’t worry, you won’t have to sit across the table in a high pressure confrontation with the seller. Most closings are pretty mellow, and I’ll be there to make sure everything goes smoothly. All you have to do is sign your name over and over and over…
The paperwork you sign ultimately transfers ownership of the property. For the buyer, the closing also involves signing the promissory note and mortgage documents which acknowledge that you owe the lender the agreed upon amount for the mortgage. After everything is signed and certified and the cashier’s checks are collected, the closing agent gives you copies of all of the documents that pertain to you.
15. There’s only one thing left to do…
Since you made it all the way through my Everybody Loves Nashville Real Estate Buyers Guide, I’m guessing that you’re thinking about the possibility of making a purchase. Whether you’re ready to house hunt right away, just starting to think about buying, or wondering if you would qualify to buy… I would be happy to chat with you…
Call or text me at (615) 500-9513. I look forward to helping you in your house hunt!