Ready To Buy, What Should I Do First?
Buying a new home can be one of the most exciting yet stressful times in your life. Educating yourself about the process will minimize anxiety of the unknown and unfamiliar. Being prepared will greatly simplify and streamline the process.
The first step is to organize your financial information. Collect recent tax returns, W-2s, pay stubs, bank statements, and any other documentation that contributes to your financial profile. This documentation will be used by a mortgage representative to determine a pre-approved mortgage amount. This is called a Pre-Qualification.
A mortgage Pre-Qualification serves two purposes. It identifies the customized price range to focus your attention on when shopping for a house. Second, it will save you valuable time when you make an offer on a house. You will be in a better position during the offer process because you already have your Pre-Qualification to submit with your offer. In today’s competitive market any delays can make or break a deal and having this extra edge is definitely an advantage.
Once you have your Pre-Qualification, it’s time to determine where to shop for a house and what you want and need in a house. Where do you want to live? Search local newspapers, websites, talk with family members and friends, to research your specific interests and/or needs. Explore prospective neighborhoods and take note of the location of highways, public transportation, schools, and stores. Determine what you need and what you want in the house itself.
Identifying these first items will lead to a significant head start in the home buying process. When you meet with your agent you will be prepared with your organized finances, a sales price range, a Pre-Qualification letter, an idea of areas to shop in, and a list of items that you’d like in a house. This will give your agent enough information to understand your personal needs, wants, and requirements which will result in a more efficient and satisfying home buying process.
Who Do The Agents Work For? Why Sign the Agency Disclosure?
The New York State Division of Licensing Services, as with most states, requires that agents, whether they represent the seller, landlord, buyer or tenant, disclose their respective duties. The New York State Disclosure form is a requirement in all real estate transactions. A signature demonstrates your understanding of the agent’s role in the real estate transaction.
In an excerpt from the form in regard to both the seller’s, landlord’s, buyer’s, tenant’s agent it states that the agent has, without limitation, the following fiduciary duties to the seller/landlord/buyer/tenant: reasonable care, undivided loyalty, confidentiality, full disclosure, obedience and duty to account.
For a seller’s or landlord’s agent this means, (a) exercise reasonable skill and care in performance of the agent’s duties; (b) deal honestly, fairly and in good faith; and (c) disclose all facts known to the agent materially affecting the value or desirability of property, except as otherwise provided by law.
For the buyer’s or tenant’s agent this means, (a) exercise reasonable skill and care in performance of the agent’s duties; (b) deal honestly, fairly and in good faith; and (c) disclose all facts known to the agent materially affecting the buyer’s/tenant’s ability and/or willingness to perform a contract to acquire seller’s/landlord’s property that are not inconsistent with the agent’s fiduciary duties to the buyer/tenant.
There is also a Dual Agent designation on the form. This states the agent acts on behalf of both the seller/landlord and the buyer/tenant. This kind of representation hinders an agent’s ability to entirely fulfill their duties were they working in only one capacity or the other. It is important that they explain and that you understand those ramifications beforehand.