Navigating the Home Buying Process

Buying a new home is much more than a financial commitment. It is an emotional experience as well, and you want the process to flow smoothly. The Sciarra/Mok Team has the experience, expertise and local knowledge to advise you from start to finish.
The buying process is comprised of many steps, but it all starts with a conversation. Give us a call today to schedule your Buyer consultation. We’ll walk you through the process, answer any questions you have, and help you buy a great house.

In order to make an offer on a home, you need a prequalification or pre-approval letter. So speaking to a lender before you begin your home search is essential. Your lender will explain your financing options, determine the mortgage plan that best fits your situation, and help you establish your price range. After your lender verifies the information you provide, he/she will issue your prequalification or pre-approval letter.

For more information, please see our article on Navigating the Loan Application Process. There are many good lenders in the area. We are happy to suggest a few that have provided our clients with excellent service and rates in the past.

Now that you are pre­qualified and know your price range, we need to define what you are looking for. At our first meeting we will discuss your needs and wants. We’ll ask you a lot of questions, and we’ll listen carefully to your answers. You can get a head start on this by reviewing and completing our Buyer Questionnaire. Don’t be surprised if your needs and wants change after you see a few properties. It happens all the time!

In the State of Connecticut, buyers, sellers and banks are all represented by attorneys at the Closing table. While you are not required to select an attorney before you view homes, it’s a nice thing to cross off the list early. The most important thing to consider when selecting a closing attorney is their actual closing experience. Always select an attorney who specializes in Real Estate. We are happy to suggest a few attorneys who have provided our clients with excellent service and rates in the past.

The first time we go out to see properties, we will try to show you a variety of styles available. This will help us to zero in on what you really want and must have in your next home. Please remember, all showing appointments must be confirmed in advance with the Sellers. First showings are typically about 15 minutes long.  This should be sufficient time to give you a general impression of each property. You can always request a second showing to look again for a longer period if you are interested in a home.

The first day out is a learning process for all of us. If you don’t like what you are seeing, we will adjust your search parameters to address your needs.  You never know when you will find your dream home. Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a home on the very first day!

This is where an experienced and knowledgeable realtor is essential. Once you find the “perfect” house, it is easy to put blinders on and not see potential problems. We will help you assess the overall condition of the home and identify potential areas for near­ term larger expenses (roof, HVAC system, plumbing or electrical issues). If you’ve found a fixer­-upper, we’ll give you an idea of how much sweat equity versus real money you’ll need to invest in the house and whether or not you are likely to get it back.

Most people buy a house with the hope that it will be their “forever” home. But we know that things happen and situations change for better or worse, so the saleability of a house is a very important factor when deciding whether or not to make the purchase. You need to have a reasonable expectation of getting your money back out when it does come time to sell. We don’t have a crystal ball, but we’ll give you our honest opinion of the house based on current and projected market conditions. Real estate decisions should be made with great care.  We will give you the information you need to make it a good one.

Once you have identified the home you wish to purchase, you should move quickly to make an offer.  There are buyers in every market, and chances are good that you are not the only buyer to see the home’s potential. Even if there are no other offers on the table at the moment, there is usually nothing to gain by stalling your offer. The Sciarra/Mok Team will help you to determine your offer price and will guide you through the entire process.

The ingredients to a complete offer are:
1. Purchase and Sale Contract
2. First Deposit
3. Pre­-Approval Letter

Once the offer has been submitted, it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 days to get a response from the Sellers. We know the wait can be agonizing and will keep you informed throughout the process.

Every negotiation is unique and we will tailor our strategy very specifically to the circumstances of each particular listing. While we encourage quick negotiations, the actual timeline will depend on the parties involved. At each step, it is important to ask yourself... “If I lose the opportunity to purchase this home, will I be terribly disappointed, or will I shrug it off and move on the the next one”. The answer to this question will dictate how aggressively we negotiate. Our goal is to get you the best terms and conditions possible on your home. We will provide you with all of the information you need to make reasonable decisions, but ultimately it is up to you to determine whether or not the terms and conditions are acceptable.

Congratulations! It’s time for a happy dance! You’ve worked hard to save your money and keep your credit strong. Now that hard work has paid off and you are officially under contract to purchase a new home. Take a deep breath and get ready.  We have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks, but The Sciarra/Mok Team will help you every step of the way.  

As soon as your offer is accepted, we will create a Closing Organizer for you on our website.  This is a password protected site that will contain all of your contract documents, our task list, and the contact information of professionals who will help you throughout the contract process.

Begin your final mortgage application as soon as possible. You will need to send a copy of the executed contract to your lender to get the process started. While we will follow the process very carefully, your lender will handle the entire mortgage/financing piece of the transaction with you. For more information, please see our article on Navigating the Loan Application Process.

You have the right to inspect the property to determine if there are any deficiencies that should be resolved by the Seller or if there is cause for you to terminate the contract. You typically have 10­-14 days to complete all inspections (this will be one of the terms of your purchase contract). Be sure to hire an inspector who specializes in residential real estate. The sooner you can complete the inspections, the better just in case the inspector uncovers some areas that require further evaluation. After inspections are complete, you may submit repair requests to the Seller for further negotiation. This is your only chance to conduct your due diligence on the property, so be sure to hire someone who comes highly recommended. If you do not know an inspector, we can give you a few suggestions. 

Your final mortgage approval will be contingent upon the purchase of a valid homeowner’s insurance policy. It is never too early to start this process. While this step is usually quite simple, on rare occasions the insurer will uncover issues that make the home very expensive to insure or even uninsurable (for example: location in a flood zone, or a history of claims by the Sellers). It is best to discover these issues during the inspection contingency period in the event that we need to negotiate a financial remedy.

Your second deposit is generally due within 10­-14 days of the executed contract. The amount and the due date for the second deposit is negotiated during the initial contract process. This deposit should always be in the form of a cashier’s or bank check. The customary amount for the second deposit varies depending on the area where you are purchasing and your loan type, ­ but the total of both first and second deposits is usually between 3­-5% of the total purchase price.

You will need to provide a mortgage commitment letter to the Seller by the date negotiated on the purchase contract (typically within 30 days of executed contract). If you cannot provide a commitment by the agreed upon date, you must request an extension or terminate the contract in order to protect your deposit. We will keep track of this important date and will be sure to keep you in compliance.

These are the magic words. When all of the conditions of your loan have been met, you will get a “clear-­to­-close” from your lender. At this time your loan package will be sent to your attorney so that he/she can schedule the closing and calculate your final closing costs. Be sure to speak with your attorney to find out how much money you need to bring to the closing, the required form of payment (bank check or wire transfer), and to whom the payment should be made.

You should contact the utility companies to have the service transferred to your name as soon as the closing is scheduled. You want to be sure that the account transfer from Seller to Buyer happens on the same day so that you can avoid any reconnection charges.

We will schedule a final walk­through of your new home the day before, or the morning of the closing. At this time we will confirm that all inspection items have been addressed to your satisfaction and that no issues have developed (for example: new leaks or damage to windows, doors, or walls during the moving process). In the unlikely event that we discover an issue, we will document it with photographs and negotiate resolution with the attorneys at the closing table.

The closing is usually held at the office of the Buyer’s attorney, and should be about 45­-minutes to 1-­hour in length. Get your hand muscles loose, because you have a lot of signing to do! At the end of the closing, you will receive the keys to your new home.

Congratulations you are a new home owner! We’ve spent a lot of time together over the past several weeks and have formed a real relationship. Thank you for putting you trust in us. If you have any questions about your new home, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. You’re part of the Sciarra/Mok Team family now and we’ll do anything we can to help you ­ even if it’s years later! And don’t be surprised to hear from us from time to time.  We’ll keep you up­-to­-date on the value of your home and others in your neighborhood so that you will always stay on top of market conditions.