Home Buying Guide

Working With Driftwood Realty Group
Home Buying Guide2021-01-29T15:56:56+00:00

Our Unique Buyer Process

Your home will likely be the greatest financial investment you’ll ever make, with the help of your Real Estate Advisor, it can also be your wisest. Give yourself every opportunity to come out on top by working with a Driftwood Realty Group Home Advisor who has expertise in negotiating and whom you feel comfortable with.

Your Home Advisor works with mortgage lenders to get you the most competitive rates and best mortgage product for you, or with work with your lender of choice, if financing is needed for your transaction, to provide you with a seamless service package. A pre-approval or pre-qualification letter from a lender or proof of funds gives you the best buying power when preparing an offer.

When you work with your Home Advisor to create your wish list, they’ll help you create realistic goals in your price range with all the amenities you desire in a community and spaces in your new home. When you set your criteria right, you won’t be flooded with an overwhelming amount of homes to see. Your Advisor will only send you homes that match your wish list as closely as possible.

Many real estate transactions include an extensive negotiating process. Our experienced Advisors will work to get you the best deal possible. Expect your Advisor to attend property inspections, make sure any and all agreed-upon repair work is carried out, and to handle the paperwork related to the sale.

When you close with a Driftwood Realty Group Advisor, you’re getting a concierge experience that goes above and beyond to achieve our tag line: Personalized Solutions. Proven Results.

Step 1: Choosing a Real Estate Advisor

Choosing an experienced Real Estate Advisor is an important first step since they will provide you with valuable resources to move forward with your purchase decision. At Driftwood Realty Group, our Advisors have access to experienced mortgage lenders to provide competitive rates to ensure you start shopping in a price range you’re comfortable with.

Here are 5 things to consider when choosing your Real Estate Advisor:
  • Look for a full-time Advisor who takes time to educate you on the real estate process and market.

  • Your Advisor should be your guide-they should provide you with answers to questions you didn’t even know you had-before you have to ask.

  • Ensure the Advisor has experience completing transactions similar to yours- whether it’s a first home, and investment property, or a vacation home.

  • Choose an Advisor who is experienced in the area you want to purchase, ask for a list of properties they’ve sold in the area.

  • Choose an Advisor who listens attentively to your needs and concerns and with whom you feel comfortable. You’ll be working together very closely through the transaction.

Step 2: Qualify Your Funds

There are two ways to purchase a home: cash or finance. If you choose to pay cash, you’ll need to provide proof of funds that you can shop in the price range you are looking. If you are financing, your Advisor will have relationships with lenders who specialize in different loan programs, like first-time-home-buyers, conventional, VA, or jumbo loans and will guide you to the best product for you.

The difference between “Pre-Qualification” and “Pre-Approval”

Often a 15-20 minute conversation with a lender about your financial status and credit and payment history will give enough information to provide a “pre-qualification” letter. This will let you and your Advisor know what price range you should shop in. It’s important that your Advisor share the estimated taxes, HOA, and CDD fees in the market you’ll be searching, so that they can calculate in the monthly mortgage payment you can afford.

After submitting all required documents, your social security number for credit files, and a thorough review by a mortgage underwriter, you will be issued a “pre-approval” letter. Many lenders now have an upfront underwriting procedure that helps the process move more smoothly and quickly. This pre-approval letter, along with the offer to purchase a property by your Advisor, shows your borrowing power and that you have the ability to go through with a purchase.

Your Home Advisor’s Role

An experienced Advisor will have relationships with mortgage brokers to help guide you to the right financing product for you. It’s the lender’s job to quote daily rates for different products. Your Home Advisor will not need your personal financial information, only the letter form the lender that shows your price range to shop in. Your Advisor will be your personal shopping guide with market knowledge in the area you are choosing.

Step 3: Make Your Wish List

After determining your budget, it’s time to begin searching for homes. Be realistic by identifying your wants versus your needs before beginning your search. Make a list of the features and benefits you want in a home. Consider things such as pricing, location, size, schools, amenities and design.

Here are the top things buyers should consider when making your wish list:
  • Find your comfortable price range: What’s the highest or lowest you’re willing to pay if you find a home with many features on your list? Your Advisor will know the appropriate ratio of list/sale price when you consider making an offer (% below list, full price, % above) so that you have the best chance of getting your offer accepted.

  • Commute and accessibility to desired locations, such as work, school, shopping, beach, etc.

  • County/School District Ratings: Homes in A-rated districts will always keep a high value. If you have school age children, now is a good time to choose a few top schools so you can shop within the district or surrounding community.

  • Community/Amenities desired like gated (guard or remote access), community pool/parks/play areas, golf course, marina, country club, beach access, equestrian, organized community social activities, etc. What lifestyle fits your family or are you looking to achieve? Your Home Advisor will help you choose the perfect home to fit your family’s lifestyle.

  • Home criteria: consider what’s fixed and what you can change, like adding a pool, fencing a yard, or a house that backs to another house with a less desirable view. What spaces does your family need (like number of bedrooms, bathrooms, range of living square feet, flex spaces, levels, in-law suite, layout, yard size, view, pool, design style)? Should you consider New Construction and is that an option in your area of choice?

Your Real Estate Advisor will be your guide on the scavenger hunt to find the perfect one! Avoid looking at too many homes in one day, or have an organization system to make notes with your Advisor. After a long day of looking at more than five houses, they all start to run together. If you already have an area narrowed down, be sure to choose an Advisor with experience in that area.

Learn about the Community and homes in the surrounding area before you invest. Refer to the Communities section for more information.

Benefits of an Advisor who Knows your Desired Area

When an advisor knows the area you’ve narrowed your choices to, whether they live there themselves, or sell a lot of homes in the area, they know the proper market prices. They’re often familiar with the inventory, agents who work in the market (for a smooth transaction), and have inside information about homes coming on the market or seller motivation. All of these things will help position you as the buyer to have strong negotiating power.

Step 4: Contract Negotiation

Before making an offer on the home you’ve chosen, it’s important that your Advisor knows specific details to position your offer. Some of these details include:

  • Do you have a home to sell before making your purchase? If so, is it listed, under contract, passed inspections, has the buyer met their financial commitments, does your buyer’s buyer have a home to sell?, are important questions to have answered to confirm before writing an offer.

  • Do you have cash free to make an appropriate earnest deposit? If you’re pulling cash from certain types of accounts, it can take time to clear your account. Be sure to allow for that and have earnest money ready when writing the contract. This is a good time to make the same preparations for your closing costs, which your lender can provide an estimate of upfront.

  • What’s your desired close date? The close date can be an important negotiation point for some sellers. Moving it forward or backward could mean the seller saving or making another month’s mortgage payment.

Once you’ve chosen a home, your Advisor should contact your lender to run more accurate financial projections on that property and prepare a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter to present with your offer. Your Advisor will write a NEFAR (Northeast Florida Association of Realtors) Contract for Purchase and Sale Agreement, presenting your offer and terms in a way that gives you the best advantage.

Step 5: Escrow, Inspection & Appraisal

Buyer and Advisor Role

Once your offer is accepted, your binder deposit will need to go into the sellers choice of escrow account, either a title company or an attorney will hold this money and credit it toward your closing costs at closing. You’ll be given a timeline to mark every stage in the process up to closing. Meeting these requirements on time ensures a smooth flow of negotiations so that each party in not in breach of their agreements. Your Advisor will keep you constantly updated so you will always be prepared for the next step.

Most NEFAR contracts have a 10 day inspection period (unless specified differently), to perform any inspections necessary for you, the buyer, to feel comfortable with the purchase. Your Advisor will have resources of inspectors including whole home, pest, roof, pool, septic, HVAC, plumbing, etc.. This is your due diligence period to also check for future property changes such as building a pool, barn, garage, dock, etc. and you are responsible for all inspection fees upfront, as the buyer.

Depending on the outcome of these inspections, on of two things may happen:

  • Either each milestone is successfully closed and the contingencies will be removed or

  • Your Advisor, on your behalf, may enter a second round of negotiations with the seller with a Repair, Replace, or Treatment Agreement. If repairs are made, they must be made by a licensed contractor, or sometimes buyers and sellers may settle for a monetary concession/credit in lieu of repairs or replacement.

If financing, a Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) inspection (termites, and other insects) must be done and any damage must be repaired or replaced for certain loan programs. The timeline of this inspection and negotiation period are very important to the transaction. Your Advisor will be in touch with you every step of the way to provide assurance this process is adhered to.

The Lender’s Role

It’s imperative that you keep in close contact with your lender, who will let you know when additional documents are needed to approve your loan application and fund your loan. If financing, a home appraisal will be ordered by your lender and paid upfront by you, as the buyer. The lender wants to be sure that the property is being purchased at true market value, so they will choose a licensed appraiser through a third party. If the home appraises, you and your Advisor have cleared another contract contingency and are very close to the finish line! If you’re paying cash for a home, an appraisal is recommended, but not required (as is the inspection).

Homeowner’s Insurance is often recommended by your lender or Advisor, or you can shop around for property insurance. Most lenders will require that you have a homeowner’s insurance binder (proof of insurance) before they will close the loan.

The Closing Agent’s Role

While you and your Advisor are crossing items off your list, the closing agent, often a title company, is conducting their own diligence to prepare to transfer the title of the property into your name or estate, as the buyer. They will contact you to discuss the best way to hold title. The closing Agent will also perform a title search, order a property survey (buyer expense at closing), and ensure there are no liens, encumbrances, or encroachments on the property and that it is free and clear to transfer. Many buyers also purchase title insurance with a one-time fee at closing. The closing agent is also responsible for obtaining prorated payoff’s for taxes, CDD fees, HOA dues, Association fees, etc.

Step 6: Closing Time

Your trusted Home Advisor has gotten you this far, with resources, knowledge, and communication with all parties of the transaction smoothly. Prior to closing, you will have a final walk-through of the home you are buying. This is to make sure repairs (if any) were completed and that the house is in the same or better condition than when you made the offer.

This is the day you become a homeowner. Your loan documents will be delivered to the title company for signature in front of a notary, who is a closing agent or attorney. After signing all documents, the sellers receive the remainder of the payment from the closing attorney and you will be handled the keys!

With a Driftwood Realty Group Advisor, their role doesn’t end at the closing table. Please consider your Advisor for all things real estate, including setting up utilities, and referring to friends, family, and neighbors the value of having them by your side. Visit the Driftwood Realty Group website often for monthly home maintenance checklists, helpful homeowner blog posts, and be sure to leave a review for your Advisor, share their page, and join their social media sites. You’ll be hearing from them regularly to ensure your move is smooth and if you have any further questions.

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