First Time Buyers Checklist

I recently worked with buyers who came to me on the heels of being unsuccessful in three multiple bid scenarios in another community.  It is emotionally and logistically exhausting to be in that situation once, never mind three times.  Lower Fairfield County was new territory for them; a family friend who lives in one of the CT towns shared what life was like in that community as well as the tax differences to Westchester County. The total picture was compelling enough that they toured properties with me and made an offer on one that was only 2 days on the market and had just received its first offer.  While I hate the multiple bid scenario (as a buyer’s agent), I hate even more not being the successful agent for my clients.

Nine days later we had a signed contract.  So, what were some of the steps from first visit to executed contract that made for a forward moving experience

1.  Clarity of Priorities— Which rooms are most important?  What kind of yard or property are you hoping for?  Do you feel comfortable that you know the community and neighborhood within the town or city that you are looking in.

2.  Know the Down Payment Requirements in Each Town/City/State- They vary by lender in each locale. 

3.  Have the Building Inspector and Attorney Selected and Waiting In The Wings- With interest rates at a real low, there are pockets of competitive bidding.  Being buttoned up and able to move through the process from accepted offer to signed contract is a plus in your column.

4.  Re-Trading- Every inspection is going to turn up issues; that’s the nature of the property beast and the job of the inspector to be careful, thorough and a bit of a worry wart.  Issues may be identified during an inspection that are costly and were not seen by the buyers in any visits.

These may be legitimate concerns to bring up to the seller and request a credit or for the issues to be resolved before closing.  There may be other issues that are minor or in the grey area of what a seller should be responsible for.  Others are definitely not a sellers’ responsibility, but you may be tempted to ask for them.  One issue that often comes under discussion is around HVAC equipment that is near the end of its estimated lifespan but still functioning.  Technically, a functioning item is a functioning item and the seller is not required to replace it with a new unit nor provide a credit towards a replacement.  That said, depending upon the total deal and how the seller is feeling about the selling price and terms, he may want to consider giving a partial credit as a piece of “good will”.  The buyer would do well to also consider the importance of “good will” in what she asks for after the inspection.  A skilled agent will be able to guide you on this front.

5.  Focus to the Finish Line- Once all inspections are completed and the contract is prepared, pay special attention to any Riders, Addendums or Attachments that have tasks that the seller needs to complete.  This could be anything from closing out old permits to providing documentation on the removal of an old oil tank.  Your agent and lawyer will assist you in ensuring the seller completes everything on his “to do” list, but you should keep track of these items as well.

If you are taking out a mortgage, be sure to stay in touch with your lender and kept apprised of the process; tracking the loan approval process, etc. 

6. Line Up Service Providers and Utility Companies- Don’t wait until the day before closing to get utilities, trash service and the landscaper and any other services you will want on a regular basis.  If the seller has been happy with their service providers, and you are comfortable with how the property presents and the home looks, you may want to get into the house with the current providers in place, since they know the house and property and assess for yourself if you’d like to make changes, as you settle in.

7. The Walk Through- The day of closing (before the closing) you will go with your agent to walk through the house and property, making sure that it is in the same condition as when you last saw it.  Owners are required to deliver a house “broom clean”.  Some sellers go the extra mile and have the home thoroughly cleaned after they move out.  You should plan on a “broom clean” and consider bringing in a company that specializes in deep cleaning/move in cleaning.  Your agent is likely to have recommendations for you as well as  home organizers, if needed.

8. Take A Deep Breath and Moment for Yourself- No matter how well organized you are, moving day is likely to be exhausting.  Be sure to think ahead to have meals set up to deliver in and lots of water on hand.  Other necessities, Day One: Toilet paper, large garbage bags and basic cleaning supplies.

Throughout the process, don’t be bashful about asking your real estate agent for resources and guidance.

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