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Homebuyer’s Guide

Step-by-step how-to By Ben Geanetta, REALTOR®, Team Lead

Sandpoint Real Estate

If I told you buying a house is a team sport, you would probably think, “Geez, this guy is crazy and what is he talking about?” There are a substantial number of moving parts when buying a house, and having a cohesive team working for you is oftentimes overlooked.

To accomplish this, it’s going to take a little bit of effort, but I promise it will all be worth it in the end. First, identify a few local realtors to interview. Ask how much individual attention you should expect from them personally and if they will tailor a specific game-plan to your needs, goals and timeline. Make sure to ask who their preferred lender, title company and inspector are (this is the team aspect mentioned above).

If the REALTOR® doesn’t give you an explanation on why these vendors are preferred, then you need to ask! There shouldn’t be any hesitation in providing you with an answer.

Next, call the preferred lender and interview them. You will be working closely with the lender, therefore it’s imperative you have full confidence not only in their ability to problem-solve but to think two to three steps ahead to circumvent potential roadblocks. A resourceful lender paired with a talented REALTOR® makes a dominant team in your corner.

Once you have identified the team that best suits you, devise a game plan with your REALTOR® and lender in order to put yourself in the best position possible to purchase. Then get a pre-approved letter from the lender, so if the right home comes available, you will be ready to take action.

Now that you have identified the right house, it's time to make an offer. If you game planned, this step will be easy, as you have already discussed how to approach making offers.

Once your offer is accepted, it’s time for the home inspector. The most important aspect you should know: It's the inspector’s job to tear apart the house—not literally. But you want them to find all the defects of the home. It’s typical to see 30 to 40 items identified in these reports. The most common defects I see are evidence of mold, GFCI outlets not installed, bathroom vents terminated in the attic, and missing screws on the electrical panel. The best advice I can give you is to pay attention to the safety, hazard and code violations.

Depending on the inspection report, there are a few avenues that can be taken. You can accept the report as-is; you can ask for certain repairs to be completed by the seller; or you can ask for a credit/price reduction of the defective items you identify as needing to be addressed.

If the seller and buyer cannot agree to terms, other than accepting the house as-is, then the contract will be terminated. Now if the seller and buyer do agree on compensation, then onward to the next step.

The title company will provide a report to each party involved. This report will ensure the buyer will have free and clear ownership of the home. Also included in the report will be documents of any CCRs, easements, water/mineral/timber rights, and many other items. The appraisal is normally one of the last steps. Understand, an appraiser’s job is to ensure the bank is making a good investment and to see if any repairs need to be made based on Freddie and Fannie (Federally backed institutions) guidelines.

Scenario: If the agreed-upon purchase price is $500,000, and the appraiser agrees the home is valued at $500,000 with no repairs needed per Freddie and Fannie guidelines, then onward to closing. Now if the appraiser says the house is valued at $490,000, then the seller and buyer have to agree on new terms.

Either the purchase price is dropped to $490,000, the buyer brings an additional $10,000 in order close, or the seller and buyer agree to divide the gap. If an agreement cannot be reached, the contract can be terminated.

You made it to closing, and it’s truly a joyful day. Make sure to bring a valid ID.

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