Main Line Realty – Home Buyer Tips
The Main Line Realtors® at Sage Realty have helped hundreds of buyers find and purchase their dream homes. Our experienced buyer agents are experts when it comes to the Main Line. With your guidance as to needs and wants – a walkable community or a particular school district – we know just where to take you to the best homes. Once we find the right house with you, we will stay with you as advocates through the entire process, advising you on offers, pointing out red flags, and making sure all of the paperwork is handled correctly for you.
Here is a helpful list of do’s and don’ts to help you with some the initial phases of buying a home.
Know Your Credit Score
Your credit score is a determining factor in whether you obtain financing and at what cost.
The three-digit score is commonly known as a FICO, or Fair Isaac & Co., score. Each of the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax) have assigned you one. The higher the score, the lower your presumed risk of default. By law, you may obtain one free report annually from each bureau online. By accessing your credit information one agency at a time, you can get a free credit report three times a year.
The average U.S. credit score is 694. FICO credit scores can range from 300 to 850 and are based on the length of your credit history, the mix of credit you already have, and your number of recent credit applications.
We always suggest an initial talk with a good lender who can let you know what scores will get you the best interest rate in the current lending environment.
If your credit score is low below are some tips in improving it before purchasing a home.
- Pay your bills on time. Your payment history, including late payments and foreclosures, can count for one-third of your credit score. Accounts more than 60 days past due will be indicated on your credit report.
- Check your credit report for errors. Removing errors is one of the easiest ways to improve a credit score.
- Reduce your balances. Try to keep your balances less than 80% of your credit limit to maximize your score benefit. Start with those credit cards that are closest to their limits.
- Keep older credit lines open. Having a long history of active accounts indicate to lenders that you are a good credit risk. Use your oldest cards regularly for small purchases and pay balances each month.
- Avoid new credit. Opening new credit will lower your average account age. Take on new credit only when you need it.
Make Use of Technology
There’s a lot of information on the web to help you make a wise decision when buying on the Main Line. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily vetted or easy to find. At Sage, we’re experts in gathering relevant, useful information and will make sure you get everything you need when inquiring about a listing. Our expertise in using the MLS and other resources will mean you will have accurate and up-to-date listings with addresses and photos, contract forms, floor plans, seller disclosure materials and community information.
Decide What You Want and Write It Down
Your home is much more than a collection of bedrooms, bathrooms and an outdoor deck. It’s where you relax, work, entertain friends and raise your family. Before you begin your search, take the time to evaluate what is most important to you in a home and write it down. By defining what you want and documenting those necessities, you hold yourself accountable and you won’t be tempted to purchase a house that doesn’t meet those requirements. Let us teach you about some popular home styles and Main Line locations and help you decide what suits you and your family.
Work Out Your Budget
Before you start looking, determine how much house you can afford. What monthly payments would you be comfortable with? Remember to factor in any down payment, taxes, association fees, home insurance, special local income taxes, etc. By working the numbers ahead of time, you can buy with confidence. Sage is happy to help with supplying numbers for local taxes, typical utility costs, transportation expenses and other items you might not consider. It’s critical you have set numbers before you start your search so you aren’t looking for homes out of your price range.
Talk to Lenders
First, prepare yourself by talking to lenders early in the process. Even in today’s market, there are many mortgage options available: you can get financing through mortgage bankers and brokers, mutual savings banks, commercial banks, credit unions, savings and loan associations and insurance companies. At Sage, we’ll help you evaluate the terms various lenders can give you to find a loan that is in your best interest. Most people make assumptions about the way lenders will look at them, which are incorrect. For a guide on what to ask a potential lender, visit our Finances section.
Pre-approval can help you in several ways. You will know exactly the price range you need to work within and you will be able to provide a letter indicating preliminary approval to demonstrate to sellers that you are financially strong enough to buy their home. Most importantly, you won’t be rushed into making a less-than-perfect financing decision in order to close a deal. In any multiple offer situation, the pre-approval can be the determining factor.
Shop the Market
At Sage, we want you to see all the Main Line real estate that meets your criteria and your budget. We’re looking for the right home for you, not what earns us the largest commission. We’ll help you shop around to see all available Main Line homes for sale, including homes ‘For Sale by Owner’ options, which many agents will not provide as possible options to homebuyers.
Go It Alone
People buy perhaps three or four homes in a lifetime. Even buyers with negotiating skills should not attempt it without a knowledgeable agent. At Sage, we know Main Line real estate, having spent many years negotiating in the residential real estate arena with many of the local selling agents. We know all the techniques you will need to get the best deal. We’ll be there for you every step of the way. Additionally, you can’t assume that Main Line real estate is priced correctly on the market. You do not want to be victimized by unknowingly offering too much for a home. Once you’ve shopped around, Sage will help you analyze comparable homes to determine the right offer price.
Attempt To Represent Yourself
If you’re a buyer who prefers to physically look for a home while driving through Main Line neighborhoods or new developments, you should always have your agent on speed dial.
It’s critical to understand that a listing company and/or homebuilder have no loyalty to you as the buyer.
If you call the number on the sign, you will most likely get whoever is sitting at the front desk when you call, a junior agent with minimal experience. If you attend an open house, never let the attending agent know you are not represented. That agent has a relationship with the seller, and this can ultimately play against you.
If you’re interested in a builder home, it’s important to know that builders do not like you to have an agent – they want to be able to control the process. High pressure, unfair forms, hidden costs, and limited rights are common in new construction if you do not have your own advocate. If you go into a builder’s office alone, that builder will most likely refuse to pay any agent that you decide to use later.
Main Line Realtors® Detail the Homebuying Process
Main Line Realtors® know that while buying a new home is exciting, many find the homebuying process to be confusing. First you have to find the right home, navigate the offer and contract arenas, and then get through the mortgage process. According to a recent survey conducted by NerdWallet, 42% of US homeowners thought that the home-buying process was stressful. Additionally the process was intimidating to 21% of respondents and complicated to 32%.
If you want to live near Main Line Philadelphia, help is available! The Main Line Realtors® at Sage Realty have helped hundreds of buyers find and purchase their dream homes and they will help you too. Our experienced buyer agents know the area well, so if you tell us you want a walkable community or a particular school district, we know just where to take you. Once we find the right house for you, we will guide you through the entire process, advising you on offers and things to look out for, and making sure all of the paperwork is ready on time.
Call Sage Realty for Experienced Main Line Realtors®
Sage Realty’s agents are dedicated to helping homebuyers find the right home for the best price available. Sage was founded by Linda Walters, a Realtor® who has a background in real estate law, and was inspired to give buyers the type of representation they need when looking for homes. Skilled professionals, who specialize in walkable communities, offer additional value and knowledge to Sage’s clients. We are practiced in all parts of the home buying and selling processes, so we can give you the guidance you need to make your homebuying experience a positive one. For Main Line Realtors® who are committed to you and your successful new home purchase, contact us today!