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Home Buying FAQ's

Closing a real estate transaction is a complicated endeavor with lots of moving pieces. Whether purchasing your first home or selling an income property, the one certainty with real estate is there will be surprises. Success often hinges upon being prepared. 

At The Woodlands Realty, we believe that an informed client is a happy one. With decades of real estate experience, we’ve seen just about every possible scenario. Here’s a list of home buying FAQs and our answers, which may provide insight into the process. 

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It’s highly recommended to have a Realtor when buying or selling a property. Real estate agents are professionals who work on your behalf and advocate for your interests. 

It’s common knowledge that Realtors connect buyers with properties that might be worth owning or marketing a seller’s home to prospective buyers. A lot more goes on behind the scenes, though. 

Realtors do everything they can to keep transactions running as smoothly as possible. Examples include: 

  • Walk you through all the critical steps of the transaction
  • Answer any questions you may have about the process along the way
  • For sellers, price a home correctly and market the property 
  • Accompany buyers on showings or be present for seller’s open houses 
  • Gather facts on a neighborhood that could be important to you
  • For buyers, request and assist in the review of Seller’s Disclosures 
  • Prepare and present any offers
  • Negotiate existing offers 
  • Communicate with other people on your behalf
  • Review paperwork filled with complicated jargon and terms
  • Monitor the status of the necessary paperwork
  • Negotiate inspection repairs 
  • Facilitate the final walk-through 
  • Tie up loose ends at the closing 

A real estate agent is an equal part coordinator, negotiator, and advocate. When you’re ready to buy or sell real estate in The Woodlands and the surrounding areas, The Woodlands Realty would love to work on your behalf. 

Getting pre-approved for a home loan. There are many qualified lenders out there. 

If you’re unsure where to begin, The Woodlands Realty has relationships with many hard-working, trustworthy lenders. 

Yes, you should. Discussing your situation with a lender before looking at homes can help you understand exactly how much you can afford. It’ll save time and heartache. There is no reason to view homes listed for $500,000 if your budget can support a property listed up to $400,000.

Another reason to speak with a qualified lending professional before starting the home search process is to learn about programs available to you. For example, if you’re a first-time homebuyer, there might be ways to reduce the mortgage interest rate, required down-payment amount, or total balance owed. These programs can vary by region or county.

If you don’t know where to start, The Woodlands Realty is here to help. We’ve relationships with knowledgeable mortgage brokers. They can walk you through the home loan process using an easy-to-understand, hassle-free approach. 

There’s no genuinely correct answer to this question. It depends on your specific situation. 

People with enough cash to buy the new home outright or cover its payments before selling the first home should be okay. For those who need the money from the first home’s sale to cover the new home’s costs, it’s probably unwise to buy a second home before you’re ready to sell the first one. 

When you’re ready to buy a second home or sell the first one, The Woodlands Realty is on your side. Our high-performing real estate professionals use a team-based approach to help you get your current home ready to list while honing in on your dream second home. 

There’s no firm answer to this question. Every situation is different. 

Generally speaking, the period from searching for a home to closing can span over a few weeks to a few months. The average time to complete an escrow period is 30 to 45 days under normal market conditions. 

For well-prepared homebuyers who pay in cash, the home-buying process is typically much faster. 

In a seller’s market, increasing demand for homes pushes up prices. This can be caused by many factors, such as economic conditions that fuel buyer interest or low housing inventory. 

A buyer’s market typically has declining home prices and reduced demand. Factors influencing buyer demand include economic conditions that dissuade interest, high housing inventory, or local issues like job losses at major employment centers.  

There’s no straight answer to this question. It depends on your specific situation. 

As a whole, the national average for down payments is 11 percent. This figure includes both first-time and repeat buyers, though. 

It’s typical for first-time homebuyers to put down 3 to 5 percent on a home because they take advantage of programs that don’t require significant down payments. An FHA loan, for example, requires 3.5 percent down. Some programs also allow down payment contributions from family members.

Closing costs are fees and expenses owed when you close on your house. These costs are typically 3 to 5 percent of the loan amount, depending on region, and may consist of title insurance, attorney fees, appraisals, taxes, and more. They’re not included in the down payment.

A lender is required by law to give you a loan estimate within a few days of the mortgage application submittal. If the loan estimate doesn’t arrive in a timely fashion or you have questions, ask your lender right away. 

For nominal consideration (option fee), the seller grants buyer the unrestricted right to terminate a contract by giving notice of termination to seller within a specific/agreed upon number of days after the effective date of the contract. The Termination Option is part of the promulgated TREC contract. Buyer’s agents typically/strongly recommend buyers take advantage of the Termination Option.

The option period is the time for homebuyers to complete their due diligence to ensure their investment is sound. Things to do during an option period include: 

  • Schedule and complete a home inspections 
  • Discuss issues and risks with the home inspector and Realtor
  • Discuss availability and affordability of Homeowner’s Insurance with buyer’s agent.
  • When applicable, negotiate repairs with the seller or seller’s representative
  • Verify that any repairs agreed upon have been made before closing

Again, the buyer has the unrestricted right to terminate a contract during the option period as long as the option fee was paid timely. The buyer can walk away from a contract if they and the seller cannot agree on resolutions to repairs, pricing, and other issues. If the buyer decides to terminate the contract under the option period, he/she must do so before 5:00 PM on the final day of the option period. 

The buyer often hires a home inspector to visit the property and perform a visual observation during the closing of a home sale. This typically occurs during the option period. The home inspector identifies health, safety, or mechanical/structural issues following local, regional, state, and federal standards. 

If you’re unsure where to find a trustworthy home inspector, The Woodlands Realty can provide a list of professional inspectors if needed. A knowledgeable/competent inspector thoroughly inspects a property and promptly provides buyers a detailed report. 

Our expert team can assist in the review of reports on your behalf and walk you through the next steps. 

In Texas, the title company is usually responsible for providing the title insurance and acting as the escrow officer.

An open house is a scheduled period when a property is designated to be available for viewing by potential buyers. Its goal is to find interested buyers.

At an open house, the seller permits potential buyers to enter and walk through the property at their leisure or guided by a Realtor. Typically, the seller’s agent is present to answer questions, offer marketing materials, and connect with potential buyers. 

The selling price of a property is determined by carefully considering multiple factors primarily the location, community and neighborhood. Additionally, the community amenities, schools, condition of the property including the age and degree of upgrades/updates have to be considered along with the most recent market data reflecting sales of similar-sized homes (comps). If a buyer must make significant repairs and updates to a property, obviously this should be considered when properly pricing a property. Market conditions are essential and home prices vary depending on supply and demand. 

Like most other business dealings, first impressions matter in real estate and we have but one opportunity to enhance a buyer’s “first impression”.  Many prospective buyers walking through a house or touring it virtually often are considering reasons to pass or negotiate down on the price. You should ensure the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems work correctly. Each room should look clean and decluttered with no overt damage visible.

At The Woodlands Realty, we know the real estate process in Texas is tricky to understand. You’re going to have a lot of questions, and we want to properly answer them. If the information above doesn’t cover everything you want to know, please contact us. 

We love to communicate by email, text, or phone. You’re also welcome to drop by the office during regular business hours and speak with a team member.