This page was created as a resource to help our Southcoast MA customers and clients with buyer info for their home buying questions and needs. Feel free to browse around, run some searches using our New Bedford area MLS search tools, and anytime you have further questions or see something you might like, feel free to ask questions.
Home Buying Tools and Resources
- Search Homes for Sale in Massachusetts
- View Our Exclusive Property Listings
- Search for Homes by Street Name
Step 1: Get Pre-Approved, then find a Real Estate Agent
Getting Preapproved for a Mortgage. This should actually be the first step in the home buying process. Even before you locate a real estate agent and attempt to search for a home. Why? Well, think of it this way, imagine finding the absolute home of your dreams and you get excited to put in an offer. The listing agent as well as the seller of that home is going to want to make sure you can qualify for the home and will likely request to see your preapproval letter even before they respond to your offer, no matter how good it is, so you go out and finally meet with a mortgage professional only to find out that the home is just outside of your budget. You are crushed. What a letdown!
What will they need?
- Tax returns & W2’s from past 2 years (and your last few current pay stubs)
- Bank Statements (do you have any assets? checking accounts, savings, 401k, etc?)
- Employment Verification (they will likely verify with your employer)
- Docs: (SSN#, Driver’s Lic)
- 14 Step Preapproval Checklist
- How to Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval
- Get Help from a Mortgage Professional
Buying a home can be a major life event for most people. Especially if you are a first time home buyer, you’ll want to work closely with an experienced real estate agent who will be able to help guide you through this process and help educate you with buyer info and resources to help you make informed decisions. With so many agents to choose from, it’s hard to decide who might be the most experienced, professional and ethical agent to work with. Of course, we hope you’ll work with us, but let us help you decide:
- Do a Google Search – Is your agent active, full-time, experienced? Do they have great reviews? The Internet is a powerful tool, use it to your advantaged and research who your agent is first. *TIP: When doing a google search to find the best real estate agent, we recommend that you skip over the “Paid Ads”. Those agents are at the top of page 1 because they are paying google, bing, yahoo, etc to be there, not because they are necessarily the “best agents”.
Scroll down to the organic results & see who is actually active & out there. Read about what they’re doing, find out how many homes the agent has sold, etc.
- Talk with Family/Friends – Everyone lives in a home, whether they rent or own. Chances are, your friends & family will have plenty to say about their experiences with a real estate agent or know someone who has recently purchased a home that can share their experiences too. Were they happy with their choice in agents?
- Check their Real Estate License Online – Did you know that you can look up a Massachusetts real estate agent license online? You can find out what year they were licensed, the status of their real estate license, and if there has been any disciplinary actions!
- Do they Live or Work in the City your Buying in? – If you’re relocating, and you need specifics about the area you’re moving to, then you might want to consider using an agent who actually lives or works in that same city. If your real estate agent lives 40 miles away or has never visited, will they be able to provide you with answers to all of your local real estate questions? Something to think about, but also consider this: The best agents, even when the don’t live or work nearby, network with many other great real estate agents. So if you have a really great agent, that might not necessarily live nearby, they might still be able to get all of your questions answered by seeking help from other agents they know. Team Work! So either find an agent who lives or works nearby, or find one that is an awesome real estate agent and plays nice with everyone else. Those agents will work hard to get you the answers you need.
Finally, when you do choose a real estate agent, make sure they do the work for you. I can’t tell you how many times I start working with a home buyer and they are absolutely shocked when I am actually calling or emailing them about a house I think they’d want to see, and then gathering all of research i’ve found on the house, and got questions answered that they didn’t even dream to think of, before they’ve even asked the question! And get this.. Yes, folks, your buyer’s agent should be scheduling your appointments for you! So many times I get calls on my own listings from buyers only to find out that they have a buyer’s agent.. but they are doing all the work! Why are you making these calls? Your buyer’s agent needs to be scheduling appointments on the houses you choose to go see, doing research for you, pulling comps, etc. Otherwise, what exactly is a buyer’s agent for? Just to present beside you and hold your hand? Let them do their job, which is to provide you with a much needed service, and relieve you of alot of the stress of home buying.
When I first start working with a buyer and I see the fear in their eyes, (If you’ve worked with me, you’ve heard this before). I tell them, This should be a piece of cake, just wait until we are at the closing table and I’m handing you the keys. Your first questions to me will be, “That’s It??”
Although there are occasions where things don’t go as smoothly as planned for one reason or another, this is what any good buyer’s agent should do for their client.
Buying a Home should be fun and pleasant experience! Moral of the story: Make sure you choose the best real estate agent to help you with research on buyer info.
If you haven’t already, the Real Estate Agent will help you locate a mortgage professional who can get you preapproved for a mortgage.
(After all, you do need to know how much you can afford before you start looking.)
Looking for a Home
Let the Fun begin! First, what are you looking for in a home? Write them down and share this with your Realtor. Make sure that you actually want and need these features.
Do you really want and need that pool? Remember, pools need maintenance and cost money. Consider all angles when looking for specific features before you narrow down your search too much, as you may miss out on the house of your dreams because you were being “too picky”. Some features can be added on later, or you may even find that you were better off with out it.
Once you’ve figured it out, it’s time to start searching for homes!
Make an Offer
I won’t go too much into detail here, as your real estate agent will be your best resource to initiate this step. But, here are the basics:
- What is the home’s value VS the asking price? Ask your real estate agent to pull comps to help give you an idea of areas values.
- Put it in writing. Your agent will draft up an Offer to Purchase and will include your preapproval letter with it. Be sure to outline all of your terms, conditions.
- Multiple Offers? Don’t despair. some people assume that because there are multiple offers, they don’t want to be in a “bidding war” and will often walk away from the chance!
I don’t recommend this. Don’t make this personal. Don’t do this “out of principal”. C’mon, if you were the one selling the house, would you care that buyer #3 walked away out of principal and not wanting a bidding war? You’d probably focus more on the other 2 people who actually put pen to paper and made you an offer. I am very often on the listing agent side of a multiple offer situation, and we sometimes get a lot of “low ball” offers. sometimes, a few buyers will walk away with their agent stating the “no bidding war” claim. I really think the scary scenarios they see on HGTV is to blame. 😉 #Drama
Love the house? Put the darn offer in! What’s the worst that could happen? They say No. Done. What if they say YES??
You may very well be the BEST offer! And if they come back asking for more and you’re not willing to go higher? Just say no and remain firm. plain and simple. (if you’re serious, of course). Why? Because if you walk away with NO offer, you may never realize that the house is still on the market and none of the other offers were accepted. You may very well walk away thinking you lost it.. only to find out months later that it took weeks after you walked away for them to get a reasonable offer, and then find out what it really sold for (likely what you would’ve offered, maybe?) Who knows! I’ve seen it too many times before. Lecture Over….moving on.
Offer Accepted, What Now?
- Continue working with your mortgage professional. He/She will need more from you.
- You’ll sign the actual Purchase & Sales Agreement. (Be sure to read it thoroughly). Your agent will (should) sit & read this with you, but you also have a right to have your attorney review it.
- DO NOT GO ON A SHOPPING SPREE! We know you’re excited, but resist the urge. Find Out More: 8 Things to Avoid When Buying a Home
- Home Inspection (usually within 10 days from the contract, unless negotiated otherwise). Talk to your agent. Please, get an inspection!
- An appraisal will be done (if financed) to ensure the home appraises for the sales price.
- Commitment – Once the above is done, your mortgage company will issue a final commitment letter. Yay, you made it!
- Schedule a Closing – discuss with your agent & mortgage broker what day/time & location would be best to schedule a closing. (refer back to your contract terms)
It’s Closing Day!
How exciting! Closing times vary, but the process usually takes about an hour. You’ll probably want to do a final walk through of the house with your agent, to make sure that everything is as it should be, that the house is still standing, and that everything that should pass with the home has been left behind. (no damage, clean/broom-swept and any other terms that were in your contract).
Then, it’s off to meet the closing attorney to sign documents! Once the documents have been reviewed, signed, and it has gone on record at the Registry of Deeds, the keys are passed on to you and…. Congratulations, you are a new home owner!
*We hope you found this information useful. Please note that the above information may not be completely thorough and is being provided for informational purposes only. Be sure to seek professional guidance and information directly from your mortgage professional, real estate agent and/or attorney.
Best of Luck!