The Spring selling season will soon be upon us, and this is the time of year when our buyer clients begin reaching out and planning for a purchase. Whether it’s your first time going through the home-buying process or you’re a seasoned investor, here are 7 things every buyer should know before embarking on a real estate purchase.
- Interview lenders. Did you know that a lender does much more than just collecting your credit information and approving a loan? Lenders can make or break real estate deals. A great lender demonstrates creative problem-solving skills, is proactive and organized, and is available when you need them. Local lenders are more likely to give out personal cell phone numbers and will answer calls on the weekends (as opposed to big bank lenders who stick to typical M-F business hours). The Cooper Koppy Team can provide referrals for local lenders if you need some help getting started.
- Be flexible. Here’s a common scenario that we encounter with buyers: “We are looking for ‘x,y,z’ in a home, and we must be in this neighborhood or zip code.” Let me start by saying that knowing what you want is good. It’s great even. But if owning a home is the ultimate goal, is there anything you might be willing to compromise on? If not, how long are you willing to look until you find your unicorn? We can help by setting realistic expectations about the current market and inventory. Sometimes it can take years to find the right house, and that’s okay. But sometimes the perfect house for you might not check every box on your original criteria list.
- Use your imagination (or find someone who has one!). If you’re in the market for a resale (as opposed to a new construction home), you will almost certainly find something you don’t like about the previous owners’ design decisions. For many people (including myself), it can be tough to look past certain cosmetic details, especially when considering the cost of the purchase. However, using your imagination to see what the house could be with a fresh coat of paint or new light fixtures is a fun way to visualize the house as yours. And if you’re like me and need a little help with that, a great designer or friend with a good eye can assist! The Cooper Koppy team can recommend designers who can help bring your vision to life in your new home.
- Upfront costs. In Texas, every buyer will have upfront costs once a contract is signed. There are three main expenses to prepare for: 1) option fee; 2) earnest money; 3) inspection fees. Your option fee can range from $150 – $1,000 depending on the current market and price of the home. Your earnest money is typically 1% of the sales price. Inspection fees vary based on the property, but a typical residential inspection ranges from $450 -$650. If there are other components to the property like a pool, septic tank, or well, inspections can be significantly higher. We can help you determine what your upfront costs will be and explain what each fee covers.
- Tax rates are important. Property taxes in Texas are high! They make up a significant portion of your mortgage escrow payment and can impact your payment amount each year. Each area has a unique tax rate based on the taxing entities for a particular property. If your property is in a MUD or PID, you can expect a higher tax rate than a similar property not within those jurisdictions. The Cooper Koppy Team can help explain tax rates for a particular property and how they impact your mortgage payment.
- Exemptions are important too! In Texas, each county has its own appraisal district, which oversees the various exemptions that may be allowed on a property. The most common exemptions are Homestead and Senior (65+), which help set limits on the appraised value of a residence for taxation purposes. Filing your exemptions are free, and only need to be done once during the time you own a property.
- Find a great Realtor. Most sellers interview multiple Realtors before deciding on a brokerage to list their home for sale. Did you know buyers can (and should) interview Realtors too? Here are some things to ask your potential Realtor: What’s your area of market expertise? What’s your process for working with buyers? Will you be with me for the entire transaction, or will I be passed off to an assistant or transaction coordinator? What designations do you have that will help you be the best agent for me? The Cooper Koppy Team has a wealth of experience in Austin and surrounding areas. As life-long Central Texas residents and with 15+ years combined experience in the real-estate industry, we know our markets and love educating our buyers! We will be your points of contact from the initial meeting to the closing table, and we work hard to be your trusted agents long after the transaction is complete. Our clients consistently refer us to their friends, family, and colleagues, and continue to work with us on their subsequent real estate purchases. Ashley has earned her Accredited Buyer Representative designation and Brooke has earned the Real Estate Negotiation Expert designation, both through the Austin Board of Realtors. Both Ashley and Brooke have received Luxury Home Certifications through the Residential Real Estate Council, and we continue to work with buyers in all price points. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve your real estate goals.
By: Brooke Koppy / January 2024