FAQ: The 5 Questions We Get Asked Most About Buying A Home
Our goal always is – and always will be – to give the information you need to help you make the best decisions when it comes to home buying. We realized that there are some questions we hear all the time, so we thought we’d break them down here and give you our very best answers.
1.) Is now a good time to buy?
This is definitely the number one question we get asked!
The short answer is that the best time to buy a home is when it makes the most sense for your personal and financial situation.
For example, are there life changes you’re expecting that might impact your home, such as a new job or a growing family that might change your home’s location requirements or size?
There is also a seasonal cycle to the market that determines the level of inventory and how many other homebuyers might be looking for similar homes, and maybe competing with you. The inventory and number of buyers are both highest in the Spring months, from late February to late June. In August, and again from Thanksgiving through mid-January, the inventory and number of buyers is low due to the busy holiday season. All of these times could be a great time to buy, but just be more patient during the lower inventory periods and understand, it’s not your criteria, it’s just the need to “go with the flow” of the inventory!
2.) How much will my closing costs be and can I roll them into the mortgage?
In our area, closing costs tend to be about 3% of the purchase price. That’s in addition to your down payment. The 3% for closing costs is made up of lender fees, sales taxes, pre-payments of property taxes and insurance, and title charges.
For example, on a $300,000 home, you can expect your closing costs to be about $9,000. Getting your closing costs paid for by the seller or rolled into your loan is really a matter of how competitive you want to make your offer. If the home has been on the market for a few weeks, then definitely request the seller to pay your closing costs.
When possible, it makes sense to roll your closing costs into the purchase or the home because it will save you thousands of dollars that you can use to invest in other places or save for home repairs and maintenance.
3.) How do I know what to offer on a home? More or less than the asking price? What percent below asking price should I offer on a home?
What to offer on a home depends on several factors—looking at what has recently sold that is similar inside and out and also located nearby. It also depends on how much you want the home and how many offers the home receives. You don’t want to overpay but you also don’t want to miss your opportunity for your offer to get some serious consideration by the seller.
If the home has been on the market for several weeks, there may be an opportunity to offer below the asking price. When a home has just been listed and the seller has several other offers to consider, you may have to offer more than the asking price.
Of course, price is just one portion of your offer. An offer to purchase a home involves several other terms that the seller will be considering so those will need to be determined.
Making an offer on a home is a very strategic process that involves several factors the seller will consider so be sure to weigh each of them, not just the price.
4.) What is title insurance and do I need it?
Title insurance is a form of insurance that insures or protects you from defects in the chain of ownership, or title. There are two different types of title insurance; one is lender’s title insurance and the other is owner’s title insurance. We recommend purchasing both so you are both protecting the loan amount but also any equity you have in the home. If there is a problem with who owns the home in the title, or if there is an erroneous lien placed on the property while you are the owner, title insurance, which is only paid one time at settlement and protects you for the entire time you own the house, will protect your financial interest in the property.
5.) Can my condo fees go up and if so, how much and how often?
Yes, your condo fees can go up depending on several different factors and you should be prepared for them to rise over time. Your total fee typically covers water, building insurance, maintenance, trash removal, management fees, as well as any additional amenities such as a fitness room, pool or doorman. As the cost of these individual costs rise over time, so will your condo fee. You will also be contributing to a reserve fund, which is essentially a savings account used to cover repairs in the future.
But, as a building resident and member of the condo association, you do have a say as to how the condo should be properly managed.
We recommend budgeting for a 5% increase in condo fees annually if the building has been managed properly. If not, you may have to pay more to play catch up and make sure you have enough funds to pay for repairs, upgrades or whatever else is necessary to ensure that your building remains a good investment and a good home.
We love your questions, so keep them coming! In the meantime, we hope this information helps answer some of your questions, as you think about buying your first home.