Home buying for seniors is not always an easy decision. This is especially true if you must leave your current home due to health or financial issues. The right realtor can make the difference between a successful home buying experience and one that is overwhelming and full of stress. Read on to learn more about home buying for seniors and how a SRES can help.
If you’re a homeowner, typically, the home buying and selling process is done at the same time. Just like with selling, home buying for seniors involves steps. The home buying steps include an assessment of your financial situation, deciding on the home you want, finding a realtor, negotiating and closing the deal, and packing and moving.
Home Buying for Seniors Steps
Step 1. Know Your Financial Situation. The first step to buy a home is to assess your credit and finances. Most sellers want pre-approved buyers. If you are paying cash or you do not need a mortgage, you are in a position of strength in any market. However, there may be tax consequences and it is best to check with an attorney or accountant before signing a contract. If you need a mortgage, meet with a lender to assess your current financial situation and find out the mortgage you can afford. Choosing a lender involves shopping around for the best rates and terms. Your SRES can help find a reputable lender. Ask your lender for a pre-approval letter. A pre-approval letter is a written guarantee from the lender of the approved loan amount, pending any unforeseen changes
Step 2. Decide on the Home You Want. While your lender is assessing your finances, make a list of the type of home you want. Knowing what you want before you contact a realtor will save you time and frustration. Some things to consider in your new home include price, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a formal dining room, attached garage, design (ranch, condo, cottage), age, and location. List all the features you would like to have. Unless you custom build, you probably know you won’t get everything on your list. You’ll want to prioritize your features and decide must haves. There are always trade-offs in buying a pre-built home. This preparation is especially important in an area where homes are selling quickly.
Step 3. Find a Realtor. Once you receive your pre-approval letter and you decide on the home you want, it is time to contact a realtor. A Senior Real Estate Specialist(SRES) is specially trained to work with seniors and their families to help with the home buying and selling process. Interview several realtors to determine good fit. Once you pick a realtor you like, share your list of features you want in your new home. Many realtors can set up a profile on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for you to receive notice of homes for sale that fit your list of features. Once you find a home you like, contact your realtor for a showing. Keep in mind the activity of the local market to determine how quickly you should see the home. If homes are selling fast, you will want to schedule your showing sooner than later.
Step 4. Negotiate the Offer. Once you find a home you like, make an offer. Your SRES can help negotiate terms. When you find a home you like, your SRES will give you a comparative market analysis (CMA) on the property to help you decide on price. The CMA compares recently sold homes in the neighborhood. When negotiating the deal, keep in mind your buying strengths. Strong buyers pay cash, are pre-approved, or do not need to sell their current home before making the purchase. You most likely will also need to give an earnest money check with your offer that shows you are sincere in buying the home. Once you submit your offer, the seller can accept, reject, or counter you. Your SREScan help you with responding to the counteroffer if it is acceptable to you.
Step 5. Close the Deal. Once the seller accepts your offer, the process towards closing moves quickly. Unless you are paying with cash, you’ll contact your lender to secure your mortgage. This includes completing the loan application and providing supportive documents. Your lender will also require you to purchase homeowners insurance to close the transaction. Rates vary and it is important to shop around for your homeowner’s insurance. Your realtor will schedule a home inspection if this was part of your contract. A home inspection is important to protect the buyer against major defects and costly repairs.
Hire only a licensed home inspector and one with a good reputation. Ask your realtor or friends and family for local reputable home inspectors. Once you receive the report, you may be able to negotiate paying for repairs with your seller, depending on your contract. Keep in mind, most standard contracts require the seller to consider fixing major defects or unsafe hazards. While you may want more repairs, the seller is not obligated to grant your list. Your SRES can help you write the contract to address these terms. If the seller refuses to repair the property, you may be able to reject the deal. Your attorney can advise you of your rights.
A few days before closing, your realtor will schedule a final walk-through to make sure the home is in the condition per your contract. Three days before closing, your lender will send you a Closing Disclosure. The Closing Disclosure specifies the amount of money you need to bring to the closing as well as the terms of your loan. Review the Closing Disclosure promptly and thoroughly. Check to make sure the terms are aligned with your initial loan estimate. Notify your realtor and lender immediately if changes are needed that may delay the closing.
Many people will attend the closing including you, the seller, the closing agent, your lender, and the real estate agents. Attorneys may attend also. During the closing, you will sign documents and take possession of your new home per your contract. You will need to bring your payment for closing costs, proof of insurance, and your inspection approvals.
Step 6. Pack and Move. It is time to move into your new home. If you prepared your home for sale, you’ve probably packed most of your items. If not, you’ll want to start packing as soon as possible during the buying phase. Also, before closing, arrange for help with your move. Family and friends are always willing to help. If you do not want to burden your family and friends, consider using a moving company. Your SRES can give you names of reputable movers in your area. Only hire insured and experienced movers. Once you move into your new home, remember to notify others about your new address. Besides family and friends, contact businesses you have accounts with and notify the IRS and the Social Security Administration. It may be easiest to complete a change of address form or forwarding address form at the post office.
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