The housing market can be confusing to people, especially those who don’t have much experience with real estate in Boston.
There are many important things to consider when purchasing a home, so being informed is key. Since there are many different processes, it can be hard to choose where to focus your attention. If you’re looking for a place to live, buying a house can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. There are so many factors that go into buying a house from location to financing to what needs to be done on the inside.
To help simplify the buying and selling process for you, here are the top 10 questions we receive about buying and selling houses in Boston.
What Is the First Step in the Process?
This is a very common question. Many people want to just jump right in and start touring homes or pricing out other homes in the area.
If you’re buying a home, the first step you need to take is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This is especially true in a tight market like we’re seeing today, where sellers will want to see proof that you’re serious about their home. In fact, some real estate agents may not even show you homes without knowing you’re pre-approved for financing.
If you’re selling your home, finding a real estate agent experienced in selling houses in your area should be your first step. In hiring an agent, you can get all the guidance you’ll need – when to list, what steps to take to clean and improve your home, how much to price it for, and more – going through the process.
How Long Does It Take?
Buying and selling a home isn’t like ordering items on Amazon Prime. As an industry, we’re not quite there…yet.
From start to finish, buying a house can take about 10 to 12 weeks. Sometimes the process moves more quickly and sometimes it’s slower, but planning for about three months from start to finish is typical – BUT – with the amount of competition from buyers these days, it’s very likely that your process will be longer.
When selling houses in Boston, there are a lot of factors that go into how quickly a property sells. Where the house is located, how much it’s priced for, what time of year it is, and how hot the market is all play a part.
Some houses can get up and on the market quickly, selling in a matter of days after being listed. In other neighborhoods, a house can sit on the market for weeks or months. The key is when selling a home, to plan to be in it for the long haul and try not to get impatient.
How Much Do I Have to Pay an Agent?
An agent’s rate is somewhat negotiable, but typically the commission is around 4-6 percent of the sale price. That amount is split between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent.
Typically, the buyer doesn’t pay the agent at all. Instead, the money comes from the sale price of the home, with the agents’ fees being handed over at closing.
What Kind of Credit Score Do I Need?
Most loans require a FICO score of 620 or better, and lending requirements are getting more and more stringent these days. Borrowers with higher credit scores tend to have far fewer issues with loan financing than those with lower credit scores. This doesn’t mean, however, that the borrower is guaranteed loan approval. Mortgage lenders still need to undertake a careful evaluation of each borrower’s financial situation, employment history, assets, and liabilities.
But yes, borrowers who have higher credit scores are less risky to the lender, often making it easier for them to secure financing. If, however, you have a credit score that’s lower, you may still be able to get a home loan, but you may be asked to bring more money to the table upfront, offsetting the lender’s risk.
How Much Do I Need for a Down Payment?
How much you’ll need as a down payment depends on the type of loan you take out.
For a traditional loan, you likely will want to have 20 percent of the purchase price saved up. However, there are other loan programs, such as VA loans and first-time buyer loans, that don’t require anything upfront. FHA Loans, a fantastic way to secure financing with a low down payments, require 3.5% down.
No matter what, it’s a good idea to begin saving something for your home purchase once you decide to start the process. Even if you don’t need it all for a down payment, you have those funds to use for moving costs, upgrades, or other things you may need.
Should I Sell My Home Before Buying One?
If you’re planning to use the built-up equity on your current home as a down payment on a new home, then you’ll need to sell your home before closing on a new one.
Some homeowners, however, choose to use their current home as a rental property once they move, or they’ve already got a down payment saved up for their new home. If you aren’t reliant on the sale of your current home to buy a new one, you can start the purchase process whenever you’re ready, and it’s likely that you will be a stronger buyer when offering on property because you will not have a home sale contingency.
How Many Homes Should I Look at?
That number is completely up to you!
Some people spend days pouring over their computer screens, filtering through dozens of potential properties, before coming up with a shortlist to view in person. Others, however, prefer to really get inside a bunch of properties to get a feel for them.
Regardless of your initial strategy, have a look at what is for sale in the markets you’re considering, and even before you’re ready to buy a home, be sure to sign up for our free alerts from MLS so you can receive properties emailed to you right as they hit the market.
The number of homes you should view depends totally upon how much time you have and how long it takes you to find the right one.
How Long Can I Take to Respond to Offers?
Typically, buyers and sellers give one another 24 hours to respond to offers and counter-offers. However, if there’s a situation that requires you to need more time to respond, make sure you’re upfront about that so the other party can be prepared.
In an extremely competitive market, often you will find yourself in competitive bidding situations where you might hear back from the seller that they received multiple offers and that they are requesting one more “last and final” offer. that’s usually a sign that if you want to compete on the property, you will be submitting a new (usually higher) offer within the timeframe requested by the seller’s agent.
Should I Order an Inspection?
As a buyer, it’s always recommended to get an inspection of a property before you purchase. In many cases, your lender will require an inspection. Many offers today, however, are waiving inspection in an effort to remain competitive. It’s a massive risk that many buyers are willing to accept given the level of competition in the market. But whenever possible, including an inspection contingency and then conducting the inspection after you offer has been accepted is usually the best practice.
If you’re selling your home, you may want to consider a pre-listing inspection. This home inspection will point out things, big and small, that could be problematic in your home’s sale.
While it may seem counterintuitive to get an inspection before you list your home, especially since you’re legally required to disclose major defects, it’s better to go into the process prepared. Getting this inspection out of the way early either prepares you to negotiate them during the sale process or to repair them before you list the home. In any case, it’s a good idea to get a pre-listing inspection when selling houses in Boston.
Who Pays Closing Costs?
In general, when it comes to selling houses in Boston, both parties pay some closing costs, though buyers usually pay more than sellers.
However, this is negotiable, and, as a buyer, you can negotiate to have the seller pay the closing costs in exchange for your paying a slightly higher final price.
Professional Guidance When Buying and Selling Houses in Boston
At NextHome Titletown Real Estate, we make it our mission to help you get the best deal when buying and selling houses in Boston, so contact us today at (617) 657-9811!
Boston and Beyond – Just Hit the Market!
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