Home Buying Process in Colorado Springs
When buying a home in Colorado Springs, it is important for buyers to understand the Colorado Springs Home Buying Process.
Find an Agent
The first step of the Home Buying Process is to find an agent that you can trust. Ask friends and relatives for a referral. If this isn’t possible, then research agents by reading their reviews. Understand how the agent communicates with their clients. Most importantly, make sure the agent is familiar with the Colorado Springs market and area you are looking.
Be prepared to sign a Buyer Agency agreement before looking at properties. This is a contract between you and the agent to ensure both of you are loyal to each other. It also allows the agent’s professional insurance (errors and omissions) to be activated while representing you.
Is technology important to you? If yes, then find an agent that maximizes technology. Using a property portal from the MLS can make the search for properties during the home buying process more efficient, and use a mobile app when you are driving around to see what properties are available and their price ranges in nice neighborhoods.
Talk With a Lender
The next step in the home buying process is to talk with a local lender to ensure you can qualify to purchase a home in Colorado Springs. Many listing agents will discourage the use of agents that are not local. Ask your agent for lender referrals. The lender will provide you advice on the best loan programs to meet your needs. Prior to looking at properties, the lender will provide you with a pre-qual or pre-approval letter for the amount of your loan. This is your ticket to start viewing properties with an agent. Uncertain about how much house you can afford to purchase? Check out this article by Money Magazine, How Much House Can I Afford?
Once you are pre-qualified and are comfortable with the estimated monthly payment quoted by the lender, then you are ready to start viewing properties.
Your agent should set up a property search for you on the Pikes Peak Multi-Listing Service (PPMLS). This is the system used by Colorado Springs agents and will have the most accurate information. The PPMLS pushes to other property search sites, but sometimes there is a delay, which in a hot seller’s market could result in the buyer missing an opportunity.
Buyers are advised to wear slip-on shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. If you have pet allergies you might want to take allergy medicine before heading out.
As you review properties you will make notes on what you like or don’t like about the property. At the end of the day, make sure you have your favorite properties identified. Know that in a hot seller’s market, you will need to act quickly or risk losing the property. In a buyer’s market, you may have more time to weigh your options, but no matter the market a delay could result in missing out on the number 1 pick.
Making an Offer
It is recommended that you review the Contract to Buy in advance so you can act quickly when you have found the home for you. Listen to your agent. If it is a hot seller’s market, you will not want to negotiate on price and anything that impacts the seller’s net at closing which could prevent you from getting the deal. This would include asking the seller for concessions or to make cosmetic changes to the property (asking for new carpet). In a buyer’s market, you have a bit more flexibility on price and concessions.
Your agent should review recent comparable sold properties with you to ensure you are not overpaying for the property. In a hot seller’s market, it is important to also look at the trend for properties over a period of 6 months if the list price is higher than the recently sold properties.
Your agent should talk with the listing agent to find out what the sellers need to give you the advantage. They might need a couple days after closing to move to their new home or maybe they need a 7-week close. Knowing this up front and including this information in the offer can help your position.
Receiving a Counter Offer
Quite often even the perfect offer will be countered by the seller. This may be for dates and deadlines or simple corrections that are no fault of the buyer’s agent. When both buyers and sellers agree to the counter, it is signed and the contract becomes the counter with the original offer. This contract is then provided to the buyer’s lender and the buyer submits the earnest money to the title company to lock in the contract.
The inspection process is often the most stressful part of the home buying process for both the buyer and seller. The buyer has the right to inspect any part of the property. They will then identify the items they want the seller to repair on an Inspection Objection or they can exit the contract if the items are too extensive. We advise our clients to identify any health and safety items and anything that will impact their ability to obtain suitable insurance (ex. damaged roof). Cosmetic items are not repairs and should not be included on the inspection objection.
The seller will then decide on the items they agree to repair and document these in an inspection resolution. They may also recommend an adjustment to the sales price for one or more items for the buyer to complete. The seller may also exit the agreement at this point usually because the buyers and sellers cannot come to an agreement on inspection items.
While the buyer is working through the inspection process, they will start working closely with the lender to make sure they have everything they need to approve the loan. This includes past taxes, any legal judgments (divorce or past bankruptcy documents), pay stubs, etc. Sometimes it may seem like there is no end to this, especially if you own a small business or have investment properties.
Once you are under contract it is critical that your financial status does not change. This includes adding more debt or paying large sums of money that were planned for the down payment. If you are considering a major expense during the process, talk with your lender FIRST.
The lender will hire an appraiser to view the property and prepare an appraisal to make sure the property is worth the contracted price. If the property appraises low, the price can be renegotiated or either party can exit the agreement. If the buyer really wants the property, they can bring the difference to closing in cash.
If the property appraises high, the buyer can be comforted in knowing that they have instant equity in the home and rest assured, the seller does not know and the price will not be adjusted upwards.
This is the big day, when you sign for the biggest purchase of your life, obtain the keys to your next home and start building your wealth.
At the closing, you will need a valid picture id (drivers license) to verify your identity to the notary. Then you will begin to sign documents that will transfer the property into your name and the loan documents. If you are bringing cash to closing, this needs to be in the form of good funds or cashiers check made out to the title company. If you are wiring funds, please wire the day prior to closing and verify the wiring instructions with the title company over the phone to prevent any possibility of wire fraud.
After all the documents are signed, you will receive the keys to the property, garage door openers, and any additional information specific to gaining access to the property (garage or gate code).
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By Nancy Murray
Murray & Associates, Keller Williams Colorado Springs