The Buying Process
Learn about the process of buying a home in Southern Utah
1. Initial Consultation
Many Buyers are anxious to start looking at houses. This is understandable. However, the old maxim, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" applies to real estate transactions too. The first step is to discover how the current market conditions match up with your wants and needs. This Initial Consultation can be done via email, phone, or in person. You will want to discuss all the details regarding the kind of property you are looking for, your time-frame and your financial situation. You will have the opportunity to ask questions about the buying process, the market, and the specific things we, as your Advocates, will do to assist you.
2. Establish a Working Relationship
During the Initial Consultation you will want to discuss what it means to have your own representation, review agency agreements, and decide exactly how you and our Team will work together. There are laws and policies that govern the legal relationship between REALTORS® and Clients. In Utah, REALTORS® are required to have an agency contract with their clients before they write an offer on a home. So expect Bob to talk with you about the contract. You will have the chance to ask about our experience, practices and availability. Ask as many questions as it takes for you to feel comfortable moving forward to the next step.
3. Meet Lender/Pre-Qualification
If you plan on securing a loan to help with the purchase, it is vitally important for you to get pre-qualified. We have many recommended lenders. They are posted on our web site in the Preferred Lender section. They offer the most favorable financing terms and have a level of customer service which we require in serving our clients. You should meet with them as soon as possible. Your Lender will check your credit, look at your debt to income ratios and talk over the mortgage product that best fits your needs. Your Lender should provide a Good Faith Estimate and tell you what purchase price you are qualified for. The Lender will break down the monthly costs and closing costs for the loan so you can firm up your financial plan. They need to provide us a “Pre-Qualification” or “Pre-Approval” letter that we will use when presenting an offer. Remember, even though you are pre-qualified for a certain amount does not mean that price should be your target purchase price. Just because you coulddoesn’t always mean you should. Talk with Bob or a member of his Team about how your “Pre-Qualification” or Pre-Approval” amount fits in with your real estate goals. Then the excitement begins…
4. Select and View Properties
There are so many amazing tools to help you select the homes you want to view. We invite you to use the convenient MLS search on our website. You will also find interesting properties as you are driving around the area. We will be calling you with details on properties too. In fact, everyone who knows you are looking for a new home/investment will likely try to help. That is wonderful, but there are a few guidelines you should follow. Call or e-mail Bob with details on ANY property you find from ANY source (For Sale By Owner, Discount Brokerages, Non-KELLER WILLIAMS properties, etc. – We are here to help you with ALL of the possibilities.) Let us, as your Advocates, be the Seller’s first contact. This sets a standard of professionalism with any Seller. Bob will research all the homes you have an interest in and set appointments for you to view the selected properties. As we are going through the homes together, feel free to ask questions. All the way through the process, ask questions. If we don’t know the answer we’ll find it. It may be a matter of “love at first sight” or it may take some time, but you have taken the right steps and you will be ready make an offer when you find the right property. We do more than unlock the door for you, we unlock the understanding of value for you in every real estate transaction.
5. Write an offer to Purchase
Value is one of the most important aspects of your experience We will provide a market analysis on the home you select. That way, you will know before the offer is written what the market value is (regardless of asking price.) When writing an offer to purchase a property, we’ll use a standard contract called the Real Estate Purchase Contract or REPC. You will generally need to include a personal check, cashier’s check or cash to be used as an earnest money deposit. This represents your sincerity in the attempt to purchase and is totally refundable IF the offer is not accepted. An earnest money deposit of at least 1% of the purchase price is strongly recommended. This money is generally kept in the trust account of the real estate brokerage and is not turned over to the Seller. It is transferred to the title company at closing as a CREDIT to your purchase.
The remainder of the offer outlines deadlines, dates, contingencies, possession, settlement, closing, specific items that will be included in the purchase, warranties, etc.
You’ll appreciate the benefit of an experienced professional guiding you through the intricacies of the offer.
6. Acceptance of Contract
As your personal advocates, Bob and his Team negotiates the offer on your behalf. This begins with the way the offer is written and continues through the way the offer is presented to the Seller. According to state law, as soon as one party signs that they accept the terms and communicates it to the other party the offer becomes a binding contract. However, Bob and his Team don’t stop there. You’ll see the benefit of their relentless pursuit of education and our passion for representing our clients as we continuously negotiate for you through the entire process. Once you do have an accepted contract you will be prepared to move forward with confidence. Our Transaction Coordinator Assistant will be in touch to arrange home inspections, meetings with lenders and all of the necessary paperwork to see you through to a successful closing.
7. Mortgage Application Finalized
Your lender plays a vital role in the home buying process. We encourage you to work with a lender who has a proven track record. We have lenders we work with who consistently provide outstanding service to our clients. Remember that your Earnest Money is tied to the way the lender performs. Don’t risk loosing your earnest money by using a lender we can’t trust.
When applying for ANY loan, bring your past 2 years tax returns, 3 bank statements, at least 3 pay stubs from your employer, your driver’s license and Social Security card.
If you have a pending sale on your present home, bring a copy of the contract, and estimated proceeds from the sale.
If rental property is owned, furnish a copy of the lease(s).
If self-employed, bring federal tax return, profit and loss statement and balance sheet for the last 2 years.
If applying for a VA loan, please bring a copy of your DD-214, Discharge Papers, or VA certificate of eligibility.
Alimony and child support information (divorce decree for verification) may be required.
If a relocation firm has purchased your home, bring a copy of the contract and equity statement.
Be prepared to account for the source of funds of your down payment and closing costs.
The lender then goes about the business of verifying all of the information and proving to the loan provider that you meet the criteria for the loan. It can be a complicated process, but rest assured that we will be in constant contact with the lender and appraiser to ensure a transaction free of surprises.
8. Disclosures, Evaluations and Inspections
The Seller will provide documentation regarding the condition of the property. We will collect additional disclosures for you and order the Commitment for Title Insurance which ensures that the seller has clean or clear title to the property. You will have the chance to review all of these documents. You also have the opportunity to have a home inspection done at your cost. Keep in mind that we have seen home inspections save our clients thousands of dollars and a typical home inspection will cost between $250-$550 depending upon the size of home. You will want to carefully review the Home Inspection and Property Disclosures. You may also elect to have a specific inspection for issues like: mold, radon gas, termites, lead based paint, structural concerns or other items. It is important to have the inspections done early on in the transaction, usually within the first 7-10 days.
If you are purchasing a property that is in an HOA (Home Owner’s Association) we recommend you investigate the financial stability of the organization. This is accomplished by requesting copies of the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions) along with reviewing the existing by-laws, past HOA Board meeting minutes, current budget and financial statements.
Together, we will discuss any concerns or objections you may have and address them in writing with the Seller. This is really your opportunity to determine that the property is what it was represented to be and that you are ready to proceed with the purchase.
Discovery Home Inspections
Preferred Property Inspections (PPI)
The appraisal is paid for by the Buyer, ordered by the Lender and usually one of the last contingencies to be removed. We’ll keep in contact with the Lender and Appraiser and notify you as soon as the appraisal is completed, we’ll talk over any effect it will have on your transaction.
You will be asked to name an insurance agent as a policy will be required prior to closing. Your Lender will assist you in setting this up.
Our Preferred Insurance Providers
American National Insurance Company
844 West Telegraph, Suite 4
Washington, UT 84780
Office: (435) 656-3990
Fax: (435) 674-3199
11. Final Loan Approval
Your Lender will be busy preparing all the required documents and verifications. Once the Appraisal is received your lender will send your completed loan package to the underwriters who re-verify all the information and give their approval to release the funds for Settlement. Be prepared for last minute conditions the underwriter may require. Once those conditions have been satisfied the loan is released from Final Underwriting. At that point the lender is committed to funding the loan. Ideally, documents will be prepared by your lender and delivered to the Title Company 48 hours before Settlement.
12. Walk Through
The Real Estate Purchase Contract gives you the right to walk through the home a day or two prior to Settlement. Use this opportunity to be sure any agreed upon repairs have been completed and that the home is in the same general condition it was in the day the offer was written. This is not the time to decide the living room is not big enough or that you don’t like the color of the paint, but it is a great time to be sure that the Seller did not do any damage to the property when moving out.
With a new construction purchase the walk through is the Buyer’s opportunity to be sure all aspects of the home are completed as agreed and create a “Punch List” of items that still need attention.
13. Utility Transfer / Change of Address
Before moving in, be sure the utility company has been notified and deposits made, if necessary. Also, don’t forget the telephone company. Sometimes it takes several days to hook up service.
If you’re purchasing a BRAND NEW home, remind us to give you the contact information for a garbage can to be delivered to your home prior to taking occupancy. They typically need a 5 to 7 day lead time.
You will want to request a Change of Address kit from the post office and get the ball rolling with changing your mailing address.
If you ever have questions about who to contact for what service don’t hesitate to call our Team.
14. Settlement & Closing
In Utah, SETTLEMENT AND CLOSING ARE 2 DIFFERENT EVENTS TYPICALLY ON 2 DIFFERENT DAYS
Prior to Settlement, the Title Company will provide an approximate dollar amount that you will need to bring with you to Settlement. These funds, if paid by check, should be a CASHIER’S CHECK payable to the Title Company name. Personal checks will not be accepted. In fact, title companies can’t even accept CASH. Wiring the money to the title company is truly the best means. It acts immediately as “good funds” allowing the transaction to close earlier.
If you plan to close by mail, please be sure to allow plenty of time to mail all documents so they arrive at the title company before closing is to occur.
Settlement is the day all the necessary papers have been signed and the monies received by the Title Company.
Closing is after settlement and involves the Closing Officer processing all of paperwork and delivering the documents to the County Recorders office. When the documents record the transaction is considered CLOSED. This is when title and ownership changes hands.
You get to take possession as soon as the transaction records unless your contract allowed for another arrangement. It is common for a Buyer to allow a Seller 24-48 hours after closing to finish moving and cleaning the property. Be aware that the contract only requires that the property be left “broom-clean and free of debris and personal belongings.” If you would like the name of a good cleaning service or carpet cleaners don’t hesitate to ask.
After you take possession and are officially the owner, there are still a few details that will need your attention. If a Home Warranty was included in your purchase you will receive a package from the Home Warranty Company about 2 weeks after Closing. You will also receive a few helpful letters from our office, instructions regarding local property taxes and assessments.
The actual Warranty Deed can take up to 6 weeks to be processed and delivered to you.
You are likely to have questions. We will be there for you. We will stay in touch with you, offering services that exceed what you might expect, allowing you to relax and enjoy your investment.
You are going to notice your family and friends will have real estate needs from time to time. We invite you to contact Bob whenever you see someone with a need. We are sure you will want them to have the same, amazing experience you’ve had. We welcome and reward you for any business you send our way.
So, when you are ready or when you have questions:
This page contains information about buying real estate, the role of a real estate agent, and the buying process in the Saint George Utah area. This information is also applicable for surrounding towns such as Washington, Ivins, Santa Clara, Hurricane, LaVerkin, Leeds, and Cedar City.