Few things are as daunting as purchasing a home, particularly for those who never have done it before. Here is an extremely brief overview of the process of purchasing a home in the Phoenix real estate market:
- Find a real estate agent. Few things are more important than finding your own independent representation. There’s a common misperception that purchasing a home through the listing agent will result in a better deal for the buyer; the reality is the listing agent works for the seller and has the seller’s best interest in mind, not yours. Not to mention, it’s easier to find a taxi in New York City than it is to get a return call from listing agents on distressed properties.
- Get prequalified. Take it from someone who has been there back when he was purchasing his own first home. Few things are more heartbreaking than getting excited to purchase a home only to learn you can’t qualify either in general or for the home you’re looking for. Make sure you talk to a lender or two to see what amount you can qualify for and also determine how much home you really need.
- Get your car keys. The federal Fair Housing Act greatly limits what a licensed real estate agent can say about a given neighborhood. If you’ve got questions about an area do a little research or, better yet, jump into the car and take a quick drive. Like Jiminy Cricket on your shoulder, your subconscious will tell you if an area works for you or not. Really. It will.
- Writing an offer. All offers here need to be in writing. Licensed real estate professionals use the nine-page Arizona Association of REALTORS contract; additional addenda may be necessary for distressed properties. I use electronic signatures whenever I can but not all sellers will accept them, so be ready to get a slight hand cramp signing just in case.
- Inspection period. Once an offer is accepted there generally is an inspection period of up to 10 days. Our contract boilerplate calls for 10 days but the figure could be less depending on what is negotiated into the contract. Also, there is no legally mandated inspection period so if you’re using a contract from Office Max or some such, make sure there’s something there.
- Closing escrow. There is no closing table in Arizona. Buyers and sellers sign separately, often days apart. After the closing docs are signed and the purchase funded, the deed is sent electronically to the Maricopa County Recorder’s office to be, well, recorded. And once it records, you get your keys.
Fortunately, help is available every step of the way. Simply call or e-mail me today and I can help you on your way to owning your own slice of the Valley of the Sun.