This program is designed to allow sorority member, family, friends and the communities we serve to be trained on three phases of Home Ownership. Information is available on any one or all three phases



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A word of caution about a "hot" market


If the real estate market where you are looking to buy is "hot", meaning that the houses are selling quickly and often for above the asking price, don't be tempted to bid more than you can afford for a home.

You may find that you are outbid on a number of houses but don't be discouraged – the right home is out there. Remember, it is truly only the perfect home for you if you can afford it. If you get caught up in a hot market, you may find yourself with a bigger mortgage than you can comfortably afford.



If you're using a real estate agent, talk to him or her about negotiating. Your agent may be able to help you decide how to make your offer. Unless you have a buyer's agent, however, remember that your real estate agent is legally obligated to represent the property seller.


Make an Offer in Writing


This is the time to think carefully about what you want and what you can afford. If your offer is accepted, it becomes a legally binding contract. Make sure you don't include anything in the offer that you're not totally comfortable with doing.

Make sure you put everything in writing. Offers usually include items like:



  • Proposed purchase price Remember, the seller may counter-offer with a higher purchase price - consider that when you decide on your proposed purchase price.

  • Concessions This includes things you'd like the seller to help pay for, like closing costs.

  • Conveyances This covers any personal property to be included in the sale, like the washer and dryer or the refrigerator.

  • Home inspection contingencies Make sure you're prepared if the home inspection report shows major problems.

  • Earnest money Earnest money is a deposit you offer to show you're serious about purchasing the house. Earnest money is usually held in escrow and applied to your closing costs at settlement. If you fail to meet the terms of your contract, you may lose this deposit.

  • Acceptance This covers how long the seller has to respond to your offer before the offer is no longer binding.

  • Mediation and arbitration These are legal methods for handling contract disagreements between you and the property seller. These methods are not necessarily beneficial to you, and you do not need to agree to them.



When the Offer Becomes a Contract


Once the seller accepts your offer, the offer becomes a contract – you've contracted to buy a house. What's in a contract varies from state to state, but some common things you'll find include:

  • Legal description This describes the property you are buying in terms of its dimensions relative to a fixed point (like a road) or in relation to a recorded subdivision plat or declaration of condominium. It often includes the street address of the property.

  • Selling price and deposit This is the price you and the buyer agreed upon, as well as the amount of earnest money you'll pay when you sign the contract.

  • Mortgage contingency A contingency protects you by stating that the sale depends on a lender approving you for a specific mortgage, rate, and term.

  • Closing date and location The closing date (also called the settlement) can be several weeks to several months away to meet the seller's and your needs.

  • Conveyances Double check these conveyances to make sure that the items are there and are what you and the seller agreed on in the offer.

  • Home inspection If you've made the contract contingent on a home inspection, this will set an inspection date and provide an explanation of what will happen if the inspection identifies any problems.



  • Possession date This is the date you can move in. It's usually the closing day or very soon after it.

  • Property insurance This details the home insurance policy that will cover the property until the closing date. This can be the buyer's or seller's policy.

  • Property disclosures This includes legal notification of any required information concerning the property (such as copies of documents from the homeowners' association), issues or problems with the property.

Resources


Do your research. Offers and contracts can, and should, include other items specific to the property you’re buying. For example:

  • Condominiums. Make sure you’re aware of any terms associated with buying the condominium, including requirements from the condominium association.

  • Well and septic tank. If the property has either, they must be tested and pass inspection.



Closing on a Home


Closing on a home involves a number of important steps. Make sure to pay the same level of attention to these steps as you did when you were house hunting.

What do you need to know during the closing process?


  • Learn why hiring a professional home inspector is so important.

  • Know what to look for when shopping for homeowner's insurance.

  • Understand what to expect when you attend closing (the actual settlement meeting).


Attend the Closing Meeting


Closing (also called settlement) is the final step in buying a home. Once it's complete, the home is yours.

A number of people attend closing. They usually include:



  • You, the homebuyer

  • The seller of the home

  • The closing agent, the title insurance representative, and the escrow agent These can be several different people or one person handling all three issues. Closing agents coordinate the closing by recording closing documents, dispersing funds, etc.

  • The real estate agent



Steps in the Closing Process


The time between your offer being accepted and the actual closing meeting can be longer than you think. There are a number of steps in between, including:

Conduct a property walk-through Before the closing takes place, you should make a final walk-through of the property to ensure it is in the same condition as when you placed the contract on the home. You also will want to make sure that any mutual agreements such as repairs or appliances conveying have been met.

Setting the closing date The closing date is set when your mortgage is approved and you sign a commitment letter with your lender. Make sure the closing date is before your lock-in rate expires.

  • Reviewing the documents Ask for the closing documents before the actual closing and read them carefully. It may be a good idea to have a lawyer review them with you. Understand what you'll be asked to sign before the meeting.

  • Understanding the closing costs Closing costs can include many different things and can add up to a sizeable amount of money. Be prepared. Know exactly what's included in your closing costs and the total amount you'll be expected to pay at the closing meeting.

  • Attending the closing meeting Closing meetings are standard in the home-buying process, although there are a few states where there are no closing meetings. You'll sign documents like the closing statement, mortgage note, and truth-in-lending statement. Proof of insurance and inspections, as well any monies due, are required before you get the keys to your new home.

The settlement agent or escrow agent should obtain this documentation on behalf of the lender. Check your state laws (your agent or the closing agent can help) – you may not be allowed to use a personal check for any payments due at the closing meeting. In that case, you'll need a certified or cashier's check.


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