How To Buy A Home In Minnesota And Wisconsin
When you start the journey to buy a new home it doesn’t matter whether it’s your first time or fifth time buying – it’s still exciting, nerve-wracking, and, at points, stressful. Minnesota and Wisconsin are both beautiful states with highly-desirable cities and communities and coveted neighborhoods where people want to live. Because of this, buyers from all over the country relocate to the area to join the existing residents in their hunt for the perfect house.
As you prepare to buy a home, many questions will come to mind. Regardless of how simple they may seem, be sure to write them down so you can review them one-on-one with your Counselor Realtor®.
Along with your list of questions about the home buying process, the housing market, and anything else you think of, also create a list of reasons why you’re buying. The more you can share with your agent about who you are and what matters most to you, the more tailored the guidance they give you will be.
A few questions you should think about (and share the answers with your agent):
- Why are you looking to buy?
- Is this your first time buying?
- Where do you want to live?
- Are you familiar with the area or would you like your real estate agent to share extra information about parks, activities, shopping, and other amenities nearby to get you familiar with your prospective new community?
What does your ideal home look like? What kind of features does it include?
The Counselor Realty team is a diverse and experienced group of real estate agents who were all individually invited to join our organization based on their expertise, attitude, and dedication to providing our clients with the highest level of service possible.
It’s important that you find an agent who you like and feel comfortable with. Feel free to meet with multiple agents and share with them your answers from the questions above. We’re confident you’ll make a connection with one of our agents, and when you do, the home buying process will be that much more enjoyable.
No matter which Counselor Realtor® you choose, you will have the pleasure of working with one of the most professional, genuine, and client-centric agents in the area
Some good questions to ask your potential agent:
- How long have you worked in the real estate industry?
- Do you specialize in any particular areas?
- Do you hold any professional certifications?
- Are you familiar with the area where I want to buy?
- As my agent, what services would you provide?
- What is your fee?
- What is the contracted time that you would be my exclusive agent?
Financing is one of the most sensitive and variable aspects of the home buying process. Every buyer has different needs and different opportunities available to them. Your ability to buy and how much you can spend largely depends on what your current financial position is, so it’s crucial that you begin the financing process early on in your home-buying journey.
If you’re ready to jump in with your Realtor® and immediately start looking at homes to buy, and you will need a loan to make the purchase, it’s a good idea to first talk with a mortgage broker (or a few). Find out what your credit is like and what your loan terms and buying power would be by asking to be “pre-approved” for a mortgage. That way your agent can help you find a home that meets your expectations and your price point.
Evaluating your financial standing before looking at homes (or making an offer) will save you time, money, and potential heartache. If you haven’t already spoken with a loan officer, your Counselor agent can help you find a trustworthy lender who will take great care of you and offers programs most suited to your particular needs.
Once you’ve found a real estate agent you like and done your financial homework, the fun begins, and you can start looking for homes! Your Counselor agent has access to all the latest technology and tools to help you through the home buying process.
Your agent will work with you to search through available homes on the market and find options that fit your needs, wants, and budget. If you haven’t already communicated exactly what you want in a home to your Realtor®, now is the time to do it.
Make sure you tell your real estate agent:
- The location(s) you’re interested in
- How much you can afford (and if you’re pre-approved)
- What size property and home you’re looking for
- The style and type of homes you like
- If you’re looking for a particular feature or amenity (like a large porch, fireplace or pool)
When you find a home you love, it’s time to make an offer. You can choose to offer the asking price or an amount higher or lower than the list price. Your agent will be invaluable during this time and can assist you in determining what to offer based on a number of factors including the market value of the home, days on the market, and competition as well as help to navigate any ensuing negotiations.
Your Counselor Realtor® will also assist you in making an an offer with a contract that protects you using contingencies. That means your purchase offer will be written in such a way that you only move on to closing provide certain conditions are met, like the home passes all inspections and due diligence, the title is clear, and your financing is officially approved and secured.
After your offer on a home has been accepted the escrow process begins. While you’re busy packing your belongings and getting excited about all the wonderful things you’ll do in your new home, your agent will be hard at work on your behalf. Counselor Realtors® work with your mortgage broker, appraiser, home inspectors, title company, and closers to make sure all the conditions in the purchase contract are met and that the home is in good standing for you.
Appraisal, Inspection, & Lending
During escrow, all of the conditions and contingencies outlined in your purchase contract will be processed. If you listed an appraisal, inspection(s), or due diligence, now is the time they will be conducted. Usually, there are deadlines within the purchase contract that dictate when you will have each service completed. If the appraisal or inspections can’t be scheduled early enough or complete by the listed date, your agent will ask the sellers for an extension (more time) to complete that particular service. In most cases, reasonable extension requests are accepted.
Your lender will be watching to make sure the home you want to purchase appraises at a value high enough for them to justify the loan terms outlined in your pre-approval and (depending on what kind of financing you’re getting) to make sure that the house passes inspection. Your Counselor Realtor® is experienced in this process and many agents are aware of what popular lending programs are looking for, so during the home search will help you choose a property that appears to meet these terms before you make an offer. If the property you want to buy meets all the requirements and your credit, income, and other information is approved, your financing will move forward.
Title Company & Closer
The title company will review the title history of the property. They will work to uncover any existing liens or other title issues. The hope is the title is free and clear and will pass from the seller to the buyer without any additional work, but sometimes the title search uncovers information that has to be dealt with before closing can take place. Once the title search comes back clear, the title company will issue title insurance that protects you in the event any title issues surface after the sale that existed before you took possession such as unpaid taxes, liens, or other legal issues.
After the appraiser, inspectors, title company, and the lender have all completed their processes, all the pertinent documents are sent to the closer. This is the person who will compile all the necessary paperwork and disclosures to review with you at closing and be sure you understand (again) everything you’re signing before you finalize the sale and take possession of the property.
Before closing, you’ll be asked to contact the insurance company of your choice and establish home owners insurance as well as any other required insurance (like flood insurance). If you are buying the property with a loan, your lender will require the insurance is in place before you take possession and will be active upon closing. That way the property is covered at all time.
Sometimes you may opt to purchase (or the seller may offer) a home warranty to run alongside your standard home insurance for a set period. Home warranties come in many different forms but usually help the buyer cover unexpected costs should something major breakdown during the term of the warranty. This can include things that fail even due to normal wear and tear like appliances, heating and air conditioning, and plumbing or electrical systems.
Most warranties include repair (or replacement if it can’t be fixed) without requiring you to personally pay the cost (which can be quite significant depending on the issue). This is an optional warranty, so if it’s important to you and not offered by the seller, ask your Realtor how you can purchase it for yourself before closing.
For most home sales the time from offer acceptance to closing is approximately 30-days. However, during that time there’s a lot happening, and sometimes it’s necessary to extend a deadline in between (for services like the inspection or financing). During this time it’s important that you prepare to move but talk with your agent about what you should and shouldn’t do before closing.
For example, if you’re renting your agent can advise you on when the best time to give notice would be so you don’t end up giving it too soon. They will also advise you not to make any large purchases until after you have keys in hand. It can be tempting to run out and buy a new living room set, but you could affect your credit or raise a red flag for the financing company, so it’s best to wait until after you’ve closed.
Once a closing date has been set, and your loan is approved, you can contact local service providers to establish your accounts and set the date they will go into effect. You’ll want to set up your electricity, gas, water, garbage, cable, telephone, internet, and any other necessary services.
Also remember to set up mail forwarding, and once you have the keys, you can let your bank, creditors, medical insurance, and other important providers know you’ve moved.
After closing, you’ll move in to your new home. Moving is a catalyst and can trigger a mix of emotions both good and bad in people. It’s a good practice to talk with your spouse, children, and anyone else in your household and allow everyone to process their feelings openly.
To help you adjust to the move and make the transition easier:
- Get some of your favorite or most important rooms unpacked right away (these are usually the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms)
- Cook a delicious meal in your new kitchen to celebrate
- Explore the neighborhood and see everything your new community has to offer
- Paint an accent wall or finish other quick and easy projects that make the house “yours”
- Introduce yourselves to the neighbors and ask what they love about the area
- Get in touch with friends to share the news about your move
- Hold a housewarming party and invite the people you love into your new space
- Keep a running list of everything you like about your new home (the features, the neighborhood, nearby amenities, schools, church, shopping, restaurants, etc.)