Stamford Connecticut Real Estate MLS Listings, Stamford Ct Homes, Condos, Townhouses for Sale, Home Buying advice by local Stamford CT real estate agent Lena Getman.
Lena Getman - real estate agent servicing Stamford CT

Ten Steps to Stamford Home Buying.

Buying a home can be very confusing experience. I have put together some guidelines for you to follow to make your transaction easier.
Success in homebuying starts with a strong foundation of knowledge of the current local market, assessing your needs and financial situation, planning forward.

Ten Steps to Buying a Home in Stamford
Step 1. Determine If Buying A Home Now Is In Your Best Interests
Step 2. Educating Yourself To The Market Place
Step 3. Select a Realtor
Step 4. Get Pre-Approved For Your Loan
Step 5. Look at Homes
Step 6. Choose a Home
Step 7. Make an Offer
Step 8. Contingency Period
Step 9. Final Walk Through Inspection Before The Closing
Step 10 - Close And Move


Step 1. Determine If Buying A Home Now Is In Your Best Interests.

Most of the time, buying a home is one of the smartest financial decisions that a person can make. But not always!
Before you get started, analyze your needs.

Ask yourself some very important questions and answer them truthfully:
How long are you planning to live in your new home?

  •  What are your real needs? What is important to you?
  •  Would it still be important to you in the couple of years?
  •  What are the features that the new home must have in order for you to buy it?
  •  What are the features that nice to have?
  •  What are the reasons why you are looking for a new home?
  •  What problems a new house will solve?
  •  Are you currently renting and would like to have your first home instead of paying your landlord?
  •  Are you looking for an opportunity to secure your future and to start building equity and save on taxes?
  •  Are you looking for a bigger or better home?
  •  Does your family need more space and you have outgrown your current residence?
  •  Have your income increased and you thinking of a bigger house or another neighborhood?
  •  What would happen when your income or family will grow?
  •  What would you decide if you weren't concerned or confused?

You owe it to yourself to be honest with yourself, trust your intuition, and believe that you deserve the best!

Review your budget and determine how much you want and can to pay each month. With mortgage rates as low as today and considering the tax deduction benefits it make sense to use bank's money to get a better house. Please consider that the bank won't lend you more money without making sure that your can afford the monthly payment. They are risking their money if you won't be able to pay your mortgage.

I agree that homes may seem overpriced after 14-18% yearly appreciation in last several years. I am not a wizard and can not predict the future. But I know that many clients had the same thoughts a year, two, and tree years ago. The luckiest one had move into their new homes and enjoyed its price appreciation. As you compare your rent payment with your home monthly payment and consider the much better quality of life and other benefits of home ownership, buying a home may be a better choice for you.

Remember that owning a home involves more than a monthly mortgage. Don't forget the day-to-day expenses you may incur once you own a home. In addition to the principal and interest of your mortgage payment this includes:

  •  Utilities
  •  Homeowner or condo association dues
  •  Property taxes
  •  City or County taxes
  •  Should You Consider Buying?

Use rent vs. buy calculator to help determine if you are ready to buy or if renting is still the better option.
Determine What You Can Afford
Use affordability calculator to get an idea of how much you can afford to spend.

Give Me 30 Minutes To Show You The Options That Are Available To You.

I would like to offer you a short no obligation meeting or phone conversation.

We'll meet and have an interesting conversation about your situation and your real estate needs. Based on your situation, your needs, and goals we'll discuss your options and opportunities that are available to you. We'll see if home buying is a best decision for you at this time.

We'll both know, before the conversation is over, whether I can help you achieve your goals. There are no obligations for you and it won't cost you a dime. Whether you decide to hire me or not is totally up to you. But one thing I am sure of that you'll get at least one valuable idea or strategy for your that you hadn't thought of before but want to apply in your home search.
If you decide to hire me as your real estate agent, I will represent your best interests throughout the entire process.

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Step 2. Educating Yourself To The Market Place.

An important step in buying a home, whether it is your first home or your last one is educating yourself to the market place prior to making a purchase. Collect all information; inform yourself of all available options.

Now that you have your list of needs and wants and what are your best interests the next step is determining which neighborhoods you prefer within your budget. The first rule of real estate is location, location, location. I always recommend choosing the best community you can afford even if it means choosing a somewhat smaller home, as long as the home will accommodate your lifestyle comfortably.

Think about that...if you found the perfect house but it was not in a neighborhood that you like, would it make sense to move in there?

Even if you don't have school-aged children, neighborhoods with good schools typically attract more buyers. Start with the end in mind. Eventually you will sell your home and it is better be re-saleable. When you are ready to sell the home and move on a home in a better neighborhood will get you maximum resale value.

Next you probably would like to learn about the real estate values in Stamford. You would like to know where the real values lie, and whether the market is overpriced. Sure, you may know what houses are listing for in the neighborhood, but do you know what they're really selling for? How long the houses are on the market? What is the bargain in the current market? To find out click here to sign for my "Local homes prices" service.

So...what next?

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Step 3. Select a Realtor

When it comes to working with a Realtor®, find a professional you trust and develop a working relationship with that agent. Interview several realtors in the area you are looking to buy. Find out how the realtor works and if his/her style matches your own. Determine which one agent you feel you can work with and choose an agent you feel comfortable with.

What To Consider? What questions to ask?
1. Do you have time to research the residential housing market?
2. Do you have the knowledge to integrate and understand the information available to me?
3. Can you integrate the information available on real estate Internet sites into useful data that will help me buy a home?
4. Do you have the expertise to negotiate on my own behalf?

Step 4. Get Pre-Approved For Your Loan.

As soon as you get familiar with the local market, finalized your requirements and decided that you definitely want to buy a home, get pre-approved for the mortgage.
Finding a good lender is critical for you. You need to know that the lender will deliver you mortgage on time with no hidden costs. You need to know how much home you can afford, how much money you will need for down payment and closing costs, and what your monthly payments will be. A pre-approved loan is one in which the lender has fully documented your ability to borrow and set a maximum loan amount based on your verified income, credit and down payment.

Here Are The Three Reasons Why Getting the Mortgage Pre-Approval Is A Good Idea:

1. Once you are pre-approved, you can shop for your new home in confidence, knowing that you won't have any problems getting the loan.

2. Lenders can detect any potential problems that might make obtaining a loan difficult. Credit report errors, high debt balances, and an insufficient downpayment may be corrected with time. Loan underwriters have specific rules and guidelines they must follow. Many would-be homebuyers have been dismayed and disappointed to find out 2-3 weeks after they enter a contract that the lender has turned them down.

3. Pre-approval puts you in the strongest negotiating position possible, makes your offers very attractive to sellers and could save you money.

Let me explain:

Think about it... one of the biggest fears a home seller has is that they will enter a contract with a buyer, prepare to move, and then find out that the buyer didn't qualify.

When you get pre-approved first, we will obtain a letter from the loan company stating the amount that you are approved for. When shown to a seller, the letter makes the seller feel more comfortable, and will add more power for us in negotiations. Many of the best homes can have several offers on them at the same time from different buyers. Often, the buyer that can show that they are already approved for their loan will get the house.

Price is only one element in the negotiations, and not necessarily the most important one. Often other terms, such as the strength of the buyer, ability of the buyer to move in sooner, or flexibility to give the seller the necessary time to move out are critical to a seller. The seller faces many risks and the biggest one is your ability to get the mortgage. In case if your mortgage was declined they have to start their selling process again after couple of month and the house will raise many questions. Other buyers will ask why this house is back on the market? Is something wrong with it? They may try to take advantage of this fact. Plus sellers may loose the house they were going to buy. Or pay double mortgage and sell an empty house.

You also benefit by having your loan pre-approved in many other ways:

You eliminate any surprises about your ability to borrow by providing the lender with the information up-front that is required for you to purchase a home. If there are questions about income, credit or down-payment you can address them and resolve them without the last minute anxiety that can occur if you have not been pre-approved.

You want to make a very strong offer after you finally find a home you like. Very often in the sellers market you may find that someone else is bidding this property. In the multiple offers situation a pre-approved buyer that has lender approval for a mortgage has an advantage.

When you consider the loan amount please keep in mind that you will also pay real estate taxes, insurance, and utilities on your new home. On the bright side you will benefit from the tax deductions and home value appreciation that will make the cost of living in your new home much more affordable.

The bottom line is that getting pre-approved for your loan first means stress-free home shopping AND more leverage with the seller!

You can use any lender you wish, but I strongly recommend that you use any mortgage company from my vendors list. They can meet or beat the interest rate and pricing of any other lender, plus you will never be at the mercy of some outside company - waiting around helplessly trying to find out the status of your loan from some mysterious unknown person.

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Step 5. Look at Homes

Now that you know what you want, where you want it and what you can afford to spend, it's time to look at some houses! Most homebuyers see about 15-20 houses before finding the home that meets most of their needs and make you feel right.

The Internet is a great way to search for homes when you're in the initial house search stage. This is the stage when you just gathering information to help educate yourself what's available in your price range. I encourage you to go online and browse all available homes. It gives you a great feeling of the market. Please use "Search for homes" link to get started.

But even the best Web site can not replace personal contact, touch and feelings you have about the home when you see it. You see, most home buying decisions are emotional. How does this house make you feel? How do you feel about the area, the neighborhood?

This is why I offer my HOMES BY EMAIL service to my clients. I know this market and have access to latest and current information. Simply complete the form on that page to sign and use my automated home search system.

It also helps clients to determine the features and benefits that you are looking for in a home. I'll email your choices to you to use as a checklist. I will search the market for homes that match your criteria and fit your special needs, preview the homes for you, send you an email with a property description for your review, and only show you the ones that meet your criteria. It will ensure that you bit the crowd and never miss the perfect home. Once you see the house you like I will arrange an appointment. There is no sales pressure or obligations.

My service includes not only searches in MLS, but also networking with other brokers, open houses for brokers to preview new properties, and other techniques. I will make sure that you have the advantage to be the first to know about the new listings that enter the market.

"The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes." Benjamin Disraeli

What is next?

Step 6. Choose a Home

Once we find the home that best meets your needs, we will write up the purchase agreement and other necessary paperwork. Our goal is to get you the home that you want for the best possible price and terms, and we will discuss strategy for accomplishing this goal.

We'll start with the analyzing the value.
To help you to determine what price to offer and how close the asking price is to fair market price, I'll prepare a Comparative Market Analysis of a home you're interested in buying and the competitive properties.

I will also find out how long the property has been on the market. Usually the longer a house has been on the market, the more likely it is the owner would accept a lower offer. Or maybe it's just overpriced for the market.
I'll ask the seller's broker about the listing history, the other offers the seller may have received, and the sellers motivation and objectives.

You need to ask yourself some questions.

  •  How much do you want to pay for the home and what is the top amount you are willing to pay for this home?
  •  How much do you want to put as the down payment?
  •  When do you want to close on the property?
  •  Is there anything you want the sellers to fix or repair that you can visibly see?
  •  What amount of the earnest money will you submit with the offer?

The earnest money is the deposit that you put to indicate that your intentions are serious. The earnest money is held in escrow by the brokerage firm that listed the property between the time of signing a contract to and closing. If you buy the house, the earnest money is applied to the downpayment or closing costs. If your offer is not accepted, then the earnest money will be returned. However, if after your offer has been accepted, you back out of the contract, the seller has the right to keep the money.

Get an idea about the neighborhood by driving or walking around. Explore, and talk to some of the residents.

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Step 7. Make an Offer

Next we need to negotiate an offer with the seller. The most crucial points in the offer will be the offer's price and the terms.

Price and Terms

All sellers want the highest price, and the best terms that will satisfy their need, fit their plans and mowing schedule and let them sleep well during the escrow period. They always need to choose a buyer who is most likely to able to close the transaction. The highest price doesn't always win the home and the flexible terms leave room for negotiation.

Sellers have a number of needs besides the price. They may want a quick closing, or a delayed possession, or they may wish to exclude items in the home. The terms may include for example a contingency that you must sell your home first before you close on the seller's home. Most offers include two main contingencies - the Inspections contingency and the Mortgagee contingency that includes the condition that the appraisal will be close to the selling price.

The seller will prefer an offer with the terms, which meet his/her own needs, so if you are really interested in the house please consider making a strong offer with flexible terms. Any offer, which puts any of these goals at risk, will be less desirable. I'll help you to find out from the seller's agent what are the seller's needs and terms are important to them.

What Make Your Offer a Strong Offer

As you already know the offer price is not the only and most important variable in the offer.

What puts you in a strong bargaining position?

  1. Flexible timing. If possible, I would suggest to consider to offer flexibility about closing and move-in dates
  2. Well-qualified buyer. A pre-approved buyer with large down-payment amount provides much greater security that the deal will close easily and in shortest time.
  3. Substantial earnest money. A buyer's readiness to make a substantial earnest money deposit indicate that you are serious about his home and can go through with the sale It also might make him agree to a lesser sales price.

Lesser number of contingencies. A buyer who doesn't have to sell another home or who is willing to waive some contingencies are more preferable in the seller's eyes.

Next step is to write a purchase agreement. It includes:
A complete, legal description of the house

  •  The price you're offering
  •  The down payment and financing details
  •  The amount of earnest money you're paying (deposit)
  •  A proposed move-in date
  •  A proposed closing date
  •  A list of appliances and furnishings which will stay with the home
  •  The length of time your offer is valid
  •  Any relevant contingencies
  •  The sellers' disclosure obligations
  •  What the seller warrants about the property
  •  The sellers' obligation to maintain the property

This can be just the beginning of the negotiation process. The seller has three options: accept your offer, counter your offer or reject your offer. If the seller rejects or counters your first offer, you may present a counter offer. You do not have a contract until both parties have agreed to all terms and conditions and have signed and dated the offer.

Please review your offer thoroughly before signing and submitting it. After the offer is accepted by the seller it may be too late to make any changes. They can be viewed as the deal breaker. If you have any questions or concerns, they need to be addressed right away.
Once you have a signed offer your earnest money will be deposited into the Brokers trust account. The sellers have right to keep the money if you change the conditions of the offer or decide to walk out from the deal.

Four Questions to Yourself Before You Negotiate the Offer

  1. What is the highest price you will pay?
  2. At what circumstances are you prepared to walk away from the deal?
  3. What negotiating points your ready to give in on and at what price?
  4. What contingencies you must have as condition of the deal?

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Step 8. Contingency Period

After your offer is accepted, the contingency period begins. This is time that allows you to perform inspections, obtain financing and satisfy any other contingencies of your purchase agreement.

The average time from getting the contract accepted to closing is about 30-45 days. I will look after and coordinate all of the details very closely, keeping you informed every step of the way.

If you are concerned or confused at any time, please let me know immediately. I am here to serve you for your best interest.

Order an Inspection

First, you need to choose a home inspector and finalize your choice of the mortgage broker and an attorney. Please click here to see my recommended vendor's list. I would suggest choosing a reputable vendor. You need to be sure that they will be able to deliver on time, to avoid any delays and complications with your contract.

I always recommend having home inspection. In most cases, an inspection contingency should be a part of your purchase contract. Hire qualified professional to thoroughly inspect the property all the major systems before you even submit your mortgage application.
They will find defects a normal buyer could not reasonably expect to discover and often the seller doesn't know about them either. A few hundred dollars invested here can save you thousands.
The inspection should include a termite inspection and a test on radon. A home inspector will also check the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, water source and quality, pests, foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors and roof. He will give you a written report and may give you a rough price for repairs. He'll give you an educated opinion on whether the house is structurally and mechanically sound and point on any repairs that are needed.

Once the inspection report is received, I'll put in writing exactly what you wants the seller to repair. If repairs are needed the seller has three options:
1 they can fix or repair what is identified.
2. they can give the buyer money to make the repairs or reduce the purchase price of the house
3. the seller has the option of not doing any repairs. In this you have the option of buying the property in its "as is" condition or terminating the contract and getting the earnest money back.

Get Funding

Once the inspection report is received and all the repairs discussed with the seller you apply for the loan. Before you submit your application to a lender please make sure you obtained and compared good faith estimates of closing costs from the lenders. The closing costs may vary depending on the vendor.

Simply put, you need to have four items to obtain a mortgage.
· Enough stable income to qualify
· Good credit
Enough money for closing costs and down payment (order my free report "How to Minimize the Cash You Need To Buy Your New Home)
· An acceptable property to buy

You may have already met with the loan officer. If not, here is a list of items you should bring to your loan application.

  1. W-2 (2 years) & current pay stubs
  2. Past 2 years pay history for landlord/mortgage company
  3. Employment information (2 year history)
  4. All bank account numbers and balances
  5. Last 3 month's bank statements
  6. Open loans - names, addresses, account #, balances, monthly payments
  7. All information on any other real estate loans
  8. Drivers license or other photo ID
  9. Check for credit report
  10. Certificate of eligibility or DD214 (VA loan only)
  11. Self employed: Last 2 year's complete tax returns, year to date Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet

Obtaining financing usually take 30-60 days because it includes an appraisal of the property and underwriting of the loan. Please be prepared to make your down payment, which is usually due several days before the close of escrow.

Buy Homeowner's Insurance

A homeowner's insurance policy is required at closing. Usually you obtain insurance equal to the full replacement value of the home.
For your Peace of Mind I also recommend to purchase a Home Protection Plan.

A home warranty, or home protection plan, is a service contract, normally for one year, which protects homeowners against the cost of unexpected repairs or replacement on their major systems and appliances that may break down.

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Step 9. Final Walk Through Inspection Before The Closing

A day prior to closing we will do a final walk through inspection of the home to make certain that all items specified to stay with the home are still there, and to verify that all heating/cooling, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and other systems are in proper working order. We'll ensure that all repairs have been made and that the house is in order. If there are any outstanding problems, they should be addressed prior to closing.

Then you need to get a cashier's check in your bank for the balance of the down payment and closing costs.
You need to transfer the utilities on your name, registering for schools, etc.

Step 10 - Close And Move.

Closing I is a meeting at your lawyer office in which you sign all the documents, pay the balance of your down payment and closing costs, and you get the keys from your new home. This is when the ownership is actually transferred from the seller's name to yours.

Congratulations! You are the owner!

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This site features Stamford Connecticut Real Estate, Stamford homes for sale, Stamford condos for sale, daily e-mail updates of all new MLS real estate listings in Stamford CT, Stamford Home values, Relocation to Stamford CT. Thinking about buying a home, condo, other real estate property or in Stamford, CT? Find here the real estate tips and information from a local Stamford CT real estate agent Lena Getman.

This site is not intended to solicit Stamford home buyers currently under contract with another Connecticut Real Estate Agent, Realtor, or Brokerage. The real estate listings, homes for sale in Stamford and other related information are deemed reliable, but are not guaranteed and should be independently verified