Buy Smart Tips

The National Association of Realtors has reported that in 2012, 90% of home buyers used the internet to search for a home. The same report states that 89% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker. One of the main reasons given for seeking the help of an agent was to better understand the process. The process of buying a home can be a complicated one and the internet can provide general information but not explain the idiosyncrasies that can exist in local markets. So, be a smart buyer and find a Realtor© early in your search. You can still view homes online using your own search criteria but let an experienced agent provide you with local market trends and true, comparable properties. Partner with a buyer’s agent early in your search – it can save you time and frustration.

Keep in mind that any real estate agent that is a participant in our multiple listing service can show you listed properties that you find online and represent you in the purchase transaction. We at Benchmark LM Management also work to find properties that may not be advertised online.

Real estate markets are local and may not reflect the national or regional trends reported in the media. There are market differences within and between Westchester and Putnam Counties. To be better informed about a community that interests you, use our Market Snapshot tool.

Steps to Buying a Home

All real estate transactions in New York State are governed by the same laws. However, there are some variations in procedures across the state. Here is a general outline of how the transactions are carried out in Westchester and Putnam Counties.

  • Prior to the start of a home search, the buyer is advised to obtain a pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender. If the buyer plans to make an all-cash purchase, the buyer should make sure that s/he can provide proof that sufficient funds are available to make the purchase.
  • When the buyer selects a property, the buyer’s agent submits an offer (usually in writing), accompanied by the lender’s pre-approval letter or the buyer’s proof of funds, to the listing agent or broker. The offer will state a purchase price and terms of the offer such as contingencies, closing date, etc.
  • Negotiations may ensue between buyer and seller, generally through their agents, to reach an accepted offer.
  • Contact information for the buyer and seller and their respective attorneys are exchanged.
  • If an inspection is to be done, the buyer selects the inspector and schedules the inspection as soon as possible. The buyer is usually present for the inspection. When the buyer receives the written inspection report, s/he forwards it to her/his attorney.
  • The seller’s attorney prepares the contract of sale and forwards it to the buyer’s attorney.
  • The buyer’s attorney schedules a meeting with the buyer to review the inspection report and the contract of sale. If there are any changes that the buyer wants made to the contract, they are negotiated between the attorneys. At this point in the transaction, the buyer makes a down payment of an agreed-upon amount to be held in escrow until the closing. This payment is sometimes referred to as a “binder” or “earnest money”.
  • Once the buyer signs the contract, it is returned to the seller’s attorney for signature by the seller. After the seller signs the contract, it is returned to the buyer’s attorney as a “fully executed” contract. The buyer receives a copy of the contract.
  • If the buyer is applying for a mortgage, s/he forwards a copy of the fully-executed contract to the mortgage lender.
  • The process of obtaining a mortgage commitment may vary from lender to lender but always includes an appraisal to determine the value of the property. The lender will secure the services of an appraiser and the appraiser will send the appraisal report directly to the lender. If the property does not appraise for the purchase price, the lender will explain the options available to the buyer. The buyer may then need to re-negotiate the terms of the purchase.
  • The buyer’s attorney secures the services of a title company to perform a title search and provide title insurance.
  • Prior to the final mortgage commitment and closing, the buyer will obtain home insurance. If the purchase is to be financed, the lender will specify the terms of the policy.
  • The final step in the transactions is for all parties to meet for the signing of documents and the transfer of title from the seller to the buyer.
  • The above information is intended to provide general information to buyers and sellers of real property. The information is believed to be accurate, but it is subject to errors and omissions. All information should be verified.

The above information is intended to provide general information to buyers and sellers of real property. The information is believed to be accurate, but it is subject to errors and omissions. All information should be verified.