Home Buying Guide & Timeline Berkshire County MA
After many transactions and combined decades of experience in selling homes, we thought it would be a nice asset for our customers to have a simple step-by-step timeline tutorial outlining the process of buying a property. Enjoy.
MEET AND GREET, THEN RESEARCH: Either in person, over the phone, or by email, we converse in depth regarding what your needs and desires are in a home, land, commercial opportunity or investment property, and what elements would ultimately fit your requirements. Style, location, size, situation, price, etc. During the course of narrowing down the choices, we will email you listings of properties for sale either from MLS (Multiple Listing Service), or from our own website. We are able to show you any property that is available and listed on MLS, regardless of who the listing broker is. We are able to show any property available for sale and listed in MLS anywhere in Berkshire County. Before visiting a property, we will present you with an Agency Disclosure, which desribes the different ways you may choose to have us represent. Most Buyers choose to have us work as Buyer's Agents, therefor representing YOU during this process.
Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
VIEWING APPOINTMENTS: After targeting properties that fit the bill or come close to the required or desired criteria, we then make appointments with Sellers or the respective listing Realtors on dates convenient to you. Then meet for a grand tour or many tours. A typical tour takes 15 minutes (if you don't like it) to 1/2 hour or more (if you like it), plus driving time between each location.
OFFER: The perfect property has been found. We then work with the Buyer to choose an initial offering price, fill out, sign and date a Purchase and Sale Agreement (contract) including all appropriate terms and conditions, forward that P&S to the Seller and/or their agent, and begin the negotiating process. Once a price and terms are agreed upon, there is usually an attorney review period for both parties to make sure all t's are crossed and i's are dotted. Upon agreement, the first deposit is due, usually 1% of the negotiated selling price. This first deposit is forwarded to the listing broker/agency or Seller's attorney, and held in escrow until closing.
HOME INSPECTION: The inspection contingency period, or due diligence, begins from the date of the last Seller's signature on the contract. It's imperative a home inspection appointment is set up as soon as possible with a licensed Building Inspector, so that the inspection report is received by the Buyer prior to the end of the inspection period. A typical inspection contingency period is 14 days. A typical inspection including water test, radon level test, etc., average between $500 and $750. Extensions may be possible, as long as all parties have agreed in writing prior to the end of the inspection contingency. Otherwise one risks losing a first deposit. If any problems are found by any Inspector, or any other environmental situation is not satisfactory to the Buyer, he/she may choose to try to renegotiate or withdraw from the contract. Should a Buyer choose not to proceed with the purchase, and written notice is given to the Seller within the inspection contingency, the first deposit is returned in full. Should you choose to proceed with the purchase, the second deposit will be due immediately, usually from 4 to 9 percent of the purchase price, whichever is stipulated on the Purchase and Sale Agreement. FYI, if a Buyer defaults on a contract, and we'll explain how that is possible, they may be liable for a fine up to 10% of the sale price.
FINANCING: is a most important contigency. Once a Purchase and Sale Agreement is signed by both Buyer and Seller, the Buyer has a certain specified number of days to apply for and receive their mortgage financing commitment. It typically takes 30 to 45 days for a Buyer to receive a commitment letter from a lending institution. Extensions are possible, providing all parties agree in writing prior to the end of the mortgage contingency period. Should you not qualify for the mortgage, the seller and/or his/her agent and/or attorney must be notified in writing prior to the end of the mortgage contingency date in order to receive a refund of the first and second deposits.
COMPLIANCE: refers to when the Fire Chief of the municipality in which the subject property is located, visits the property and checks for installed working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and that any installed woodstove meets with state building codes. The Certificates of Compliance are necessary to close.
WALK THROUGH: A walk-through of the property by you with us, is scheduled for JUST before the closing. This is for the Buyer to witness and make sure all personal items of the Seller have been removed other than agreed upon items and fixtures, the property is in "broom clean" condition, and that nothing catastrophic has happened inside or out since the last visit. Massachusetts is a Caveat Emptor, or Buyer Beward state. The condition of the premesis upon acceptance of the deed at closing is what you are buying.
CLOSING: The final step, the closing. The Big Day. Immediately after the walk-through, and if the Buyer is financing the property, we arrive a half hour before the Sellers, to review and sign all the mortgage paperwork. And it's extensive. Checks are passed, the new Deed is signed by the Seller conveying the property to the Buyer, the keys are handed over, and you own a new property! The Seller's attorney then immediately leaves to record the transaction at the respective Registry of Deeds, then visits a bank and deposits the checks. CONGRATULATIONS! YOU'VE DONE IT!