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Recommended Steps in Home Buying Process

Recommended Steps - The Home Buying Process in MA

The process for buying real estate in Massachusetts should be approached in the following manner:

  • Determine your objectives, wants and needs (locations, budget, use of property, timing, etc.)
  • Determine the kind of professional help you think you need to find and buy your property (buyer agent or seller agent, attorney, appraiser, home inspector, lender, etc.). Your knowledge of the area and property values are important factors in determining the help required.
  • Ideally, interview at least 3 real estate professionals and compare them for expertise, market knowledge, and role that you desire (buyer agent, seller agent, access to full set of properties on the market, personality fit, etc.)
  • Select a real estate professional.
  • Get in writing your relationship with the professional agent you choose.
  • Make sure you can obtain any financing you will require. Know your credit score. (Determine your qualifications, your comfort factor on monthly payments, rates, source for deposit money, etc.) Do this before you find your home to increase your bargaining strength with your lender and also to reduce time-pressure and stress on you.
  • Establish a plan for the property search in your area of interest. See homes that are in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), For Sale By Owner (FSBO), bank owned, distressed property, neighborhood searches, auctions, open listings, and more.
  • If you are working with a real estate agent, make sure you know whose side the agent is on. Know the office policies these agents must practice under. Dedicated or True Buyer's Agents never represent sellers and buyers in the same transaction within their office. By holding to this high standard, all agents in these offices can work toward the best price and terms for buyers. They can focus on getting the most house for the money.
  • If you find a property that you like, you need to do research such as: finding out as much as you can about the property, the community, the septic system, zoning, setbacks, water supply, etc. MABA buyer's agents do this work regularly and will give you lots of tips. Example: Waterfront/water view buyers: If you are going to pay a premium for a view or being near a nice beach, make sure these attributes are not at risk (erosion, vegetation growth or a new house blocking the view, and more.)
  • Walk the neighborhood and talk to residents on the street. You will be surprised at the useful information you will pick up. If you are shy, bring a gregarious friend along!
  • Prior to making any offer, make sure you are familiar with other houses on the market that meet your needs and your budget objectives. Make sure you are also aware of the recent sales in the community and that you compare the house you want to purchase with these comparable sales. Your dedicated buyer's agent can give you this information without running into a conflict of interest with sellers represented in their office.
  • Most importantly, decide if this is the best house for you in this price range. If the house does not suit you, what's the benefit of getting a good deal on it? Your buyer's agent will do a market study for you that will give an estimate of the property's true market value. Asking prices vary wildly from final sale prices. A buyer's agent gives you the facts you need to move forward with confidence. Use this information to decide how much to offer.
  • If you decide to move ahead, prepare a written offer to purchase that includes price, terms, conditions, and contingencies - all of which are in your best interest. (In Massachusetts, real estate contracts need to be in writing to be legally binding). The typical binder deposit accompanying an offer is $500 to $1000.
  • Prepare a negotiating strategy. (Identify the reasons why the property owner should accept your offer. Include information about yourself and the fairness of your offered price and terms.) A professional buyer's agent has studied ways to negotiate for the best price and terms for buyers. Listen to their advice, then make your decisions.
  • Make the offer presentation. Your agent will do so following your chosen negotiating strategy.
  • Once an offer is accepted, your buyer's agent will make sure both parties sign off on the agreement.
  • Hire a home inspector to evaluate the house to identify any defects requiring corrective action. A nationally certified inspector is recommended. In Massachusetts home inspectors are licensed by the Commonwealth. Attend the inspection and from the report identify any problems that you will ask the seller to correct prior to the closing date. Your buyer's agent can help you "digest" your inspection report. Then you will have a clearer sense of what work awaits you after closing, and whether this is still the house you want. Your agent will recommend a course for a re-negotiation if it is necessary after your inspection.
  • Once buyer and seller agree on the inspection items, a purchase and sale agreement is signed by both parties. Legal assistance is recommended for all contracts. Your buyer agents will coordinate among the professionals on your team - your lawyer, your lender, your broker.
  • From this point on, there are things to do to help your move-in go smoothly. Your professional buyer agent can help you choose your home insurer, plan any repair work you will do after closing, switch your utilities, and any other aspect of your move.

Latest from the Blog

  • Closed Home Sales Down in April After Record Inventory Lows and Rising Prices

    Median Sales Prices Have Seen Year-Over-Year Increases for 19 Straight Months

    WALTHAM, Mass. – May 23, 2017 – The Massachusetts Association of Realtors® (MAR) reported today that low inventory and rising prices caught up to the spring market, with single-family home sales decreasing over eight percent from this time last year. Both single-family and condominium prices saw a hike. Condominium sales decreased almost 10 percent from April 2016.

    April Closed Sales:

    Single-Family April 2017 April 2016 %Change
    Sales 3,735 4,082 -8.5%
    Median Price $362,500 $349,900 +3.6%
    • Closed sales have been down for four out of the last 12 months
    • Median prices have been up or flat for 16 out of the last 17 months
    Condominium April 2017 April 2016 %Change
    Sales 1,455 1,607 -9.5%
    Median Price $345,000 $329,950 +4.6%
    • Closed sales have been down for four out of the last 12 months
    • Median prices have been up or flat for 16 out of the last 17 months

    “With the current trend of plunging inventory and rising prices, the odds were strong that sales increases of the winter market would be unsustainable through the spring,” said 2017 MAR President Paul Yorkis, president of Patriot Real Estate in Medway. “The demand is there; we just need more homes on the market to satisfy that demand.”

    Inventory and Days on Market:

    Single-Family April 2017 April 2016 %Change
    Inventory 13,234 19,392 -31.8%
    Months of Supply 2.7 4.0 -32.5%
    Days on Market 81 107 -24.3%
    New Listings 7,706 8,513 -9.5%
    • 62nd time in the last 63 months of year-over-year inventory decreases
    Condominium April 2017 April 2016 %Change
    Inventory 1,455 1,607 -9.5%
    Months of Supply 2.0 2.8 -28.6%
    Days on Market 60 78 -23.1%
    New Listings 2,640 2,971 -11.1%
    • Inventory down for 16 out of the last 17 months

    “Unfortunately, our existing level of inventory makes it hard for us to meet our current and future housing needs,” said Yorkis. “If we don’t do anything soon, it will have a negative impact on the entire Massachusetts economy.”

    If you are thinking of buying a home anywhere in the state of Massachusetts, it is in your best interest to work with a member of the Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents. These men and women are dedicated to working exclusively on your behalf to ensure that you have the best possible home-buying experience. Find a MABA agent here.