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Your guide to buying a home in southeast MI - many home buying tips! century 21 curran and christie


Dearborn Michigan Home Buying Steps
Tips, Tools and Advice for Dearborn Michigan Home Buyers

Buying GuideBuying GuideBuying Guide
Ten Steps to Buying

FactSteve's "10 Steps to Buying" is a basic outline of the steps that you will take from your initial home search right through to the closing. Keep in mind that this is just a basic overview and there are many variables that can change how the process will work.

Buying a home can be a very complex process and being one of the biggest (if not the biggest) investments you'll ever make be sure to protect your interests and investment by working with a professional, experienced, full-time Realtor® like Steve Hatfield. His assistance, guidance and professional advice will prove to be invaluable to you.

So, when you are ready to buy a home in southeast Michigan be sure to contact Steve Hatfield for a FREE, no obligation home buyer consultation.

1 Find the BEST agent!
2 Working with your agent
3 Your price range
4 Finding the perfect home
5 Making an offer
6 Home inspection
7 Mortgage application
8 Important necessities
9 Just before closing
10 Closing day has arrived!
Find the BEST agent to represent you
Selecting a qualified agent that you feel comfortable working with is a very important 1st step to finding your dream home. The agent you select to work with throughout your home buying process is going to be your guide and advisor. You will most likely spend a great deal of time working with your agent and will also depend on them for their professional advice. Therefore it is important to make your selection carefully.

Some important considerations in selecting your agent are:
  1. Does the agent work full-time selling real estate?
    Tip: Only work with a full-time real estate agent

  2. How long has the agent been actively selling real estate full time? Michigan law only requires a 40 hour class to get a real estate license. Make sure your agent is a seasoned professional!

  3. While it is important that an agent sells a reasonable amount of real estate each year, don't be too quick to work with an agent simply because they always claim to be "#1" or sell 10's of millions of dollars of real estate each year. While some may be good agents, others may be so busy that you will become just another number to them and ultimately you may not receive the service you deserve.

  4. Does the agent possess an ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) and/or a CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) designation? Working with an agent who holds an ABR or CRS (like Steve Hatfield) is always in your best interest.

  5. Is the agent knowledgeable about the area and communities you are looking to purchase in?

  6. Does the agent have a system in place to keep you updated on a daily and/or regular basis as new home listings become available?

  7. You deserve to receive service that is prompt in regards to showing you homes, answering questions, etc. In order to meet these needs does the agent have a partner or licensed assistant that can help you with whatever you need in the event that the primary agent is unavailable?

  8. Do you like to communicate via email? While more and more agents are getting email addresses, many of them do not take the time to check their email on a regular basis. If email is a method of communication you like to use, ask the agent how many times a day they check their email.
Working with your agent
The MLS: Your agent should belong to the local multiple listing service and be able to make available to you, all the homes that are for sale in your price range - regardless of which company or agent has the property listed. This not only means that they will have the ability to tell you about homes listed with other real estate companies or agents, but can also show and sell them to you.

Advertised homes: If you see a home that is on the market or advertised in the paper, etc. and it is listed with another company or is one that your agent has not told you about, take down the company name and telephone number along with the address of the property. Then contact your agent and have them get all the information for you. If your agent is looking for new listings for you on a regular basis but did not provide information about the home you found, chances are that the home you saw is either sold or out of your price range.

For sale by owners: Never call a for sale by owner yourself. If you are working with a buyer's agent they are the ones that are looking out for your best interest. Take down the address and phone number and call your agent. They can get all the details of the home for you. In many cases they may still be able to represent you but you must allow your agent to investigate the property and options first.

New construction homes: Never investigate or view new construction homes yourself. In most cases, if you even speak to the builder yourself (without your agent being present) they will not allow you to be represented by your agent if you decide to purchase one of their properties. So, if you drive by any new homes being constructed, simply take down the builder name and phone number and call your agent to have them make all the inquiries.

Drive by first! If at all possible, you should try to drive by the homes provided to you by your agent - especially the first list of homes that they give you. Some homes may sound terrific on paper but when you drive by you may find that many of them are not attractive to you at all. If a "hot" home hits the market and your agent feels that time is of the essence and it is better to simply set a showing appointment without your driving by, you should trust their judgment and do so.

Be flexible! Be ready to be flexible with your schedule for the purpose of looking at homes. It's worth missing that movie or bowling night to look at a home that sounds of interest, tomorrow can sometimes be too late so you don't want to wait!
Determine your price range
Before you begin house hunting it is very important to first determine the price range in which you will be looking. You should contact a mortgage lender or local bank that can meet with you to evaluate your financial situation and determine the ideal price range for you along with providing a detailed outline of the costs involved in your home purchase. At this time the lender will also be able to discuss and advise you as to what mortgage programs are available for you to choose from (i.e.; Conventional, FHA, fixed rate, adjustable rate, etc.).

During this time period, it is an excellent idea to get "pre-approved" for a mortgage. This is different than a pre-qualification. With a pre-approval, the bank or mortgage company actually does a credit check and sends out verifications to obtain a mortgage pre-approval just as they would do if you had already found a home. Since you will have to follow through with the approval process at some point, getting it out of the way in the beginning will save you time, stress and ultimately, it will have its advantages. For example, when you make an offer on a home, your offer will carry more weight with the seller and listing agent because you are able to show them that you are "credit worthy" and there is not the risk of you being denied for the loan. There are also other advantages in obtaining a pre-approved mortgage status which may end up working in your favor.

If you don't know where to go to obtain a mortgage or have questions about the process and benefits of a pre-approved mortgage, be sure to ask your real estate agent. If they are an experienced agent, then they should be able to direct you to one or more reputable lenders that can assist you.
Finding the perfect home
At this point you should have already spoken with a lender and at the very least gotten pre-qualified for a mortgage or if you are really prepared, you have already started your pre-approval process. So the next step is to begin looking for your dream home!

You will want to meet with your agent to discuss your home purchase price range and obtain home listings that are in the areas you have designated. Communication with your agent is very important so don't be shy about expressing your home preferences. Expressing your home specifications in detail will help your agent to more effectively and efficiently find what you are looking for. Remember though, while your ultimate dream home might be that brand new house with a Jacuzzi tub, 3 car garage and large lot, your budget may demand a bit less in a house. Your agent should only present home listings to you in the price range you have designated so you may or may not be able to find some of the extras that you would really like to have.

Loyalty Pays!
Another thing to remember is that you should be loyal to your agent. Your agent will be putting a great deal of time and effort into your home search and purchase process. Real estate agents work on commission and if they feel that you are working with other agents or may buy a home that is being sold by owner, they may not take the time to tell you about that great new listing that just came up and might have been "the perfect home" for you. On the other hand, if the agent knows you are loyal to them, they will be more likely to put forth their greatest effort into your home buying process. Purchasing a home is a large investment so having a real estate agent that is truly putting forth the effort required and being on your side is critical to reaching your ultimate goal. Definitely a win-win situation for all!
Making an offer to purchase
Once you have found a home you would like to purchase you will need to write an offer to purchase. This is where the assistance of your Buyer's Agent will be invaluable to you.

Meet with your agent: The first step will be to go to your agent's office to review and sign the necessary purchase documents, disclosures and addendum/amendments (In some states / areas this procedure may vary so consult your agent). Make sure to bring your checkbook so that you will be able to provide your agent with an earnest money deposit - sometimes called a "good faith deposit."

Earnest money deposit: While deposit amounts / procedures vary from area to area and there is no set or standard amount but remember that by putting up this deposit you are showing the seller and listing agent that you are serious about your offer and purchase. Your earnest money deposit will be credited towards your total costs at closing unless you default on the contract in which case you may jeopardize the disposition of these funds.

Paperwork: If you are purchasing a property in Michigan, the law allows the agent to prepare all the paperwork necessary for your offer to purchase. At this time the agent should review the paperwork with you and you should make sure that you are satisfied with the terms, conditions, and price being offered. After you have review your offer to purchase (and related documents) you will need to sign them in order to make the offer valid.

Pre-approval certificate: If you have not already done so, make sure that your agent has a certificate or other written documentation from your lender/bank outlining your credit worthiness and ability to purchase along with a contact person's name and phone number. The agent will need to provide this information along with your offer to the listing agent and possibly to the seller.

Submitting your offer: The next step is for your agent to send your offer to the listing agent. The seller may elect to accept, counteroffer or reject your offer. There are NO set rules in regards to how many times an offer can be "countered" back and forth between buyer and seller.

Note: There is NO set or average percentage less than asking price that you should offer. Some properties are priced correctly, others may be overpriced, some may be underpriced. As a result, the amount you offer for a home should be determined by the set of facts for that specific property.
The home inspection
When you find the home that you would like to purchase, you will most likely want to include a contingency in your offer to purchase outlining the details of your option to have a private home inspection.

When you make arrangements for a private inspection you will want to hire a professional, bonded private inspection company. The cost of the inspection is paid by the buyer and generally will run between $300 - $500 depending on the size and features of the home.

The benefits of a private home inspection are two-fold:
  1. You will learn all about the home you are buying - how it works, any upcoming maintenance that may be needed to be done (caulking, painting, etc.). This information can be invaluable in keeping the home free from potential problems that could develop at a later date.

  2. If the home has any "major" flaws or problems the clause in your offer to purchase should allow you to renegotiate with the seller or withdraw your offer without penalty.
Remember that there are no "perfect" houses out there. Each home will have its own list of maintenance items such as caulking, painting, etc. that will most likely need to be done. The purpose for your private home inspection is to avoid buying a home which would require you to invest a large sum of money from the onset to correct major defect(s) and/or flaw(s) with the home.

Tip: For more information on the Home Inspection process be sure to check out the Home Inspection Guide on this web site.
Your mortgage application
If you have not already formally applied for your mortgage, you will need to do so within the time frame outlined on your offer to purchase. The lender may collect fees from you at this time that may include a credit report, appraisal and/or processing fee. These fees are generally called your "up front" fees.

If you had previously made application for your mortgage before you found your dream home you will most likely still need to meet with your lender at this time to formalize the details of your mortgage application. Again, the lender may wish to collect certain "up front" fees at this time.

Here are some of the items your lender may need at time of application. Again these may vary so you should consult with your lender and inquire as to their requirements.
  • Social Security cards & drivers licenses

  • Residence addresses for the past 2 - 5 years

  • Your landlord's name and address

  • Names and addresses of each employer (past 2 - 5 years)

  • Your most recent pay stubs

  • Two years signed tax returns & W2's

  • Names, addresses, account numbers, and balances of all checking, savings, credit cards, and installment loans

  • Two most recent bank statements on all accounts

  • Information on any stocks or bonds you own

  • Details of all real estate owned

  • Copy of fully executed purchase agreement and addendums, copy of your earnest money deposit check and the MLS listing sheet for the home you are purchasing

  • Divorce decree & child support agreements (if applicable)

  • Check for mortgage application fee and credit report (check with your lender as to what fees you will need to pay for in advance)
Necessities of your transaction
There are several other things that may need to be done before your lender gives final approval to your mortgage:

Title Search - The tile of a house shows who currently has liens on the house/property. It should be stated in the purchase agreement that the seller will provide you with clear title (title without any liens against it).

Mortgage Title Insurance - Your lender will require this for their own protection. This is an insurance policy that covers the lender in case of any unknown problems with the title even though the title company stated it was clear.

Owner's Title Insurance - This coverage is generally provided by the seller and covers the buyer in the event that the title has been found not to be clear of liens after the closing of your transaction.

Private Mortgage Insurance - This is something that most lenders usually require if your down payment is generally less than 20% of the purchase price. It is a protection for the lender in case you default on the loan.

Homeowner's Insurance - Also referred to as hazard insurance, this is an insurance policy that covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home in the event of a natural disaster. Your homeowners policy will also cover you in the event you suffer a loss due to theft. This is something that you will shop around for on your own and make decisions of the degree of coverage and deductible you wish to carry.
Just before closing
When your mortgage is approved, your lender will send you a letter of commitment. If all other items have been completed (i.e.; title search, necessary repairs/inspections (if any), etc.), unless the provisions of your offer to purchase state otherwise, you should be ready to close. If a closing date hasn't already been specified, the listing agent will confirm a closing date and time with the lender, title company, and your agent.

Once a closing date and time has been set, if you had previously made an arrangement in your purchase documents to have a walk-through inspection of the property, now is the time to schedule it. Again, unless previous arrangements have been made, your walk-though inspection should generally be scheduled for the day before or the day of closing.

If you are taking possession of the home at closing, the seller should make arrangements to have the various utility services taken out of their name and the buyer should make arrangements to have utility services put into their name(s). Your agent will advise you as to the best way to coordinate this with the seller.

You should also finalize your arrangements for homeowners (hazard) insurance and make arrangements with your insurance agent to pay for and pick up your policy and receipt showing that the policy has been paid for. Most lenders generally require that you provide a paid receipt showing that the first year of your homeowners insurance policy has been paid in full.

Generally 1 business day before closing or even sometimes the day of closing, your mortgage lender will provide you with the final dollar amount you need to bring to closing. Title/escrow companies will require that you bring a certified, cashiers check or offical bank check for the total amount due at closing. Also, it is a good idea to bring your checkbook to closing to cover any small dollar amounts not covered on the closing statement.
Your closing day has arrived!
Make sure to bring the necessary funds for your closing, photo identification (i.e.; drivers license), your homeowners insurance and paid receipt, along with any other documents/items requested by your lender and/or real estate agent.

After signing numerous documents and taking care of final payments, you will become the proud owner of your own home!

The goal of a truly qualified, professional real estate agent is to guide you through each step of your home buying process so as to make your transaction a memorable and rewarding experience. For this reason and many others, it is is very important that you select the agent you work with very carefully!

For professional assistance with your home purchase in southeast Michigan, be sure to contact Steve Hatfield. You'll be amazed at the level of service you'll receive and the professional advice that you will benefit from!

NOTE: The information contained in this section is a basic, general outline of the home buying process. There may be other factors involved and/or additional steps required to complete your transaction. All dollar figures are estimates and may vary.

Steve Hatfield is the Realtor® you need to work with as your buyer's agent if you would like to buy a home in Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Livonia, Canton, Plymouth, Northville, Novi, Farmington / Farmington Hills, Westland, Garden City, Redford, Allen Park, Southgate, Wyandotte, Taylor, Riverview, Trenton and more downriver communities (Detroit's west side suburbs).

Steve can even refer you, free of charge, to a "qualified", professional Realtor in another area if you are planning to buy anywhere else in the USA or abroad! Contact Steve now

You'll find tons of valuable tips and advice in Steve's "Home Buyer Survival Kit"
Get your FREE Home Buyer Survival Kit now!
click here

Buying a home is a BIG investment...don't pick the wrong real estate agent!

Steve Hatfield is a highly "Qualified" Buyer's Agent!
Honesty, sincerity, professionalism..
As a buyer, you will benefit greatly from his 20+ years experience and extensive knowledge!.
That is why you need to Contact Steve if you are thinking about buying a home!.
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Special REPORTS:
An UNQualified Buyer's Agent...
How many Realtors do I need?
Say "NO!" to pushy agents
Dangerous home buying pitfalls...
Bank Foreclosures / Short Sales...
Finding YOU the "Perfect" home

Foreclosures & Short Sales:
How to Buy Bank Foreclosures
How to Buy Short Sale Homes

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Veterans: Buy a Home Zero Down!

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Mission Statement
In the world of real estate, there is no substitute for experience. As an experienced real estate agent, I will guide you through the complexities of buying or selling a home, help you to achieve your goals and strive to make the final outcome exciting rather than stressful!

Whether you are buying a home or selling your existing home, please allow me the opportunity to assist you with your real estate transaction. I am prepared to exceed your highest expectations through exceptional service, reliable communication and knowledge of the local real estate market.

Steve Hatfield
Realtor®, ABR, CRS, SFR, e-PRO

REALTOR® ABR, CRS, e-PRO Certified
CENTURY 21 Curran & Christie.
25636 Ford Road
Dearborn Heights, MI 48127
Office: (313) 274-7200
Contact Steve Now
Michigan Real Estate Salesperson #6501221773.
Licensed Realtor® Since 1987
REALTOR Accredited Buyer Representative Certified Residential Specialist e-PRO

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Steve Hatfield, Realtor® provides real estate / home buying and selling services in Dearborn Michigan, Dearborn Heights Michigan, the Wayne County MI (Southeast Michigan) communities of Redford, Westland, Garden City, Livonia, Canton, Plymouth, Northville and the Oakland County cities of Farmington / Farmington Hills and Novi Michigan.

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