Welcome to Savannah Lakes Realty Exclusively Serving Savannah Lakes Village

SLV Real Estate FAQS

Home Buying FAQS

Q. Can Savannah Lakes Realty help me buy a new home from a builder?
A. Yes! If you’re considering the purchase of a new construction home, you should work with a realtor that can represent you in negotiations with the home builder. Remember, the sales agents in the model homes work for the builder and represent his interests. We can protect your interests. There’s no cost to you for this service (the builder pays our commission fees). For more info on assistance with new homes and new home builders, including incentives that may be available, contact Savannah Lakes Realty.
Q. Can Savannah Lakes Realty help me with homes for sale by owner?
A. Yes! Homeowners selling their own homes are usually very happy when a real estate agent brings them a buyer. In addition, we can provide you with invaluable assistance in negotiating the price and terms of the sale and helping you through a process that can sometimes be confusing. It’s always best to have a buyer’s agent looking out for your interests. Just contact us with the address and phone number of the owner and we’ll take it from there.
Q. What is the standard compensation structure for real estate professionals?
A. Typically real estate professionals are compensated by commission based on a percentage of the home’s selling price. Commission rates are not standardized, but vary, as does how the sales commission will be divided between the agents on the selling and buying side of the transaction. There is consistency, however, in how commissions are paid. When a seller signs a listing agreement, their contract is with a brokerage firm. All fees must pass through that brokerage firm. Typically, the seller’s representative—and your buyer’s rep—will be paid by the listing broker after the transaction closes.
Q. What do I do if my house isn't getting activity?
A. Even in a slow market, price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home.

If a home is not getting the activity it needs in order to sell, it is probably because it is overpriced for the market. The first step is to lower the price. Then go through the house and see if there are cosmetic defects that can be repaired. Ask your real estate agent for an honest opinion of what changes could be made to make your home's appearance more appealing.

The second step is to make sure that the home is getting the exposure it deserves through internet advertising, listing on the multiple listing service, traditional print advertising, good signage and broker open houses.

A third option is to remove the home from the market and wait for overall housing conditions to improve and catch up to the price you’re asking.
Q. How much is my home worth?
A. There are two methods used to determine a home’s value, an appraisal and a comparative market analysis.

Appraisals vary in cost. They average about $400 for a single family home. Appraisers review numerous factors and base information on recent sales of similar properties, their location, square footage, construction quality, excess land, views, water frontage and amenities such as garages, number of baths, etc.

A comparative market analysis on the other hand is an informal estimate of market value performed by a real estate REALTOR® or broker. It is based on sales and listings that will compete with your property that are similar in size, style and location. A range of values will be determined thus arriving at a probable market value. Many REALTORS® offer a free analysis anticipating they will have a new client.
Q. What if I find a property on my own?
A. With the advent of the internet, many buyers have begun searching for – and often finding – properties of interest while working with an agent. If you have an agent, contact them with the address or the MLS number of the property in question. Your agent can then contact the agent of the property. It is never appropriate for you to contact the seller of the home directly if it is a listed property; you also should not contact the listing agent directly.
Q. What type of information will my agent need from me?
A. To do the best job for you, your agent will need the best information you can provide. This would include such things as:
  • preferred price range
  • type of lot golf, lake or interior
  • number of bedrooms / bathrooms
  • style of home
  • size of lot
  • geographical areas / neighborhoods of interest
  • special needs / special interests which your home needs to accommodate
  • Keep in mind that a very specific set of criteria may narrow your list of potential properties, while a very broad list may lead to an overwhelming number of properties to view.
Q. How many homes should I consider before choosing one?
A. We recommend looking at enough properties to gain a comprehensive understanding of the marketplace. On average home buyers see about 15 houses before choosing one. It is important to feel confident about your eventual purchase, so viewing properties online is a good way to research the market efficiently.
Q. How realistic is the Zestimate home value number provided by Zillow?
A. It’s common for us to hear the response, “But the Zestimate is this” when we suggest a list price for a home. We usually point out that the Zestimate should not be considered accurate. It’s important for you to also look closer at the Zestimate, and notice it provides a fairly large range of value, not just one number. The Zestimate is nice, we use it occasionally to get a quick very ballpark value of a property, but in general we suggest you consult with your Savannah Lakes Realty agent to get the facts on the value of your home based on actual market sales and an interior visual inspection.
Q. What is a 1031 Exchange?
A. A 1031 exchange refers to legislation that allows an investor to sell a property, reinvest the proceeds in a new property within a certain period of time, and as such defer capital gain taxes.
Q. What does a home inspector do, and how does an inspection figure in the purchase of a home?
A. Generally, an inspector checks the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, the HVAC system, water source and quality, the potential presence of pests, the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof. Be sure to hire a home inspector that is qualified and experienced.

You may want to include an inspection clause in the offer when negotiating for a home. An inspection clause gives you an “out” on buying the house if serious problems are found and gives you the ability to renegotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. An inspection clause can also specify that the seller must fix the problem(s) before you purchase the house.
Q. Should I make repairs prior to putting my home on the market?
A. Minor repairs before putting the house on the market may lead to a better sales price. Buyers often include a contingency “inspection clause” in the purchase contract which allows them to back out if numerous defects are found. Once the problems are noted, buyers can attempt to negotiate repairs or lowering the price with the seller. Any known problems that are not repaired must be revealed as a material defect. You do not have to repair the problem, only reveal it and the house should be appropriately priced for that defect.
Q. Is it smart to get a termite inspection even if my lender does not require one?
A. Yes, it is a good idea to still get a termite inspection done even if the lender does not require it. The termite inspector will check the area around the house and will do some checking inside the house as well. They will be looking for tunnels, termites, or termite damage. The inspector will also be able to tell you if there was previously termite damage that has been mitigated.
Q. How does a home warranty work and what is it exactly?
A. Home warranty policies are offered by third party providers and cover items in a house for a specific period of time after the date of the sale (usually 1-2 years). Items that are covered typically include appliances and HVAC systems.

In today’s market many sellers are offering these policies to make their houses more attractive to potential buyers and to separate their properties from other houses for sale in their area.

Warranties are becoming more popular because they offer protection during the time immediately following the purchase of a home, a time when many people find themselves cash-strapped.
Q. Can I back out of my contract with one buyer and accept a new, higher offer from a second buyer?
A. It would be very unwise to try to back out of the contract because a purchase offer that’s accepted is a legal contract that the buyer can seek legal remedies to enforce.
Q. Are there standard contingencies in an offer?
A. Yes. The two basic contingencies in a purchase contract are financing and inspections.
Q. How much should I put down as earnest money?
A. Earnest money is payment of money as a pledge by you to fulfill the terms of your contract. If you fail to perform the contract, the earnest money is usually forfeited. If you do perform the contract, the money acts as a partial payment towards the purchase price. Typically, the earnest money should be sufficient to let the seller know that you are serious about purchasing the property – 1% of the purchase price is probably an adequate amount.
Q. What should I look out for during the final walk-through?
A. This will likely be the first opportunity to examine the house without furniture, giving you a clear view of everything. Check the walls and ceilings carefully, as well as any work the seller agreed to do in response to the inspection. Any problems discovered previously that you find uncorrected should be brought up prior to closing. It is the seller’s responsibility to fix them.
Q. What is the HUD-1 form and how do I read it?
A. The HUD-1 document is used at closing to account for all the monies in the real estate transaction between the buyer and the seller and any other party.The attorney uses this form to itemize all charges imposed on a borrower and seller in a real estate transaction.The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) requires the HUD-1 form be used as the standard real estate settlement form in all transactions in the U.S. involving federally related mortgage loans.
Q. When do I get it?
A. RESPA states borrowers should be given a copy of the HUD-1 at least one day prior to closing, although changes may still be happening a few hours before closing. Most buyers will have their Realtor look over the form prior to closing and it will also list the monetary amount necessary to be brought to closing by the buyer.
Q. What is title insurance, and why do I need it?
A. Title insurance is an insurance policy that protects you against loss that could result from defects in the title of the property you are buying. The premium is paid only once and is good until the property’s ownership changes. Unlike most types of insurance which protect policyholders from future events, title insurance protects you against defects that could already exist.
Q. What's the difference between being pre-qualified and pre-approved for a mortgage?
A. Pre-qualification is an informal way to see how much you may be able to borrow. You can be ‘pre-qualified’ over the phone with no paperwork by telling a lender your income, your long-term debts, and how large a down payment you can afford. Without any obligation, this helps you arrive at a ballpark figure of the amount you may have available to spend on a house.Pre-approval is a lender’s actual commitment to lend to you. It involves assembling financial records and going through a preliminary approval process. Pre-approval gives you a definite idea of what you can afford and shows sellers that you are serious about buying.
Q. What is my first step in establishing my relationship with Savannah Lakes Realty?
A. When you enter into a discussion with a real estate agent regarding a real estate transaction, you should from the outset understand what type of agency relationship or representation you wish to have with the agent. Your Savannah Lakes Realty agent will provide you with information and guidance as to the agency relationship that best suits you.
Q. Can you end listing and/or buyer agreements before they actually expire?
A. Yes. Many buyers and sellers think that once an agreement is signed they are bound until expiration of the agreement. This is not true. This agreement is considered an agency agreement which is consensual so when one of the agencies withdraws the agreement dies. However, if you receive an offer to purchase which meets or exceeds the terms which you have outlined in your listing contract, you may still be obliged to pay a commission to your listing agent. In this circumstance, the agent has performed his/her obligation by bringing an offer to the table which matched your stated expectations in the listing contract.
Q. We have an accepted contract...now what?
A. Congratulations, You have an accepted offer, here are the next steps:

    1. Inspection:
      We have 10 days to call your inspector, get him over to the house, do his inspection, receive his reports, and respond. You will choose which inspections you want to get, if any, but your options are
      1. Building inspection (usually $300 -$400)
      2. Termite Inspection (usually $75)
      3. Radon inspection (usually $125)

      Your response choices include either walking away from the deal and receiving your earnest money back, asking for money to fix certain things yourself, asking for the sellers to fix things, or tell them everything is fine. Typically the sellers will have 10 days to respond to your inspection resolution requests.

      During the typical initial 10 day inspection period, your Savannah Lakes Realty agent will call your lender and the attorney’s office to introduce ourselves as your Realtor and give them copies of all paperwork and our contact information. It is our duty to help them make the entire process as smooth and effortless as possible for you. Once the inspection is done, and you are satisfied with the resolution negotiations, we can proceed to the next steps.
    2. Earnest Money:
      In your offer, we designated how much earnest money you will be putting down. Once we have an accepted contract we need to get this money to the party we designated.
    3. Appraisal:
      After the inspection contingency is resolved, your Savannah Lakes Realty agent will call your lender and tell them to now order the appraisal. An appraisal is the bank sending out a trusted 3rd party to verify the house is worth what they are lending you. We wait until the inspection resolution is completed to avoid spending money on this until we know you are buying the property for sure.
    4. Insurance:
      Once we have an accepted contract call your insurance agent and tell them the closing date, so they know when to start coverage. Get a quote you are comfortable with and give the insurance agent’s name and number to your mortgage broker and your Savannah Lakes Realty agent. This should all be completed within the first 10 days of having an accepted contract.
    5. Plan Ahead:
      Call all of your utility companies to get everything transferred into your name. Your Savannah Lakes Realty agent can provide you a list of the service providers in the area.
    6. Final Walk-Through:
      1-4 days before closing we can meet at the house for the final walk-through to make sure they did not damage the property and that they have fixed everything. Usually nothing happens at this time, but it is a nice opportunity for you to measure rooms and decide how you will set up the furniture. If something we have agreed upon in the inspection resolution has not been completed, your agent will contact the other agent and get it fixed. If you deem necessary, closing can be postponed until the issue is resolved.
    7. Closing:
      On closing day, please show up with your driver’s licenses and a cashier’s check for the amount listed on the most recent HUD-1 statement.

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