FAQ

What are the advantages of owning a home?
Is it best to save for the ultimate dream home or begin with a less expensive starter home?
How much can I afford?
How do I get approved for a loan?
What is the first step to buying a home?
What does a Real Estate Professional do for me?
What is the difference between a seller agent and a buyers agent?
Does it cost to have buyer representation?
What costs are associated with buying a home
What are Closing Costs?
What is the home buying process?
How can I view Homes?
How do I make an offer on a home?
What Are Some Home Buying Negotiation Tips?
What contingencies should appear in the offer?
Is it possible to buy a home below market price?
After I signed the contract what are the next steps?
What is a home warranty and do I need one?
What is an Appraisal?
What is Assessed Value?
What is a “Closing?”
What is a Counter-Offer?
What is Earnest Money?
What is Equity?
What are Easements?
What is Escrow?
What is a Home Inspection?
What is Homeowner’s Insurance?
What is a Lien?
What is Market Value?
What is the Possession Date?
What is the Principal?
What is a Purchase offer?
What is Title?
What is Title Insurance?
What is a foreclosure listing?
What is a Short Sale or Distressed property?

Q: What are the advantages of owning a home?

A: There are many. Among the most appealing: you own it, which gives you, instead of a landlord, control of your living space. Other benefits stem from potential tax savings and the buildup of equity as your property likely appreciates in price over time. Equity can be used to help put children through college, purchase a vacation home, or make home improvements. The mortgage interest paid on a home loan is tax deductible, as is the local property tax. If you get a fixed-rate home mortgage loan, you also can invest more wisely knowing your monthly mortgage payment, unlike rent, will not change substantially.


Q: Is it best to save for the ultimate dream home or begin with a less expensive starter home?

A: It can take a long time to save for that perfect dream home. Meanwhile, the market has been flooded with some of the most favorable mortgage interest rates in years. Low rates make housing more affordable, which is why so many buyers have decided to become homeowners. Home-price appreciation has also been strong, making very solid gains in communities across the country. If you purchase a starter home today, you can potentially begin to build value that can lead to the purchase of a larger, or more desirable, trade-up home in the future.


Q: How much can I afford?

A: The general rule of thumb is that you can buy a home that costs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. Your CENTURY 21 REALTOR® can help determine how much you can afford and estimate the maximum monthly payment based on the loan amount, taxes, insurance and other expenses. To find out now how your income, debts, and expenses can affect what you can afford, use our mortgage calculators to estimate how much you may be able to borrow to purchase a home.



Q: How do I get approved for a loan?

A: Your Realtor will arrange for a meeting with a lender. It is highly recommended that you get pre-qualified for a loan before you start viewing homes with the serious intention of buying. The pre-approval process involves meeting with a lender and authorizing them to examine your current financial situation and credit history. On the basis of this examination the lender will provide you with a document that details how much you can borrow to buy a home.

  • The benefits of pre-qualification include:
  • You’ll have information about what you can afford and be able to plan accordingly
  • As a qualified, motivated buyer you’ll be taken more seriously when you make an offer on a home
  • Lenders can tell you whether you qualify for any special programs that will enable you to afford a better home
  • Real estate financing is available from many sources, and an experienced REALTOR® will be able to suggest lenders with a history of offering excellent mortgage products and services.

Q: What is the first step to buying a home?

A: Make sure you are ready - psychologically and financially. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I have steady income? Is my debt lower than my total income? Do I have enough money to pay for the down payment and closing costs? What’s my credit like? A house needs constant care and attention. Also ask yourself if your budget will allow for unexpected repairs and upkeep. Once you can honestly answer "yes" to these questions, you are several steps ahead of the game and that much closer to becoming a homeowner.


Q: What does a Real Estate Professional do for me?

A: Many Realtors are buyer specialists who focus on helping people successfully find and buy their dream home. And that’s just the first step.

Buying real estate is a complex matter at the best of times, given that there are so many factors to consider and no two homes or transactions are alike. However, with all the unique opportunities and potential pitfalls of the current market, it’s even more important for you to contact a REALTOR® once you've definitely decided to buy.

A REALTOR® can guide you through the property search, financing, negotiation and transaction processes.

Educate you about Buyer Agency, outlining their professional responsibilities to you, including complete Disclosure, Loyalty, Confidentiality and Accountability

Evaluate your specific needs and wants and locate properties that fit those specifications.

Help you explore your financing options and, if needed, refer you to some excellent mortgage professionals so you can make the best possible mortgage decision

Save you time by setting up a custom home search which will give you instant access to ALL listings matching your exact criteria.

View homes with you and provide comparative analysis. They can also refer you to expert home inspectors that will provide more in-depth analysis and advice

Provide consultation in relation to your written offer to purchase a home, with all terms approved by you.

Reviews and explain all legal documents to you.

Negotiate the best possible price and terms for you and take care of all the documentation details. This also applies for New Homes. Remember the Sales Persons at a builder are representing the Builder and the Builder’s best interest.

Keep you fully informed about all activities that lead to the transaction closing

Assist you, if necessary, in finding any home-related services you need.

In short, they’ll provide you with comprehensive, high-quality buyer’s service.

So when you decide to buy a home, or if you hear that any of your family and friends are looking to buy, be sure to take advantage of the knowledge, experience and professionalism of a REALTOR



Q. What is the difference between a seller agent and a buyers agent?

A. The agent that represents the seller is referred to as the listing agent. That agent lists the home for sale and represents the seller. They market the property and provide the seller with information, pricing strategy, advise with negotiations and look out for the sellers best interest.

The agent that represents the buyer is referred to as the selling agent. That agent represents the buyer. They find properties to look at and take buyers on tours of the homes of interest. As area experts they advise the buyer by providing helpful information like where to find reputable school and neighborhood information. Once a buyer decides they found the right home their agent can provide a market analysis before making offers so the buyer is informed and knows a fair price to offer. The buyer’s agent negotiates the offer on the buyers’ behalf looking out for their client’s best interest. Once mutual acceptance is achieved the agent then manages the transaction until closing. Coordinating appraisals, inspections, title, escrow, lenders…. all happening behind the scenes and the agent assists in keeping everything moving forward and running smoothly.



Q. Does it cost to have buyer representation?

A: No. When you are a buyer, you get the expertise, knowledge, and guidance of your real estate agent without having to pay a penny for their services. The seller pays the listing broker and they share the commission with the buyer’s broker.


Q. What costs are associated with buying a home

A: Since the buyer does not pay their real estate broker and there are zero down home loans available it is possible to purchase a home for zero out of pocket expense. There are loan fees if the buyer is financing the purchase of the home and they are in the range of 3% of the loan amount, they are typically referred to as closing costs.



Q What are Closing Costs?

A: The costs to complete a real estate transaction in addition to the price of the home, to include: property taxes, home owners insurance, title insurance, appraisal, escrow fees and points. These fees usually do not exceed 3% of the loan amount. It is possible to negotiate to have the seller pay these fees so it is less out of pocket expense for the buyer.



Q: What is the home buying process?

A: If you’re like most people, buying a home represents your single biggest investment – and debt. As such, the home buying process can be one of the most exciting, but sometimes also stressful, experiences you ever go through. And this is true whether you’ve bought many homes or you’re looking to buy your first, whether you’re in the market for a new primary residence, an investment property or that perfect vacation getaway.

Moreover, never has the real estate market offered more great opportunities, or been fraught with more risks, than now. There are so many factors to consider and so many decisions to make. That’s why, when buying, it’s crucial for you to have all the available resources necessary to make a well-informed decision, together with the time required to make complete use of them. That’s why you should enlist the help of a trusted REALTOR® who’ll be able to provide you with expert consultation at each step of the buying process.

Generally, finding and purchasing a home includes the following steps:

  1. Contact A REALTOR®
  2. Define Your Goals and “Needs” and “Wants”
  3. Get Pre-Approved For a Loan
  4. Set up on our VIP Custom Home Search
  5. View Homes and Select THE ONE
  6. Make an Offer
  7. Negotiate With The Seller.
  8. Contracts and Addendum
  9. Earnest Money and escrow set up
  10. Secure financing
  11. Inspections
  12. appraisal
  13. Movers
  14. Utilities and Phones etc.
  15. Home Owners Insurance
  16. Taxes
  17. Home Warranty
  18. Closing

Q: How can I view Homes?

A: There are many benefits to starting the search process at a real estate website like www.Century21NorthHomes.com. You can view all homes and their details, take video tours and access neighbor-hood info.

However, it’s also important to view homes in person. While their property details may seem similar online, homes can actually be very different in terms of layout, design, workmanship and other aspects. In addition, you should ideally view homes with the help of an experienced and eagle-eyed REALTOR® who’ll notice things you might miss, provide expert analysis, and act as an impartial sounding board.

Your Realtor also has access to all New Homes and Custom Builders which are not always shown on Websites.

Simply put, the key to the home search process is knowing what you’re looking for. Among other things, that means distinguishing between “must-haves” and “like-to-haves”.


Q: How do I make an offer on a home?

A: Now that you've found the home you’d like to buy, it’s time to make an offer.

Your local real estate association, working with legal counsel, has developed the contracts that are used for transactions in your area. These contracts enable you to specify a sale price and also include many clauses for specifying various terms of purchase, such as the closing and possession dates, your deposit amount, and other conditions. You should carefully review these clauses with your REALTOR® to ensure that they express your desired offer. In addition to drawing up the contact, your REALTOR® will be happy to address all your questions about the offer process.*

Once you've written the offer your REALTOR® will present it to the seller and the seller’s representative. At that point, the process – given that a home’s eventual sale price is subject to supply and demand – will depend on the kind of market you’re in. Generally though, the seller can accept your offer, reject it, or counter it to initiate the negotiation process.

Successive counter-offers, with deadlines for responding and meeting conditions, will be exchanged between you and the seller until a mutually-satisfactory pending agreement is reached or the negotiations collapse.

Negotiations can involve many factors relating to different market conditions, homes and sellers,

Indeed, your future may depend on it. As the old saying goes, ‘let the buyer beware’. Particularly in these times, when so many buyers are suffering the consequences of having not fully understood their financing decisions, it’s crucial for you to work with people you trust. In this regard, a good REALTOR® can be a true friend for life.


Q: What Are Some Home Buying Negotiation Tips?

A: One of the most frequently asked questions about buying a home is related to negotiating a fair price. Buyers -- especially first-time home buyers -- want home-buying tips, particularly about negotiating.

While some people feel uncomfortable bargaining even at a garage sale or farmer's market, in real estate, negotiating is a necessary part of the home buying process. Here are a few proven home buying tips for becoming a successful negotiator:

Tip: Learn what homes of like kind and quality have recently sold for within the area where the property is located. This is where the buyer’s agent will provide a market analysis so the buyer can make an educated decision on a fair offer price.

Tip: The “Listing “ or “Asking” price is what the seller would ideally like to sell their home for. Keep in mind that homes are generally priced with the assistance of a real estate professional providing a home marketing plan to help the seller in making a good pricing decision. However seller motivation can be a factor.

Tip: Every buyer would like to pay as little as possible. Low or unreasonable offer could be accepted. However most of the time this type of offer could be viewed as offensive and may generate an unfavorable response.

Tip: Be flexible and patient, don’t let your emotions get in the way of negotiating the agreement. Offers and counter offers can go back and forth before a final agreement is reached.

Tip: A strong financial position will be looked at more favorably by a seller. Having a pre-approval from a qualified lender and a sizable deposit may help the seller to consider your offer, especially when there are other competing offers.


Q: What contingencies should appear in the offer?

A: When you look to purchase a home, try to anticipate potential problems. But protect against them so that if something does go wrong, you can cancel the contract without penalty. This is what contingencies allow you to do. They should be included in any offer you present to buy a home.

Most offers include two standard contingencies: a financing contingency, which makes the sale dependent on your ability to obtain a loan commitment from a lender, and an inspection contingency, which allows you to have a professional inspect the property. Without contingencies, a buyer could forfeit his earnest money deposit under certain circumstances if he backs out of a deal. The purchase contract also should include the seller's responsibilities, such as passing clear title, maintaining the property in its present condition until closing, and making any agreed-upon repairs.



Q: Is it possible to buy a home below market price?

A: Certainly, but do not hold your breath. It takes a lot of determination and time to find a real bargain. But if you are adamant, here are some likely targets to pursue:

  • Foreclosed property
  • Fixer-upper
  • Short Sale/ Distressed Property
  • HUD Property

Q: After I signed the contract what are the next steps?

A: First, get the home Inspected

Your Realtor will help you find a Professionally Licensed Inspector.

The Inspector will accompany you through the home and point out repairs or discrepancies if they exist and issue a report on the condition of the home.

The seller will be notified of the problems and negotiations start over about repairs to be completed before the closing date.

Then, set up an appointment with your mortgage consultant who will guide you through the approval process. Be prepared to pay an appraisal fee at this time if you have not already done so.

Next work with your Real Estate Professional to select a Title Company.

The Title or Settlement Company has the responsibility of making your transaction legal.

They will do the title work, examine the survey, prepare mortgage documents and all the necessary closing paperwork.

You will need to provide proof of homeowner’s insurance at this time. You have the right to choose your own insurance company or work with your Realtor for a referral to a reputable company. Obtain certified funds for the settlement. The escrow company will be able to tell you in advance the fees that will be due.

Last step before closing, Conduct a final walk through of the home. Be sure to note any discrepancies from the home inspection that has already been completed. By taking the time to go through this process in a timely manner, your transition into your new home will be easy and stress-free.

Now is the time to transfer all utilities into your name.


Q. What is a home warranty and do I need one?

A. It’s a one-year service agreement that covers the repair or replacement of many major home system components and appliances that typically breakdown over time due to normal wear and tear.

The one thing you can be sure of is that eventually your home system components and appliances will break down. When that happens, a home protection plan may help make costs of repairing or replacing home system components or appliances more manageable, while making it easy for you to get a qualified professional to your home to fix the problem.


Q: What is an Appraisal?

A: A professional appraiser’s estimate of the market value of a property based on local market data and the recent sale prices of similar properties.


Q: What is Assessed Value?

A: The value placed on a home by municipal assessors for the purpose of determining property taxes


Q: What is a “Closing?”

A: The final steps in the transfer of property ownership. On the closing date, as specified by the sales agreement, the buyer inspects and signs all the documents relating to the transaction and the final disbursements are paid. Also referred to as “The Settlement”


Q: What is a Counter-Offer?

A: An offer, made in response to a previous offer, that rejects all or part of it while enabling negotiations to continue towards a mutually acceptable sales contrac


Q: What is Earnest Money?

A: A deposit given by the buyer to bind a purchase offer and which is held in escrow. If the property sale is closed, the deposit is applied to the purchase price. If the buyer does not fulfill all contract obligations, the deposit may be forfeited.


Q: What is Equity?

A: The value of the property, less the loan balance and any outstanding liens or other debts against the property


Q: What are Easements?

A: Legal rights of access to use of a property by individuals or groups for specific purposes. Easements may affect property values and are sometimes part of the deed.


Q: What is Escrow?

A: Funds held by a neutral third party (the Escrow Agent) until certain conditions of a contract are met and the funds can be paid out. Escrow accounts are also used by loan servicers to pay property taxes and homeowner’s insurance.


Q: What is a Home Inspection?

A: Professional inspection of a home, paid for by the buyer, to evaluate the quality and safety of its plumbing, heating, wiring, appliances, roof, foundation etc.


Q: What is Homeowner’s Insurance?

A: A policy that protects you and the lender from fire or flood, a liability such as visitor’s injury, or damage to your personal property.


Q: What is a Lien?

A: A claim or charge on property for payment of a debt. With mortgage, the lender has the right to take title to your property if you don’t make the mortgage payments.


Q: What is Market Value?

A: The amount a willing buyer would pay a willing seller for a home, neither party under pressure. An appraised value is an estimate of the current fair market value.


Q: What is the Possession Date?

A: The date, as specified by the sales agreement that the buyer can move into the property. Generally, it occurs within a couple of days of the closing date.


Q: What is the Principal?

A: The amount of money borrowed from a lender to buy a home, or the amount of the loan that has not yet been repaid. Does not include the interest paid to borrow.


Q: What is a Purchase offer?

A: A detailed, written document which makes an offer to purchase a property, and which may be amended several times in the process of negotiations.

When signed by all parties involved in the sale, the purchase offer becomes a legally binding agreement or also known as “Executed Contract”.


Q: What is Title?

A:  The right to and the ownership of a property. A title or deed is sometimes used as proof of ownership of land. Clear title refers to a title that has no legal defects.


Q: What is Title Insurance?

A: An Insurance policy that guarantees the accuracy of the title search and protects lenders and homeowners against legal problems with the title.



Q. What is a foreclosure listing?

A. Foreclosure is the process by which a homeowner’s (borrowers) rights to a property are forfeited because of failure to pay the mortgage. If the borrower cannot pay off the outstanding debt the property then goes to a foreclosure auction. If the property does not sell at auction the lender takes ownership of it and it becomes what is known as a bank-owned property or REO (real estate owned).

Bank-owned properties are sold by listing the property with a local real estate brokerage just like non-bank owned properties. Century 21 North Homes lists REO properties and also has access to ALL bank owned properties listed with ALL real estate brokers.


Q. What is a Short Sale or Distressed property?

A. Selling a home for less than the balance the current owner owes on the mortgage company is called a short sale. Buying a home that is a short sale is different from buying a property that is owned by the bank, known as an REO, or real-estate owned property.

Typically the owner (borrower) is several months behind on their mortgage payments. Usually due to a financial hardship such as job loss, illness, divorce etc….The home is worth less than what the property would sell for after seller closing costs so there is not enough proceeds to pay the lender off in full.

These properties are listed with a local real estate professional on the open market. When an offer is received and accepted by the seller it is submitted to the bank for approval. Since the bank is being asked to accept less than what is owed on the loan, the bank is in control and must approve the transaction. The bank does their own analysis to decide if taking an upfront loss is more profitable than foreclosing the home. This process can take anywhere from 90 days but frequently takes several months before responding with an approval, decline or a counter offer.

Century 21 North Homes lists Short Sale properties and also has access to ALL Short Sale properties listed with ALL real estate brokers