Step by Step

Hartman & Associates is a full service real estate firm, whose agents have many years of exceptional service assisting Home Buyers in this market area. With superior market knowledge, our exceptional agents can maximize the efficiency of your home search and serve as a trusted guide before, during, and after your move.

1. Find an Agent

When beginning the search for your new home, it's important to understand your needs and preferences. Whether searching by price, features, or location, the more your Agent knows what's important to you, the easier it'll be to find your ideal home.

Hartman & Associates trained Agents and helpful support team provides superior market knowledge and matchless expertise in the home buying process. We can find the perfect home quickly and efficiently using an array of resources. A Hartman & Associates Agent takes care of all the details of purchasing a home, including: contacting the listing agent, coordinating showing times with your schedule, touring the home with you, determining if a home is priced competitively, and guiding you through the negotiation and inspection process.

We've made it easy for you to find a Hartman & Associates Agent who is familiar with the attributes of each of our neighborhoods. Search our website for agents by name. Our Agents are adept at matching Clients with the perfect homes that fit their needs and preferences. Click here to search for an Agent. Or if you need assistance, contact us and we will personally select an Agent that specializes in the areas you.

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2. Arrange Financing

Pre-Qualification

The first step in buying a home is pre-qualification. This is not a full mortgage approval, but a basic estimate of what you can afford in a home loan. This is sometimes confused with pre-approval, which is a more comprehensive and committed indication of the total mortgage amount available to you. Pre-qualifying helps you identify and resolve any issues you may encounter in your application. To simplify your loan process and get pre-qualified click here.

Understanding Mortgages

A mortgage is the loan a potential Home Buyer needs in order to make up the difference between the down payment and the purchase price of the home. There are a variety of mortgage programs available, with adjustable time periods and financing options. It usually takes about 30 days to process a loan application. The actual time depends on how promptly the lender can get an appraisal of the property, a credit report, and verification of employment and bank accounts. Upon meeting with a lender you'll need to provide verification of income, assets, and long-term debt. As partners with First Houston Mortgage, Hartman & Associates makes the home buying process easier, faster, and more convenient by pre-qualifying buyers. First Houston Mortgage Company is both a mortgage broker and mortgage banker, whose primary focus is to provide superior products and employ the latest in communication technology to ensure the very best financing experience. We guarantee our service by offering the best response and the best services. To simplify your loan process and get pre-qualified click here.

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3. Find a Home Make an Offer

View Homes

Our website is a one-step resource for finding your ideal home, featuring unlimited search capabilities and complete property profiles on thousands of homes. If it's on the market, it's on our website.

At www.hartmanassociates.com you can register for "First to Know" which allows you to set search parameters (neighborhood, price range, number of bedrooms), save a list of homes you are interested in and receive regular updates of new homes on the market that fit your criteria. Click here to register for "First to Know".

Make an Offer

Once you find a home that fits your needs, your Agent will draw up an Earnest Money Contract. This document defines the proposed purchase price, the terms and the timing of the closing on behalf of the Buyer. The contract also serves as direction to the Title Company to close the transaction. With the help of your Agent, you and the Seller can then negotiate and come to terms on a mutually acceptable contract. Of course, the Seller is free to accept or reject any offer, or to propose a counteroffer revising the original terms of your initial offer.

In addition to the price you are willing to pay, the formal offer can consist of specific deadlines, including an offer expiration date, option period deadline, and a closing date of when you take ownership of your new home. When securing your offer you must also outline the earnest money deposit amount, which you place in an escrow account with the Title Company, as a good faith intention to complete the transaction. Your offer is based on contingencies related to financing and inspections. If you have a house to sell, our offer may also be contingent on its sale.

Negotiating

During the home buying process, your Agent can provide you with valuable negotiating expertise. He or she can offer you valuable market information by assessing current competition and past sales of similar homes. By preparing a Competitive Market Analysis, your Agent can help formulate an offer for your desired property. Your Agent will also provide you with assistance in evaluating any counteroffers and contingencies that may arise in the process.

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4. Contract and Warranty

Contract Preperation -Crossing the T's and Dotting the I's

The Earnest Money Contract is a legally binding document whereby the Seller and Buyer agree to terms under which the Buyer will acquire the Seller's property.

"Who is paying the various expenses of the sale, including closing cost?"

Both Buyers and Sellers incur expenses during the transaction process. Buyers are typically responsible for costs associated with the down payment placed on their new home, any home inspections, a portion of the escrow fees, a title insurance policy benefiting the lender, and any loan costs. Sellers generally pay for a portion of the escrow fee as well as a standard title insurance policy. The responsibility of the annual expenses of property taxes and homeowner association fees is typically shared between Buyers and Sellers and prorated based on the closing date.

"What is the actual closing date?"

The closing date of a real estate transaction is the date in which proceeds from the sale are available to the Seller and the transfer of title has been recorded by the county. The lender is responsible for providing the buyer with a good faith estimate, which will provide a close approximation of the Buyer's financial requirement to close the transaction.

"What is the possession date?"

The possession date is agreed upon between the Buyer and Seller during the negotiation process. If the Seller remains in possession after closing, there should be a Seller's Temporary Lease addendum in place prior to closing.

Home Warranty - Why you should request a warranty

To decrease the chances that you'll have to pay for major repairs on a home after you buy it, invest in a home warranty. Our Agent can recommend a few home warranty companies that will cover many of the costs of repairs or replacement systems to your new home. From water heaters to central air and heating, the home warranty protects against the normal wear and tear of your new home's covered major mechanical systems and built-in appliances for a specific period of time after the close of the sale.

To lessen the stress of buying a home, and for peace of mind that comes with a home warranty, it makes perfect sense to call your Agent for more details. Click here to contact us about one of the home warranty company's coverage.

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5. Inspection, Appraisal and Insurance

THE IMPORTANCE OF HOME INSPECTIONS

It is common for Buyers to make an offer contingent (during the option period) upon one or more home inspections, which the buyer arranges and pays for with the Seller's consent. If the inspection findings are acceptable to you, the closing process can begin. If the inspection uncovers problems, your Agent can provide valuable suggestions on how you might work with the Seller toward a mutually acceptable resolution. A home inspection should be conducted by a qualified professional. We recommend that buyers be present when the inspection is performed so that the inspector can describe the process and findings to you personally.

The Inspector Should:
o Look for any structural, mechanical, and/or other defects in the   property. o Examine all systems, including heating, air conditioning,   electrical wiring, and plumbing. o Spend time checking the exterior of the house, including the   roof, foundation, chimney and water penetration issues. o Check the attic and interior for proper venting, insulation, and   electrical outlets. o Test all appliances and plumbing fixtures to verify working   condition. o Check all bathrooms to see if moisture has affected the areas   around the tub or shower. o Inspect for other items such as insects, termites, and other   pests.

APPRAISAL - The Value of Your New Home

An appraisal is a professional evaluation of a property's monetary value, usually completed at the request of the lender and for the lender's benefit. Appraisers consider numerous factors such as square footage, construction quality, design, floor plan, amenities, energy efficiency, lot size, view and landscaping. Other issues appraisers take into account are neighborhood quality and a property's proximity to transportation, shopping and schools.

HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE - Protect Your Investment

Once you have found a new home to purchase, you'll want to protect your investment with insurance. Most Buyers invest in a comprehensive homeowner's insurance policy, which provides coverage for fire damage, water damage, personal possessions, personal liability, vandalism, theft and loss of use of the house. If you are financing your home purchase, your lender will require you to buy at least basic hazard insurance, which will fund the cost of rebuilding your home. It is important to contact your insurance professional early in the buying process. They will be able to advise you of their ability to provide coverage as well as quote the rates and terms of the policy.

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6. Closing

TITLE AND ESCROW

The final stage of the transaction process occurs with the transfer of title from the Seller to Buyer. After closing has occurred, the policy is sent to you by the title company, the third party who transfers the money and documents (including title and deed) from the buying and selling parties. The title company prepares documents, draws up the closing statements, obtains necessary signatures, records documents, and receives and disburses funds.

CLOSING THE DEAL

At the title company, you will review and sign final paperwork. If either the Seller or Buyer cannot attend, he or she can sign papers in advance, and/or grant power of attorney to a representative. The Buyer will be asked at closing to sign the mortgage and any other papers that the lender, and/or other interested parties, may require. Upon conclusion of the closing process, the deed and mortgage will be recorded and all previous obligations of the Seller will be discharged. Once the closing papers have been executed and the deed recorded, you can take legal ownership of your new home.

Congratulations on the purchase of your new home!

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7. Taking Ownership of Your New Home

Get Your Keys

Once you have been handed the keys to your new home on the agreed possession date, it's helpful to keep in mind that some practical and cosmetic matters need attention. Before you take possession of your new home, utilities will need to be changed to your name. And services such as electricity and phone may need to be reactivated. Also, check in with the nearest post office to assure proper mail forwarding. Consider hiring a cleaning service to thoroughly clean the home before you move in. And for security purposes, it may be prudent to change the locks and install a Theft Deterrent system. We will be glad to offer to you assistance with a variety of service providers offering a broad range of home-related services to help your move go smoothly. From landscaping and cleaning to moving and storage services to dry cleaners, we can save you time and money. Please see the link to the right for more information about our "Home Services" reccommendations.

Once you have the keys, we're your link to everything needed to make your house a home. Just call us and we can recommend someone to help manage the work you need done to your home.

DISCLAIMER: Hartman & Associates attempts to list service providers with a record of customer satisfaction, and we welcome your feedback. However, Hartman & Associates has no ownership or control over any service providers, cannot be involved in the terms or performance of your agreement with any provider you select, and cannot guarantee your satisfaction, or proper performances of a provider's services.

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