Austin, Texas Real Estate Buyer's Guide from Michael & Stacy Spickes

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Interested in buying property in Austin, Texas? This buyer's guide will help you understand the process of identifying, purchasing, and moving into your new home in Austin, Westlake, Bee Cave, Lakeway, Steiner Ranch, North and Northwest Austin, and Round Rock. Contact Michael and Stacy Spickes with Realty Austin for your FREE innovative virtual interactive tour of Austin, Texas. 512-699-0400 or spickesteam@realtyaustin.com

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Austin, Texas Real Estate Buyer's Guide from Michael & Stacy Spickes

  1. 1. HOME BUYER’S GUIDE
  2. 2. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 2 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Realty Austin Home Buyer’s Guide Congratulations, you are about to embark on the exciting journey of finding your ideal home. Whether it is your first home or your tenth home, a retirement home, or an investment property, I will work hard to make your home-buying experience as fun and stress free as possible. I am devoted to using my expertise and the full resources of my office to achieve outstanding results. Realty Austin was founded in 2004 with one goal in mind: To provide our customers with outstanding service by hiring the best agents in the business and offering the most comprehensive and easy-to-use Austin home search technology available. While most firms take any agent who walks through their door, my teammates and I were handpicked for our market knowledge, customer-centricity and real estate experience. As a full- time professional and longtime Austin resident, I am always available and ready to share my expertise. My team is dedicated to providing outstanding results and superior customer service, and we have the track record to prove it. During our first 6 years in business we sold almost 2,000 properties, quickly propelling Realty Austin to a spot among the top 5 residential firms in Austin based on MLS sold volume. Realty Austin was one of the first to make buying and selling more efficient through the innovative use of Internet technology. Our website, which reaches over 3,000 visitors every day, makes it easy to research neighborhoods, narrow and save your search criteria, view all the Austin area MLS listings and save your Favorite properties. This packet includes helpful information that many of my clients claim was an invaluable asset during their home-buying journey. Please keep this packet with you during your home-buying process and feel free to call or email anytime you have questions. Let’s take this exciting journey together. I look forward to meeting your real estate needs every step of the way!
  3. 3. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 3 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com About Michael & Stacy Personal Mission Buying or selling a home is one of the most significant and life-changing moves a person makes. Michael and Stacy recognize this and their commitment to their clients is threefold: 1. To listen intently to their client’s needs and objectives, and then leverage their knowledge of the Austin real estate market to design a plan to help their clients achieve those objectives; 2. To equip and empower their clients with the knowledge, tools and resources to make the best decision for themselves, both personally and financially; and 3. To provide unparalleled service to their clients and facilitate a seamless, enjoyable and rewarding real estate transaction experience. Experience & Specialties You will be hard-pressed to find two people who are more passionate and knowledgeable about life and real estate in Austin, Texas. Having both lived in Austin since the early 80s, Michael and Stacy have watched this city grow from a mid-size college town to a thriving metropolitan hub that is now consistently ranked in the top 5 best places to live in the USA. These two Austinites have a pulse on the city and love everything Austin has to offer: the diverse culture, eclectic art and music scene, beautiful lakes and Hill Country landscapes, endless entertainment and recreational amenities, great schools, affordable housing, and the positive, energetic, upbeat vibe of the city. Michael and Stacy bring a wealth of expertise to their clients. Over the last 10 years, they have bought and sold both personal and investment properties in numerous areas of Austin including Allandale (Central), Travis Heights/SoCo (South/Downtown), Round Rock (North), Anderson Mill/Spicewood-Balcones/Great Hills (Northwest), and Lakeway (West). They have extensive experience in building and renovation projects, and love the thrill of chasing down a great investment property and turning that diamond-in-the-rough into the most awesome house on the street. Brief Summary Name: Michael & Stacy Spickes (pronounced “Speaks”) Austin Resident since 1980 Years in Real Estate: 10
  4. 4. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 4 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com (In fact, if you want to get a glimpse into one of their renovation projects, check out this video link to watch an episode they recently filmed for TLC’s Flip That House: http://bcove.me/h0s42ien). Whether you are looking to buy or build your dream home, sell your existing home, or explore the many investment opportunities in the Austin real estate market, you will be in good hands with this dynamic team. Community Service Michael and Stacy feel strongly about giving back and paying-it-forward to both the local Austin community, as well as the global community. With a special compassion for children, they provide financial support to numerous charitable organizations that focus resources toward the protection, education and healthcare for underprivileged and health- challenged children. Michael and Stacy also have a real conviction to assist struggling homeowners who might be upside-down on their mortgage and even facing foreclosure. To serve Austin homeowners who might find themselves in this situation, in 2003, Michael and Stacy founded Austin Home Rescue, a team of licensed Realtors specifically focused on bringing solutions to these homeowners in our community. In the spring of 2006, as the foreclosure crisis began to impact the rest of the country, Michael and Stacy founded America’s Home Rescue, as a national training organization committed to educating and equipping other real estate professionals in working with homeowners across the country to avoid the devastation of foreclosure. Personal Interests & Achievements Prior to his leap into real estate, Michael spent ten years as an Executive Recruiter in the Austin high-tech industry. And prior to his recruiting career, he served for four years in the United States Navy and fought for our country in Desert Storm. When not working with clients or running the day-to-day operations of their real estate practice, Michael loves an afternoon of golf, a day on the lake boating with friends, hiking, skiing and fly-fishing in the Rocky Mountains, or taking off on some amazing traveling adventure with Stacy. Stacy comes from a long legacy of entrepreneurs and with business-know-how in her DNA, in 1993, she earned her Bachelor Degree in Business Administration and went on to become a Certified Public Accountant, specializing in small business development. After spending 16 years in the world of business and finance, Stacy decided to delve into her long-time interest in real estate. Stacy is one of seven children and has fourteen nieces and nephews, so family is a big part of her life. When not working with clients or managing the various aspects of their business, Stacy loves spending time with family, pulling together a great dinner party for friends, chasing and renovating investment properties, traveling, reading, writing, and enjoying a great dinner date with Michael at one of their many favorite Austin hot-spots.
  5. 5. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 5 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Our Support Team Nicole Parayno, Closing Coordinator • Manages the contract to close process • Coordinates with all parties for smooth close Christina Bull, Listing Coordinator • Develops all marketing collateral • Promotes my listings on partner websites Brittanie Flegle, Marketing Director • Develops online and print ad campaigns • Promotes my listings on social networks
  6. 6. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 6 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Why Hire a Buyer’s Agent? There are four ways in which you can be represented by a REALTOR ® during the purchase of a home. Unfortunately, some buyers often choose the worst form of representation because they are not aware that an agent can represent their interests exclusively and negotiate solely on their behalf. My goal is to be your Exclusive Buyer’s Agent and to assist you in making well- educated and informed decisions throughout the home buying process. 1. The Agent Represents the Seller When you work directly with the seller’s listing agent without a buyer’s agent representing you, the listing agent represents the seller. The listing agent’s fiduciary duty – meaning their primary obligation to protect legal and financial interests – belongs exclusively to the seller. As a buyer in this scenario, you should not tell the seller’s agent any information you do not want the seller to know, because the seller’s agent must disclose to the seller any important information that affects the home sale. This is also important to remember if you ever meet the listing agent at an Open House or call them directly to inquire about a property. 2. The Agent Represents the Buyer When you hire me to represent your interests, my fiduciary duty is exclusively to you. As your Exclusive Buyer’s agent, I must put your interests as a buyer first and foremost, and I must provide you with any important information I have that affects your home purchase. All information you share with me remains confidential, and my goal is to assist you in finding the right home for you at the best value. This is the best possible scenario, as both parties (buyer and seller) are represented exclusively by their own agent. 3. The Broker Acts as an Intermediary Although rare, an Intermediary Relationship occurs when one Broker/Company represents both parties in a transaction and assigns individual agents to represent each party exclusively. Each party of the transaction will acknowledge this relationship in writing. If the home you buy is listed with another Realty Austin agent, then the other Realty Austin agent will represent the seller exclusively. I will be assigned to represent you and I will still have exclusive fiduciary duty to you. Because the listing agent and I work for Realty Austin, our broker is considered an Intermediary; however, I represent only your interests and cannot disclose any of your information to the seller or the seller’s agent. 4. Subagent/No Buyer Representation Agreement If an agent shows you homes without having you sign a Buyer Representation Agreement, by law they are acting as a subagent to the seller and have fiduciary duties to the seller, not you. As a buyer in this scenario, you should not reveal any confidential information to the subagent, because that agent must disclose to the seller any material information they know. In summary, the best scenario to ensure your interests are protected, your information remains confidential, and you get the best representation in all negotiations is to have a buyer's agent represent you exclusively.
  7. 7. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 7 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com The Home Buying Process Step 1: Know Your Financing Options Financing Options Cash Conventional Financing with 10% or more down Government Backed Programs FHA/VA 3% to 3.5% down Special Programs, such as 100% USDA, Teacher or Doctor Programs Step 2: Begin Loan Approval Process If you require loan financing, meet with a lender or mortgage broker to determine how much you can afford. Obtain pre-approval for the loan amount you need. This will save time in the home search, and improve your negotiating position with home sellers. Step 3: Start Home Search Decide which neighborhoods you want to live in and whether you want a new or existing home. Consider requirements –such as the number of bedrooms or price range, and preferences – such as whether you would prefer a 1- or 2-story home. I will set up a property search on RealtyAustin.com to show you homes that will fit your needs, and we can view the homes you save as Favorites. Step 4: Make an Offer When you find the right home, I'll provide a market analysis, and we'll review market conditions together and decide whether to present an aggressive or competitive offer. I will explain all documentation and negotiate terms that are in your best interest. The process may go back and forth a few times between you and the seller. Step 5: Under Contract After final acceptance of the contract from both parties, you go “under contract.” At this time, you’ll provide an “earnest money” check for the title company to deposit so they can open escrow, and provide an “option check” to the seller guaranteeing your right to terminate the contract for any reason within the option period. Both checks will be deposited. Step 6: Inspections, Repairs, Insurance With an "Executed Contract," you start the negotiated Option Period, usually 7- 14 days. Final details are handled and you have an inspections performed to ensure the property is perfect for you. We negotiate contract details such as repairs. During this time, you’ll need to arrange insurance for your new home. Your title insurance company will provide a Commitment for Title Insurance for you to review. Step 7: Go to Closing You will need to bring a certified check if you’re making a down payment and picture ID to the closing at the title company. Possession of your home will occur when your lender releases funds to the seller.
  8. 8. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 8 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com The Life of a Real Estate Transaction Below is a diagram of the home buying and selling processes. It is worth mentioning that in order for you to move into your home, a lot of coordination and cooperation will need to happen between you and me, the seller, seller’s agent, inspector, loan officer, escrow officer and closing officer. A successful Real Estate transaction is a team effort!
  9. 9. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 9 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Preparing to Purchase a Home Unless you are planning to pay with cash, the most important step before beginning your home search is to get pre-qualified by an experienced reputable lender or mortgage broker. Why is this so important? ● It allows you to determine how much your monthly payment will be. ● It helps us to determine what price range to shop within. ● It gives you an estimate of how much money you will need to bring to closing. ● It allows you to select the best loan package without being under pressure. ● It helps us to negotiate from a stronger position because sellers will find your offer more attractive knowing that you can secure a mortgage loan. This may help your offer beat the competition in a multiple offer situation! Pre-qualification vs. Pre-approval? Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage is an increasingly popular practice among buyers who don’t want to worry about going through the approval process until after they’ve found the home they want. It is a verbal exchange in which the lender tells you in advance approximately how much money you are able to borrow, based upon the information you provide the lender about your debt and income. Getting pre-approved goes a step further than pre-qualifying. Most lenders require you to furnish documents (tax returns, check stubs, etc.) to pre-approve your loan. A pre-approval is an actual commitment to lend you money, provided that, when you are ready to buy, you still meet all the qualifying conditions that were met at the time of conditional approval. TIP: Many sellers do not accept offers from buyers who are not pre-approved. Lenders may issue either a pre-qualification letter or a pre-approval letter that can be sent with your purchase offer.
  10. 10. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 10 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Choosing a Lender When you are ready to shop for a loan, you can work directly with a lender or with a mortgage broker, who represents many individual lenders. Direct lenders lend their own money, have in- house programs, and make the final decision on your application. Mortgage brokers are intermediaries who represent many lenders and loan programs from which you can choose. If you have special financing needs or want to shop the market for the best deal, an experienced broker may be able to find the best loan for you. Along with shopping for a loan source, you'll also have to compare the total cost of the loan, including the interest rate, fees, points (each point is one percent of the amount you borrow), prepayment penalties, the loan term, and a host of other items. You should be pre-approved for a loan before you search for a home. You are free to shop around for a different lender after you are pre-approved, but having a pre-approval letter is crucial when you are ready to make an offer. Whenever possible, you should choose a lender who works locally. Online lenders and out-of- state lenders are typically high volume shops that aren’t going to take a personal interest in making sure your loan goes smoothly. In some cases, they may also be prohibited from operating in Texas. Additionally, a local lender who wants to earn your repeat business and referrals is more likely to take good care of you. Choose your lender very carefully, because you are relying on him or her to close your loan on time. Loan delays and problems with financing are some of the most common obstacles in getting to closing; you won't want to lose your dream home if your lender makes a mistake. Recommended Local Mortgage Lenders Name: Kristin Carroll with Sente Mortgage Mobile: 512-422-5934 Office: 512-637-9900 Fax: 512-637-9901 Email: kristin.carroll@sentemortgage.com
  11. 11. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 11 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Applying for a Mortgage Loan Getting pre-qualified starts with applying for a loan. The loan application process is fairly similar between all lenders: 1. Select a lender and meet with the loan originator. 2. Furnish the lender with the information requested (most likely paycheck stubs, two years of tax returns, list of debts, list of assets, etc.) 3. The lender will then provide you with a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) which is a document that summarizes the amount of the loan you are applying for, the interest rate being offered to you, the terms of the loan, estimated closing costs including any loan fees charged by the lender, and your estimated monthly payment. You should review all costs and know which ones are non-refundable in the event your loan is not approved. 4. If approved, the lender will send you a pre-qualification letter, which I will include with the offer paperwork when you find the right home. TIP: Compare lenders and get Good Faith Estimates from at least two lenders to compare costs and rates. Once you decide on a lender, you may be required to pay in advance for your credit report (usually $60-75) and sometimes the appraisal (usually $350-450). An appraisal is required by the lender to determine that the amount of the loan does not exceed the value of the home. Appraisals are usually done after your option period ends. PI vs. PITI The bulk of your monthly mortgage payment goes toward paying off the principal and interest of your loan (P & I). In addition, you will be responsible for paying annual property taxes and homeowner’s hazard insurance. If you choose, you can have your taxes and insurance added to your monthly payment and saved in an escrow fund (some loans require this), or you can pay them on an annual basis. This total payment is referred to as PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance). This amount is placed in an escrow account from which your lender then pays your taxes and insurance bills as they come due. TIP: When shopping for a loan, it is important to ask the lender if the monthly payment you are being quoted is PI or PITI. How Much are Taxes and Insurance? The cost of Texas homeowner property taxes will vary depending on the tax rate in the area in which you live. As a general rule, property taxes in Texas vary between 1.5% and 3% of the property value each year. The cost of an annual homeowner’s hazard insurance policy will vary depending on the coverage you select, the age and value of the home, your credit rating, the area in which you live, and other factors.
  12. 12. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 12 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com When Do I Lock My Rate? Because interest rates can fluctuate, it sometimes pays to lock in an attractive interest rate. A "lock-in" or "rate lock" is a lender's commitment to guarantee a specific interest rate if you purchase a home within a certain period of time, even if rates rise. Talk to your lender about their conditions for locking in a rate, and what amount they charge for this guarantee. What are Closing Costs? No matter what home you buy, there will be costs associated with completing the transaction. Charges can include loan origination points, rate buy-down discount points, title insurance, escrow fees, attorney fees, recording fees, appraisal fees, document preparation fees, notary fees, and loan underwriting fees. You may also have to pay “pre-paids,” which are advanced payments to build your mortgage escrow account to cover your taxes and insurance. TIP: Sometimes, we can negotiate for the seller or builder to pay some of your closing costs. What other costs will I incur before closing? We want to inform you of the costs you will incur during the home buying process. You will typically write four checks prior to closing. The costs below are estimates and will vary based on the price, size, and features of your new home. 1. Option Fee ($100–$500): Payable to seller at acceptance of your offer. This will be applied toward your closing costs. This reserves your unrestricted right to terminate the contract for any reason, within a certain time period, and receive a refund of your earnest money. 2. Earnest Money (frequently 1% of the sales price of the home): Payable to the title company once we have an accepted contract. This deposit secures your offer, and the full amount will be applied toward your closing costs. 3. Inspection ($300–$600): Payable to the inspector at time of the inspection, which takes place during the option period. It is your responsibility to arrange any inspections on the property, but I can work with you to locate reputable inspectors and contractors. 4. Credit Check and Appraisal ($400-$500): Payable to the lender after the option period expires.
  13. 13. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 13 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Finding the Perfect Home I will evaluate your home buying needs during our first meeting so that I can be better prepared to assist you in your home search. I am committed to locating the ideal home for you, whether it’s a resale home in MLS, a For Sale by Owner, Foreclosure, or new construction. In almost every situation, our fees are pre-negotiated so that the seller is responsible for my commission, not the buyer. Resale Homes I have access to any of the 10,000+ homes listed by any brokerage firm in the Austin area. However, I will help focus your search based on factors you define, such as location, schools, home features, and other criteria. My goal is to use my market knowledge to save you time and money. New Construction Many buyers are not aware that the representatives at new construction sales centers represent the sole interests of the builder, not the buyer. A common misconception is that a buyer can get a ‘better deal’ if there is not an agent involved. In fact, the opposite is true. Many buyers significantly overpay for new construction homes, because they don't hire an experienced agent and they take the builder's pricing and terms at face value. Having dealt with most local builders, I know first-hand which of them are over-priced, and in what areas they are most negotiable. My extensive knowledge of builder reputations, floor plans, and lots, as well as schools, neighborhoods, and amenities will help you choose the right home in the right place. I will provide a market analysis to show you what comparable homes sold for in the area so that you don’t overpay. Then, I will negotiate on your behalf to ensure that you get the best possible price and terms on your new home. For Sale by Owner At any point in time, there are a handful of For Sale by Owner properties on the market. Often, the sellers are upside down and cannot afford to sell at market value. Other times, they think so highly of their home that they decide to price it above what a REALTOR® deems feasible. In either case, you need to be very careful, as these homes are usually overpriced. If you happen to drive by a For Sale By Owner and would like to see the property, please call me first, so that I can work with the owner to schedule a private showing. In most cases, these owners are still willing to pay my fee, so I can still represent you throughout the transaction to ensure you don’t overpay and have the full resources of my team behind you. Foreclosures and Short Sales Navigating the sea of distressed properties is not for beginners. The process for buying Foreclosed or Short Sale Homes is vastly different from the typical purchase process, and varies depending on the type of distressed property you buy. You need an experienced agent on your side, but most of all, you need patience. When banks and government agencies are involved, you cannot dictate the schedule. Before we decide to pursue distressed properties, we should discuss your goals to make sure they are a good fit for you.
  14. 14. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 14 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Going Under Contract Making an Offer Once you have found the home that meets your needs, it is time to make an offer, before another buyer beats you to it. One of the most important reasons to hire an agent is to benefit from their knowledge about the real estate market and access to data that is critical to making informed decisions during the offer process. I will research sales in the area and create a detailed market analysis for the home you wish to buy. This market analysis will show relevant recent sales and help you determine whether a home is priced reasonably or not. This will help you decide on the amount you should offer, and if necessary, I can present it to the seller’s agent to support your offer. Items that are typically negotiable include: ● The amount you will pay for the home ● Down payment and amount to be financed through a mortgage loan ● Amount of earnest money you will deposit ● How much of your closing costs, if any, the seller might pay ● Any personal property specifically included or excluded ● How long you have until your final loan approval is due ● The closing date and the occupancy date, which may not be the same date ● Length of the option period, and how much you will pay for the option period ● Which title company will be used, and who pays for the owner’s title policy ● Who will pay for a new survey if the existing one cannot be used ● Any repairs that you already know you want the seller to make before closing ● Who will pay the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) transfer fees ● How much the seller will contribute towards a home warranty Our offer will be in writing and accompanied by an earnest money check (typically 1% of the purchase price) to show good faith. If the seller does not accept the initial offer, we will continue negotiating until we reach terms that are agreeable to both you and the seller. When both parties agree on the terms, you are officially “under contract” and the contract is executed on the date the last party signs and/or initials all changes and notifies the other party. Your earnest
  15. 15. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 15 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com money check will be made out to the title company stated in the contract, and will be immediately cashed by the title company and later applied to your purchase price. During the Option Period Home Inspection Upon acceptance of your offer, you will typically want to arrange for an inspection of the property. This must be completed during the option period so that if something is discovered during the inspection (that you cannot live with and the seller is not willing to fix), you can cancel the contract and have your Earnest Money refunded. ● I have provided a list of 4 home inspectors in this document, but you are free to choose your own inspector. ● The inspection will take 2-4 hours. Your attendance is optional; however we recommend you attend at least the last half-hour when the inspector reviews the findings with you. ● Most homes have a long list of minor and cosmetic repairs. You are mainly looking for major mechanical, safety or structural defects to the property. Negotiate Amendment Immediately following the Inspection, we will typically complete an amendment to the contract that will include items the inspector discovered that you want repaired by the seller, or a monetary repair allowance in lieu of repairs. Then we will negotiate on your behalf with the seller for the repairs you want completed. Once an agreement on repairs to be completed has been reached, you will typically forfeit your right to terminate the contract. After the Option Period Once the option period is over, there are several important steps you need to take to ensure a smooth closing. Obtain Homeowner’s Insurance Your lender will require Homeowner’s Hazard Insurance to close on your new home. Ask your current insurance agent if you would receive a discount by having your car insurance and homeowner’s insurance with the same company. If you need a reputable referral, please let me know. Once you select an insurer, notify your lender of the insurance company you choose, and send me the information so I can provide it to the title company. Select Home Warranty Provider (Residential Service Contract) While new construction homes will typically offer a warranty from the builder, you can also purchase a home warranty – or "service contract" – for a resale home. The warranty usually covers your first year of home ownership, and helps protect you against the cost of unexpected repairs or replacement of major systems and appliances that break down due to normal wear and tear.
  16. 16. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 16 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com In most cases, we will attempt to negotiate on your behalf for the seller to pay for most (if not all) of your Residential Service Contract. The basic programs start at around $350-400, and then you can add various optional items, such as certain appliances, pools, etc. If your total exceeds the amount paid by the seller, then the difference will be added to your closing costs. Property Appraisal Your lender will arrange for an appraisal of the property. This typically costs between $375 and $450, which your lender will ask you to pay in advance. The appraiser's report will describe the physical characteristics of the property and compare it to similar properties to determine the market value of the property so you don’t over pay. If the appraisal comes back lower than contract price, the bank will expect you and/or the seller to make up any deficiency. Remember that an appraisal is different from a home inspection. Appraisers do not report on damage or repairs needed; they only report on the market value of the home in its current condition, relative to other properties in the area. Property Survey The buyer usually pays for the survey as part of their closing costs. However, this is a negotiable item. A survey typically costs between $400 and $600, but it could be more on larger lots. The seller sometimes has an existing survey we can use so we don’t have to order one. 2 Weeks to Closing This is an exciting and busy time, and home ownership is very near. Contact me if you have any questions, and be sure to complete the list of tasks below: ● Get estimates and arrange for moving company or truck rental. ● Submit your Change of Address Form online at https://moversguide.usps.com. ● Contact utility providers to have the utilities transferred from the Seller to you. ● Select a date for the Final Walk-Through of the house. ● Schedule a closing date and time with the Title Company. Final Loan Approval Once all of the necessary steps are completed, your lender will notify the title company that your loan request has been approved. The lender will send the loan documents to the title company so that you can sign them during your closing appointment. One Day Prior to Closing The Title company will complete the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, which is a standard document that tells us how much money you will need to bring to closing. I will personally review all charges and credits for accuracy, call you with the final amount needed for closing, and remind you of the time and location of closing. You will need to obtain a cashier’s check made out to the title company in the correct amount, or arrange for a wire transfer from your bank to the title company.
  17. 17. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 17 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Closing Day Be sure to bring the following items to closing: ● Cashier’s check in the exact amount requested, payable to the Title Company ● Your checkbook, just in case there are last-minute adjustments ● Valid Picture ID for all borrowers Remember, you will not get keys to your property and cannot move in until the transaction has funded. Funding takes place after your closing appointment, when all money is exchanged and proceeds have been wired to the title company. This is often several hours later, and it can sometimes be the next business day. It is best not to schedule movers for the day of closing.
  18. 18. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 18 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Endorsements Michael and Stacy Spickes are simply the best realtors anyone could ever hope to have. They have been tireless supporters and friends throughout the whole process--even helping us after the closing! Most agents disappear after the business is settled, but they have been so great it's really rather humbling. Mark Teitelman We enjoyed working with Michael and Stacy Spickes very much. They started by really trying to understand where we were at and what we wanted. The whole process was well planned and executed. They always kept us updated with the latest market information, recommended teams of various services that were proven to be very nice people with good quality of service. We needed to sell our old house before moving into the new one, and they timed it nicely so that we were able to close both transactions in one day. We really appreciate their quick response, they were able to schedule a few open houses for us with very short notice, which proved to be very helpful. We ran into a few problems from the buyers but Michael and Stacy were able to use all their resource to solve the problems quickly. Without their quick thoughts and response, we would have wasted a few days and extra expenses due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Overall, we are very happy with the service provided by Michael and Stacy, and will definitely recommend them to our friends when they need such service. Michelle & Yi Sun We have nothing but wonderful things to say about our experience with Michael & Stacy! They far exceeded our expectations and were a tremendous help throughout the entire process. By far the most knowledgeable, professional and personable agents we have ever had the pleasure of working with. We will be recommending them to all of our family and friends in the future. We were amazed at how well they knew each and every area in and around Austin that we looked at homes in, and we looked at a lot! You are lucky to have Michael & Stacy representing your brokerage through Realty Austin. Tosha and Dan Alvarez Michael and Stacy Spikes sold our family six homes in the Austin area – with multiple offers on every property. In this now very competitive market, the Spikes team navigated each purchase flawlessly and every escrow closed on our first choice properties. We now love them like family. They never put any pressure on us and helped us in our relocation to Austin. Christine Swiatek Blair
  19. 19. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 19 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Michael & Stacy Spickes are the best realty team! We could not have asked for better realtors. Michael & Stacy definitely went the extra mile to help us find a location & builder for our dream custom home. We would definitely use their services again, and we highly recommend them. Louisa B. Stacy and Michael far exceeded our expectations. They exemplify the highest caliber of professionalism. They did everything necessary, without asking, to carry out the acquisition and closing of our property to the very last detail. We could not be more pleased. Schuyler & Bill Cerone Michael and Stacy did an excellent job in helping me purchase my house. They were up and preparing documents as late as midnight on a failed home purchase (seller's unwillingness to budge burned the deal). At that point, I knew that Michael and Stacy were the right team for me. I then purchased a nicer house the following month at a lower price than the previous failed attempt. It was a struggle to get through the financing process, but Michael and Stacy provided excellent communication between myself and the sellers. The deal went through (finally) and I am now enjoying my new home. Jason Dee Thank you Realty Austin for having such amazing realtors like Michael & Stacy Spickes. They made selling and buying a home so easy. They held our hand every step of the way and our closing of both homes went so easy. They are the perfect team! Rebecca Diaz Hernandez We could not have been happier or in better hands than with Michael and Stacy. They were professional, very knowledgeable as well as fun people. My husband and I both feel they are our friends as well as our realtor. We highly recommend them. They are a great team. Susie Malone We had a wonderful experience purchasing our first Austin home with Michael and Stacy Spickes, a husband-wife tag team at Realty Austin. Moving from another country-- we are from Toronto, Canada-- into a new, unknown city was a bit scary at first, but Stacy and Michael put us at ease right from the start with their friendly, positive attitudes. They provided support unlike no other realtor right from the get-go, spending an hour on the phone with me trying to orient me to the Austin neighbourhoods and get a feel of our house wants and needs. Our visits to Austin were filled with extremely productive house hunting days, allowing us to get a feel for the city on our own but at the same time showing us what Austin has to offer. Stacy and Michael love Austin, and after a few hours with them, you will too. We quickly found our dream home and began the purchasing process. Stacy and Michael supported us through every step of the way, giving us great recommendations and arranging for multiple inspections, making sure we were
  20. 20. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 20 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com protected. They made it easy for us and we could tell they were working hard to fight for us to get a good and fair deal. We 110% recommend the Spickes to anyone looking for a realtor, especially if you are from out of town. Best of luck in your home hunt!! Erin and Jason Cooper
  21. 21. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 21 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Why You Need Title Insurance___________________________ When you buy a home, you want to be certain it’s yours, and that no one can later claim any ownership of the property. Even the most diligent search of the public records could fail to disclose a number of title defects. Defects may include: • A forged will or deed • A title transfer by someone under age or a married person conveying real estate without his or her spouse • Fraudulent impersonations • Invalid divorces • False affidavits Although rare, these are just a few of the problems that can suddenly surface to jeopardize your investment. A service known as a title search describes the condition and quality of the title to the property you are buying. Your title insurance company issues a title policy, which protects you against mistakes or threats that might otherwise result in financial loss to you, including hidden, unknown items that might come up after you purchase your home. Your Coverage: Your title insurance protection is a permanent assurance that your ownership and use will be defended promptly against claims at no cost to you, whether the claim is valid or not. The Lenders Coverage: If a mortgage is to be placed on your new home, the mortgage lender will require that you purchase title insurance to protect the lender’s position as a holder of your mortgage loan. However, this mortgagee’s title insurance policy doesn’t protect you, the homeowner. You need an owner’s title insurance policy to protect your investment. Title Insurance Rates: There are no renewal premiums, and there is no expiration date on the policy. The protection lasts as long as you, or your heirs, retain an interest in the property. Title insurance rates and policy coverage are set by the State of Texas, so there is no difference between insurers. Escrow: The title insurance company also acts as an escrow agent between the seller, buyer, and lender, and has responsibilities to all parties for fair dealing. The title insurance company receives your money as well as all other documentation required for the transaction. When all requirements of the contract and the lender are satisfied, the title company transfers money to the seller, and the transaction is “closed.”
  22. 22. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 22 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Choosing a Home Inspector Buying a home is one of the most significant decisions and one of the biggest investments you will ever make, so you need an unbiased professional’s opinion about the physical condition of any property you plan to buy. A home inspection will give you a clear picture of a home's condition, answer any questions you may have, and give you peace of mind. There are numerous types of inspections. An inspection is meant to evaluate, at minimum, the structural and mechanical condition of a property. It is not the same as an appraisal, which evaluates the market value of a property. Finding a qualified Inspector • Get referrals from friends or associates • Get referrals from a local real estate professional • Search online for "Home Inspection Services" Recommended Home Inspectors Name: Todd Sterling Company: T. Sterling & Associates Phone: 512-371-0049 License #: 4843 Email: toddsterling@mac.com
  23. 23. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 23 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Austin Zip Code and MLS Area Map
  24. 24. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 24 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com BUYER CONTACT INFORMATION Name ______________________________________________________________________________________ Work Phone ______________________________ Home Phone _____________________________________ Mobile ___________________________________ Fax ___________________________________________ Where is the best place to contact you? Work Home Mobile Email (work) ______________________________ Email (personal)__________________________________ Which email address would you like us to use? Work Personal How would you prefer us to confirm your appointments? Email Phone Text Home Address _______________________________________________________________________________ Name ______________________________________________________________________________________ Work Phone ______________________________ Home Phone _____________________________________ Mobile ___________________________________ Fax ___________________________________________ Where is the best place to contact you? Work Home Mobile Email (work) ______________________________ Email (personal)__________________________________ Which email address would you like us to use? Work Personal How would you prefer us to confirm your appointments? Email Phone Text Home Address _______________________________________________________________________________
  25. 25. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 25 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com PREFERENCES FOR YOUR NEW HOME Type of home Single Family Condo/Townhome Duplex/Multifamily How many? Bed Rooms ____ Full Baths ____ Half Baths ____ Living ____ Garage _____ Stories _____ Square Foot Range ______________________ Year Built Range/Type ____________________________ Condition Nearly perfect Needs cosmetic work Needs some work Fixer-upper Other people living at home (ages) __________________________________________________________ Pets ________________________________________________________________________________________ Hobbies ____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________ When would you like to move? _______________________________________________________________ Areas of interest _____________________________________________________________________________ What daily commute is acceptable? _________________________________________________________ Where do you commute to daily? ____________________________________________________________ Special features that you are looking for ______________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Is this your first home purchase? ______________________________________________________________ What do you like about your current home? __________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________ What do you dislike about your current home? _______________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________ What is your desired price range? ____________________________________________________________ Likely amount of your down payment ________________________________________________________ Monthly mortgage payment range __________________________________________________________ How do you plan to purchase the home? Cash Have a lender Need a lender
  26. 26. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 26 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com Buyer Representation Agreement After reading the Information About Broker Services provided by Broker, Buyer(s) (hereafter referred to as ‘Buyer’) have chosen to have Broker represent Buyer as an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent. The following constitutes the terms and obligations of both parties to this agreement. Broker's Obligations: • To use Broker's best efforts to locate and submit property meeting Buyer’s criteria, • To represent the interests of Buyer and assist in all phases of the buying process, and • To abide by all applicable laws, rules and regulations, including the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics. Buyer(s) Obligations: • To advise all other parties of Broker's exclusive representation of Buyer, • To conduct all purchase negotiations for property in the Market Area through Broker; and • To make all reasonable efforts to abide by the terms of any executed purchase contract. Compensation: For these services, Broker will be paid a fee at closing equal to the amount listed in MLS for cooperating broker’s payout. For properties not listed with a Broker, we will seek compensation from the seller, but buyer agrees to fund any deficiency up to 3% of the purchase price. This compensation agreement shall apply to all properties that Broker submits to Buyer during the term of this agreement for a period of 120 days beyond the termination date. Termination: This agreement terminates at 11:59 p.m. on the last day of the term, unless, prior to that time, Buyer has entered into a contract to purchase property covered by this agreement or if either party notifies the other in writing that they wish to terminate this agreement with 7 days notice. If Buyer is under contract to purchase a property, then this agreement will continue in effect until closing. Mediation: If a dispute arises concerning this agreement and can not be resolved through good faith negotiations, then both parties agree to submit the dispute to mediation. If mediation becomes necessary, the parties will choose a mutually acceptable mediator and will share equally in the cost. By signing below, Buyer appoints Broker as Buyer's agent for the Term shown, granting to Broker the exclusive right to represent Buyer in the purchase of property suitable to Buyer, of the Type, and in the Market Area above described. By signing below, Broker accepts this appointment. Start Date: ________________________________ End Date: ________________________________________ Buyer: ___________________________________ Buyer: ___________________________________________ Agent: ___________________________________ Broker: Realty Austin/Yvette Boatwright
  27. 27. HOME BUYERS GUIDE P A G E | 27 REALTY AUSTIN Michael & Stacy Spickes, REALTOR® (512) 699-0400| SpickesTeam@RealtyAustin.com| www.RealtyAustin.com

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