1. START WITH A REALTOR®
Did you know that there’s a difference between a real
estate agent and a REALTOR®?
A REALTOR® is a member of the National Association
of REALTORS® (NAR). In addition to the state exam
and license to practice real estate that all agents must
take, REALORS® also prescribe to a legally
enforceable Code of Ethics.
Protect & promote clients’ interests while treating all parties
concealment of pertinent facts related to property or
Cooperate with other real estate professionals to advance
the clients’ best interests.
When buying or selling on their own account or for their
families or firms, Realtors make their true position or interest
Make sure that contract details are spelled out in writing
and that parties receive copies.
Give equal professional service to all clients and customers
irrespective of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial
status, national origin, or sexual orientation.
Paint a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and
Make only truthful, objective comments about other real
All CENTURY 21 Award agents are REALTORS®.
CHOOSING YOUR REALTOR®
Your agent will be your guide and advocate during
your real estate process and it’s crucial that you feel
comfortable and connected.
RESEARCH. Before selecting an agent, check them out
through Google, Yelp/other review sites, and speaking
with past clients.
INTERVIEW. Agents should provide guidance on the
real estate process, and will also address any questions
you might have. Make sure you feel comfortable and
have a rapport that allows for a successful business
MATCH THEIR EXPERIENCE TO YOUR GOALS. Are you a
first-time buyer? Investor? Looking at the luxury market
or in a specific neighborhood? Make sure that you are
comfortable with their capabilities.
SET EXPECTATIONS. What type and frequency of
communication do you prefer? How often do you wish
to view homes and on what days? Outline your needs.
CHECK THEIR SUPPORT. Does the agent work on a team
or have support? Office staff and in-house services
make a big difference in the level of service an agent
2. GET PRE-APPROVED
Knowing what you can afford will set your search in
motion. This number depends on how much of a
monthly payment you can afford as well as how much
a lender will loan you (based on your credit history,
income and current debts).
If you aren’t paying in cash, being pre-approved for a
loan gives you clout and strengthens your position
when you are ready to make an offer.
Your lender will ask for several pieces of information,
including your current job, assets and residence
history. They will also run your credit score and report.
Based on this information, you will be pre-qualified up
to a specific amount. Your lender will provide you and
your REALTOR® with a pre-qualification letter to
include in any offers that you make.
3. FIND YOUR HOME
Your REALTOR® will help you narrow down your options
when it comes to location. Prepare yourself to make
choices by thinking about the following:
CONSIDER YOUR LIFESTYLE. Are you looking for a
walkable or bikeable neighborhood? Do you prefer
something more secluded or in the hustle of the city?
CREATE A PRIORITY LIST. What is more important, the
kitchen or the backyard? School district or a pool? Lots
of space or proximity to metropolitan conveniences?
You may not have to make choices between
amenities and features, but having a prioritized list will
help you should the occasion arise.
THINK ABOUT YOUR CURRENT AND ANTICIPATED NEEDS.
Consider your next few years as you determine what
meets your needs.
DON’T FORGET MAINTENANCE. Whether you perform
the work yourself, hire a professional or choose a home
with some services included, your home will need
taking care of over time.
SORT AND VIEW. You may be able to look at a
property’s online listing and determine if it doesn’t fit
your needs. Visiting a property is the best way to know
if it is the home for you.
4. MAKE AN OFFER
Once you’ve found a home you want, your REALTOR®
will help you formulate an offer.
DETERMINE THE OFFER PRICE. Regardless of the price
the home is offered at, it is important to review
comparable properties to an appropriate offer price.
SELECT NEGOTIABLE TERMS. The length of escrow,
inspections and repairs, closing costs, home warranty
and services like title and escrow are examples of
MAKING AN OFFER INVOLVES STRATEGY. Your agent
will help you determine if additional materials, such as
sharing your story, should be included.
NEGOTIATE. The seller may choose to accept, reject or
counter your offer. In the event of a counter, you will
be provided with a revised offer. Your REALTOR® will
review the new offer terms with you carefully. You will
choose to accept, reject or counter again.
Sometimes, there are multiple counters until a mutually
agreeable offer is reached.
5. THE ESCROW PERIOD
Congratulations, your offer has been accepted! The
period between acceptance and closing is called
escrow, and escrow also refers to the independent
third party who oversees the transaction and makes
sure that all terms of the contract are adhered to.
Once escrow has opened, many things will occur
based on the terms of the contract. Your transaction
LOAN APPLICATION AND APPROVAL. You will work with
your lender to submit a formal application for your
loan. An appraisal of the home will be ordered.
CONTINGENCY PERIOD AND INSPECTIONS.
Contingency allows the stipulation that a specific
condition must be met or event must occur before the
sale can be finalized. Often this includes buyers
inspection contingencies, appraisal contingencies and
loan contingencies. It can also include the
contingency for the sale of the buyers current home.
The contract will have specific dates related to each
contingency, typically 17 days from the date of
acceptance, and they must be removed in writing.
During the BUYERS INSPECTION CONTINGENCY period,
you will review reports, disclosures, and, if you choose,
the home inspection results.
WHO IS INVOLVED IN ESCROW?
THE TRANSACTING PARTIES. A real estate transaction
requires one or more buyers and one or more sellers.
The transacting parties will also typically be
represented by real estate agents.
THE ESCROW OFFICER. This is a neutral third-party
selected to carry out the escrow process according to
the timeline, instructions and process laid out in the
THE UNDERWRITER AND THE LENDER. If a loan is being
secured for the transaction, these two parties will be
involved. The UNDERWRITER checks over the loan
figures, makes sure all paperwork is in order and
guidelines are met, and ultimately gives final loan
approval. The LENDER is the singular point of contact
for the home loan. He or she works with the escrow
officer to facilitate loan funding before closing.
THE TITLE OFFICER. This person is responsible for
investigating titles to real estate and land prior to sale,
specifically looking for any irregularities that may
affect the transaction or use of the property. If any
issues are found, he or she will facilitate their research,
assessment and resolution with the necessary parties.
Typically, the title officer also facilitates the Recording
TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL ESCROW
BE PREPARED. You will be expected to provide lots of
information, including copies documents, such as trust
documents (if applicable), and title vesting choice.
REVIEW & UNDERSTAND BEFORE SIGNING. Make sure to
read and understand your escrow instructions before
signing them. Mistakes an happen! Once instructions
have been executed, they cannot be deviated from
except in an Amendment, which will also need to be
signed by all parties.
COMMUNICATE REGULARLY. Be sure to be available
and in contact, especially with the escrow officer and
BE RESPONSIVE. Throughout the process, you will be
sent documents for signature. Do not delay handling
these documents as doing so may delay the
transaction. Do not hesitate to ask any questions
should they arise!
TELL YOUR LENDER ABOUT CREDITS. You may be entitled
to credits at the close of escrow, however lenders
typically have allowable thresholds when it comes to
money back. Be sure that your lender and escrow
offers are aware of any credits; these should be
included in the escrow instructions.
WELCOME TO YOUR NEW HOME!
When all the conditions required in the escrow
instructions have been satisfied, the escrow is
At this time, the escrow officer will release funds and
documents according to the instructions, pay all bills
as authorized, and prepare and deliver a final closing
statement, known as a HUD-1, to the parties. This
statement is a final accounting and itemized list of all
charges and credits in connection to the escrow
Recording signifies that the title company has released
all the necessary documents to the county where the
property is located and they have been officially
Recorded. This typically occurs the following business
day after the funding, however it is sometimes possible
to record on the same day.
Your REALTOR® will pre-arrange for delivery of keys
and any other items such as garage door openers.
YOU ARE A HOMEOWNER!