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Ethan Swiger
Petoskey & Northern Michigan Real Estate


Contact Me

Real Estate Buying Tips

You will no doubt have specific questions about the process of buying in the Petoskey and Northern Michigan Real Estate market.  Buying a home can be an exciting as well as stressful affair especially for first time home buyers.  You will experience a wide range of emotions throughout  the buying process.  Once you decide to buy a home, take the time to prepare before you start your home search.  Yes, it is very tempting to rush out and actually look at houses, but to do so without full preparation can be both frustrating and disappointing.  Consider the following advice to make your home buying process run a bit smoother, whether you have bought before or if this is your first time.

 1) Contact a Licensed Real Estate Professional

  To initiate the buying process, set up an appointment to meet with your real estate agent. Although buying a home may be several months out, preparation is an important aspect of  the real estate buying process.  If any of this becomes confusing, remember I will be there throughout the entire process to help. Contact Me !

2) Before You Start To House Shop, Get Pre-approved

 It is very important to get an idea of how much you can afford. 
 Getting per-approved means obtaining a loan commitment from a lender for up to a certain amount  based on an evaluation of your credit, income, assets, and debts. Make sure to discuss with your  lender the type of home construction qualified under your loan program. Although a per-approval  does not include information about the property you plan to purchase, it makes home hunting more  efficient by directing your attention to focus only on  homes  within your price range. When making  an offer, a per-approval  lets the seller know  you are a qualified buyer which ensures better  negotiations and a speedy completion of your transaction. Prue-approval will not only give you a clear idea of how much you can afford, it will make your home buying process a great deal easier.  Determine what your budget will comfortably allow and stick to it. Don't spend yourself into a  "house poor" situation. 

 3) Shop Around

All loans and lenders are different. Fees and rates vary depending on the lender and your own financial situation.  Find a lender that's right for you. Try to stick with a local reputable lender. When selecting a lender it is best to steer away from the Internet. Many situations can arise with on line lending institutions  causing unneeded stress throughout the transaction. Whichever lender you settle on, you should physically be able to go to their office and discuss loan questions.  You'll also want to make sure you're getting a decent interest rate, however don't sacrifice service to get the best rate. Look for hidden fees that may overall nullify a good rate.  A truth in lending statement ( required by law) is a useful tool for comparing lending institutions.

4) Think About a Buyer's Agent

Your ideal real estate agent is someone who is working totally in your best interest. You don't want an agent  who's trying to sell you just any property in your price range. In general, a buyer's agent can provide you with additional information about the property as well as the seller. As a buyer's agent I can provide objectivity to the positives and negatives of a property.  A buyers agent can clue you in on current market conditions and tell you what to expect as you shop for a home. I can also devise a shopping strategy based on your needs, how much you can afford and current market conditions. Once you start looking, you'll tour available properties with your agent  and discuss details; including a home's pertinent features, floor plan, the neighborhood,  school systems, and future resale value.

5) Needs/Wants

Determine your minimum requirements as well as any desired additional features (your needs and wants).  Determine the desired location and property type (schools, condo, residential, acreage, neighborhood's, etc.) During your initial meeting, discuss with your agent too determine the viability of your wants and needs for the price range and area you are looking in. Make sure your expectations are realistic so you won't become disappointed when touring homes.


6) Start Looking

Keep an open mind and focus on the things that are important to you. You may find an acceptable house on the first day or the twelfth. You are likely to get input from others. The important thing to remember is to get a home that is best for you! Searching for the right home should be an enjoyable experience. The Internet is a great place to start familiarizing yourself with a  market area. Utilize all the  options on this website including: auto emails, saved searches.  Remember nothing beats the experience of a licensed real estate professional monitoring the market for you. The Internet can only take you so far. It is important to get out and look inside some homes. Don't just drive by and look from the outside. The majority of your time at home will be spent inside, so that is were you need to look.

  • Be aware of  resale value.
    Resale value isn’t just determined by the condition of the house, but the surrounding areas as well . Be conscious of what features add or take away from a home’s value. As a buyer's agent  I can point out things in and around the home that will affect the resale value. As a real estate investor myself I have a trained eye for resale value.
  • Communicate with your agent.
    Make sure to tell me the things you like and don't like about the home. This helps me understand your wants and needs better. You won't offend anyone by pointing out the bedrooms are too small or the floor plan just doesn't work.  I need to know you just couldn't live here because the neighboring property is a mess. The better you communication we have, the better job I can do for you.
  •  Go back for a second look.
     If you have a mental list of homes that would satisfy you, go back for a second look. I don't mind  going back two, three, or four times. You will be amazed what you notice on your second look.  It's  hard to remember everything about a home, take notes and photos if that helps you.
  • Thinking about a fixer-upper?
    The price is right, but the place needs a little work. When you close your eyes, you can picture how great the place will look when it’s done. The only problem is it’s not done. Can you fix it yourself or will you hire professionals? If you do it yourself, make sure you have the knowledge and ability to accomplish the tasks at hand. If the repairs are out of your league, how much will you be willing to pay to get them fixed? Add this in to your estimates and make sure it’s really worth it. Consult a trusted contractor before you make an offer. Be sure you know what you are getting in to.  Discuss with your lender, the financing options related to fixer-uppers. Make sure you clarify with me what type of fix up work you are okay with. Replacing a roof and windows is a major task compared to a little drywall repair and new carpet.


7) Making the Offer

 Be Smart About Negotiating

You've finally decided on the perfect house. Now it's time to start negotiations. This is the time when it's crucial that you have the right agent. Effectively negotiating the purchase of your home is important, trust your agent. Although price is a major component of the offer there are several important negotiating points. Consider the following as you write your offer:

  • The prices of similar homes you have looked at.
  • Compare a list of similar homes that have sold.
  • The condition of the property (what upgrades and work has been done or needs to be done)
  •  Factor in market conditions and seller motivation.

Your offer will be in writing and include:

  • An offering price
  • The financing details including a copy of your per-approval letter
  • Items to be included with the sale
  • The home inspection contingency
  • The amount of good faith deposit
  • All signed disclosures
  • Timetables for the purchase including terms of possession
  • The contingencies/cancel clauses to protect the buyer and seller
  • Guarantees of clear title and condition of the property at time of sale
  • The date for the closing

You will most likely make a counter offer, if your initial offer is turned down. Make sure you put all offers in writing.

 8) Home Inspections 

 It is advisable to get the home inspected by a qualified inspector as part of the negotiation process.  The seller doesn't necessarily know about every flaw or problem in  their home. The inspector will examine the exterior structural components (such as the foundation  and roof), interior structural components (such as the basement, attic, flooring, and ceilings), and  other major systems in the home (such as the heating and cooling system, electrical wirings, and  plumbing) and record any problems in an inspection report. Upon completion of a home inspection it  may be necessary to re-negotiate the purchase agreement, especially if unexpected defects were  discovered.  It's a good idea to be present during the home inspection. You can gain valuable  information about the nature of the maintenance that the home will need.


9) Transferring Utilities and Home Services

Usually one week prior to closing you will need to contact all utility service providers related to the home. There is more information regarding this on my Utilities Page. Transferring the utilities prior to occupancy will make for a much smoother move. Don't forget some of the other services such as Internet, cable, trash, snow removal, etc.


10) Title Work and Closing the Deal

 The final step of home buying is the closing where the buyer pays the seller in the presence of an  attorney, a closing agent, mortgage company representative, real estate broker, or title company  representative. I always attend the closing to make sure everything goes smooth. Be prepared  to review and sign a lot of documents. It is advisable to review most of the mortgage and title documents a couple days prior to close. There are different types of title policies available which offer you different levels of protection. It is best to discuss with your agent at the time of an offer which type of title insurance is best for you. After settling all the closing costs and signing all the relevant documents, the keys of the home are handed over to the buyer along with a deed to the real estate. Congratulations !

Contact me, to get started.

* If you are going to be buying vacant land most of the above information will be the same. I have plenty of experience with vacant property, I am happy to talk with you more about this.

Ethan Swiger | 231-881-6263 | Contact Me
3711 Atkins Rd - Petoskey, MI 49770
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