Anne Watkins


Home Buying In Gig Harbor - Serving The Sound

What is the first step of the home-buying process?

If you plan to finance, getting pre-approved for a mortgage is the first step of the home-buying process. Getting a pre-approval is generally a quick process and demonstrates that you are a serious buyer to both your Realtor® and the person selling the home. A pre-approval may be required before you can view a home in person or put in an offer.

First, you need to know how much you are approved to purchase. Knowing how much home you can afford narrows down online home searching to suitable properties, so no time is wasted considering homes that are not within your budget. Pre-approvals also help prevent disappointment caused by falling in love with homes that are out of your range.

Your lender will help show you a clear picture of what is financially required to buy a home. You’ll know how much money is required for the down payment and closing costs, and if you qualify for any free grant down payment options. If you have credit concerns, your lender can also help you put a plan together to increase your credit score.

Our team has several preferred lenders that we are happy to share with you.

I already own a home—can I sell and buy a home at the same time?

If you want to use the equity in your current home for the down payment on your new home, this is possible. However, it can be tricky, and all parties need to be on their game. Our team does “back-to-back” closings often, but all contingencies need to be completed in a timely fashion. You need to have constant communication between all parties, and organization is a must. Your Realtor® will help walk you through this process.

Why should I buy a home instead of renting one?

It is often more cost-efficient to buy a home rather than rent one. When you buy, you are investing in your own future. When you rent, you are helping your landlord to invest in their future. There also are financial perks, like tax deductions and home equity, that come along with owning a home. There are often low down payment and grant down payment options available.

I have my pre-qualification—what’s next?

Congratulations! This is an exciting time and we would be so honored to help you find houses for sale in the Puget Sound area! We will set up a time to discuss your needs and learn more about what is important to you in your future home. We will then narrow down your criteria in your own personalized automatic e-alert. Our team also has access to off-market opportunities that are not listed online. We pride ourselves on our quick response time and accessibility. The best homes sell fast, and we understand how important it is for them to be accessible and available for you. We will work closely with you to set showings around your schedule.

I found the perfect home—now what?

Once you have found the home that you want to make an offer on, timing is important. Our team uses the best technology to get your purchase agreement together quickly, utilizing digital signatures that you can sign from your phone or computer. We are accessible after traditional business hours and will take the time to run a detailed analysis to determine the true market value of the home you are interested in to ensure you are offering a fair price. We will then use this data to put together an action plan for your offer price and terms. In this market, homes can go fast and it is not uncommon to see multiple offers. Fortunately, we know how to help your offer stand out. There is a lot that goes into the offer process and having an experienced Realtor® in Washington state on your side can help you get your dream home.

What is an earnest deposit?

If you’re ready to make an offer on a home and also want to prove to the home seller that you’re serious about your offer, earnest money is a good way to prove your commitment. When a buyer and seller enter into a contract, the seller takes the home off the market while the transaction moves through the entire process to closing.

Earnest deposits are typically 1%-2% of the purchase price, but if your finances are tight, you can offer a lower amount. The higher the deposit, the more serious you will look to the seller. Your deposit is typically due within 48 hours of going under contract. This deposit is paid to the title company and is credited back to you at closing. If the deal falls through due to a failed home inspection or any other contingencies listed in the contract, the buyer typically gets their earnest money back.

Should I get a home inspection?

Once your offer is accepted, most purchase agreements will give you a 10-day inspection period. This gives you time to do your due diligence. This includes hiring a home inspector and a termite inspector. Even though you are probably really excited by this point, you can’t bypass the home inspection, which is one of the most important aspects of the home buying process. The typical cost of an inspection can range from $400-$700, depending on the square footage and features of the home, pool, etc.

How quickly can I get the keys?

Typical escrow periods range from 30 to 45 days. This gives you enough time to do look into the property and get your loan and appraisal completed.

What is an appraisal?

The findings from an appraisal determine the amount a mortgage lender will let you borrow for the property. Appraisals must be conducted by a licensed, third-party appraiser who has no connection to the buyer, seller, or lender. That way, all parties can be sure the determined market value is fair, unbiased, and free of any influence from any party that could benefit.

The lender usually orders the appraisal, but the borrower is the one who pays for it.

How much do I have to pay a Realtor® to help me buy a house?

Home buyers pay little or no fees to their Realtor® when buying a home. For most home sales, there are two real estate agents involved—one that represents the seller and another who represents the buyer. In Washington, for most transactions, the home seller takes care of the Realtor® fees. 

Finding a Washington real estate professional is a crucial part of the home-buying process. Buying a home is a huge step, so you want to find someone who is accessible and available—someone who will understand your needs and look out for your best interests during the transaction.

Navigating a real estate purchase can be tricky business. The Internet has made it possible to do a lot of the legwork yourself, but there’s no substitute for an experienced professional. An expert negotiator who knows the market can save you time, money, and heartache by helping you make the right offer, playing hardball when necessary, and staying on top of the process.

How do I search for a home?

Keep in mind that many popular home-searching sites make millions of dollars off of leads. This means these sites are more likely to make homes appear for sale when they are actually sold or closed. This can be frustrating for buyers and a waste of your time. You’ll want to use a site that gives you direct access to the MLS with real-time availability, similar to the access that Realtors® have.

Do I need a Realtor® when buying a brand-new home?

Yes! Never visit model homes without your Realtor®. The sales consultants in the office represent and work for the builder, aka the seller. Builders require that you come with your Realtor® during your first visit to their model homes. Going in alone is risky, and if you end up buying, you may be unrepresented, meaning you have no one on your side to review the legal documents and looking out for your best interests. Builders are not able to give you a better deal if you do not have a Realtor®, so having an experienced Realtor® on your side can actually help you save money. Our team has sold hundreds of new builds and can walk you through each step. Please call us before visiting any model homes.

What are your thoughts on discount agents?

If you have been searching for a home online, you may have seen ads for “discount agents,” or agents that will pay you to use them. Beware of these types of tactics to get your business. There is a lot that goes into a real estate transaction, a lot of room for error, and there is no substitute for having an experienced Realtor® on your side. Navigating these issues takes experience. Given enough years, an experienced agent will have come across just about every issue you can think of. This could be the difference between a blown-up deal and one that holds together.

Ultimately, you have to decide which route is right for you and your family. The chances are good that going with a discount broker probably won’t help you get a better deal when all of the final numbers are negotiated and calculated. There’s a reason why traditional agents and brokers stick around through even the toughest real estate markets, but new discount brokerages tend to pop up only when the market is hot.