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12:55 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

5 tips for when buying a home

It’s a seller’s market out there and being prepared for the process is a must if you want to score your dream home

Real estate agent Kathy Ortman, right, of ReMax Prestige Properties, shows a home in Fripps Ranch to prospective buyer Melissa Ellico.

Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.

Real estate agent Kathy Ortman, right, of ReMax Prestige Properties, shows a home in Fripps Ranch to prospective buyer Melissa Ellico.

Melissa Ellico is looking for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in a nice neighborhood, so one of the first steps she took was enlisting a trustworthy real estate agent who knows the market.

She called Kathy Ortman of ReMax Prestige Properties, a friend of her grandmother and an agent with 16 years’ experience in Kingman.

“I really wanted a view, but it’s hard in a neighborhood,” Ellico said as she toured a home in Fripps Ranch Tuesday. “There’s always a roof next door. This one has a nice wall, so even though you have a neighbor, you’re not feeling like you’re sitting in their backyard.”

The housing market in Kingman is “pretty crazy,” Ortman said. She had four offers the first day a double-wide manufactured home went on the market for $90,000 in Butler.

“The best thing for a buyer to do right now is have a Realtor that’s listing homes and will call you first,” she said. “A lot of what we’re getting listed on the market as active, you call 10 minutes later and it’s pending.”

Ortman doesn’t see the craziness of the boom years when she was getting five calls an hour from investors, but over the last six months, she’s seen a trending reduction of inventory and more buyers coming in, especially from California.

Having a real estate agent search and navigate the Multiple Listing Service will ensure that you see what’s available at the earliest point possible, said Jonny Meins of ReMax Prestige.

“People don’t often realize what goes into buying a home and how much knowledge a Realtor possesses to help you through the process,” he said. “And they also don’t always understand that they, as a buyer, don’t pay the agent out of their pocket.”

Along with letting an agent do your legwork, here are five other tips for prospective home buyers:

  1. Get pre-approved. Unless you’re paying cash, it’s key in negotiating a price. It lets buyers know much they can afford, and lets sellers and their agents know that a lender has reviewed your financials beyond a credit report. Each buyer’s situation is unique, and no one size fits all, said one loan officer about pre-approval amounts. It’s based on a number of financial factors.

Buyers need to know all the costs and fees involved in a home mortgage, added Dawn Brannies, broker for Kingman Premier Properties. Those costs include lender fees, escrow and title fees, homeowners insurance and inspections.

It’s heartbreaking when buyers fall in love with a home before they apply for a loan, and by the time they get their financial paperwork in order to make an offer, it’s gone, Ortman related.

  1. Wish list. Like home shopper Ellicor, establish what you’re looking for in terms of the size of the home, the lot, amenities and neighborhood. “This may evolve with the more homes you see, but start with a fairly specific idea of what you really want,” ReMax Realtor Mike Wagner said.

Be certain about what you need in your home instead of what you want, Brannies added. Make a list of things you must have.

And don’t become emotionally attached.

“You will make irrational decisions,” Brannies said. “When buyers let their emotions take over, it makes negotiating very difficult.”

  1. Look around. Research the neighborhood where you think you want to live, Brannies said. “You can change certain attributes of a home, but you can’t change the neighborhood,” she said.

If at first you don’t find your dream home, think outside the box.

“Often times, buyers have tunnel vision during their home search,” Meins said. “They think they know exactly what neighborhood and price range they need to be in. I find many times that I end up selling a home to a buyer that may be in a different area of town and sometimes even a little higher priced than they originally looked for.”

  1. Home inspection. Always have a professional home inspector evaluate the structure, construction and mechanical systems of the home before you sign the final papers, Brannies said. It may help you avoid costly repairs in the future.

Once your offer has been accepted, you have 10 days to inspect the property. “This is your chance to see what you’re getting and cancel (the sale) if you find something you don’t like while still getting your deposit back,” Wagner said.

  1. Act fast. Kingman is a seller’s market right now and properties are moving quickly. “If you find a home that you like, don’t hesitate to make an offer as it will likely be gone by the time you make a decision,” Meins said.

The most popular floor plan in Kingman is three bedrooms, two baths and about 1,100 to 1,500 square feet of living space, plus a two-car garage, Wagner said. There are only 10 of those for sale in Kingman between $110,000 and $150,000.

Once you’ve had the home inspected and you’ve accepted its condition, be ready to move. Start packing and get serious, Wagner said. And don’t forget to have the utilities turned on at the home on the day you close escrow.