Buyer's Guide

Whether it's your first foray into real estate or you’re relocating to Texas, it pays to know the basics of homebuying. The more knowledge you bring to your initial consultation, the faster a start you can make. Working with an agent like Malana (who compiled this guide), you will find a home that fits your most important criteria — whether you want a recently built home, a location in a great school district, luxurious amenities, or all of the above. What follows is Malana’s guide to demystifying the homebuying process.

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Your Home Valuation

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Preliminary steps

As your home search takes shape, you define who you work with, how much you can spend, and what kind of financing will purchase your eventual home.

Research

Responsible party: Seller

Most buyers start their research online — so you are in the right place. Because there is so much information about homebuying, your best bet is to compartmentalize your home search. What neighborhoods appeal to you? Where can your family be happy? Do you have strong opinions on residential architecture? What lifestyle are you buying into? As you peruse homes on the market, note what you like about each listing and its price point.

Choose a Real Estate Agent

Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to forge ahead with the best agent on your side. As a seasoned pro, I’m equally adept at bringing first-time buyers up to speed and talking shop with investors. It’s no secret that Greater Austin real estate is experiencing a historic boom. In a competitive market, you can use any edge you can get. We will hammer out details and tailor your home search to your priorities. I will help identify properties you might be interested in, arrange showings, and ultimately handle the offer process. Plus, I may be able to steer you away from certain homes or neighborhoods, suggest hidden gems, or give you pointers on pricing.

Decide on Your Budget

While your budget ultimately comes down to the bottom line, formulating your budget is anything but simple. To begin with, most home purchases comprise several expenses: a down payment, appraisal and inspection fees, and closing costs. Your down payment is a function of the type of loan you secure (if any). Closing costs are easier to pin down, usually 3% of the home’s total cost. I can help you tailor your budget to market conditions based on up-to-the-minute data. We will also cover in detail the costs of homeownership, including expenses like insurance, property taxes, and maintenance.

Get Preapproved

To save you time and impress sellers, get preapproved for a mortgage. Preapproval signals to sellers that you are motivated, qualified, and serious about buying their home. It means you have the credentials to secure a mortgage covering the cost of the house. Lenders examine factors like your credit history and employment to determine how much house you can afford. I can introduce you to the most reliable local mortgage companies and place you in a strong financial position heading into your home search.

The Home Sale

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time for the most fun part of homeownership — your search. We will play the field to find your dream home, negotiate the best deal, and order a thorough home inspection. 

Find the Right Home

As of April 2023, I have access to over 1,100 listings in the area bounded by Lakeway, Austin, Driftwood, and Dripping Springs. Do you want a sprawling ranch in the hill country, a modern three-story house near Austin, or a lot where you can build your dream home? Now is the time to decide. Let me know your preferences, and I will arrange showings of homes that meet your criteria and budget. As we hone in on your ideal place, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of each house, such as its surrounding neighborhood, proximity to schools, and luxury amenities.

Make an Offer

When you find a likely home, it’s time to put your interest on paper. Based on the home’s condition, amenities, and location, I will help you compose a competitive offer. A comprehensive bid should include the sales price and touch on factors like home inspections and appraisals, financial details, and timing. From there, we will negotiate and respond to counteroffers as they filter back. If you’re house-hunting in a popular neighborhood, you may bid on multiple properties to increase your chances of success.

Have the Home Inspected

A home inspection aims to detect any problems with the property in question. Because you haven’t yet closed on the house, you want to order and complete the inspection as soon as possible (so other buyers don’t leap-frog you). Usually, your accepted offer is contingent on a clean home inspection (no major issues). I can help you arrange the home inspection and be present to translate technical information into lay terms.

Closing Steps

All your hard work is starting to pay off, and just a few steps stand between you and homeownership. Together, we will find the right specialists to help you as you near the end of your purchase. 

Lock in Your Loan

As the home seller prepares their side of the closing process, circle back to the mortgage lender or lenders who prequalified or preapproved you. Your goal is to choose the mortgage with the most favorable terms. Many variations exist: fixed-rate mortgages, variable-rate mortgages, 15-year mortgages, 30-year mortgages, and unique offerings like VA or FHA loans. Choose the option that best fits your financial situation, as previously established with your agent.

Get a Home Appraisal

Before closing the home, your lender must appraise it to determine their independent valuation. They do this to ensure the loan is consummate with the home’s worth. In many cases, the home appraisal is a formality. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the appraisal process, ask me what happens if the home appraises higher or lower than the agreed-upon purchase price.

Finish the Paperwork

As your realtor, I will recommend an attorney to facilitate the closing process. Typically, the seller’s attorney makes the contract and sends it to your attorney. As the homebuyer, ensure you understand all the clauses and language in the contract. All parties to the agreement (you, your lender, the title company, and the seller) should be on the same page. Once you sign the contract, ownership of the house passes irrevocably into your hands. Few buyers look forward to paperwork, but once it’s finished, you get the satisfaction of knowing you are the legal owner of your new home.

Get Off to the Right Start

If you’re new to the area, you will love working with Malana, who has called Texas home for over 30 years. She knows what it’s like to raise a family, put down roots in the community, and manage the financial aspect of homeownership.