Your Inside Guide to Buying a New Home
Our business philosophy is very simple: We care passionately about the people we represent. We want to find the right home for you. Our market knowledge, commitment, and technical proficiency allow us to provide you with the best overall representation possible.
Our passion for our job guarantees your success. Buying a new home can be a great adventure. But most would agree that the search for a new home can either be a very positive experience with little stress or an exhausting and frustrating experience where the stress level is off the charts.
Choosing the right real estate agent to look after your best interests is critical. You want a professional who is highly knowledgeable of the market as well as in tune with your specific needs. We have developed a seamless process to help minimize the stress by providing unsurpassable customer service. We listen to our clients and we will only show you homes that fit your needs and desires.
The Cheryl Brenna Group is committed to helping you find a home that you will love to come home to! We will discuss what type of home you believe will be most suitable. Is your family growing? Do you entertain a lot? Garden? Work at home? Are you a chef? A wardrobe buff? Are interested in a fixer-upper, or do you want a home that is going to be in as close to perfect move-in condition as possible?
Looking for a home seems fairly easy. You drive around neighborhoods, visit open houses, and search real estate Web sites for an online view of property information, photos, and virtual tours. These are things you can do without the assistance of a Realtor.
Things become more complex when you become serious about purchasing a home. Now you'll have questions about financing, neighborhoods, resale value, school districts, taxes, utilities, inspections, disclosures, contracts, negotiations, and closings. You'll want to know if the home is priced correctly and how much you should offer.
Now is the time for expert advice from a real estate professional — someone who knows the Twin Cities market and can provide you with answers that will help you make a wise buying decision. The Cheryl Brenna Group will expertly guide you through the entire process.
What Will Change When I Work with a Buyer's Agent?
The entire "home search" process will change. You won't need to make appointments with individual Realtors to look at homes because the Cheryl Brenna Group will make arrangements for every home you want to see. Rather than trying to sell you only on the positive amenities of the home you're looking at, the Cheryl Brenna Group will help you discover the not-so-positive features of the home as well.
Best of all, you will have a professional Realtor working diligently and exclusively for you — not the seller. The buyer's agent is not interested in pushing a particular house or neighborhood and will be inclined to show you possibilities you never thought to consider. And through networking with area Realtors, we often find our clients homes that are not even on the market. These are the types of steps that separate the best from the rest in this business.
How much will this cost?
You will not be charged for services. Even though the Cheryl Brenna Group is representing you and working on your behalf, the seller will pay the fees. You’ll pay nothing, zero, nada!
The Realtor who has listed a home for sale in the Twin Cities area receives a commission from the seller and has agreed to share one-half of that commission with the agent/broker who sells the property. This method of sharing the commission allows the buyer to work with a buyer's agent without paying a fee for these services.
A buyer's agent can help locate the right homes:
We'll search the Multiple Listing Service for homes that meet your specific criteria — not just homes listed by the Cheryl Brenna Group, but homes from every Twin Cities-area real estate company.
How does this differ from what you're currently doing yourself? Not all real estate companies allow their listings to appear on the various real estate Web sites. And some don't post the addresses, hoping you'll call their agents for further information.
We'll find those homes. Each listing will be carefully screened, and we will e-mail you only those that appear to meet your needs. We know the neighborhoods, so we won't send you listings of properties that do not offer what you are looking for.
As your Realtor, we don’t become emotionally involved. We'll advise you on negative as well as positive factors of each property. While you’re walking through the home to see if you'd like to live there, we'll be checking the overall condition, including the foundation, roof, heating system, and appliances to see if there will be any major expenses to be concerned about.
Counsel and advice:
What is good, professional advice worth to you? It is not easy to hold back on your emotions when making a housing decision. A home is where you create lifelong memories. It will be your family’s sanctuary, and that is why it is so important to have a professional Realtor representing you.
Offer, Negotiation, and Details:
When you find a home that you would like to purchase, we’ll provide you with a comparable market analysis (CMA) to guide you in making a proper offering price. We will structure the offer to help you win the home, and then we'll expertly negotiate on your behalf throughout the entire transaction. Our goal and commitment is to find you a home that you love and strongly negotiate on your behalf for a successful home purchase.
After you and the seller have agreed on price and terms, we will schedule all appropriate inspections. Should problems arise as a result of the inspections, we will act as your advocate in resolving these issues.
A lot has to happen between signing the purchase agreement and moving into the home! The Cheryl Brenna Group will attend to all the closing details and keep you informed about the transaction — each step of the way.
Deciding Where to Live in the Twin Cities Area
You’ve been out looking at homes, so you may have already made some decisions about which side of town appeals to you and how far away from work you’d like to be.
Perhaps your search is based upon the schools your children will be attending or the proximity to the activities you enjoy when you’re not at work. Possibly, you’re more interested in the potential resale value of the home when you are again ready for a lifestyle change.
Location, Location, Location:
They say that homeowners choose the location before they choose the home,
so it is imperative to choose wisely and for all of the right reasons.
No matter what your motivation, keep in mind that the location of the home is crucial. After you purchase the home, you’ll be able to make all sorts of improvements to the property, but you’ll never be able to change its location. Even your dream home can be a mistake if it's in an undesirable location — and a particularly poor choice if you anticipate reselling within a few years.
If the neighborhood is wrong, your house will never feel like home, so pick a location where you will enjoy living. Besides the appeal of your own home, you should enjoy the ambiance of the entire neighborhood and feel comfortable as you drive through its streets. Is it safe? Close to schools and parks? Does it offer the services that you depend on, such as health care and convenient shopping? Be sure that you’re close enough to the things that are most important to you and that living in this neighborhood will not cause a major change in your lifestyle.
Try to not limit your search to a single area. You may fall in love with a particular neighborhood and imagine yourself owning a home there. However, that area may have very few, if any, homes being offered when you need to buy. Even when a home does become available, there’s no guarantee that it will fit your needs or that you’ll even like it.
Also, be prepared to change your search criteria. As you explore homes and neighborhoods, you’ll learn a lot about what you really want in a home and you will make appropriate adjustments to your plans. It is just as important to know what you don’t like as what you do like. The process of elimination moves you closer to your destination of finding the “right” home.
Plan for Today as Well as for Tomorrow:
Remember that your lifestyle needs and desires will change. You must plan around your immediate needs, but also consider your life over the next five to seven years. Do you plan to start a family? Will an in-law eventually move in with you? Will you be working from home? Are you downsizing? The number of rooms and the design of the home you require will depend on your answers.
At the same time, don’t go to extremes and plan too far ahead. If you are single or recently married, your home doesn’t have to include five bedrooms to accommodate the large family you hope to have someday. There’s a very good chance that you may move in five or six years, so focus on what best suits you now. Pick a neighborhood that protects your investment for future resale. The Cheryl Brenna Group will diligently guide you through this thought-provoking and emotional process.
Set Reasonable Expectations:
Almost everyone has a limit to how much they are willing to pay for a home. Once you have determined how much you want to spend, get a feel for the quality, size, and location of homes in that price range. Don’t waste your time looking for a home that may not exist.
Suppose you first select the area you’d like to live in, establish criteria for the home you want, and then set a price limit. You may be disappointed when you find that the homes in your price range don’t meet your expectations. It is far-fetched to expect that a seller will be willing to dip below fair market value or loose money on his home.
If you’re prepared to spend up to $200,000 for a home, don’t set standards that would suggest a price range above $300,000. Accept market conditions as they are. Either spend the money it takes to purchase the home you’d like, or lower your expectations just enough to meet your price point.
Previously Owned Homes
- Previously owned homes can be a great value. They usually offer more space, and costly improvements such as window treatments, fences, paved driveways, and landscaping are already included with the home. In addition, these homes are generally located in more established neighborhoods and communities. This means that recreational facilities, support services, transportation links, schools, restaurants, and shopping centers are already in place.
When shopping for an existing home, remember that it's not going to be perfect. It may need some updating or be in need of repair. And it would be a miracle if the seller has made the same decorating choices you would have selected. Use your imagination and look beyond the current owner’s taste in flooring and wall colors and concentrate on what the rooms might look like if they reflected your style. The Cheryl Brenna Group will help you stay focused and see beyond the decor.
- Decorating and updating costs will vary based on what you have in mind. It is a good idea to visit places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Sears to get an idea about how much it will cost for you to make the necessary home improvements — appliances, paint, flooring, etc .You are going to want your new home to reflect your personality. Have fun. The home-buying process should be filled with excitement and joy, and backed by solid knowledge as you venture into your newest journey.
- Time and the elements cause wear and tear on any home. Roofing, carpeting, water heaters, appliances, furnaces, and air conditioning units will eventually wear out. Kitchen cabinets, countertops, ceramic tile, and bathroom fixtures may go out of style long before becoming unserviceable. As you look through a home, take note of what items appear to be in need of replacement. Be objective about how serious a problem they really are. An older water heater can be replaced for less than $500, but a new roof could cost many, many times that amount.
- Warranties are offered for previously owned homes. The cost is not prohibitive. It is definitely worth considering and can also be something that is negotiated with the sellers. The warranties will usually cover major malfunctions that could occur during the first year of ownership. The water heater dies, the furnace dies, the air conditioner dies — you get the picture.
- These homes used to be called “handyman specials." Now they are referred to as homes with “great potential." They’re often underpriced compared to other homes in the neighborhood because they are in need of serious repair or updating. Buying such a property is a good way to own a home that you wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. If you're handy with tools, or you can hold off on improvements until they fit your budget, a fixer-upper could be the home for you. Before purchasing such a home, you should have it thoroughly inspected and have a contractor give you an estimate on repair costs. Before entering into this kind of venture, be sure that you will have the time and money to complete the necessary work. Some neighborhoods and communities have restrictions limiting how long your home’s exterior can be torn up or left unattended. And if you suddenly decide to move while in the midst of a renovation, all that unfinished work will make your home difficult to sell.
- Even if you’re talented and are inclined to do this type of work, a fixer-upper may not be for you — especially if you have small children. Keep in mind that there will be various disruptions, with rooms being closed off, teams of workmen stomping in and out of the place, a kitchen that may be unusable for a period of time, and so on. Weigh the potential savings against the possible disruption of your home life before deciding to tackle a home that needs a lot of TLC...
New Home Construction
One of the main advantages of a new home is — it's NEW! New homes have new appliances, new plumbing, new electrical system, new roof, new heating system, new everything! They also come with a warranty, so you shouldn't expect an outlay of money for repair costs anytime soon. Another advantage is the design process. If you sign a new home contract early enough in the building process, you can make some, if not all, of the decisions about the interior and exterior design selections.
Purchasing from the Builder:
- Remember that the agent who is showing you the model home is working exclusively for and legally represents the builder. This agent must, by law, look out for the interests of the builder. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be treated unfairly, but there is also no assurance that anyone is looking out for your best interests. You may not ask all the right questions, and you might make commitments you’ll later regret.
- It doesn’t matter how friendly the salesperson is, it’s still important that you have a buyer’s agent working on your behalf. The Cheryl Brenna Group understands new home sales and can offer advice about the builders and the locations of their building sites. We will also assist you with the contracts, just the way we would on any other home.
Most builders fully cooperate with agents because they want to sell their homes quickly, and they know that many people looking for homes will already be working with a buyer’s agent anyway. The builder pays the agent a commission for providing a buyer. There is no additional cost or fee to the buyer. Some buyers think that if they do not have their own Realtor exclusively representing them, they will be able to get the commission rate that would be paid to the Realtor deducted from their sale price. This is a myth. Builders amortize the cost of paying Realtor fees over a 12-month period, just as they do for their advertising and marketing expenses. Builders welcome and support relationships with agents because we are the cornerstone of their business.
The "Model" Home
- Picture this: The sign at the entrance indicates that you could have a new home built for as little as $350,000. But the model you’ll be viewing is likely to be the deluxe unit with the luxury bath, a fully finished basement, an upgraded kitchen, designer wall finishes and window treatments, top-grade flooring, and beautiful landscaping.
It's important for you to know that your new home will not have all these options unless you pay for them. You could spend tens of thousands of dollars more than the base price for those goodies. The Cheryl Brenna Group will help you determine what amenities are most important for your lifestyle needs and which ones will give you the greatest monetary gain in the future, when you decide to sell.
What Happens When It’s Time to Sell?
You can expect your newly built home to appreciate at the same rate as any other home in the community. However you might find yourself in the uncomfortable position of being in competition with the builder if your subdivision is still under construction when it comes time to sell.
Not only will the builder be marketing newly built homes for the same price as yours, he will also be able to undercut your price and still make a profit. A new subdivision may not be a good option if you’re planning to move in a very short time.
How Responsible is the Builder?
- Some builders use the finest materials and hire only the best subcontractors for each of the various jobs. Others cut costs by using the cheapest grade of materials that building codes will allow and awarding contracts to the subcontractors providing the lowest-priced labor. The quality of your home will depend upon which kind of builder is working for you. The Cheryl Brenna Group will take the time to ask the right questions and learn — if it is a builder we haven't previously worked with — about the builder’s reputation.
How many houses have been completed in the subdivision? You have little reason to suspect any problems if the subdivision is large or nearly completed. On the other hand, if it’s just getting started, the reliability of the builder is crucial. If he can’t sell the project, or is underfinanced, you may find yourself along with a few of your neighbors sitting in the midst of too many acres of vacant land.
A multitude of components and choices can make buying a home overwhelming. The Cheryl Brenna Group will help you simplify the process. We will find the right location, home, and value, and we'll keep you on track and organized, so that you can focus on the years of pleasure you are about to derive from this well-informed decision. We're your strongest advocate. So, sit back and enjoy the ride! And remember, the perfect home is more than a style … it is a way of life.
“ A comfortable house is a great source of happiness.
It ranks immediately after health and
good conscience.” — Sydney Smith
Your Inside Guide to Home Financing
The most important factor of financing is fully understanding the array of options available. We have an extensive checklist of questions you can use as a guideline for determining your financing needs. Click here for guidelines
Know Which Financing Program Best Fits Your Personal Situation!
There are so many mortgage options! Making the best-informed decision possible can prove nothing short of overwhelming. The Cheryl Brenna Group has a strong professional relationship with Tom Lehmann from PHH Mortgage. Please take a moment to review his site under Mortgage Information. Tom continually exceeds our clients' expectations.