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If you’ve been thinking about buying a home and are just not sure of the steps involved or even where to start, then our new weekly series, Buying a Home 101 is a MUST read for you. Each week, you’ll get great tips, how to’s, advice, and our little secrets that will help you be successful in purchasing a home in today’s market. And, it’s all delivered to you in sequential order so you know what to do when!

This series will help you avoid being overwhelmed and having the feeling that “you don’t know what you don’t know.”  It’ll keep you informed and up-to-date on the entire home-buying process from beginning to end, one bite-sized chunk at a time.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you’ll learn week by week:

Week 1:How to Find the Very Best Buyer’s Agent You want to choose a real estate agent who is the right person to represent YOU through the many steps in buying a home. Think about what’s important to you and what you are looking for in a home and then make sure your agent has experience that meets these specific needs and goals. Here’s what you should consider and ask when looking for the perfect agent for you.

Week 2: How Your Needs and Desires Lead to “Home Sweet Home”  —  We’ll give you a breakdown of the honest questions no one else is asking you about your home search, and the exact questions you need to ask yourself BEFORE you start house hunting.  Our list goes way beyond how many bedrooms and baths you want.  You’ll learn that this very important, and often overlooked, step will determine everything that happens during your entire home-buying experience. You don’t want to miss this!

Week 3: Do the Math — A Mortgage You Can Afford –We’ll help you determine how much home you REALLY can afford. We’ll give you a formula for determining how to arrive at the exact price range that works for your budget to get a home you love that doesn’t change your current lifestyle.  No buyer wants to be stretched too thin (or be shortchanged!).We’ll teach you how to do the math so you know the monthly payment for every home you see out there.

Week 4: Where to Find Money for Your Down Payment – You’ll learn all the secret ways to get more bang for your downpayment buck.  If you’re a first-time homebuyer, we want to make sure you aren’t putting every dollar you have into being a homeowner. You’ll learn about all the first-time homebuyer assistance programs that will help make it all more affordable – and most people do qualify, but just don’t know about them!  We’ll teach you how to figure out what the “right” downpayment amount is for your goals and budget; and then provide some solutions to find cash if you don’t have enough funds in your personal savings.

Week 5:Five Steps to Obtaining a Mortgage — Have you ever tried to make sense of all the mortgage options available out there?  It’s definitely not “one-size-fits-all” these days.  We’ll give you a rundown of the various mortgage options out there so you can decide which type is best for your specific financial situation and goals.Should you consider conventional, FHA,or an ARM?And, you’ll get the low down on private mortgage insurance (PMI) and why you may need it(and why it’s not all that bad!).Being pre-approved for a loan means you’re ready to seriously look for a home!

Week 6: It’s the Fun “House Hunting” Guide — House hunting can be fun, but it also can be overwhelming and stressful at times. Find out the ways you can shop productively (and smartly!) with tactics that will streamline your search. You’ll know what to look for and what to stay away from, the pros and cons of condos and townhomes, and the real deal with “as is” homes.

Week 7: “Make Me an Offer” that Gets Results – You’ve found a home you love and want to buy, what’s next? Here’s the low down on figuring out your offer price, your earnest money deposit, some clever negotiation tactics, and even how to compete with multiple offers.

Week 8: The Inside Scoop on Locking in Your Mortgage Rate and Home Appraisals —  Did you know that you have to wait until after you are under contract until you can lock in your interest rate?  (See, you are already learning something!) Here’s how to work with your lender to lock in your rate so you avoid any possible fluctuations and more money out of your pocket. You’ll also need to get the home you want to buy appraised at this time, and here’s the scoop on that.Before you get that mortgage, the bank wants to make sure that the property will sell for at least the amount of money it is lending you.

Week 9: How to Navigate a Home Inspection — You don’t want any surprises after you move in, right?! Both old and new homes should be inspected. Here’s the breakdown of what to expect during your home inspection, the most important aspects of a home to examine, and also what to do if any red flags arise.

Week 10: Review those Condo Docs or Else! This step happens AFTER you are under contract. Seems backwards, but that’s how the process works. You’ll only have a few days to read sometimes hundreds of pages of documents so this handy guide will help you know what to look for when the time comes. Keep in mind purchasing a condo unit is like buying into a business, so you need to how financially sound the entire condo community is before finalizing your contract. This checklist covers everything you need to consider before you become part of the “business,” including its reserve funds, operating budget, and even its rules and regulations.

Week 11:Almost There … Pre-Closing Details for Buyers – You’re almost a homeowner but have a few more details to handle before the big day. Here’s a breakdown of what’s next on your list, such as obtaining hazard insurance and a home warranty (and why), and when/how to connect utilities for your new home. You want to be prepared and ready to ensure a smooth transition to becoming the owner of this home, and who wants any surprises on closing day, right?!

Week 12: How to Make Your Settlement Successful — You’ve finally made it! But,there are still lots of items to cross off your to-do list, including your walk-through, getting title insurance, and your closing costs. Our handy list will make sure you’re prepared and ready for this eventful day, so that it ends with the keys of your new home in your hand.

Week 13 BONUS: Maintaining Your New Home– Here’s all you need to know when owning a home —  from staying organized with all the paperwork and manuals (just think about all of your appliances!) to regular maintenance  and upkeep (HVAC and more) that needs to get done throughout the year both inside and out.  It’s all covered here in one place.

Phew … that’s a lot to know! Make sure you don’t miss a beat and look out for each week’s topic right here.

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