Financial Advice

Buy & Own a Home


Buying a Home? Surround Yourself with the Right Team

For most of us, buying a home is the largest investment in our lifetime. While you may be the one to choose the home, getting it from purchase to closing takes a team. Especially when buying a home in today’s competitive marketplace, it’s important to have the right players on your team. Here are the key positions to fill in your home-buying team line up.

Real Estate Agent
Your home purchase might be your first, or your fifth or sixth. Regardless, your experience in the process is undoubtedly less than that of an experienced real estate agent who likely has facilitated dozens of home transactions. Your first home-buying team member should be an agent who will use that experience and local market knowledge to benefit you.

Your agent will be your representative in negotiating the purchase contract. He or she also will make sure that inspections, repairs, and paperwork requirements are completed by deadlines. Bottom line, your real estate agent is your eyes and ears to handle all the details needed to finalize the sale successfully.

Ask friends, coworkers, and neighbors for recommendations. Then set time to interview potential agents to assess their knowledge of the areas and types of homes you are interested in and how well you personally click. Remember, you’ll be spending a lot of time working together.

Mortgage Lender
Choosing the right lender can mean the difference between a well-communicated, organized, and efficient loan process, and one fraught with headaches, delays, and unnecessary extra costs.

Naturally you will want to shop interest rates and loan programs. But just as important are a lender’s reputation and experience. You’ll want a mortgage professional who is truly passionate about helping you achieve your dream of home ownership, not one simply interested in meeting a monthly quota. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of finding a professional who is local to your area. A local lender will know the area well and understand what’s been happening in the market. They will also have relationships with local real estate agents, title companies, and the many other people who make it happen.

Look for a mortgage professional who can offer competitive loan options, and has the mortgage chops you can trust to guide you from prequalification to a smooth loan closing. Your lender will be the point person to track status of your home appraisal, survey, and other lending requirements. 

Most lenders partner with an appraisal management company that works with numerous independent property appraisers they trust for their knowledge of local market conditions. It is the appraiser’s job to analyze and determine the market value of the home you want to purchase. The appraiser will evaluate the condition of the property and surrounding area, and compare recent sales prices of similar homes nearby.

Because lenders lend a percentage of the appraised value (for example, 85% loan-to-value), the appraisal is a critical data point in securing loan approval. The appraisal also provides vital information about whether you’re paying the right price for the property. Think of it this way: If the unexpected happened, and you were forced to try to sell this new home after only living in it for say, six months, would you be able to recoup your investment?

Anyone who saw the movie “The Money Pit” knows the potential “pitfalls” of buying a home without a professional inspection. Nowhere is the adage of buyer beware more relevant than in a home purchase. Before finalizing your purchase, it is a good idea to hire a certified home inspector. This team member will assess everything from the home’s roof to the slab, plumbing, HVAC, and minor maintenance issues.

While it may be tempting to save a few dollars and DIY or ask a contractor friend for a freebie, hiring a professional inspector is a wise investment.

Title and Escrow Agent
Rounding out your home purchase team is your title and escrow agent. The title agent takes care of all the details to ensure a clear deed or title. The lender will require a title policy that documents that the property has no liens other than the lender’s. The escrow agent takes care of all paperwork, handles all money transactions until the loan closes, and legally records the property in your name.

Consult the Mortgage Experts
Since 2016, UFCU’s mortgage lending team has ranked the best in Central Texas in number and volume of mortgages closed. When you are ready to build the right team for your home buying journey, contact our mortgage experts.