I really enjoy teaching the real estate agent section of the hoMEworks First Time Home buyer classes for Avesta and YCCAC in Southern Maine. If you’re in one of these areas and thinking of buying your first home you should take this class. Links to these programs are at the bottom of this post.
To give some context for people asking about the process I’ve written a narrative about folks who’ve taken one of these classes and are pursuing home ownership for the first time.
In January, after attending a home buyer class, a couple called and explained their situation. They were renting an apartment in the Saco/Biddeford area and had been saving their money. They had a relationship with a credit union and anticipated using them for their mortgage. They had already asked their lender for a pre-qualification letter so they understood their target price range as well as the costs to anticipate for their closing. An agent to support their search, offer, and ultimately their closing was the logical next step.
During our first call they shared with me that they were buying the home together and were employed full time so they were easy for the bank to understand. They asked me several questions about my business, the towns in my market, etc.
An important part of this call, as they knew from the class, was a discussion about how agency works in Maine. Anyone who contacts me from these classes has already had the Brokerage Relationship Disclosure talk but I always review it again.
They were agreeable and sounded like a great fit so I wrote up the Exclusive Buyer Agency Agreement. I sent it to their email addresses for them to review and sign. They reviewed it and tapped through the signatures and we were in business.
The intake process for Kern Real Estate starts with an interview. It’s an informal conversation where I ask open questions and work to understand their mission. I want to know the towns, home styles, amenities, price range and any special “must have”, or “no way” items. During the intake we discussed 2-3 bedroom homes in Saco, Biddeford and South Portland. I translated this into an MLS search that would automatically send new listings. The MLS listings were the foundation of our search but I also did some networking to see if I could find something off market that may be a fit.
As the search evolved we were looking at homes each weekend. The cadence of the current market means we’d schedule showings on Thursday and Friday and see homes on the weekend. If one was a prospect, we’d write an offer Sunday afternoon or Monday depending on when offers were due.
The period of time for the search is a big variable for each buyer. I’ve had a new client call in January, look at 43 homes, write 9 offers and close in July. I’ve also had a client call in May, see 2 homes and close in June. There’s a combination of strategy, determination and a little luck that comes into play between the start of the search and the moment we’re under contract. Early in the process I’ll tell clients that we may have to “kiss a few frogs” to find the right home. Just keep showing up.
After some hunting and a few outbid offers we’d negotiated a contract for a 3 bedroom home in Saco. It needed some updates but the buyers were comfortable taking on these projects after closing.
In an effort to be more competitive the buyers chose to include a compressed due diligence period of 5 business days. This is an achievable but challenging timeline as we worked to get as much information as possible and understand the home. To meet this type of deadline I’ll often ask a general inspector to pencil in a date prior to submitting the offer. This gives a small competitive edge with the seller and allows a quick turnaround for inspections.
Now, after so many offers we’re finally checking off items for our due diligence! I supported and coordinated as we lined up inspections, they applied for their loan, deposited earnest money, reviewed town files and more.
The contract time, which begins the moment the home is under agreement and ends at closing, was just under 6 weeks. This is a common and typically achievable timeframe but I’ll verify this with the lender. One of the most important pieces to get scheduled early is the appraisal. Make sure this is scheduled early and has a quick due date with the lender.
It’s important here to note that while I talk about some specific people at specific points in this couple’s lives I take equal rights very seriously. I work hard to help clients regardless of their position in any of the federal or state protected classes.