While many of our clients are veteran home buyers, just as many are first-timers, haven’t bought a home in many years, or haven’t bought property in Texas (and things do vary some from state to state). So today I thought I’d take a few minutes to outline how we go about it here in Austin.
Step One: SECURE FINANCING
Austin’s condo market is hotter than its August temperatures, so it’s important to show a Seller you mean business. Either a letter from your bank declaring assets sufficient for a CASH PURCHASE or a pre-qualification letter from a lender stating your eligibility for a MORTGAGE will be needed to get your foot in the door when presenting an offer.
The first step for non-cash Buyers, then, is to get pre-qualified for a mortgage. Different lenders go about this in different ways. A few do a full qualification right up front (so your “pre-qualification” is actually your “personal qualification”); most simply do a “quick” pre-qualification, and then delve more deeply once you get under contract on a specific property. Either one will suffice for getting under contract (see Steps Five & Six, below.)
Please note that different condominium projects have different stipulations, and that not all lenders will approve all buildings. It is important to be sure the lender you choose can fund the building you choose. But this is something to talk about with your Realtor®, which brings me to ….
Step Two: HIRE A REALTOR® at HIGHRISES.COM AUSTIN
HIGHRISES.com Austin is a full-time, boutique brokerage focused exclusively on the central Austin’s mid- and highrise condo market. Our agents keep up-to-date on the specifics of all the buildings, market trends, and everything you need to know about purchasing a condo in the city.
Not only do we bring to bear all our expertise to finding the best fit for you needs and getting the biggest bang for your buck, we will walk you through all the steps from viewing property to negotiation to closing. HIGHRISES.com Austin is committed to representing you, the Buyer, and your needs from start to finish.
Step Three: SEARCH FOR A CONDO
You may wish to begin your search by browsing the individual buildings on our site or inputting specific criteria at the top, which you can also set up as an automated search to get new listings as they come available. Be sure to discuss your specific needs with your Realtor®, who will be able to help you hone your criteria to match the various buildings’ features.
Once you’ve found some properties you’d like to see, call, text, or email your Realtor® to set it all up. I recommend seeing no more than five or six properties at a time, since more than that tend to run together.
Step Four: MAKE AN OFFER
Once you find the right home, we will review market conditions and decide whether to present an aggressive or competitive offer. I will write up and explain all paperwork necessary for our offer. The negotiation may go back and forth a few times between parties.
Step Five: GET UNDER CONTRACT
After final acceptance of the terms of purchase by both parties, we go “under contract.” At this time, you’ll provide an “earnest money” check to the title company to open escrow and an “option check” to the Seller, which will give you a set number of days (usually 7) during which time you may cancel the contract for any reason. We have 2 business days to deliver Earnest Money and 2 calendar days to deliver Option Money.
The “effective date” of the contract will be the day all parties are notified of all parties’ agreement to terms. Option periods, etc., begin the following day.
Step Six: GET INSPECTIONS, APPRAISALS, ETC
The first day after the Effective Date of the contract, the Option Period begins. It is important for you or your Realtor to schedule and general inspection of the property right away to insure the property does not have serious defects. Any needed repairs may be negotiated before the end of the Option Period, and if terms are not agreed upon you may terminate the contract.
The first day after the Effective Date also marks the beginning of the time period (usually 21-28 days) for both you and the property to be approved by the Lender. If either you or the property is disqualified from receiving financing, a well-written contract will include contingencies to allow termination of the contract.
Your Lender will order an appraisal of the property, which will be billed to you at closing (usually around $500). I recommend that you or your Realtor instruct the Lender not to order the appraisal until after the Option Period, so that if you cancel the contract you will not be charged for the appraisal. Only under unusual time constraints does it make sense to order the appraisal earlier than the end of the Option Period.
Step Seven: GO TO CLOSING
You will need to bring a picture ID and a certified check for money owed (down payment, loan origination fees, etc.) to the closing at the title company. All Title Companies also accept wire transfers, and some now only accept wired funds. It is best to go in person to the Title Company, but long-distance closings are possible. You will need to allow extra time, however, and may require the services of a notary public. In this case, you’ll want to start 2 or 3 days before the actual closing date stated on the contract.
Possession of your condo will occur when your lender releases funds to the Seller. Typically you will receive keys the same day, unless one party closes late in the day. In that case, you may not receive keys until the following business day. Once this is complete, the condo is yours. Welcome to your new home!