Everything You Need to Know to Buy a Home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a neighborhood that over the past 10 years has come into its own as one of New York City’s most sought after neighborhoods, due to its close proximity to Manhattan, bustling art and music scene, and plethora of shops, dining, parks, and amenities. The neighborhood has many new condos and luxury buildings, and buyers will find that they have many options to choose from when seeking out a new home in Williamsburg.
Step 1: Should You Use a Buyer’s Broker?
There are many advantages to using a Buyer’s broker when purchasing a home. They will be able to assist you with every step of the buying process, from getting pre-qualified for a mortgage to closing on your dream home. They will be experienced in the home-buying process and able to answer all of your questions and explain every step you take. A Buyer’s broker will save you time by emailing you detailed information and pictures of homes for sale that you may be interested in viewing, and then scheduling and attending all of your listing appointments with you. In Williamsburg especially there are a great deal of options available, and a buyer’s broker will be able to help you narrow down your search and find the right home for you.
If you are experienced with the real estate buying process, and not a first time homebuyer, you may want to devote the extra time and energy to doing it yourself. If this is your first time buying a home, having a buyer’s broker will save you a lot of time and stave off potential issues before they happen.
The best part about using a Buyer’s broker is that there is no cost to you! They split the commission that the seller’s broker receives from the seller of the home you buy. To find a good broker to work with, get referrals from friends and family who have bought homes in your area. Talk to a few brokers to find one that you feel comfortable working with and understands your needs.
Step 2: Everything You Need to Know About Financing
The first thing you need to do when you decide to start looking for a home to buy is to sit down with a mortgage broker or lender and get pre-qualified for a loan. Your buyer’s broker will be able to recommend a mortgage broker or lender to you. If you have bought a home in the past you can use the same lender, or ask to speak to a mortgage specialist at your local bank. They will be able to tell you how much money you qualify to borrow and discuss how much of a down payment you will need to pay. They will go over your options for mortgages, and you will know what price range of homes you should be looking in.
There are many factors that will affect your interest rate and type of loan you qualify for. Your credit score will be a big factor; it is a good idea to check your credit report with each of the 3 main credit scoring companies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. If there are any errors on your report you should contact the credit scoring companies to have them fixed. Your income and length of employment will also effect how you qualify for lending.
Step 3: Finding Your Perfect Place
Once you have been pre-qualified for a loan and have determined what price range of houses you are looking at, sit down and think about what criteria your ideal home would have. How many bedrooms do you need? How big should your home be? How many bathrooms do you want? Consider what neighborhoods you want to live in and how long your commute to work will be. If you are planning on buying an apartment in a city, you will need to decide whether you prefer a co-op or a condominium. Also consider how much work you are willing to put into a home; buying a fixer-upper can save you a good deal of money, and you may be surprised by how easy the work turns out to be. Attending some open houses and visiting different neighborhoods you are considering will help you narrow down your criteria.
When looking to buy in Williamsburg, take into consideration location; the Northside, off the Bedford L stop, will be the most expensive, but it also offers the most restaurants, shopping, and transportation, located only one stop from Manhattan on the L subway line.
If you are using a buyer’s broker, let them know what features you absolutely must have, and what features you would like to have. Then they will start searching for you and send you listing information and photos of properties that fit your criteria. They will also schedule and attend appointments with you to view homes that fit your needs.
If you are looking on your own, the Internet has a wealth of real estate listings available. Craigslist, Yahoo Real Estate, and Realtor.com are all good places to start. Also check your local paper’s real estate section, local real estate agencies’ websites, and local real estate listing periodicals.
When you are viewing potential homes to buy, think about how it fits the criteria you have established. Will the floor plan work for you? Consider the amount of closets and storage space and how they will fit your needs. There are many things that can be easily renovated to make your home perfect for you, like putting in new countertops and cabinets in the kitchen, or changing the lighting fixtures. Look at the big picture, like the amount of light, total amount of space, and location.
Step 4: You’ve Found the Perfect Property; Now What?
Once you have found the home that is right for you, it’s time to put an offer in on the property. This is an area in which using a buyer’s broker proves a huge advantage; they will be able to walk you through the process, advise you on what to offer, and put the formal offer together for you.
There are many things to consider when making an offer. You need to be aware of the maximum price you will be able to and willing to pay for the property, and consider making your first offer lower than this to leave room for negotiations. You also want to be careful about making a very low first offer; consider the current homeowner’s emotional attachment to their house; a low offer to them could be considered an insult to the home they have invested a great deal of time and energy into.
There is more to a formal offer than just the price; you will need to consider the closing date, any provisions you want included such as home appraisal, house inspection, and termite inspection. Your buyer’s broker and attorney can help advise you on these issues.
Don’t be afraid to keep negotiating to get your offer accepted (within reason and up to your determined maximum budget, of course). There will usually be some amount of negotiating before an offer is accepted.
Once the seller has accepted your offer, you are one step away from moving into your new home!
Step 5: The Closing
You will absolutely need a competent and experienced real estate attorney to assist you with the closing process on your home. For most people, buying and selling a home will be one of the biggest and most important transactions you ever make; certainly a transaction worth having an attorney assist you with. Once you have made an accepted offer on a house, there are many things that must be done before closing; home inspection, appraisal, contract negotiations, title transfer, disclosures, etc. You will want an experienced attorney by your side to make sure that all these processes go smoothly, and to prevent any issues from arising.
Your attorney will help negotiate the terms of the sale with the seller, and be able to examine all legal documents and make sure there are no terms that are disadvantageous to you. They will be able to explain all the legal terminology and legal issues that are involved with the paperwork and documents for selling your house. Many real estate attorneys charge a flat fee for handling the sale of your house, keeping your expenses down.
When it comes to finding a good attorney, the first thing you will want to check is that they are licensed and in good standing. Ask questions about their experience, and make sure they specialize in real estate law. Ask friends and family for recommendations of good real estate attorneys in your area.
Once you have made an offer on a home that the seller has accepted, your attorney and their attorney will negotiate the final details of and prepare the purchase agreement. This will include the legal description of the property, the amount of “earnest deposit” you escrow, the sale price of the home, the size of down payment to be made and how the remainder of the purchase price will be financed, the proposed closing and occupancy dates, contingencies such as attorney review, home inspection, and appraisal, and a breakdown of who will pay what closing costs.
If a home inspection or home appraisal is a contingency included in your purchase agreement, these will need to be scheduled and conducted before the final closing date.
At the closing, typically you, the seller, your attorney, the seller’s attorney, a closing agent from either the lending or title company, and your real estate broker (if you have one) will be present. At the closing your attorney will go over all the closing documents with you and walk you through signing all the necessary paperwork. All closing and escrow fees will be paid and properly distributed. At the end of the closing, congratulations! You will receive the keys to your new home and be ready to move in!