Buyers Tips


Benefits of Home Ownership

  • Credit:
    Owning a home helps you establish financial credibility.
  • Independence:
    Owning your own home provides you with independence and more privacy than renting. You are free to paint walls, plant flowers, keep pets and anything else within legal bounds.
  • Investment:
    As you make more payments and own more of your home, you add to its investment value.  Most improvements you make will also add to its value.
  • Pride:
    A home reflects its owner’s values and lifestyle.  Owning a home can provide you with a source of pride, enjoyment and satisfaction.
  • Security:
    A home can provide security against inflation because the value of your home increases as prices go up.
  • Stability:
    Being established in a community provides a sense of belonging, stability and security.
  • Tax Advantages:
    Interest on your mortgage loan is deductible on your yearly personal income tax return.  Many of the closing costs associated with purchasing your home are deductible, as are your property taxes.

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Finding the Right Home

Real Estate Agents
You can sit down with a real estate agent and discuss your needs, type of area, style of home, amenities and everything you really want in your next home.  Real estate agents can help you by accessing a Listing Service which covers all properties listed for sale within a specific area.  Together, you can select the homes you would like to see, set appointments and preview homes in a short period of time.  An agent can guide you through the entire process.

Newspaper Ads/Internet
Many people go through the real estate classified section or browse the internet to find a home that appeals to them. However, your real estate agent will have many listing available that may not appear in the newspaper or internet on a continuous basis. New listings come on the market daily.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
Your real estate agent should have access to the multiple listing service if it is available in your area.  It usually includes the following details about homes and properties for sale:

        • Location
        • Price
        • Photograph(s)
        • Utilities
        • Amenities
        • Annual property tax
        • Current financing (when assumable)
        • Listing company

When Previewing A Home

    • Write notes when previewing a home so you will be able to discuss the details later with your real estate agent.
    • Ask question about the home and discuss any objections or concerns you may have.
    • Ask about the community – schools, shopping and transportation.
    • Ask specific questions about the construction of the home; electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling systems, etc.
    • Have Fun
      Relax. Finding your new home can be a rewarding experience. Have a good time and enjoy the process.

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Home Shopping Tips

Check for Properly Working Appliances/Fixtures:


      • Sinks
      • Showers/tubs
      • Toilets
      • Vent fan
      • Heating fan


      • Dishwasher
      • Stove
      • Oven
      • Ice maker
      • Garbage disposal
      • Range hood
      • Refrigerator
      • Freezer
      • Microwave
      • Trash compactor


      • Kitchen cabinet doors
      • Drawers
      • Sinks


      • Lights (interior & exterior)
      • Windows
      • Heating system
      • Ceiling fans
      • Hot water system
      • Air conditioning system
      • Electrical outlets
      • Door bells
      • Doors
      • Water purifier
      • Fireplace damper
      • Garage door

Ensure House Is Well-Built & Systems Are in Working Condition:


      • Brick bulging or cracking
      • Shingles missing or broken
      • Siding rotted or missing
      • Gutters damaged or need to be cleaned
      • Concrete cracking in sidewalks/driveway


      • Water seepage in basement
      • Cracks in foundation
      • Poor ventilation
      • Obvious bad wiring
      • Leaky pipes
      • Existing of an exit/emergency exit
      • Existence of asbestos


    • Sub-flooring damaged or loose
    • Cracked walls or ceiling
    • Cracked tiles
    • Loose plaster
    • Flooring damaged
    • Soft, springy floors
    • Water stains near windows
    • Water stains on ceiling below bathroom
    • Water stains in attic
    • Pipe insulation missing

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Home Inspections

What is an inspection?
There are numerous types of inspections. An inspection is meant to evaluate, at minimum, the structural and mechanical condition of a property. It is not the same as an appraisal which evaluates the market value of a property.  People involved in real estate transactions need unbiased information about the physical condition of property they plan to buy or sell and your contracts should include a contingency that you obtain a satisfactory inspection report. Talk with your agent about the types of inspections available.

Home Inspection vs. Engineers

Home inspector:  A person who examines any component of a building, through visual means and through normal user controls, without the use of mathematical sciences.

Engineering: Analysis or design work requiring extensive preparation and experience in the use of mathematics, physics, chemistry and the engineering sciences.

Finding a qualified Inspector

      • Referrals from satisfied customers
      • Referral from a local real estate agent or mortgage company
      • Local consumer affairs office
      • Yellow Pages under “Building Inspection Services”

Ask if she/he is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). The ASHI has established standards of practice which include the specific services, limitations and exclusions that can be expected from private home inspectors.

What the inspection, at minimum, includes
Every inspection should include, but not be limited to, an evaluation of at least the following:

    • Foundations
    • Plumbing and electrical systems
    • Doors
    • Ceiling, walls and floors
    • Roof
    • Hazardous materials concerns
    • Heating and air conditioning systems
    • Common areas (in condominiums)
    • Insulation
    • Ventilation

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Evaluation of Properties
Property Evaluation Form – Print this form and use it to rate different features of each property you view.

Click here to open a new browser window to display a printable Evaluation Form.

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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between “pre-qualified” and pre-approved”?

If you are “pre-qualified” you have determined, with a loan officer, what price you can afford based on the down payment, your debts and the amount the mortgage company will approve for your mortgage.

Being “pre-qualified” is only the determination of your probable credit. If you are “pre-approved”, your credit, employment and funds have been approved by the lender.

What are closing costs?
Closing costs are an accumulation of charges paid to different entities associated with the buying and selling of real estate.  For buyers, they are usually about 4-6% of the total sales price of a property.  Some of the closing costs you might encounter are: application fees, appraisal fee, county taxes, credit report, discount points, documentation fee, escrow fee, homeowners’ association fees, loan fees, mortgage insurance, origination fees, tax registration and title insurance premium.

What is a point?
One point is equal to 1% of the new loan amount. whenever government regulations, state usury laws and/or competitive practices prohibit the lender from charging a rate of interest that would make the real estate loan competitive with other fields of investments, the lender must seek some method of increasing the yield for the investors.  By charging “points”, the lender can bring the real estate loan up to those other investments.

What is earnest money?
When you make an offer, you will need to put up an earnest money deposit as a sign of good faith that you are seriously interest in buying a home.  That deposit becomes a part of the purchase price and is held in a trust account until there is a full acceptance of the offer.  Typically, an earnest money is 3-5% of the offer amount. In Westchester an earnest money deposit is typically 10% of the purchase price and is due on signing of contract. No binder is required before signing of contract.

What is title insurance?
Title insurance protects the named insured against loss because of defects, liens, encumbrances, adverse claims or other matters not show or disclosed to the new owner that attach before date of policy.

Is VA or FHA financing unfair to sellers?
FHA and VA loans provide purchasers the opportunity to buy homes with minimal cash investment and at lower interest rates. The result is larger market for sellers, who also benefit by receiving all cash for their equity.

What is the difference between a REALTOR® & Real Estate Agent?
REALTOR® identifies real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics.  Not every real estate agent is a REALTOR®.  A REALTOR® may be an:

          • appraiser
          • property manager
          • or involved in some other aspect of the real estate business.

What is a hectare?
Metric system equivalent to the US measurement of 2.47 acres

What is an acre?
It is a land area containing 43,560 square feet.


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Selecting A Real Estate Agent

There are thousands of Real Estate Sales People who can show you properties although not all of them are qualified professionals. Some of the most important questions you should ask the Real Estate Sales Person include:


Your real estate professional should know what’s going on in the market in the area he/she covers in terms of average prices of houses sold, inventory available, neighborhood statistics, etc.

Experience in real estate doesn’t only come with years of practice but also comes with activity, prices vary very quickly and market conditions change. You real estate professional should be one who has being involved in several transactions and circumstances. One who follows, tracks the market and participates actively in it.

Take some time to interview your prospective Realtor. Ask as many questions as you can. Evaluate not only the experience and qualifications but also her/his time availability, find out how responsive to your request he/she is. Quiz him, it’s important to determine if he/she is listening to your needs.

When selling a property a key element is to find out if there is someone at the office when people call, if someone is available to show the house in a quick notice.

Remember, prospective buyers are going to be inquiring about your home; they may want to talk to someone as supposed to a machine that’s going to prompt them to follow instruction. 

Is the answering service at the office friendly and diligent? When selling your home put yourself in the buyers shoes and think, as a buyer how would you like to be treated when you call inquiring information about a house for sale?

Is your prospective Real Estate Agent a problem solver or a procrastinator?

Do your homework, make sure to get all your questions answered.

And last but not least; does this Realtor makes you feel comfortable? after all you are about to make one of the biggest financial decisions in your life.

As your REALTOR®, I, Giovanni Gonzalez, will provide the seriousness and respect that it demands.


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