July 11, 2010

Portland Real Estate Buyer’s Guide

Beginning Your Search

You can begin by looking through Portland listings with our Portland Map Search or view Portland Listings by Neighborhood. Inquire via email or phone about particular listings in which you are interested. You can save your searches and have updates emailed to you on a regular basis. Here’s what to expect when you contact the Portland PowerSearch team.

  1. An agent from our team will contact you via telephone (if you have provided your telephone number), unless you request to be contacted only via email.
  2. The agent will provide you with any available details of the listings that you inquired about.
  3. The agent will ask you a number of questions about your search parameters/criteria (i.e., bed/bath, price range, square footage, area, when you’d like to buy, etc.) and they will ask if you’d like to receive more listings via email as they become available within your search criteria. This can be updated as needed.
  4. If you are from out-of-area, feel free to request a complimentary relocation package with information about the area. This will get mailed out within 24 hours.
  5. The agent can provide you with a virtual tour of any property on the market. This includes listing details, 40-50 Top Quality Digital photos of the entire property, and the surrounding area.
  6. As Buyer's Agents, we are not pushing OUR listings on you. It is our fiduciary responsibility to get you the best deal for your money.
  7. Based on your request for information and how quickly you would like to buy, you can arrange a time to meet with your agent to discuss the market, the buying process, and look at properties that interest you.
  8. Once you have looked at properties with your agent and have decided one one you'd like to buy, your agent will prepare a Purchase and Sale Agreement and begin the buying process. This can be done remotely, as well. We have the ability to email or fax any documents that need to be signed, in the event that you are unavailable in-person.

Finding a Lender

  1. It is best to get in touch with a Lender or Mortgage Broker at the beginning of the home-buying process. Pre-approval from your lender takes the guessing out of your buying-power and gives you the authority to make informed decisions. Most real estate agents will expect you to have this process in-motion before looking at homes in-person.
  2. If you don’t know who you’d like to use or if you live out of area, your Agent can help you. We work with several highly qualified and reputable lenders. In our experience, working with local lenders is preferrable. Local lenders know the market and have established relationships with the real estate community, including agents and escrow companies. This familiarity allows them to provide much more personalized service.  If the bank, itself, is local, the buying process can often be made even simpler, as the complicated underwriting procedures are performed on a local level, rather than via a complicated web of nationally dispersed departments.  Big banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase tend to have far more complicated and labyrinthine "systems", which have a tendency to add undue stress and delays to the buying process.

Deciding on a Purchase Price

The offering price for a property depends on a number of items:

  1. The Market – How fast are homes selling in the neighborhood and price range in which you are looking?  If homes are selling quickly, your offer needs to be strong...if they're selling slowly, you might have more flexibility. Remember, no matter what you hear on TV, each transaction is different. Every Seller is different, and each has their own bottom line. Don't assume that a slow market means you can make low-ball offers.  It is important to listen to your agent's advice. There is more to an offer than the price.  Other terms like the closing period, inspection period and financing details are all negotiable, and a savvy buyers and agents know how to make the most of them.
  2. Your Needs – How fast do you need to buy? How much money can you spend? Are you paying cash or getting financing? What kind of financing are you getting? Which neighborhood and price range do you want? What kind of house do you need and want? All of these questions play a key role in deciding what price to offer and your real estate agent will help guide you in making the decision.
  • For example: If you have a tight time-frame and happen to find a place you love, it might make sense to focus more on just getting the house than on haggling for the lowest possible price. After all, if you offend the Seller with an inconsiderate offer, they may not want to deal with you...and you'll be stuck spending more time, more money, and risking the possibility that you won't find another house you like.

What Happens When You Make an Offer on a Property

Once you've decided on the price and terms of your offer, it is time to present it to the Sellers.

  1. Time Frame: Usually the offer has an expiration of 24 to 48 hours from the day it is given to the Listing Agent. Your agent will be in touch with you quite a bit during this time frame to let you know of any conversations that have taken place about the possible counter-offer or of other offers that may have come in.
  2. Seller’s Choices: At this point, the Seller has the option of accepting your offer, countering your offer, or not responding at all. If a counter-offer comes back, your agent will meet you at the office or fax or email you the contract right away.
  3. Buyer’s Choices: You then have the option of accepting the counter-offer, countering back again, or not responding at all and letting it die. This, again, depends on your needs and how fast the market is moving.

What Happens When Your Offer Gets Accepted

Once you and the Seller have agreed on all terms and conditions, you have reached what is formally known as "Mutual Acceptance". It is from this point, forward, that all timelines and responsibilities set forth on the contract take effect.

  1. Portland Power Search Team Transaction Coordinator: Once your offer gets accepted, your transaction will be turned over to our Transaction Coordinator. Of course, your agent will also be in touch with you throughout the transaction and you are welcome to contact them anytime.
  2. Earnest Money: A check for the Earnest Money amount must be deposited into an Escrow account within 3 business days of mutual acceptance, as stated in Oregon Real Estate Law. Commonly, your Agent will collect the earnest Money check from you ahead of time, when you draw up the original contract. This saves you the trouble of having to meet again to present it.
  3. Escrow: Your complete contract and a contact sheet of all relevant parties will be sent to Escrow along with the Earnest Money check. As the Buyer, the Escrow Company and Closing officer are chosen according to your preference. Your Agent will likely make a recommendation, but it is technically up to you.
  4. Mortgage Broker: At this point, your Agent should already have a pre-approval letter from your Lender. It is your Agent's responsibility to provide your Lender with a copy of the Purchase and Sale agreement, so that they may set the financing process in-motion.
  5. Inspection: It is highly recommended that you hire a professional to conduct a thorough home inspection, even if it is new construction. The purpose of the inspection is to protect you against any latent defects in the house that may not be known to the Seller, but may have financial consequences for you down the line. Inspections usually cost about $300-400.00, but this depends on the age and size of the home. This cost needs to be paid up front by the Buyer.Again, your Agent will make some recommendations, but the choice is yours.  Our goal is to have the inspection ordered within 3 days of mutual acceptance and  have it completed within 5 to 7 days of mutual acceptance. The standard time frame for giving the Seller notice to remedy any items on the inspection is 10 business days from mutual acceptance.
      1. Scenario 1 – Inspection with Minor Issues: You decide either to waive the Inspection Contingency because the minor issues aren’t worth asking concessions for, or you ask the Sellers to fix them and they most likely will because they’re not very difficult or expensive. Either way, the inspection contingency is waived easily.
      2. Scenario 2 – Inspection with Major Issues: You decide to ask for the Seller to fix or replace the items (or) to credit you for the amount that you believe it will cost to fix or replace, at closing. At this point the Seller has the choice to respond to fix all the items (or credit you the money), or to offer an alternative suggestion, or to not fix any items (or not credit any money at closing). If the Seller agrees to fix all items, the Inspection Contingency is automatically Waived. If the Seller chooses either of the latter options, then you have the choice to disapprove this response and back out of the transaction and get your Earnest Money back, or you can accept the response and Waive the Inspection Contingency and proceed to closing. (Please note: In addition to this process of Buyer’s Notice and Seller’s Response, the Buyer and Seller need to keep in mind that if a lender is involved (depending on how much the Buyer is putting down) the major items, such as a defective roof, rotting floors, etc, may need to be fixed before closing in order to get financing).

  6. Seller Disclosure Statement: The Seller is required to provide the Seller Disclosure Statement once there is mutual acceptance. The Buyer has the right to revoke their offer based on the information provided in this 4-page document within 5 business days of having received it.
  7. Lead-Based Paint Disclosure: The Seller is also required to provide this form if the house was built before 1978. The Buyer again has the right to revoke their offer based on this form within 5 business days of having received it.
  8. Appraisal: The Transaction Coordinator will be in touch with the lender throughout the process to check up on how the loan process is going. One important step that the lender needs to take is to order the appraisal soon after the inspection. The appraisal is the lending company’s assessment of what the value of the house is. This is different from market value, although they often can be very close. If the Appraiser notices what he thinks are defective items on the house, he can call for a free and clear Inspection. It’s at this point that the Buyer and Seller need to negotiate how those items will be taken care of in order to continue to closing. The appraisal is paid for as part of the closing costs for the Buyer, it is usually around $600.00.
  9. Escrow: The Title company will send you a copy of the Title Insurance for the property. It is the Title Company’s responsibility to find any liens, easements or encroachments that are on the property. They will notify you and let you know what steps are being taken to remedy the situation. If there is a lien on the property, most likely the Seller knows this and has already made arrangements to have it paid off at or before closing.
    Once the Inspection has been waived and the Appraisal has come in at value, the lender notifies the Buyer if there are any last items that they need to prepare loan documents (i.e., home-owner’s insurance, tax records, etc.). The lender should have loan documents sent to Escrow by at least 4 business days before closing. It is ideal to have them at Escrow at week before closing. Once Escrow has received the loan documents, the Closing Officer will prepare the Settlement Statement. She will then call both the Buyer and Seller to come in and sign at least 24 hours before the closing date, often 3 to 4 days. Please Note: If the closing documents need to be sent out of area, this needs to be communicated with the Transaction Coordinator at least 2 weeks in advance of the closing date. Once the closing documents have been fully signed and returned to Escrow, they will be sent to the city to record and the title will officially be transferred. Escrow fees are also part of your closing costs, and they depend on the purchase price, this information can be provided for you upon request.
  10. Closing Date: In the state of Oregon, the closing date is usually 24 hours after signing. In rare circumstances the signing and closing can happen on the same day, but this depends on the lender. Most lenders cannot make this happen.
  11. Possession: Possession is written into the contract. The Buyer can request possession upon closing or closing plus 3 days. Please make arrangements for your moving vans if possession happens 3 days after closing. The key exchange will be arranged with the Transaction Coordinator and they will notify you as soon as possible as to when and where you can get your keys.

What to Expect of the Portland Powersearch  Team After Closing

  1. We will keep in touch with you via email and send you helpful hints for keeping your home in order throughout the year.
  2. We will be available for any questions that you may have about real estate, about entertainment options (i.e., restaurants, trails, parks, music, etc.), about what your house is worth as the years go by, and about whether or not we may have a potential buyer for your home if you consider selling it in the future.
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