My Promise to You
As a REALTOR®, I strive to make the home buying and selling experience as smooth and as fun as possible for my clients. I believe that real estate should be fully cooperative, and for that reason, we will work together as a team on every transaction. Every day, I choose to work with honesty, integrity, and at a very high level of accountability so that I never miss a step. Whenever possible, I prefer to work with my clients under a Buyer Agency or Seller Agency Agreement, rather than as a Transaction Broker. That is because I believe every person needs and deserves an advocate while party to a real estate transaction. As my client you can rest assured, knowing that your interests are protected and that you will always honest, experienced, and receive well-informed information and advice. As a REALTOR® I abide by a strict Code of Ethics which influences my every action in the practice of real estate. Having more than a decade of experience, coupled with my commitment to honesty and teamwork, I can confidently promise you that my service will go above and beyond your expectations.
Home Buying FAQ’s
What is a Buyer’s Agent and why do I need one? A Buyer’s Agent is a Real Estate Broker who will represent and protect you before and during the transaction, walking you through every aspect of your home purchase. As your agent I have your best interests in mind, keeping you informed on all of your rights, options, and responsibilities during your home purchase and beyond. As your Buyer’s Agent, I provide you with knowledge of market conditions, neighborhood expertise, advocacy and advice based on more than ten years of experience in the Denver real estate market. I will coach you through every step of your transaction and answer all of your questions, empowering you to make informed decisions about your home purchase.
What will it cost me to hire a Buyer’s Agent? In a standard real estate transaction, the commission earned by your Buyer’s Agent is typically paid by the Sellers of the home you purchase through the listing brokerage firm. As a home buyer, in most cases, you are NOT responsible for paying commission to your Agent. Rarely, an uncommon scenario may arise where a Buyer’s Agent’s commission is not paid for by the sellers, and must be paid by the buyer. One example would be if you were purchasing a home listed “For Sale by Owner” and the seller was not paying the buyer broker co-op. We’ll discuss all of your options before we would ever enter into a situation where you are financially responsible for agency services. Most Real Estate firms will charge a transaction or Admin fee for brokerage services. The Madison & Company Properties admin fee is $295 and is only paid upon a successful closing.
What is a REALTOR®, and what makes them different from a Real Estate Broker? Not all Real Estate Brokers are created equally! There is a significant and valuable difference between a REALTOR® and a licensed Real Estate Broker. All REALTORS® are Real Estate Brokers, but not vice versa. The actions of a REALTOR® are regulated by the National Association of REALTORS®, who provide a strict Code of Ethics for practicing real estate. This is a standard which REALTORS® are held to while representing clients, while a Real Estate Broker is not. When choosing representation in your home purchase, the choice of working with a REALTOR® over working with a Real Estate Agent may save you a lot of frustration down the road.
What credit score and down payment requirements do I need to buy a house? A credit score of roughly 620 or above is required for purchasing a home, though some lenders will provide home loan assistance with credit scores as low as 580. Depending on your loan type, a 3%-5% down payment is typically required, and there are often down payment assistance options available for those who qualify. The type of loan you use- Conventional, FHA or VA- may have an impact on getting offers accepted, so it is very important to understand your options. A valuable benefit to working with me is access to a fantastic group of trusted lenders who will provide you with many financing options and help you find the one that best suits your needs. My goal in this competitive market, is to work with you and the lender to put you in the best possible position while negotiating your purchase.
What is earnest money and what is its purpose? Earnest money is a deposit paid by the buyer within one to three days of the offer being accepted. Typically it will be 1% – 3% of the purchase price and will be used toward your down payment or costs to close. Earnest money shows the sellers that you are a qualified buyer with the funds to purchase a home, and is held safely in escrow by the Title Company chosen to conduct your closing. As your REALTOR® I will help to protect your earnest money through every step of the transaction. As long as you are acting in good faith as a buyer, if you need to terminate your real estate contract within the terms, dates and deadline of the agreement, you have an excellent chance of getting your earnest money returned to you in full.
What if I need to back out of my contract? Sometimes, the home you put under contract isn’t quite what you’d hoped for. Luckily, the Colorado Contract to Buy and Sell Real Estate is extremely buyer-friendly. There are several opportunities for buyers who act in good faith to terminate their contracts with protection from losing their earnest money deposit. I will keep you informed about your rights per the contract, as well as what it means to act in good faith so that your earnest money is best protected.
What other costs are associated with buying a home? Each transaction is a little different, but typically you will have both real estate and loan closing costs which total to roughly 2% – 5% of your home purchase price. Some other common upfront costs during the transaction include the cost for inspection ($300-$800) and the cost for appraisal ($400-$600). These costs range depending on service provider and options you choose.
How long does it take to buy a home and when can I move in? From the time your offer is accepted, it will typically take 30-45 days to move through the home buying process. As for possession, there are many options available to the buyer and seller. Most often immediate possession takes place after the loan has funded and the deed has been signed and delivered, meaning you can move in right after your successful closing. If previously negotiated, possession can be extended past closing with a Seller Rent-Back agreement where the Seller retains possession for a specific period of time. This would most likely be required if the seller needs to find or close on a replacement property and as your agent I will help negotiate the scenario that works best for you.
Home buying… the 13 things you need to know
The home buying process can be a very exciting (sometimes stressful) experience, and it’s my job to lessen that stress by keeping you informed and updated through the process. Although each experience will be different, I’ve put together this helpful timeline of the transaction so you know what most likely to expect.
1. First things First Before we start shopping there are a few items of business to take care of. My recommendation is that you begin by talking/meeting with a lender, hopefully someone local who is familiar with and invested in the Denver market. A good lender will ask a lot of questions up front in order to give you a pretty good estimate of how much house you can afford at the payment you’re comfortable with and provide you with a lender letter. This will be imperative once we start submitting offers, as a strong pre-approval (not pre-qualified) letter can make the difference between the seller accepting your offer or that of another buyer. Then I will send you the Buyer Agency Agreement and Definitions of Working Relationships for you to read and after we go over them together, sign. This agreement gives me the right to work for you and negotiate on your behalf.
2. House Hunting Here we go! We’ll start on the Internet, where I’ll set up an MLS search for homes that fit your criteria and have them delivered to your inbox every morning. We’re a team, so send me any properties that you find, too. I’ll gladly send you recommendations for home sites that are the most accurate and up-to-date. I’ll set up showings to tour the homes you’re most interested in seeing. When touring a home, I want you to look with an open mind and heart to evaluate how well the property fits your needs. As you’re looking for the practicals of living in the space, I’ll be keeping an eye out for major concerns. The house hunting process varies; some buyers will find “The One” their first-time out, where others may take longer to find the right property. Remember, there are no perfect homes. If you find one that fits most of your criteria, considering writing an offer! In this fast-paced market, we may be writing a few of them before yours gets accepted.
2. Writing and submitting your offer Once we have identified a home that you’d like to buy, we will discuss the price and terms you’d like to offer. I will prepare the 18 page Contract to Buy and Sell Real Estate, with all of the dates, deadlines, terms and conditions you’d like to ask for while doing all we can to make your offer as strong as possible for acceptance. Once we have gone over the contract and you have signed the offer, I will submit it to the Sellers Agent. The seller can accept, reject or counter your offer and it usually takes 12-36 hours for their response, depending on how much time we give them in the offer.
3. Offer Accepted! You’re on your way to owning the house, time for a little celebration! Within 1-3 days after your offer is accepted, you will need to deliver your earnest money check to the Title Company where it will be held and applied to your final “cash to close” total.
4. Show Me the (Earnest) Money ( within 1-3 days) You will need to deliver your Earnest Money check to the Title Company and contact your lender to get your loan started. It is important that you provide any documents your lender asks for in a timely manner to insure we close on time. If you have any difficulty delivering docs, let me know and I will arrange something.
5. Disclosures (within 7-10 days) Welcome to “Info Week” as steps 5-9 are all about gathering information. Once you are under contract, the seller will provide an assortment of disclosures about the property for your review and signature. While these disclosures are required, not all sellers will provide a ton of info. I’m available to go through these with you and do my best to find answers to any questions you have.
6. Title Commitment (within 7 days) After you’re under contract the title company will deliver a preliminary title commitment to you. This document verifies that the property title is clean, unobstructed by liens or encumbrances and that the seller can legally sell the home and transfer ownership to you. I will review this with you to assure there are no issues and provide you with a contact at the title company who’ll be able to answer any property specific questions you may have.
7. Property Inspections and Due Diligence (within 7 days on inspection, 10 for due diligence) The day after offer acceptance, I will schedule your inspection with a company of your choice. This is your opportunity to really get to know the systems of the property as a licensed home inspector goes over your home’s major systems. In addition, you can do a test for radon, a sewer scope and a survey if you like. I will be at the inspection and highly recommend that you are, too. Your inspector will go over the results of what he found and create a report for you. It’s also a great time to bring a tape measure and paint swatches. Seller will also deliver due diligence documents in the first 10-14 days, things like warranties, manuals, prior surveys and other pertinent information regarding the property. After we gather all of the info, we’ll put together an inspection objection to address any concerns you may have about the property and submit it to the listing agent. Not all sellers are willing to address property concerns. I will work with the listing agent to find a solution that works for everyone.
8. Property Insurance (within 10 days) As we move deeper into the contract, you will need to secure your homeowners insurance policy. This policy will not only protect your new home, but also your personal property. Like your home, your insurance policy is personal to you and it’s a good idea to get multiple quotes to find the one that best fits your needs. Once you’ve secured your insurance, be sure to give that information to your lender. Now that we have gathered all of the info and resolved any issues, we enter “The Quiet Week” while your loan is in the underwriting process. During this time, you won’t hear from me but make sure to get your lender any extra docs or information they may need. I can help you deliver those if need be.
9 Property Appraisal (within 20 days) the appraisal is ordered by the lender and ensures that the home is worth what you have agreed to purchase it for. More often than not, there are no issues with value, but in the event appraisal comes in at a value less than your purchase price, you have options. I will guide you through them and then negotiate on your behalf toward a resolution with the seller.
10 Loan Objection (typically 5 to 7 days prior to closing) The Loan Objection is your last opportunity to get out of the contract if your financing falls through. We don’t often need to use this contingency, but it is there to protect you against unexpected situations like a job loss. It is critical that you do not open or close any credit accounts during your home buying process- any changes can affect you, even up to the day of closing.
11 Final Walk Through (day of closing or up to 2 days prior) Before you close on your property and take possession, we have an opportunity to visit the property and make sure that the home is in good condition, that all appliances are there, no holes in the walls, etc. You want to make sure all agreed on inspection items have been addressed and that there are no surprises when you step into your new home.
12 Closing (30-45 days after offer is accepted) OH HAPPY DAY!! This is the day that you will sign all documents and “close” on the transaction, making you a homeowner. Closing normally takes a few hours and often the buyer and seller close together, giving an opportunity to meet the seller. Both your lender and I will be at your closing to celebrate and answer any of your questions.
13 Possession (as negotiated) Most often buyers will take possession the day of closing, unless a Post-Closing Occupancy Agreement is in place. These can range from a few days to up to 60 days after closing, depending on what’s been agreed to. We’ll talk about those if the need arises.
The BEST DAY of the process is the day you get your keys and move into your new home! All dates in this list are approximate. Your contract’s dates and deadlines section will determine how your specific transaction goes.
Home Tours, What You Need to Know About the Process
Touring homes should be an enjoyable experience for you, and by following some simple guidelines, we can help make it an enjoyable experience for home sellers as well!
1. We need to be punctual– There is a lot more than goes into scheduling home tours than most people think. When I request showings, it is not just your schedule that needs to be considered- sellers dictate the showing availability of their home. Some homes are vacant and easy to show, some are occupied but the sellers will openly accept requests, but often, the seller will have strict time frames we need to adhere to, like 1 hour notice, (sometimes 24 hour notice is needed) with 1 hour window. Because of this, it is critical that we are punctual, as even running 10-15 minutes behind can cause big issues with rescheduling. If you are running behind, please let me know as soon as possible so I can notify sellers. Showing up to view a home outside of the scheduled time is a big complaint of sellers, and it can cost you when negotiating.
2. Follow seller instructions and respect the home As your agent, I will share any instructions that the seller has provided, for example- remove shoes, don’t let the cat out, etc. It is important that we follow those instructions as well as remain exceptionally respectful of the seller’s personal property. We ask that you and your guests refrain from using the restrooms, sitting on furniture, playing with pets, or children’s toys or touching the seller’s property. It is okay to open closets, cabinets or the pantry, but not any furniture or personal items.
3. It is best to have only the decision makers on the first visit We love when buyers bring their friends and family along on home tours, but we do recommend that you limit your guests to those that will be helping make a decision to place an offer on homes. Getting input from others can be a huge help come decision time, but it can also cloud your feelings on a home. A great time to have friends and family check out the home is during the home inspection as you will be in the house longer and not have the pressure of deciding on making an offer.
4. How long should we plan on being in each home? Typically, buyers spend about 15-30 minutes per home… with that said, if we walk into a home and you know right away that it will not work for you, we do not need to stay and tour the entire home. Conversely, if we tour a home and it could be “The One”, let’s slow down the tour and really check the home out. Let’s get a feel for if your sofa and dining set will fit; let’s take a peek at the furnace and water heater and see if there are any issues to consider when writing an offer. If timing and demand for the home allows, we can schedule a second showing so you can view the home again prior to writing an offer.
5. Be careful of what you say While sellers are ‘required’ to disclose if they have video or audio recording devices on the property, we rarely see that being disclosed, so I believe it is best practice to assume you are being recorded on home tours. Whether you say something positive or something really negative, it can come back to haunt you. Good tip to live by- until we are outside, let’s try to limit our conversation to neutral items, and then let’s pow wow once we are out of earshot.
6. We have no idea what the other agent has braced their client for Not all agents are the same, nor do they set the same expectations for their clients. We may walk into homes that aren’t really show ready or we may walk into homes that feel like a model home. Along those lines, we really can’t expect too much info from other agents (like number of offers, timelines, seller requests) so it is best to move forward with the mindset that all we can control is your offer, so let’s make it the best it can be.
Trusted Home Mortgage Lenders
Before we begin your home search, we recommended that you speak with a mortgage lender to discuss various financing options for your home purchase. The lender you choose will have a tremendous impact on the transaction and closing process, so it is of the utmost importance that if you do need financing, you work with a skilled and trusted company. You are welcome to use any lender you wish, however, if you do not already have one in mind, I have great relationships with the following lenders and trust them with a smooth transaction and closing:
Scott Hamling 303.226.8848
Jessica Howard 303.981.0787
Trusted Home Inspection Providers
As we proceed with your home purchase, I strongly recommend that you invest in a standard home inspection, radon test, and sewer scope. However, it is up to you to determine which of the inspections you wish to conduct. You are welcome to use any inspector you wish, and if you do not already have one in mind, I have a great relationship with several local inspectors.