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Buying a Home Step By Step

On the surface, buying a home may seem like a relatively straightforward process. However there are dozens of variables in any transaction that can make home-buying quite complex. Being prepared and organized makes the process that much easier and more enjoyable.

As top Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville area real estate agents, here is how we will guide you through the entire process, from viewing homes and financing, to making sure the final contract is in your best interest.


Getting Pre-Approval Letter. In today’s home-buying environment, a mortgage pre-approval is an essential. You might have an idea of the loan payment and mortgage you can afford. But will the bank feel the same? It's always best to pre-qualify for a mortgage so you know exactly how much a financial institution would be willing to lend you.  It also demonstrates to a seller that you are a willing and able buyer. If you decide to make an offer on a foreclosure, a pre-approval letter is a must!


MLS Search.  You will have full access to ALL homes available in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and other local markets, even listings not yet on the MLS. Based on your criteria, we we’ll view every single home on a big screen first, select you favorites and then hit the road.


Viewing the Properties.  As your real estate agent I will schedule showings and accompany you on each appointment. Keep in mind that most home owners require 24 h notice. When you view a home, the most important things to consider are:  location, neighborhood, floor plan, home size and structure. Do not pay attention to wall color, home decor or current owner’s furniture- it will not stay anyway.

Almost every home purchase involves some degree of compromise, which is why it is important to prioritize your wants and needs. Your expectations and the marketplace will begin to converge, and we will be able to adjust certain criteria if needed.


Making an Offer. Chances are, when you find a home you absolutely love, someone else may love it too. So it’s important to act quickly and make an educated offer based on a rational approach.

What is the true market value of the home you are interested in? Is it priced too high? Is it a bargain that you should jump on?

I will prepare the CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) based on recent activity in our market.

This report compares the subject property with other really similar properties that are currently listed and recently sold to help you formulate your offer.


 Important Terms in a Real Estate Contract

  • Mortgage Contingency A mortgage contingency stipulates that you will buy the home subject to obtaining a mortgage. If you cannot obtain a mortgage, and the seller will not agree to finance the sale, then the contract will be void. The terms of the mortgage must be stated in the contract, and you will also need to establish a timeframe for securing financing.


  • Home Inspection Contingency A thorough inspection of the property by a licensed home inspector protects you against structural or material problems that are not detectable in a casual walk-through.  Home inspection is optional for the buyer, but always highly recommended.  You will receive a complete report about the property condition. You can ask the seller to fix some items or look at it as you future “to do” list. Normally we have 10 days for completing the inspections.


  • Earnest Money Earnest money is a deposit, given by the buyer to the seller, which secures the contract until the closing date. Earnest money is typically held in an escrow account until the closing, then it may be applied to the down payment and/or closing costs. If the sale does not go through due to contingencies covered within the contract, then the earnest money may be returned to the buyer. However, if a buyer is in breach of contract, then a seller may be entitled to keep all or a portion of the earnest money.


Securing Your Loan. After all the terms are agreed between both parties, the agreement becomes binding. You will have 5 days to apply for the loan and provide your lender’s information for us. If buyer does not furnish seller the requested loan process information, buyer shall be considered in default and seller’s obligation to sell is terminated. This is why it is a good idea to have a pre-approval done before, because your lender will have most of your information ready and will be able to speed up a loan process.

Shortly after the loan application your lender will order appraisal, for which you have to pay up front.


Coordinate Closing with a Title Company.  I will submit a Binding Contract and your lender’s information to your title company.

The title company will perform an "abstract of title," which means searching the real estate records in the county where that particular piece of property is located. An abstract will determine the legal owner of the property; reveal any mortgages, liens, judgments, or unpaid taxes that will have to be satisfied before the property is conveyed; and detail any existing easements, restrictions, or leases that affect the property.


Closing. Typically, a day or two prior to the closing, your lender will forward all loan documentation to the title company.  Attorney will prepare a closing statement or what is referred to in the industry as a "HUD 1." The closing statement will include your lender’s fees, the title company’s fees, recording costs, pro-ration of city and county taxes and any other costs associated with the deal.  You will be responsible for bringing the balance of your down payment and closing costs in the form of a cashier’s check.


After Closing. After the closing, the title company will record the legal documents (deed, mortgage, assignments, etc.) at the county courthouse and then return the original documents to the correct party. New owners receive their deed which should be stored in a bank lock box or other secure location. The lender receives the original mortgage documents which they hold until the loan is paid in full. Once the loan is paid, the lender will "release" their lien against the property at the courthouse and will forward the original mortgage documents to the home owner




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