Buying a Lake Tahoe home, as in most areas throughout the country, should be a careful, detailed process involving several steps. Every real estate transaction is unique in its own way and with negotiations and inspections; it can be tricky to navigate. Thankfully, a quality Lake Tahoe Realtor® will be able to walk you through this process as well as teach you the various nuances particular to the Lake Tahoe region. While every real estate transaction is different than the next, here are some general guidelines of how buying a home in Lake Tahoe goes.
Qualify for a Loan
If you are not in a position to be making a cash offer, contact your local loan officer and get pre-approved ahead of time. Getting pre-qualified or pre-approved saves much time front for both you and your Realtor®. Not only will getting pre-approved confirm your ability to buy a Lake Tahoe home, it will tell you what loan you qualify for and how much exactly you can spend. If you do not have a lender in mind, ask your Realtor® for recommendations for names of trusted professionals. It is also recommended that you “shop” not only for the best terms but for a broker that you feel you can communicate well with.
Contact a local Realtor®
Once you have obtained a pre-approval letter from your loan officer, contact your Lake Tahoe Realtor. You can give them the necessary loan information and price range as well as any property requirements your family needs. Deciding ahead of time of “absolute must haves” and deal breakers in a home is a great idea. For example, establishing how many bedrooms you need, the need for a garage or not, or its proximity to certain businesses and activities are all good things to let your agent know prior to performing the MLS search.
Once you and your Realtor® have discussed the appropriate search parameters, your Realtor® will perform a search of active properties in the MLS and report back to you with what is available. From there, they will set up appointments so you can view the eligible properties. In fact, we urge our clients to create a list of the their top ten and rank them. That way, if one of the homes sell or something else happens, you know what your back up possibilities are. Your Realtor® can also arrange for you to be notified via email instantly of all new listings (within 24 hours of posting) that fit your parameters so that you don’t miss out on any strong potential homes.
Make an Offer
Once you have found a home in which you are interested, chat with your Realtor® about offer strategies, time lines and earnest money deposits. Once you have discussed these aspects, you and your Realtor® will put together an offer to the seller.
Present & Negotiate the Offer
Your Realtor® will present the offer to the sellers’ agent and hopefully begin the negotiation process. These negotiations may includes potential counter offers as well as discussing all the different proposed terms and conditions. It is important to note that while negotiations are underway, a seller is not obligated to continue working with you. If another offer comes in, the seller can choose to accept that new offer and stop all negotiations with you. If you are in a “hot market” you may not want to drag out the negotiations too long.
Complete the Transaction
Once both parties have come to an agreement on the purchase contract, you will then open escrow and deposit your earnest money check. This tells the seller that you are serious. From here you will get escrow instructions and sign the necessary paperwork. Along with this paperwork will be a preliminary title report. You will also want to order any desired inspections and review disclosures the seller presents regarding the property. This way you will know whether or not to ask for repairs, a credit or if the property is in a condition that you aren’t interested in taking on. There may be more negotiations with this portion of the transaction, but rest assured, you are in the home stretch. Once you have decided on any additional factors, you will complete a final-walk through to make sure everything is as agreed upon. At this time, whether you are paying for the property with cash or you are obtaining financing, you will need to deposit the remaining funds into the escrow account. Among your final steps are ensuring that home insurance is in place and that arrangements have been made to transfer utilities in your name. Once the loan has been funded, the property title will record under your name and you will take possession of the property. Depending on your location and lender policies, it can take anywhere from 24 – 72 hours after the signing of loan documentation until the home records. Congrats on buying a home in Lake Tahoe!