Buyers Guide

Let's go get the
house of your
dreams!

Here's a guide to help you with your purchase.

2.84

Agents
per 1,000 residents
(one of the highest ratios in the U.S.)

It’s true: the Atlanta metro area has a lot of real estate agents.

That’s why we make sure to do everything in our power to ensure you are pleased while working with us as we search and find your future home.

The process of buying a home takes a great deal of time and effort to ensure the house is the right home for you and that the price accurately reflects, at most, a fair market value.

Negotiating is an important part of the buying process, and we thrive on negotiating! We do what it takes to “win” on behalf of our client. We have a background in marketing, customer service, and sales so we are eager to roll up our sleeves and help you get the value you want for the right house. The right home.

As your agent, here are just a few of the many things I’ll do for you: 

 Guide you through the financial pre-qualification (or, pre-approval) process 

 Refer other high-value resources to you, such as a lender, attorney, inspector, insurer, etc., when needed 

 Respect your time and budget by customizing your home search to the criteria that matter to you.

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  • Find you the best properties to consider
  • Represent your interest fully when viewing potential homes to buy
  • Keep you informed along the way so, you maintain realistic expectations and stay ready — even excited! — about the next steps in the process 
  • Help you avoid unwanted surprises at the closing table, so your purchase is smooth and successful

Are you ready to get started?

The process of buying a home

An overview for first-time buyers (and a nice reminder for old hats)…

We view our work as helping you to navigate through a complex journey, one and we work hard at making it as pleasant as possible.

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Here are the basic steps of buying a home.

There are three periods that are built into the process that protect the buyer and their earnest money (deposit). If for some reason during these periods, the property either doesn’t inspect well, appraise for full value or higher, or your lender declines your application, you can terminate the contract and your earnest money can be returned. Please understand that you, the buyer, are in control during this process.

Keep this handy as your reference as we move ahead.

HOME-BUYING PROCESS:
1. Get pre-approved for a loan from a mortgage lender. 
2. Look at homes that meet your criteria.
3. Place an offer on a home you like.
4. Begin negotiations. 
5. Binding contract: all parties agree on terms and sign.

A. DUE DILIGENCE CONTINGENCY 5-14 days 
6. Once your offer is accepted, you’ll have a specific number of days to have the home inspected. You’ll then have the option of negotiating repairs, accepting the property in its current condition, or walking away from the deal if the inspector reveals problems you can’t resolve with the seller.

B. APPRAISAL CONTINGENCY 15-22 days 
7. Your lender will order a 3rd party, independent appraisal for the home, which gives the lender an opinion of the what the home is worth. If the home appraises for less than what you and the seller agreed upon, you have the right to renegotiate the price with the seller. If you cannot reach an acceptable solution with the seller, you can terminate the contract.

C. FINANCE CONTINGENCY 20-28 days 
8. Receive a loan commitment from your mortgage lender. If for some reason your lender denies your application, you have the right to terminate the contract. A letter from the lender is required in order to terminate.

Closing 
9. Re-inspect the home prior to closing to ensure all repairs have been made, and that the home is in the condition expected. 
10. Sign all necessary documents to transfer the title to your name. 
11.. Take possession and receive the keys to your new home. 
12. Move in!

Our team’s approach to the process.

What you’ll experience with us: 

  • Dedication as full-time (vs. part-time) agents 
  • Smart and creative ways to gain an advantage in the buying process 
  • Nearly around-the-clock availability and responsiveness 
  • Decades of experience in marketing and sales 
  • Specific team advantages: 
    a. More availability
    b. Better service
    c. Smoother process
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Following are some of the extra-mile capabilities you’ll appreciate from the Jeff Taylor Real Estate Group:

  • Experience. Our team sells an average of 50+ homes per year. The average number of homes sold per year by other agents is six to nine homes. 
  • Excellence. Home buyers, particularly first-time home buyers, cite our team’s ability to demonstrate a number of important traits during the home-buying process. Among them: patience, expertise, efficiency, availability and knowledge. 
  • Resourcefulness. On our clients’ behalf, the JTREG team has built solid relationships with a large pool of reputable and responsive inspectors, lenders, painters, contractors, landscapers, renovators and other home-service providers.

  • Dedication to the promise. We work hard with both buyers and sellers – and sometimes a client who’s buying and selling – to make your transaction(s) as smooth as possible. This is a complicated process and we promise to do our best to simplify it. 
  • Helpful The more you know, the better off you are in making decisions. The JTREG team is intent on keeping you informed about the process and educated on the market, particularly for remote clients relocating to the Atlanta area.

What’s so great about REALTORS®?

Behind the scenes is where we really shine.

A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of REALTORS®, the largest trade group in the country.

REALTORS® are held to a higher ethical standard than licensed agents and must adhere to a Code of Ethics. A real estate agent is someone who is licensed to sell real property. Agents who are not REALTORS® are not subject to adherence to the Code of Ethics or additional required training required of REALTORS®.

Negotiating a real estate offer is not for the faint of heart – or for those who lack business skills.

We are used to ushering paperwork through complex processes while keeping an eye on the ultimate goal due to the experience in multi-tasking and in managing large corporate marketing projects. We work toward helping you buy in the right amount of time, for the right price, and with the least amount of stress.

We are a team of licensed REALTOR®. Here are some reasons why that matters: 

  • We have access to current market data that can be used to negotiate your purchase most effectively. 
  • We can give you access to the full range of listings, including homes for sale by owner. We can also help you avoid paying too much for a home. 
  • In addition to negotiating the price and sale conditions of the home you’re looking to buy, we can act as the liaison between you and aggressive sellers or seller agents. 
  • We can recommend tried-and-true verified resources for other services you might need, such as lenders, home inspectors, contractors, etc. We might even contact some during the search phase to avoid making costly mistakes.
  • Nobody loves doing paperwork, but we know what’s involved with all the mandatory real estate paperwork and can get it out of the way efficiently. We have a full-time team to ensure an on-time closing & smooth process. 
  • Our team can help you negotiate in a way to save you time, money and heartache.
    We stay on top of the process and help you make the best offer, even playing hardball, if necessary.

How we help with your home purchase

Diligence is our guide.

Our strategies are based on an established history of best practices for helping you find the best home for the best price in your target market and negotiating your purchase carefully.

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Here are some things we provide to you as a buyer.
(For a more exhaustive list, see the last page of this booklet.)

  • Mortgage/financial advice. We can point you in the direction of a good lender. What difference does that make? The loan you line up can affect the strength of the offer you can make on your ideal home. 
  • Exhaustive house research. We love finding those diamonds in the rough, or those needles in the haystack! The home you want is out there; you simply need someone who’s attuned to finding it once it’s up for sale. 
  • Help negotiating an offer. What you see is not always what you have to pay. A price on a home is the seller’s subjective take on its value. We can help you navigate an offer that is reasonable without creating unnecessary stress in the process. 
  • Market-value assurance. The home appraiser protects your lender’s interest in your home purchase, and our experience keeps the appraiser on his or her toes regarding any aspect of the home that needs to be considered in the valuation process, so your interest is protected, too.
  • Insight into home’s integrity. A home inspector – your own – might be the most important member of the home-buying team. Knowing the true condition of the house gives you the upper hand in negotiations, and we know the top-notch resources to bring to this critical task. 
  • Help in negotiating closing costs. In addition to the house itself, your home purchase comes with those dreaded closing costs. We love to help our buyers strike the best deal possible and reduce your out-of-pocket expenses by convincing the seller to pay all or part of your closing costs. 
  • Closing-day and final walk-through support. We’ve seen it all – those problems that come up at the last minute that have the potential to derail your purchase. We’ll work with you to put these to rest effectively and efficiently so you’re ready to grab your new set of home keys.

What exactly do you want?

Have you considered your many options?

Some homeowners never want to mow a single blade of grass, while others want the privacy of a single-family home. Others like co-op arrangements. What’s your preference? Atlanta is a big international city and, because of that, it caters to all different types of home buyers and their different lifestyles.

Single-family homes (SFHs)
Built on single lot; no shared walls. Sometimes with garage, attached or detached.
Pros: More privacy than condos or townhomes. Larger, with front and back yards. No property-sharing. Wide home-design options. Reliable resell value.
Cons: Require much maintenance, paid solely by homeowner.

Condominiums
Single units within a larger building or community. Typically shares walls with others. Generally come with homeowners’ associations (HOAs), requiring monthly or yearly dues. Most popular in urban, high-density areas.
Pros: Low responsibility on homeowner for maintenance and upkeep. Many common costs shared with other residents. May offer gyms, lounge areas, pools, etc.
Cons: HOAs limit design types, pet and/or rental restrictions. Strict HOA-enforced codes for uniformity and safety. Less privacy than SFH. Neighbors are close.

Co-ops
Similar to condos but all residents own a building together. Often, interview required to be part of community.
Pros: Maintenance taken on as a community; lower HOA dues. HOA fee covers the majority of expenses: taxes, utilities, HVAC systems and more, Less expensive than comparable condos.

Cons: Financial responsibility of building shared with neighbors; non-payers risk foreclosure on entire dwelling. Loans harder to secure than for condos. Higher down-payment required; some banks won’t process.

Townhouses
Hybrid between a condo and SFH. Multiple floors, with one or two shared walls; small yards or rooftop decks. Larger than condos; smaller than SFHs.
Pros: More privacy than condo; HOAs or joint maintenance agreements for sharing upkeep. More affordable than SFHs.
Cons: Typically, no shared amenities; not as private as SFHs. Strict HOAs, additional fees.

Multi-family units (MFUs)
From duplex to four-plex; row-house style or multiple floors. Each unit has separate entrance. Units not purchased individually; single owner (pays maintenance).
Pros: Typically, investment property. Fewer people sharing building; typically, more private and quieter than condo. Some yard space available.
Cons: Hybrid between SFH and condo; smaller, less private than SFH.

Make the most of your journey.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or an old hand at it, there are aspects of the home-buying venture that provide an opportunity to make the experience more rewarding and less stressful for you.

Some tips here can also help you make a good impression on sellers. Why is that important? Because you never know what motivates a seller to take one offer over another or to meet certain conditions at closing.

Onto our words of wisdom…

Our role in this process: experience
Real estate “agentry” can seem a bit loosey-goosey. We genuinely appreciate your teaming with us to help you find your dream home and making sure it becomes yours. It’s also our job; it’s how we make a living. This means we are obligated to represent your best interest and to uphold professional standards. The journey is fun and interesting, and we’re serious about doing a great job on your behalf. 

The balancing act of buying while selling... We get this, too: Buying a home while you already have a home is tricky business! We’ll help you navigate those waters, first by suggesting you put your own home on the market as soon as you know you’re moving, and make other arrangements for a temporary living space, if necessary. The key here is to realize the two transactions are separate so that one influences the other as little as possible.

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We’ll help all parties manage expectations
No home is perfect, and neither is any seller. You’ll be faced with some tough challenges while searching for your dream home, and our job is to make sure none is insurmountable. At any point during your search, check with us if something seems amiss; we’ll find answers or help you resolve a problem to your satisfaction the best we can.

Inspection reports can be intimidating.
The dreaded inspection report is a documentation of any and all things “wrong” with the home in question. It is based on a professional, third-party review of the property and is designed to be as thorough as possible. It can play a huge role in price negotiations, or no role at all. The extent to which repairs are made is based on their severity, cost, time involved, resources available, etc. Our job is to help you negotiate the home purchase in line with the condition of the house, and we’re glad to do it.

Keep your end goal in mind but remain flexible. We want you to land the home you want. Toward that goal, we stay focused on the task at hand, showing you homes that interest you and narrowing the field to those that meet your specific needs. If one or two homes seem a bit out of your set of expectations, don’t worry; those can help you better define what you want.

Do you know where you want to go? You might want to use some spare time to narrow down the general area where you want to live. Do some online research and then hop in your car to take a look at the neighborhoods or school districts you like best. This can help you make the most of your time and energy.

If you’re uncertain about specific protocols, just ask us. Codes of ethics, common sense and laws dictate a number of “rules” for home sellers and buyers, and then some things you’ll do are simply the way things are done. This can often be confusing, especially to first-time buyers. If you want to know why things are the way they are, just ask. We’re here to help.

Breathe first; decide next. We know; this is a tough process and it’s not always easy to make that final call. Is this the right house or is the other one better? Will it cost too much to renovate? Do we need the pool? Our goal is to help make your decisions easier, and we’ll do that by providing the right information you need, when you need it. But first, breathe and relax; we’ll get you where you want to be.

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We’re your teammate for the offer/counteroffer game. So, you’ve found the house you love and you’re ready to make an offer. Great! We’ll work closely with you in preparing an offer, and again in facing a possible counteroffer. We’ve seen how the game is typically played and can be your best partner in this match-up.

More about that offer and counteroffer... This is often the time of the home-buying journey where the stress level is at its highest. It’s our job to tell you what that market value is, and you can trust us to guide you in making an offer. If a home is truly overpriced, we’ll tell you. If the price is fair, we’ll tell you that, too. If the price is too low, we’ll advise you if we suspect there’s a hidden reason for it.

Important points about pricing.

As it is with any product, there is a ‘sweet spot’.

Factors that influence the market value of homes: 

  • Supply and demand 
  • Economic conditions 
  • Asking and selling prices of similar and nearby competing homes 
  • A home’s condition 
  • Buyer’s general perception of a similar/comparable home

    Factors that don’t influence the market value: 

  • The original or most recent sales price of the house 
  • The sellers’ anticipated net proceeds 
  • The full amount sellers have spent on home improvements

So, how do you evaluate a home you like and its price tag, and whether or not it’s a good purchase?

Sellers understand that their home must compete with other homes on features and price. Pricing their home correctly is how they make the sale.

Obviously, the more appealing features a home has, the more it stands out and the more people are competing with you to buy the home. In a hot market, understand that it is a competition! A home on the market today can get scooped up tomorrow by an aggressive buyer, one who might even be willing to offer more than the seller is asking.

On the other hand, an “ugly duckling” home must compete in the market on price. In this case, consider what effort you might be able to make or want to make to turn that home into a beautiful swan.

So many factors go into a home’s price and here’s the rub: the price isn’t all you’re going to pay! Keep in mind annual property taxes, insurance, maintenance and homeowner association fees, to name a few additional costs.

Start your home-buying journey with all of this in mind. Fundamentally, a home’s price should be in accordance with its fair market value (FMV), which is the highest price a buyer is willing to pay for a property.

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We can work with you to determine what that “sweet spot” is for the price of a home, but we can only do so much. Your job is to take in all the information you have and make a rational decision. It’s not an easy task, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Consider a pre- purchase inspection

The upfront cost is minimal compared to its value

Our strategies are based on an established history of best practices for helping you find the best home for the best price in your target market and negotiating your purchase carefully.

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The most effective method of avoiding a costly mistake is to have a professional inspection of the home you want to buy.

Once you’re under contract for the home you’ve selected, we’ll assist you in getting an inspection done by a local, highly qualified inspector that we trust to represent your best interests.

That’s really the key: the inspector is working on your behalf, and the inspection is worth the small investment.

Why? Because you’ll receive an unbiased, third-party, professional opinion of the condition of the home. That will go a long way in avoiding the headaches and potential heartbreak of buying a home that has too many problems.

Here are some reasons you should have an inspection: 

  • You have your heart set on a home that’s priced well (maybe too well?) and you want to make sure it’s not “too good to be true.” 
  • You are well-positioned to negotiate credit for repairs or to have the sellers repair the problems identified. 
  • This negotiation is something else we can help you with; we have the experience.
  • Depending on the inspector’s findings, you might discover that more specialized inspections are needed on the home, such as a structural inspection. In this case, a licensed engineer is required to inspect the integrity of the home’s foundation and overall support system. It’s better to lose a few hundred dollars than, down the road, face a potential foundation or structural problem that could run in the thousands of dollars.

    While the sellers might have already paid for their own inspection of the home, you can review the findings but shouldn’t rely on them. That inspector is working for the sellers, not for you.

So, what do agents do for home buyers?

We occasionally get asked, “What do real estate agents do for their clients, anyway?” And we love to answer that question! At right here is a list of just some of the activities we’ll do for you or on your behalf.

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  • Educate buyer clients about
    home-buying process. Promptly return all buyer clients’ telephone calls, texts and/or emails. 
  • Communicate diligently with administrative staff to ensure the highest level of service to buyer clients from initial contact through contract to close. 
  • Provide buyers pricing information and market research. 
  • Gather and answer buyers’ questions about potential homes and local community information. 
  • Identify homes to show that meet buyers’ criteria. 
  • Schedule and conduct showings of homes with buyers. 
  • Discuss benefits and drawbacks of each home relevant to buyers’ needs. 
  • Keep buyers informed on a regular basis. 
  • Check the MLS and other relevant databases and with other brokers regularly for new listings. 
  • Prepare a list of all homes that best meet buyers’ needs and wants. 
  • Refine buyers’ criteria and select additional homes to show, as necessary. 
  • Keep buyers up to date on changing financial conditions that may affect the housing market.
  • Discuss market trends and values relative to properties that may be of interest to buyers. 
  • Write and submit all offers to purchase homes for buyers. 
  • Negotiate offers to purchase and oversee entire negotiation process. 
  • Schedule and attend on-site property inspections with clients and vendors. 
  • Negotiate all inspection repairs. 
  • Provide buyers access to homes under contract, as needed, for measuring, inspecting, etc.