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Real Estate in the Twin Cities, Minnesota & Western Wisconsin

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How to Buy a Home in Minnesota and Wisconsin


Buyers come from near and far. They are your friends with growing families that need a bigger home, or your older neighbors that need to down-size so there is not so much to take care of.

Buyers move across the county, state and country to relocate to our beautiful area. Buyers purchase more homes here because of job changes, city attractions, child rearing, or just to fulfill their dreams of returning to the place they once called home.

Our agents are trained experts in their field. They know how to steer you in the right direction with each and every move. We pride ourselves on quality customer service, first-hand industry education and more sold homes than the local competition.

Let's begin the home buying process so that you can understand how easy and hassle-free agents make it for you, our valued client.

Choose a link from the list below, or follow them step-by step to learn more:
Get Ready to Buy Find a Realtor Financing Considerations Find Your New Home Make an Offer Preparing for Closing Closing Procedures Settling In
#1 Get Ready To Buy

Are you ready to build the "American Dream?" Preparing to buy a home can be both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Fortunately, an agent can lead you in the right direction toward the home for your dreams. You first may want to ask yourself these questions:
  • What am I looking for in a new home?
  • Do I have enough money to purchase a new home?
  • How does my credit look?
You may want to make a list or brainstorm about the features and amenities that you find most appealing in a new home. Your Agent will work with you to refine this list and walk you through considerations to finding the best home suited for you.
#2 Find a Realtor

The reason is such a celebrated alternative in an industry of mediocrity, is because of its agents.† Becoming an Agent requires proven experience and exceptional customer service. Every agent has been invited to join the organization because they practice real estate as a partnership with clients by taking the time to truly understand their needs.† A unique company structure offers unparalleled networking opportunities that give agents the tools and resources necessary to deliver on the promise of exceptional customer service.†

When choosing a Realtor, do not be afraid to meet with many different agents. They are, after all, competing for your business. This competition is what makes the real estate industry successful.

Feel free to ask them the following questions:
  • How many years of experience do you have in this industry?
  • What is your selling experience in my community?
  • What professional certifications do you hold (ex. Certified Residential Specialist CRS)?
  • What services will you provide for me as my agent?
  • How will you represent me as a buyer?
  • Can you provide all the information that I need about homes in the area that fit into my price range?
  • What is the fee for your services?
  • Can you provide all of the different scenarios with the sale of property I may purchase? (as far as commissions and fees)
  • Can you explain the paperwork that I will need to sign?
  • What is my contracted timeframe for using you as my agent?
Once you have chosen an agent, it is important to establish specific goals that you would like to meet. It is very important to communicate with your real estate agent and, in turn, that your real estate agent communicates with you.
#3 Financing Considerations

Are you currently living in a home that you will need to sell? Unless you have considerable financial resources, it could be risky to put an offer on a new home before your first home sells. In fact, you might lose your chance to buy your new home if you cannot sell your first home in time or if you do not get the sales price you expected. You might even have to make payments on both homes until the first home sells.† Selling your home will also allow you to make a decision on how much money you can put towards a down payment on a new home. †

Doing your homework about loans will save you both time and money. It is important as a buyer that you establish some kind of financing before you make any serious home offer.† The "pre-approval" process allows lenders to take a look at your finances and credit history in order to make a general assumption about your loan amount. Receiving a loan requires completion of a loan application and specific financial documents including pay stubs, rental checks and/or tax returns.

Your agent can help you find a lender that you feel comfortable with, and that offers programs best-suited to your needs.† You can receive a loan from a number of different financial institutions, namely: commercial banks, credit unions, mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers, savings and loan associations, mutual savings banks and insurance companies.

There are thousands of loans out there to choose from, but it is important to keep in mind several key factors that will help you along the way:
  • How much money should I put down?
  • How is my credit?
  • Which financing programs are right for me?
  • How much am I comfortable with as my monthly payment?
#4 Find Your New Home

Now it is time to start the exciting search for homes! Beginning the search for your new home can be a great feeling. It is important that you directly communicate what you desire in a home to your real estate agent.† Your Agent will work with you to create and save a search within the website so you can receive updates as soon as they are available!†

You may want to first begin by making a list of the features and benefits that are most important in your pursuit of finding a home. These could be:
  • Location
  • Affordability
  • Size
  • Style
  • Design
  • Amenities
You may want to refine your search by asking yourself the following questions:
  • Where do I want to live?
  • What is the neighborhood like?
  • What is the crime rate?
  • Would I be moving into a good school district?
  • Are there any zoning restrictions?
  • How far is this home from my job?
  • What is my price range?
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms do I want?
  • What style of house am I attracted to?
  • What amenities do I desire (ex. pool, fenced-in yard, etc.)?
  • Does this home have potential to increase in value?
  • Is there room to expand if I would like to build an addition?
#5 Make an Offer on a Home

Selecting a home should be relatively easy once a home falls somewhere in your criteria and the property is desirable for purchase.

When making an offer on a home, you may accept the Sellers Asking Price or determine a value of your own.† Your Realtor will work with you to determine the best value and negotiate a price with the Seller as well as other purchase considerations, inspections, and details of the contract.

You will want to inform your real estate agent what you like about the house and make a list of your likes and dislikes with the property. Though you will most likely have done this already in a general sense, it is important to do it again for specific homes you have an interest in. Communicating about the house and how it makes you feel is important when making this decision. It is also important to be realistic when it comes to how much you can afford when selecting "your" home.†

An inspection is a valuable tool to investigate a homes condition and prepare yourself for all the considerations of maintenance and possible repairs.† Hiring a professional is a good way to get an unbiased opinion of the condition and allow you to become aware of†items that are not generally noticed†when you first look at a property.
#6 Prepare for Closing

While you are hard at work packing and planning your move, your Realtor continues to work hard for you†to coordinate the†transaction to a successful close.† Lenders, Inspectors, Title Companies, and†Closers are just some of the†many other professionals that your Realtor will continue to work with to ensure that you will arrive at closing prepared.†

Appraisal†& Lending
Keep in close communication with your lender, who will let you know when additional documents are needed to approve your loan application and fund your loan. The lender will often send an appraiser out to the property and you may pay a fee for this service. An Appraisal ensures†the homes value as collateral in a mortgage,†they are specialists in determining the value of properties, based on a combination of square footage measurements, building costs, and recent sales of comparable properties. When you are within two weeks of closing, double check with your lender to be sure the loan will go through smoothly and on time.†

Title Company & Closer
Your Realtor will work with you to select a title company and closer.† The title company will research the complete recorded history of the property, to insure that the title is free and clear of encumbrances by the date of closing and that all new encumbrances are properly added to the title. Some properties are subject to restrictions which limit various activities from building to parking restrictions. There may be recorded easements and encroachments, where others have limited rights to use your property.

You may wish to consult with an attorney or tax advisor on the best way to hold title. Different methods of holding title have different legal, estate and tax implications, especially when selling or upon death of the title holder.

The closing company and location is commonly selected by the buyer.† They†acts as a neutral third party holding all instruments necessary to the sale†and explaining all paperwork to be signed on the day of closing.

Insurance
Insuring your home is like making an investment in your future. You work hard to have a home;†insurance protects you and your family from someone or something taking it all away.

There are many different forms of insurance:
  • Title Insurance - protects you in the event that the title on your property has a lien, unpaid taxes, or other legalities that would make it invalid.
  • Homeowners' Insurance - protects your home from fire, theft and other liable coverage.
  • Flood Insurance - protects your home from flood damage.
  • Home Warranty - offers buyers and sellers the peace of mind that should anything unexpected happen (due to normal, every day wear and tear) of the home's appliances, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical systems, it will be repaired (or replaced in some cases) for you without costly fees.
Scheduling Services
Before you move in, you may want to give consideration to forwarding your mail, and coordinating services to be started such as utilities, sanitation, telephone, and cable.
#7 Closing Procedures

Time to closing usually takes about 30 days from an executed Purchase Contract. This mainly depends on the buyer's financing availability, successful home inspection completion, and various lender conditions (ex. title search, title insurance, surveys and appraisals).

The closing process is the transfer of the title of the property from the buyer to the seller. The buyer will receive the keys to the home or the deed to the land, while the seller receives payment for the property. The amount the seller receives is based upon the amount that is still owed on the mortgage, any outstanding fees or taxes, and any additional closing costs. All legal papers are filed with the local record office.

It is important that the buyer takes a final walk through of the property to make sure the property's condition has not changed. It is equally important for both the buyer and seller to make sure the paperwork they are signing reflects the agreement of the original sale.
#8 Settling In

You have unpacked your boxes, arranged your furniture, and feel complete with your moving task. What's next? There is always an adjustment period when you move. It is important to understand that what you, your spouse and/or children may be feeling is completely normal.

Here is a list of a few things that may help:
  • Urge everyone to talk about how they are feeling.
  • Get outside and tour the neighborhood or take a drive and visit some new places around the community.
  • E-mail old friends and neighbors to let them know about your new home and community.
  • Start a list about what you like about:
    • Home
    • School
    • Neighborhood
    • Community
    • Church
    • Friends
    • Teachers

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Agency License Information: Counselor Realty, Inc. is licensed in Minnesota and Wisconsin; Counselor Realty, Inc. of Alexandria is licensed in Minnesota; Counselor Realty of Bemidji is licensed in Minnesota; Counselor Realty Detroit Lakes, LLC is licensed in Minnesota; Counselor Realty Glenwood Lakes Area is licensed in Minnesota; Counselor Realty of Rochester is licensed in Minnesota; Counselor Realty of Victoria, LLC is licensed in Minnesota