Buying a home in Olympia, WA? Get answers to the FAQS for Home Buyers in Olympia WA

Buying a home in Olympia, WA easily generates many questions.  Here are the FAQS for common home buying questions.

houses in Olympia WAHow many homes does the average home buyer look at?  This number certainly varies between how much time a buyer has to find a home and also how many homes are currently on the market.  On average, most home seekers look at about 8 homes.

What is the 80-10-10 rule when looking to find the perfect home?  No home will match 100% of your criteria, and a good way to look at homes is using the 80-10-10 rule.  If the home has 80% of what you are looking for with 10% of things you can change and 10% of things you can live with, then it’s a keeper!

Why do buyers need a Realtor?  Why can’t I just have the listing agent write up the offer?  Remember that the listing agent represents the seller.  Wouldn’t you want your OWN realtor working for YOU?

How long does it take to buy a house?How long does the buying process take?  Once you find the home, typically the process from the offer to the closing table takes about 4-6 weeks on average.  What makes this timeline shorter or longer is:

  • What type of loan are you getting?  Or are you paying in cash?
  • Are you waiving or adding many contingencies?
  • Is the home a short-sale?
  • Is the home tenant-occupied?
  • Are you using a reputable local lender, or is your lender in another time zone?
  • Are you and the seller working through negotiations quickly?

These are just a few ways your transaction can take longer or less than the average closing time.

What happens at “closing?”  When you buy a home in Olympia, WA, we use escrow companies to “close.”  Closing means the date funds are transferred and the transaction is recorded at the county.  Typically a day or two prior to your Close Date is when you will sign all your closing papers at the escrow company and you will wire your funds.  You will not get your keys at the time you sign your closing papers.

When do I get the keys to my new house?When do I get the keys to the house?  Unlike in other parts of the country, here in Olympia, WA, you do not get the keys to your new home at the time you sign your documents.  The default language in our purchase and sale agreements is the new homeowner gets the keys at 9 PM on the day of closing.

Do I have to meet the seller?  No.  Everything is handled between the agents so that you and the seller won’t be in contact with each other.  If you have questions about the house, ask your agent who will get the answer on your behalf.  You will not see the seller at the closing table, either.  They will sign at a different day and time.

Why do I need to spend more money and have a home inspection? Doesn’t the seller guarantee the home’s condition?  The home inspection is a critical component of any home purchase, including when buying new construction. The home inspectors I refer are certified structural and pest home inspectors.  They inspect the property from the roof down to the crawl space and everything in between.

The inspection is also a contingency for the buyer.  If you discover a deal-breaking issue, you can back out of the transaction.

The seller does not guarantee the home’s condition, and the seller is not required to sell you a home that is in perfect working order.  For added protection, you can purchase a home warranty (or ask the seller to purchase a home warranty) to cover unexpected repairs.  The home’s condition is up to you to determine if it is satisfactory to you.

What is earnest money?  In our real estate contracts in Olympia, WA, earnest money is a negotiated dollar amount between buyer and seller, is paid by the buyer, and is held in a third-party trust account at the beginning of the transaction.  If the transaction closes, then that earnest money is credited back to the buyer at closing.  If the buyer decides not to buy the house, the earnest money will either go to the seller or back to the buyer.  There are conditions outlined in the purchase and sale agreement that directs who gets the earnest money if a transaction fails to close.

Can I buy a home zero down, with no closing costs?  Yes, with stipulations.  There are loan programs available, such as a VA loan, where the qualified borrowers can do a 0% down loan.  There are other 0% down loan programs that your reputable, local loan originator can discuss with you.

Closing costs are the costs associated with you getting a loan.  These costs are yours.  If you can negotiate to have the seller pay all or a portion of your closing costs, great!  But keep in mind, closing costs are costs you as the buyer have generated and be prepared to pay your own costs.

Isn’t the seller required to pay my closing costs for a VA loan? FHA loan?  Conventional loan?  No, the seller is not required to pay for your closing costs that you have generated by getting a loan.  Buyer’s closing costs are costs to pay to get a loan.  If you can negotiate to have the seller pay for all or a portion of your closing costs, great, but it is not a guarantee.  It is part of the negotiation process.

Many buyers are unaware that sellers, too, have their own set of closing costs including:

  • Excise tax (also known as a transfer tax or a sales tax).
  • Commission for both the listing firm and the buying firm.
  • If the buyer is getting a VA or FHA loan, the seller is also required to pay for the buyer’s half of the escrow fee.

For a home sales price of $300,000, the seller’s closing costs can be about $28,000 just for their closing costs.

How much should I offer?  When you find the right house to make an offer on, you and I will look at the market activity – similar homes that sold, homes currently listed for sale, and homes that are currently pending – to determine fair market value.  Then we will come up with an offer strategy to reach your target purchase price.

Competing with other homebuyersWhat do I do if I am competing with others buyers for the same house?  In a “hot” seller’s market, you may run into other buyers making offers on the house you want to buy.  I will help you craft a winning offer.  Your offer may be higher than the asking price, you may remove some contingencies, you may offer to close sooner, etc.

How do I find a good, reputable lender?  Ask me.  I’ve worked with many lenders and I can tell you who is good and who is great.

My advice is to work with a local lender in the area.  Real estate practices and requirements vary by state and by county.  A lender that is not familiar with the practices in Olympia, WA can delay your move-in date and also cause havoc in the lending process.  Save yourself the stress and work with a local lender that you can meet in person, face to face.  This is not the time to find an “online” lender offering a 0.01% interest rate and making promises too good to be true.

ALL transactions are different and unique.  The above answers are a general overview, and are not specific to your particular transaction.  Talk to me about any questions you may have about the details of your transaction.

For more information and straight-forward advice and answers, contact me today.  And be sure to check out these other articles:

Top 25 list of what buyers should absolutely NOT do.

What is title insurance?

What to expect at a home inspection.

How do you buy a $249,000 home when you only qualify for $120,000?

Written and originally posted by Francine Viola on her blog