Frequently Asked Questions


What Questions Should I Ask When Looking at Homes?

Many of your questions should focus on potential problems and maintenance issues. Does anything need to be replaced? What things require ongoing maintenance (e.g., paint, roof, HVAC, appliances, carpet)? Also ask about the house and neighborhood, focusing on quality of life issues. Be sure the seller’s or real estate agent’s answers are clear and complete. Ask questions until you understand all of the information they’ve given. Making a list of questions ahead of time will help you organize your thoughts and arrange all of the information you receive.

Ok, I’ve signed a Purchase Agreement, put down earnest money, and my contract was accepted. What comes next?

  1. While under contract we will need to perform our home inspection to ensure that the property doesn’t have any defects or code violations.

  2. Also while under contract most real estate contracts will give the buyer a 5-10 day due diligence period in which we will have our home inspected during this time. If we find anything that needs to be addressed from our home inspector then during this time we can negotiate to have the seller repair, provide us a credit, or walk away from the home with no penalty thus getting back your original Earnest Money Deposit.

  3. Assuming that all goes well during your inspection period your next steps will be to pay for your appraisal from the lender.

I think I found a house and want to make an offer. What now?

Now that you have found the one that you want to make an offer on get with your realtor to ensure that comparables within a 0.5 -1 mile radius are reviewed. If there are multiple offers you may want to consider an escalation clause *(Consult RE/MAX Premier Agent) , discuss your strategy on an inspection contingency, appraisal and financing contingency period. You will also want to have your earnest money deposit available to put down on your home. Usually a simple rule of thumb for Earnest Money Deposit is 1%-2% of the purchase price. Remember that your Earnest Money Deposit comes back to you as a credit at the closing table.

What should I look for when I’m visiting homes?

When visiting homes you should honestly see yourself living there. If simply caravanning on your own you should consider speaking to neighbors checking their mail to see how they love living in the community or even see if there are any pressing issues happening if there is an HOA present in the community. While looking with an agent you will know when it’s the home for you by the excitement and change in your voice. Buyers usually get a faster heart rate or heartbeat or have the desire to show a family member or friend. If you find yourself doing this then it could be the right home for you. Don’t wait too long because with there being a shortage of homes you may have to write that offer within 24-48hrs in most cases.

I’ve got a short list of houses to visit: Now what?

Now that you have a short list of homes this is the exciting part!!! From here get with a RE/MAX Premier agent to help you gain access to those homes. Once you have previewed those homes and you determine that you love the area but not necessarily the home we can set up custom MLS alerts that all parties abreast of new homes that come to market to ensure that you are the first showing once a new home hits the market.

I’m ready to look. Now what?

Purchasing a home can be an exciting transition. Once a buyer has their pre-approval letter in hand it’s time to get out and explore. It’s generally expressed to purchasers to explore 3-5 different communities/areas of town before deciding to look at homes. Another great idea is to make your own drive to neighborhoods or areas before looking at homes to ensure that you like the area. One task that we are RE/MAX Premier ask buyers to do is to visit a Home Depot, Walmart, Publix, or an area Grocery Store to get a vibe of the patrons from the community which also gives you an opportunity to chat with the locals and see how they enjoy living in the community. The final suggestion would be to possibly do a night drive to that part of down to ensure that you like the traffic patterns and also complete a reverse commute to see how long it would take you to get to work from a particular area as well.

What are the differences between Condo’s & Townhomes?

Condos and Townhomes are a great option for buyers that aren’t interested in maintaining a yard, exterior maintenances, or they are looking for a more secluded/confined/gated neighborhood. In Atlanta its best that you truly evaluate the cost of a community’s Home Owners Association (HOA) Fee. There are some communities that offer HOA fees as high as $1,000 per month in Atlanta which is equivalent to $222,000 in purchasing power. As a rule of thumb every $45 equates to $10,000 in purchasing power when asking yourself should I purchase an Attached Home vs a single family home. A Townhome is a fee simple purchase where the buyer owns the exterior walls of the home. In a condo the buyer owners the air-rights to the property and the HOA owns the structure and walls to each home. Consult with a RE/MAX Agent to discuss what type of purchase is right for you.

What should I do before I start looking?

It is usually a good start if you have evaluated your anticipated commute to work, viewed school rankings from or if schools are of interest, received a pre-approval letter from a lender, and discussed alternative options/areas with a RE/MAX Premier agent before getting out there looking at inventory.

Should I buy or rent?

Buyers ask themselves this question constantly. Based on the rising rents in the metro Atlanta area it would be good to either speak with one of our lending partners to discuss an actual mortgage payment for you or use the resources from to see how much house you can actually afford.

What is Earnest Money? How Much Should I Set Aside?

Earnest money is money put down to demonstrate your seriousness about buying a home. It must be substantial enough to demonstrate good faith and is usually between 1-5% of the purchase price (though the amount can vary with local customs and conditions). If your offer is accepted, the earnest money becomes part of your down payment or closing costs. If the offer is rejected, your money is returned to you. If you back out of a deal, you may forfeit the entire amount.

How do I determine the initial offer?

Listen to your real estate agent’s advice, but follow your own instincts on deciding a fair price. Calculating your offer should involve several factors: what homes sell for in the area, the home’s condition, how long it’s been on the market, financing terms, and the seller’s situation. By the time you’re ready to make an offer, you should have a good idea of what the home is worth and what you can afford. And, be prepared for give-and-take negotiation, which is very common when buying a home. The buyer and seller may often go back and forth until they can agree on a price.

How Do I Make an Offer?

Your real estate agent will assist you in making an offer, which will include the following information:

  • Complete legal description of the property

  • Amount of earnest money

  • Down payment and financing details

  • Proposed move-in date

  • Price you are offering

  • Proposed closing date

  • Length of time the offer is valid

  • Details of the deal

Remember that a sale commitment depends on negotiating a satisfactory contract with the seller, not just making an offer.

Do I Need to Be There for the Inspection?

It’s not required, but it’s a good idea. Following the inspection, the home inspector will be able to answer questions about the report and any problem areas. This is also an opportunity to hear an objective opinion on the home you’d like to purchase and it is a good time to ask general, maintenance questions.

What Does a Home Inspector Do, and How Does an Inspection Figure in the Purchase of a Home?

An inspector checks the safety of your potential new home. Home Inspectors focus especially on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house and will make you aware of only repairs that are needed.
The Inspector does not evaluate whether or not you’re getting good value for your money. Generally, an inspector checks (and gives prices for repairs on): the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and Ventilation, the HVAC system, water source and quality, the potential presence of pests, the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof. Be sure to hire a home inspector that is qualified and experienced.

It’s a good idea to have an inspection before you sign a written offer since, once the deal is closed, you’ve bought the house “as is.” Or, you may want to include an inspection clause in the offer when negotiating for a home. An inspection clause gives you an “out” on buying the house if serious problems are found or gives you the ability to renegotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. An inspection clause can also specify that the seller must fix the problem(s) before you purchase the house.

How Many Homes Should I Consider Before Choosing One?

There isn’t a set number of houses you should see before you decide. Visit as many as it takes to find the one you want. On average, homebuyers see 15 houses before choosing one. Just be sure to communicate often with your real estate agent about everything you’re looking for. It will help avoid wasting your time.

What Should I Look for When Walking Through a Home?

In addition to comparing the home to your minimum requirement and wish lists, you may want to consider the following:

  • Is there enough room for both the present and the future?

  • Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms?

  • Is the home structurally sound?

  • Do the mechanical systems and appliances work?

  • Is the yard big enough?

  • Do you like the floor plan?

  • Will your furniture fit in the space? Is there enough storage space?

  • Imagine the home in good weather and bad – will you be happy with it year round?

Take your time and think carefully about each house you see. Ask your real estate agent to point out the pros and cons of each home from a professional standpoint.

How Does the Lender Decide the Maximum Loan Amount that Can Afford?

The lender considers your debt-to-income ratio, which is a comparison of your gross (pre-tax) income to housing and non-housing expenses. Non-housing expenses include such long-term debts as car or student loan payments, alimony, or child support. The lender also considers cash available for down payment and closing costs, credit history, etc. when determining your maximum loan amount.

How Does Purchasing a Home Compare with Renting?

The two don’t really compare at all. The one advantage of renting is being generally free of most maintenance responsibilities. But by renting, you lose the chance to build equity, take advantage of tax benefits, and protect yourself against rent increases. Also, you may not be free to decorate without permission and may be at the mercy of the landlord for housing.

Owning a home has many benefits. When you make a mortgage payment, you are building equity. And that’s an investment. Owning a home also qualifies you for tax breaks that assist you in dealing with your new financial responsibilities- like insurance, real estate taxes, and upkeep- which can be substantial. But given the freedom, stability, and security of owning your own home, they are worth it.

How Do I Know if I’m Ready to Buy a Home?

You can find out by asking yourself some questions:

  • Do I have a steady source of income (usually a job)? Have I been employed on a regular basis for the last 2-3 years? Is my current income reliable?

  • Do I have a good record of paying my bills?

  • Do I have money saved for a down payment?

  • Do I have few outstanding debts, like car payments?

  • Do I have the ability to pay a mortgage every month, plus additional costs?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you are probably ready to buy your own home.