Stallings & Smith Group
Coldwell Banker Realty


Understand this. In most scenarios, the Seller pays the commission. Buying a house is big, typically the largest investment a family makes. It is complicated by well-intended laws for Seller and Lender disclosures. It is time consuming searching internet real estate sites and driving around looking, and it is full of frustration. Why would you put yourself through it without the help of an experienced Realtor who can navigate the process.

The Home Search Process

  1. Before searching for a house, get pre-qualified by a mortgage lender. If you are new to this, you might benefit from this blog before making the phone call. Mortgage Loan Advice. Learn how much house you can afford to better tailor your home search to your qualifications. No one should be a slave to a mortgage, so as you consider the high end of your loan qualification, think about your lifestyle requirements and anticipated big ticket purchases as well.
  2. To further tailor your search, consider where you want to live. Factor in schools, the proximity to grocery and drug stores, your need to be close to Fort Jackson or the VA Hospital, your job, the lakes, and whatever else is important to you.
  3. What do you need and what do you want? This video offers some thoughts on this.Needs and Wants. I will go through a check list with you to identify exactly what you need and what you want.
  4. Now you are ready to look. Bring your:
  • Notebook and pen for note-taking
  • Flashlight for seeing enclosed areas
  • Tape measure for checking room sizes, clearance, etc.
  • Camera to assist you in remembering details about the home. It is a good idea to limit your touring to 4 or 5 houses a day or they will get confused.If you need to go back to a home for another look, I will be happy to schedule an appointment. Here are 8 questions to ask—and answer—when looking at properties:
  • Be prepared to "snoop around" a little. Open drawers, cabinets and closets. After all, you need to see how your family will live there. Sellers understand that because their home is on the market, it will be looked over pretty thoroughly and I advise them to be careful of what is in the bedside table. To see it from the Sellers Perspective Preparing to Sell
  1. Is there enough room for you now and in the near future?
  2. Is the home's floor plan right for your family?
  3. Is there enough storage space?
  4. Will you have to replace the appliances?
  5. Is the yard the size that you want?
  6. Are there enough bathrooms?
  7. How much maintenance and/or decorating will you need to do right away or later?
  8. Will your present furniture work in this home?

Older homes offer more total space for the money, as well as larger yard, and taxes on older homes may also be lower. Their charm and the elegance are attractive, but may disguise potential maintenance costs. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage's Home Protection Plan protects you against unexpected repairs on many home systems and appliances for a full year or more.

The perfect home may be waiting for you on your first visit. Even if it isn't, the house-hunting process will help you get a feeling for the homes in the community, how much house another $10,000 can purchase, and narrow your choices to a few homes that are worth a second look. Call me. My contact information follows below.

Make the Offer

It took a few tours through upward trending neighborhoods, but you have settled on a house. It is a re-sale as opposed to new construction. Through several strategies, we put together a comparative market analysis of the competing active listings and track square footage prices for pending and sold listings within the past 6 months, 12 months or more if needed to get a good sampling to determine fair market value. We do not rely upon or even discuss the mythological Zillow Zestimate. We write up the contract and submit it to the listing agent along with the loan pre-approval letter and an earnest money check. A strong offer requires a significant earnest money check and it should offer to close as soon as reasonably practical. The Seller will respond with an acceptance or a counteroffer. Thirty-two years in the practices of law and real estate has equipped me for negotiations that get to “yes.” About Walt Smith

A quick note about negotiating the sale of new construction, particularly in tract housing dominated by one or two builders. They are less likely to negotiate price as they are to negotiate extras, like fencing, a better refrigerator, or granite and flooring (depending on where they are in construction). This based on the need to maintain a price point for the benefit of future sales in the community and their construction loan.

Get the Mortgage Loan

The contract provides that the Buyer must make application for the mortgage loan (for which he is pre-approved) within five business days of reaching a ratified agreement. Again, if my buyer does not have a preference, I can make recommendations of qualified mortgage lenders with records of solid performance.

Inspections and Repair Addendum

The negotiations are not over. In Item 9 of the contract, it states that the Buyer shall have 10 business days within which to conduct any and all inspections, the usual HVAC and CL100 (water under the house and termites) inspections, together about $215, but also a general house inspection ($275 to $350, depending on the inspector and the size of the house). These are the usual inspections, however, the 10 provision applies to all inspections, to include roofs, hot tubs, radon gas and any others, which if contemplated, may require a negotiated longer inspection period. There is typically no resistance to this from the Seller, whose agent will urge cooperation, now that they have a buyer on the hook.

Especially in older homes, expect to uncover issues, some substantial and others less so. It is the job of the inspectors to find problems and to disclose them to the buyer, typically by email with pictures and arrows. These reports become the foundation of the next step, the Repair Addendum. It is a negotiated agreement whereby the parties settle upon what repairs identified by the inspections will be made by the sellers chosen licensed contractor (also negotiable), at Sellers expense. The Repair Addendum should not be burdened with nickel and dime matters. Buyer may identify 5 items in need of correction. The Seller may agree to all of them, none of them, or some of them. The Buyer may then concede on some, but not others, and so it goes. A safety net of sorts is provided by the purchase of a home warranty by either party (negotiable).


The loan is in place, the repairs have been made and those matters have been re-inspected, the closing attorney has been provided with what that office needs, and your closing has been scheduled. Because of interim interest collected at closing, if you are light on down payment funds, you can reduce that figure somewhat by closing at the end of the month. In any case, we will receive by email a preliminary and a final HUD 1 Settlement Statement, which we will review and the attorney will review at closing. Based upon the Settlement Statement, the Buyer will arrange for a wire transfer of funds to the attorney’ s escrow account, a universal practice begun by concerns over fraud. Any change of wiring instructions received by email must be confirmed with the attorney. After about an hour, a successful closing with a lot of happy banter and often tired closing jokes from the attorney, the Seller will leave with a check and the Buyer will leave with keys in hand.

In these three pages, I have provided a general outline of the course you will steer as a Buyer. There are many tangents I have avoided. I bring education, training and experience to the closing table. Give me a call and have a successful closing.

Walt Smith, Broker

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

803 622 5210