Is buying the right decision?

The first step in this process is to determine whether or not buying is the right decision for you. It is best to determine this up front rather than when you are under contract.


Selecting a Buyer’s Agent

Buying a home is a complicated process. An experienced agent will help you navigate the process and provide you with guidance. Friends, family, or co-workers are a great source for referrals. Reviews, blogs and websites can also help you select someone who matches your interests.

  • A buyer’s agent. Represents only you and he or she has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interests.
  • Buyer’s broker agreement. You may be asked to sign this document, but it is the seller’s responsibility to pay the buyer’s agent’s commission.
  • The interview process. You will spend a significant amount of time with your agent in this process. Find someone you like and trust! You may want someone who has specific experience in your desired neighborhood.

Organizing Your Finances

Organize your finances, set aside a down payment, and read up on the loan programs. This research will let you know exactly how much you can pay and what it will cost.

  • Get a free credit report. If your credit report has any issues, you will want to leave some time to correct your score so you can get a better mortgage rate. Dispute any errors and reduce your monthly debt obligations now by paying down the balances. Finally, try not to open any new lines of credit and close old lines of credit that you’re not using.
  • Find a lender. Ask your agent for lender referrals. He or she has a vested interest in your success, so this can be a good resource for trusted lender. Lenders are not allowed to accept compensation for referrals. You may also want to start with your own financial institution, then interview a few mortgage brokers and choose a loan product that meets your financial situation. Finding a lender you trust, who communicates well and promises to meet your anticipated closing date is also important.
  • Determine a down payment. The more you put down, the lower your monthly mortgage payment. Your chosen loan program may stipulate the minimum down payment, but you can always pay more. The higher the down payment, the bigger your equity position.
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Loan pre-approval is to prove a buyer's credibility to the seller. Check your city or state to see if there are any benefits from taking a local home-buying course.

What’s on the market?

This is the best part - finding a place you’re excited to come home to every day!

  • Set search parameters. Determine your search parameters and decide on your non-negotiables. This might be the square footage, the location, number of bedrooms, a parking spot, or outdoor space.
  • Compare properties. Ask your agent for MLS print outs of compatible properties in your areas of interest.
  • Inform your agent of properties you like. Search online and let your agent know which listings you want to learn more about. Your agent will call the listing agent and gather any additional relevant information.
  • Go to open houses. Be sure you understand open house etiquette. If you are already working with a buyer’s agent be sure to tell the seller’s agent at the open house. And it is ok to put your name down on the sheet!

The Offer Process

It is important to look at comparable homes that have sold in your neighborhood of interest. Typical parameters are +/- 100 sq ft, within 0.3 miles, and of comparable quality. Sellers can set the listing price at whatever their heart desires, but it needs to be backed up by market conditions.            

  • Writing an offer. Consider writing seller's market offers in seller's markets and buyer's market offers in buyer's markets. Cannot stress the importance of this enough. Your "lowball strategy" picked up from a popular TV show does not work in seller's markets, for example.
  • Multiple offers. If you’re buying in a popular market, be prepared for multiple offers. And ask your agent up front what his or her approach is in this type of situation.
  • Crafting a strong offer. A well-constructed offer will have inspection contingency and mortgage contingency, as well as a thoughtful letter to the seller. The contingencies are there to protect you as the buyer in case there are serious problems with the home, or if you’re not able to secure a mortgage allowing your deposit to be refundable.
  • Negotiating counter offers. Expect the seller to issue a counter offer. Even if you offered the list price, the seller might have other points that were not adequately addressed to the seller's satisfaction in the offer. A counter offer is not the end of the road, but the first step to acceptance.

Getting an Appraisal

Many purchase contracts contain a provision for the appraisal, making the appraisal a contingency of the contract. This means if the home does not appraise for the amount you offered to pay, you are not obligated to move forward with buying the home. The lender will order the appraisal.

  • Paying for the appraisal. Your lender will require an advance payment for the appraisal. In some cases a lender will, as a promotion or incentive, agree to pay for your appraisal. Inquire, but don’t expect it.
  • A low appraisal. If you receive a low appraisal, discuss options with your agent. Reducing the price may not be the only solution.

Conduct Inspections

In Massachusetts, the purchase contract gives a buyer a certain number of days to conduct inspections, including a home inspection. In the process, if you uncover an unacceptable defect, you are often free to cancel the contract.

  • Finding a home inspector. Your agent can recommend someone or ask a friend or family member. The inspection is not something that you present to the seller and demand repairs. It is instead used to minimize risk and increase peace of mind. You’ll want to attend the home inspection and you should be able to walk the property with the inspector. It’s a great time to understand the property in depth.
  • After the inspection. Once it is complete, the Purchase and Sale Agreement can be drafted. The attorneys and agents will begin this process. This will describe all of the potential scenarios between that moment and the closing, and how they will be handled.

Remove Contingencies

In order to fully protect a seller, most listing agents will demand the release of all contract contingencies by the date they are due.

  • Understanding contingencies. There are many different types of contract contingencies. Learn more here.
  • Protect yourself. Try to make sure your loan is firm and the appraisal is acceptable before removing any loan contingency.
  • The mortgage commitment. Prior to the closing, the lender will appraise the property to assess the value. Typically within 21-30 days from the signing of the P+S, you will have a mortgage commitment from your lender. If this takes longer, it is possible to ask for an extension. And in some cases, conditions must be met before the lender will close.

Walk-through & Closing

A final walk-through inspection is to certify that nothing has been done to the property since you last viewed it. For example, if you discover damage to the walls after the seller has moved out, this is the time to ask for compensation to fix the issue. Once complete, the closing process will begin - you are soon to be a homeowner!

  • The final walk-through is a must. Do not use this as an opportunity to demand more repairs, unless you find a new and/or undisclosed defects.
  • The closing process. A day or two prior to the closing the closing attorney will send you a detailed Closing Disclosure that delineates all of the buyer costs associated with the purchase. It also includes the balance of the amount of money needed to bring to the closing. It can be a certified check made out to yourself or wired funds. Once the money has passed and the documents are signed, the deed will be recorded at the Registry of Deeds a few hours later. At that time you can get your keys and the seller will receive their proceeds. You are now a homeowner!

Finding the Best Lender for You

Often finding the lowest possible mortgage rate is the main priority for buyers, as it should be. But it’s also important to work with a lender who prioritizes service, shares your values, and does business in the area that you’re buying a home.
At the TWA Group we work primarily with 2-3 lenders who we believe provide the highest level of service available in the marketplace. Those are Leader Bank, First Republic, and Guaranteed Rate. If you are interested in one of our preferred lenders at one of these institutions please reach out through the Get in Touch button above!

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Buyer Closing Costs

Please find an estimated guide to a home buyer’s closing costs. The fees below are estimates as they vary based on the attorney, the lender, the loan type, and the inspector. Please note! This is meant to be a general guide, but cannot be conclusive. The team that you hire will be able to give you estimates well in advance of closing.

Buyer’s Questionnaire


(e.g. "two or more")
(e.g. "one or more")
(e.g. "1,200 or more")
(e.g. $600,000 - 750,000")
(e.g. busy road, bedrooms in basement, etc.)
(e.g. a garage spot, a steam shower, etc)
(e.g. market knowledge, access to off market properties, great sense of humor, etc)
(e.g. "Do I need to put 20% down?" or "When does the home inspection take place?")

Work With Trevor

Trevor combines a deep knowledge of the Greater Boston market with thoughtful representation and unparalleled service to ensure a smooth, joyful transaction.

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