Buying a Resale Home

Resale, or pre-owned, homes abound throughout the Valley. In today’s market, you’ll find three predominant types of processes:

  • The 'Traditional' sale, where buyer and seller agree on price and terms and close escrow
  • A 'Short Sale' wherein the seller owes more on their loan than the property is worth. In this case, the buyer and seller would agree to price and terms, but the seller then must gain approval from their lender to accept less than their loan amount.
  • A 'REO', or real-estate owned, sale is one in which the home has been foreclosed by the bank, and the bank is re-selling the property.
Keep in mind that in the case of Short Sale and REO properties, the home is usually sold in 'As Is' condition, so no repairs will be done by the seller, and you will receive no warranties that major systems (like air conditioning or heating) will be in working order.

When purchasing a resale home, consider buying a Home Warranty plan. A Home Warranty will cover the cost of repair or replacement of most major systems within the home for a period of one year after you purchase. This can save you a significant amount if just one major system (like your air conditioner) malfunctions.


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Buying New Construction

There are still newly constructed homes throughout the Valley of the Sun, and together we can locate them and negotiate the best deal. If you are interested in purchasing a brand new home, I have access to information about where these homes are located, what floor plans will work for you, and whether the builder had any spec (speculative, or pre-built) homes available.

Keep in mind that if you go to a new home community without your Realtor, the builder will not work with them later on, so you will be negotiating on your own (and the on-site salesperson represents the builder, not you).

If you choose to select a lot and have a new home built, keep in mind that it is difficult to determine an exact time frame to complete your new home, so try to be flexible with your current living arrangements, and don’t count on moving on the exact date you are given when you sign a purchase contract.


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Vacation and Estate Homes

Throughout the Valley, there are wonderful areas if you are looking for a vacation home or a second home.  We have many homeowners who enjoy our ideal weather during the winter months, and we're happy to show you how you can be one of them!


Homes in Arizona can be low maintenance due to our desert environment, and 'lock and leave' is a favorite saying around here.  You may prefer a gated community, where there is extra security when you're not in residence.  There are many condo and townhome communities, as well as single-family homes available to you. No matter what you dream of when you think of owning a home in Arizona, we can help you find it!



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Buying a Foreclosed Home

Purchasing a foreclosed home (or REO) can be very cost-effective, but there are considerations you need to make if you’re buying a foreclosure property:

  • You will make an offer to purchase using a standard Arizona Purchase Offer form, but the bank is likely to counter with their own, very specific contract.
  • When you make an offer, be prepared to wait a little longer than usual for a response.
  • If the utilities were not on when you visited the property, it is unlikely the bank will turn them on for you to do a home inspection. You will be responsible for turning the utilities on for any inspections you do (and to pay for the cost).
  • Foreclosed homes are sold in 'As Is' condition—meaning the bank will not make any repairs.
  • The bank may occasionally agree to replace missing items (air conditioning condenser, range, etc.), but this is dependent on each individual bank.
  • Banks will generally not provide you with a Seller Property Disclosure to explain any repairs made to the property, or a Lead Based Paint disclosure since they have never lived in the house.
  • If the property has a septic or alternative waste treatment system, the bank will provide only limited inspection/certification and transfer funds.
  • Many banks want a closing as soon as possible, so the time you have available to finalize your loan and make your plans to move may be shorter than normal. Most banks want to close within 30 days.


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Are Your Purchasing Your First Home?

Now that you’ve made the decision to join the ranks of homeowners, you need expert guidance to find the right loan, the perfect location, and the resources to help you settle in and make the house your home.  Following are some general guidelines, but I am here to help you through the process with ease.

Get Pre-Qualified
Your first step should be to get pre-qualified for a loan. This will help you understand your options for a down payment, as well as help focus your efforts on looking at properties you can afford. During the loan application process, your lender will ask you for personal information. You can help speed the process by gathering some of it in advance. You are likely to need:
  • Your last two years’ tax returns
  • Your most recent two pay stubs. 
Your lender will process your credit report, and ask you to complete an application, then will investigate various loan programs that might be available for you:

  • Government-backed loans through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all offer lower down-payment options, and there is even a loan that will allow you to wrap any costs to remodel the house into a loan. If you are a Veteran, VA loans are a great way to go. Please note that most FHA loans are available for homes priced below a certain price point, so check with your Realtor for the limits in your area.
  • Conventional loans usually require a minimum of 20% down payment. If you can’t qualify or the house costs more than the FHA loan limits, a conventional loan is probably your best option. Interest rates are at a historical low, so it’s a great time to buy and lock in a low interest rate for the full term of your loan.
  • Adjustable rate loans are also available. These loans allow you to pay a lower monthly payment during the first few years you own the home (usually 3 or 5 years) but then the interest rate can go up based on market conditions.

Focus on Your Wants and Needs

It’s always tempting to look for everything you have ever dreamed of having in a home, but keep your budget and your requirements in mind. Make a list of the features you absolutely have to have—how many bedrooms? Bathrooms? Garage spaces? Distance from work or school?

Once you have the minimum requirements, you can add some of your desired items. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the features, and forget the basics.

Start Looking at Properties

Now that you know what you can afford, and what absolute essentials you must have in a home, it’s time to start looking! You may want to begin by looking at websites on the Internet. This is a great way to see what is available, and get a feel for the type of neighborhood or area of town that might be best for you. A word of caution, however many websites are not associated with the local MLS and may have outdated information.  Using the search on my website means you have the most up to date information.  I can also send you listings on a regular basis and we can preview the ones you're interested in.

Making An Offer

Once you find that ideal house, it’s time to make a purchase offer. We will review the Arizona Purchase Contract togther so you understand the buying process from this point forward.

You will be required to submit a Pre-Qualification letter from your lender with most offers—your agent can work with your lender to prepare this. Each Pre-Qualification letter is specific to the property you are making an offer for, so it cannot be prepared in advance.

When your offer is presented to the seller, the seller may decide to issue a counter offer to the price or terms you offered. Your agent will help you review any counter offers, and discuss the implications with you.

When negotiations are complete and you and the seller have agreed on price and terms, you will need to provide a check for an Earnest Money deposit. These funds are deposited with the title company specified in the purchase contract, and can later be used to pay for part of your down payment or closing costs.

The Escrow Process
Once you and the seller have agreed on terms, you have a period of time to perform any inspections you think are important—a home inspection, termite inspection, structural inspections, roof inspection, pool inspection, etc. At a minimum you should have a home inspection done by a qualified home inspector. In Arizona, home inspectors are certified and must meet minimum performance standards.

Once you have reviewed the report prepared by the home inspector, you can ask the seller to make repairs. The seller may respond by indicating they will make all repairs, just some of the requested repairs, or may refuse to make any repairs. Once you receive their response, you have an opportunity to decide if you wish to move forward with the purchase.

During this period, you also need to finalize your loan, and if necessary, lock in your loan rate. Speak with your lender about the best time to lock your rate, as loan rates fluctuate almost daily, and your lender has the best idea of where rates may be going in a few days or weeks.

You also want to plan your move. Keep in mind that the Close of Escrow date may change by a day or two, for any number of reasons. It is best to give yourself a day or two after close of escrow before you hire the moving company, painters, etc. Don’t count on moving in or having any work done to the house on the day you are scheduled to close escrow.

A few days before the scheduled close date, your lender must send final loan numbers to the title company, who will prepare a Settlement Statement. This will indicate for you how much money you will need to bring to the closing table—and it must be in the form of a cashier’s check, so make sure the funds are available and arrange to get the check in advance!

You will need an appointment with the title company to go in and sign the closing paperwork, which includes lots of documents, including your loan documents. Set aside at least an hour for this process, and don’t be afraid to ask questions—this is a large financial transaction, and it is important that you understand your commitments.

The seller will also sign paperwork, but in Arizona the buyer and seller generally do not sign at the same time.

Once the title company has all paperwork signed, has received the down payment from you, and the remainder of the purchase price from your lender, the title company will record the transfer of the property to you. This is considered the official Close of Escrow, and you will get the keys and own the property.

Packing and Moving
As you prepare to move into your new home, organize your packing to make it easy for you to get settled in. Purchase packing supplies and start packing non-essential items early. Label each box with a general description of its contents, and indicate which room in your new home it should be taken to.

If you plan to hire movers, make sure to contact them at least 3 weeks prior to your scheduled move. At the end of each month, moving companies tend to get booked quickly, so plan ahead!

As you approach the time of your move, plan to pack an emergency supplies box for things you will need and won't want to search through boxes for. Move this box in your car so you have access to it immediately upon arrival at your new home.

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Buying A Home


Purchasing Your First Home | New Construction | Resale Homes | Foreclosed Homes | Vacation & Estate Homes

No matter which of the above apply to you, I strive to improve your home buying experience. I understand that you don’t always hear about trends in the market, may need to investigate alternatives to the traditional purchase of a home (like a Short Sale or Foreclosure), or are simply looking to increase your knowledge. Please browse through the resources below, and if you need additional help, let me know - I am here to help you!

These days, it is easy to find specific properties that meet your criteria - just by going to the Internet. But consideration of the finer details still requires feet on the ground.

On this website you will find the tools to start your search through the following Search function.  You'll also find the ability to identify specific areas of interest based the Communities page.  Together we will consider all the options available to you, and I will be your eyes and ears when necessary to help you identify the perfect house for you!


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Elizabeth Whitman, RE/MAX Fine Properties
21000 N. Pima Rd., Suite #100
Scottsdale, AZ 85255

T: (602) 373-8220
O: (480) 792-9500