Working with a Realtor
For example, how many bedrooms and bathrooms are needed and are there special requests, such as ample kitchen counter prep space or an island in the kitchen for food preparation? What about the importance of having a family room or backyard? Are there preferences for the kitchen, such as gourmet features with top-of-the-line equipment or will a functional kitchen be acceptable? What architectural and aesthetic preferences are important – single level, multilevel, traditional or contemporary, bold and modern or warm and rustic? What about a swimming pool, a view or a big yard – are any of these items a priority? If so, your agent will need to know. A discussion about location or proximity to certain facilities and amenities is also an important conversation as it will influence a family’s opinion of a property.

It’s also important to note what you don’t like and communicate that to your Realtor®. If traffic noise near your home is a problem, make note. Is there adequate shade around the property so utilities won’t be high in summer? Is the potential home light, bright and airy or in need of immediate modernization? Is the property located in your preferred school district? How about shopping? Is it necessary to drive far to buy groceries or access services? Are there adequate roadways in and out of your neighborhood, especially during rush hours? Let these ideas help you develop your own list that you can refer to during the home shopping process. This can help you avoid making an emotional decision.

What About Online Real Estate Brokerage Firms?
According to Zip Realty, the leading U.S. online real estate brokerage firm, by using the efficiencies of the Internet, it has streamlined the real estate process and is able to pass significant savings on to its clients. Licensed Zip Agents have years of experience in the areas they serve, allowing homeowners to save thousands, without compromising on service.

Buyer benefits listed by Zip Realty (, include:
  • Search and access to over 1.3 million listings updated throughout the day.
  • View up to 10,000 photos of homes.
  • Receive 20 percent of commissions (exceptions and conditions apply).
  • Save up to 25 percent when you sell a house.
  • Search for new construction, fixer uppers, priced reductions and foreclosures.
  • Save the homes in a personalized “My Homes” list for viewing later.
  • Get e-mail updates on the listings that you are interested in.

Using the Web as A Research Tool
In addition to searching for properties and real estate agents in the San Antonio area at the San Antonio Board of Realtors (, there are national real estate websites that list homes for sale and provide information and tips but don’t handle transactions. These include, Yahoo Real Estate ( and MSN Real Estate ( At these sites, you can learn about individual neighborhoods, school districts, local area statistics, home values as well as access to current real estate market reports.

Anticipating Your Costs
Review the information provided below to anticipate your costs involved in buying a home. This is only a partial list. For more detailed costs, ask your Realtor® to help you create a worksheet that can be updated as necessary.

— Estimating Buyer’s Fees
Whether it’s called loan origination or loan service fee, it can be up to 3 percent of the loan amount and can include the following:
  • Loan application fee.
  • Lender’s credit report.
  • Lender’s processing fees.
  • Lender’s documentation preparation fees.
  • Lender’s appraisal fees.
  • Prepaid interest on loan – prepaid per day until the end of the month in which the closing occurs.
  • Lender’s insurance escrow – can be up to 20 percent of the cost of a one year homeowner’s insurance policy.
  • Lender’s tax escrow – depending on the time of year you close this can be up to 50 percent of the yearly property taxes.
  • Lender’s tax escrow service fee- fees to set up the tax escrow.
  • Premium mortgage insurance (PMI).
  • Title insurance cost for lenders policy – depending on what part of the country you live a portion or the full amount may be paid by the seller.
  • Special endorsements to the title – depending on the property you pick the lender may require that the buyer pay special endorsements such as an environmental lien endorsements or location endorsements.
  • House inspection fees – any that remain unpaid.
  • Title/escrow company closing fee.
  • Recording fees, for the deed or the mortgage.
  • Local city, town or village property transfer tax, county transfer tax and state transfer tax, which vary form city-to-city and state-to-state.
  • Flood cert fee – Fee to determine if the home you pick is in a flood plain.
  • Buyer attorney’s fee.
  • Association transfer fee.
  • Condo move-in fees.
  • Co-op apartment fees – fees that may be required to transfer the shares of stock in the property to the buyer.
  • Any credit checks by the condo or co-op board.

— Real Estate Commissions

Everyone deserves to be paid for valuable services they render to others, and real estate professionals are no different. But as a prospective homebuyer, you’ll want to be sure you understand how compensation factors into your transaction. The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) of the National Association of Realtors® offers answers to these questions.

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