|6 Steps to
Buying Your Montana Property
1. Make Sure
You Are Ready
Do you know what you want? Are you relocating
to the area, or looking for a vacation home? Are you looking for
an existing home, or for land to build your dream home? Be as
specific as possible - it will help to simplify your search.
Do you have the money? Speak with a
local lender to find out what you can afford. If you are
buying unimproved land that is outside of the city limits, make
sure to allow for the cost of putting in septic and a well.
2. Get a Realtor
Isn't finding the right property just a matter
of browsing through local real estate magazines and internet
websites? Not quite. No two properties and no two transactions are
alike. In the maze of forms, inspections, marketing, pricing, and
negotiating it makes sense to work with a local real estate
professional who knows the market and the community.
So give John or Vernon a call. It won't cost you a
thing. Get a professional working for you to help on what may be
the most important financial decision you ever make.
3. Get Pre-approved For Your Loan
Find a local lender and get them to give you a
pre-approval letter. This will make your offer look a lot more
appealing to the seller. There is nothing wrong with using an
out-of-town lender, but using a local lender helps to simplify the
closing process. They are used to working with the local title
companies, and can really help to expedite closing.
4. Search For Property
Go to the MLS Search page and search for
properties that have the features you are looking for. When you
find a property that interests you, contact John or Vernon so they can verify
that the property is still available and answer whatever questions
you may have. Use the simple form at the bottom of the MLS Search
page page to track the properties that you are interested in. Fill
in your contact information, along with the MLS numbers for those
properties, then click on the "Submit Request" button.
If you are not familiar with the area, contact
John or Vernon and let them know what you are looking for. They can recommend
an area and provide you with a list of properties to choose from
that match your needs. If you are not able to view the property in
person, John or Vernon can preview the property and email photos to you.
5. Make An Offer
The Montana Association of Realtors, in
cooperation with legal counsel, have developed forms which are
appropriate for real estate transactions in Montana. John or
explain the purpose of each form that makes up the offer contract
(commonly referred to as the "Buy Sell"), as well as
their role in
How much should you offer? You may have heard
that the amount of your offer should be x percent below the asking
price. In practice, your offer will depend on the basic laws of
supply and demand. If many buyers are competing for the same
property, then the seller will probably get full-price offers -
sometimes even more than full-price.
The offer amount is very important, but it is
only part of what makes up the offer. The terms of the offer can
represent thousands of dollars of additional value to the seller -
or additional costs. John or Vernon will help you to craft an offer that is
appropriate for the property as well as the current market
At the time the offer is made you will need to
provide some amount of earnest money. The earnest money deposit is
a "good-faith" payment you submit with your offer to show the
seller you are serious about proceeding. Once the sales contract
has been signed by both parties, the earnest money is deposited in
an escrow account and will be applied to your closing costs.
Once the offer is made, the seller has three
options: ignore it, accept it, or make a counter-offer. A
counter-offer is basically one or more revisions to the terms of
the original offer. Offers and counter-offers
reflect the back-and-forth activity of the marketplace. It is a
practical and time-proven process, but can contain tricky clauses
and hidden costs. John or Vernon will decipher the maze of paperwork and
help in the actual negotiations.
The closing process, sometimes known as
"settlement" or "escrow", is where the necessary paperwork needed
to complete the transaction is signed. It is typically held at the
office of a local title company. In many cases, the buyer and
seller don't need to attend at the same time. In the case of an
out-of-town buyer, the appropriate documents are commonly sent
between parties via overnight delivery.
In any case, the result is that title to the
property is transferred from seller to buyer. From the proceeds
credited to the seller, money is subtracted to pay off any
existing mortgages, miscellaneous transaction costs, and real