Whitefish Real Estate, Northwest Montana Whitefish Real Estate, Northwest Montana Whitefish Real Estate, Northwest Montana
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 Vernon will 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 the process.

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 conditions.

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.

6. Closing

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 estate commissions.

Receive email real estate news

What is this about?

Now is the time to find your own corner of


There’s lots of room to play on Flathead Lake. Located just south of Kalispell, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi is 28 miles long and up to 15 miles wide. That translates to 188 square miles of pure enjoyment. The lake’s sparkling waters and miles of tree-lined shore offer unlimited recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat. This playground has something for everyone.

Two highways traverse the lake’s shoreline, Hwy 93 to the west and Hwy 35 to the east. In spring, the white blooms of the cherry orchards promise luscious fruit in July and August. Six units of the Flathead Lake State Park provide sites for picnics, boating, sailing, fishing, camping and swimming. Two golf courses offer spectacular views and challenging play.

There are all types of watercraft, from motorized to sail to paddle, on Flathead Lake . And swimming below the surface are trophy-size trout, yellow perch and whitefish. The southern half of Flathead Lake is located on the Flathead Indian Reservations, home of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. On these waters, fishermen will need a tribal fishing permit, available at most area sporting goods stores.

Wild Horse, the lake’s largest island, is a wildlife refuge for more than 75 species of bird along with deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes and bear. Geese, osprey, herons, and eagles frequent the aptly named Bird Islands