Buyer’s Frequently Asked Questions

Answering Your Home-Buying Questions Across The South Shore

Buying a home is both thrilling and a bit unnerving, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. Both experienced home buyers and first-time buyers alike will benefit from the frequently asked questions below. Before you begin your home search, it is recommended that you prepare yourself for the journey by educating yourself about the home-buying process. This will ensure you are a knowledgeable home buyer prepared to make a confident home buying decision.


  • What is the first step to the buying process?

Getting a real estate agent to work with you and help guide you through the process is the single most important thing to start. Some people say getting a pre-approval is step one, but we feel with the guidance of a good buyer’s agent you can get not just a pre-approval but the correct pre-approval.

  • What is the second step to buying a home?

Getting a pre-approval is a very important step to purchasing a home because it gives you a budget that you can purchase within. Looking before getting a pre-approval can lead to either looking at too expensive or lesser homes than you qualify for. Once you have the pre-approval in hand you are now ready to shop.

  • How much do I need for down-payment?

Saving for the down payment is the greatest obstacle for first-time homebuyers. Lenders expect between 3.5% to 20% for a down payment. This number can vary depending on the lender’s requirements and the type and length of the loan. Make a budget, set a goal, and stick with the plan. Saving and sacrificing is how most people come up with their first down payment. Some home loans such as VA home loans even can be done with 0% down! Remember never rule yourself out and always talk to a professional

  • What is PMI

PMI stands for private mortgage insurance and it is typically needed any time a buyer is putting less than 20% down. The prices vary greatly so make sure to ask your mortgage professional.

  • How quickly can I close?

A typical closing can occur between 30-45 days. This gives buyers enough time to do a home inspection on the property and to get all the paperwork together for closing. Due diligence is important when trying to close on time.

  • Should I get a home inspection?

A home inspector takes a weight off of your shoulders by looking into the condition of the roof, electricity, heating and air, plumbing. By ensuring that everything is working properly during the inspection it will help to prevent having you fix them in the future. If anything, major is found during the inspection then you can negotiate with the seller to get those things fixed before you sign the paperwork at closing or try to renegotiate the price.

  • What is a contingency?

A contingency is a provision included in a sales contract stating that certain events must occur, or certain conditions must be met before the contract is valid.

  • Should I hire an attorney?

Hiring an attorney is completely optional, but in order to ensure a smoother and less stressful process, hiring an attorney to represent you is definitely highly recommended.

  • What is a Multiple Listing Services (MLS)?

A multiple listing service is a computerized listing of homes for sale in an area listed with a realtor. Agents are granted access to the MLS and can use it to find a house in a particular price range or area.

  • What is the difference between being prequalified and being pre-approved for a loan?

If you’re prequalified it means that you potentially could get a loan for the amount stated to you, assuming that all of the information you provide to the bank is accurate and true. This is not as strong as a preapproval.

If you’re pre-approved, it means that you have undergone the extensive financial background check, which includes looking at your credit history, previous tax returns and verifying your employment – and the lender is willing to give you a loan, basically meaning you’re approved!

Most sellers prefer buyers that have been preapproved because they know that there will not be any problems with the purchase of their home.

  • What is title insurance?

Title insurance that protects the lender and the buyer against any losses incurred from disputes over the title of a property.

  • What is the difference between listing agent and buyers agent?

Listing Agents usually deal with sellers and are the ones who will list a property for sale on the Multiple Listing Service.

Buyers Agents mostly deal with the home buyers and represent the buyer’s best interests in a transaction.

The majority of agents will focus on one or the other. Some agents will also divide their time between sellers and buyers and are usually regarded as the best ones since they are dealing with both sides of the coin.

  • Do I have to call the listing agent to tour the home or get more information?

No you want to align yourself with a buyer’s agent that represents you and your best interests. The agent who represents the home and has their name on the sign out front has an obligation to the seller to get them the best terms and the most money for the home. A buyer’s agent is obligated to work with your best interests in mind and can show any and all house on the market.

  • What is the cost of hiring a buyer’s agent?

This is the best part; a buyer’s agent is typically paid for by the seller which means they are FREE. When a seller lists their home, they include a cooperating compensation to pay the buyer’s agent to bring an offer. Even though the sellers are paying for one the buyer’s agent does not work for the seller and has a legal obligation to work for you the buyer.

  • What is a counteroffer?

A counteroffer is an offer made by one party that makes changes to the original offer of the other party. Any time a counteroffer is made it cancels the obligation to the previous offer.  

  • What is a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio?

A debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of a person’s monthly earnings used to pay off all debt obligations. Mortgage lenders analyze the DTI in determining how much home you can afford. This is one of the reasons why getting pre-approved can help you determine the maximum price range when purchasing a home.

  • Why should I use an agent?

A real estate agent may act on your behalf, providing you with advice and guidance when buying or selling a home. There are many constant changes in the real estate market. As such, the information available on listings is not always 100% accurate. There are times when you need the most current information about what has sold or is available for sale and the only way to get the most accurate information is with a real estate agent.

What Our Clients Say

I used Shawn again for an out-of-state home purchase. Shawn vetted a few realtors, and recommended Jillian at Property Girls in Rochester, NY. She was awesome to work with. Shawn did a great job vetting her. I highly recommend using Shawn for any real estate purchase, either in Massachusetts or  anywhere.

Andres Manamon

I bought my first home with Shawn, it was an excellent experience. Shawn is extremely knowledgeable and has expertise in all areas of the buying experience. He was available day and night Sunday to Sunday. My wife and I had a lot of questions and he was always at the ready. I would recommend Shawn over and over!! Thanks Shawn!!

Scott Simpson

Shawn left no stone unturned in our experience. He was always available and made the buying process so much easier in today’s market. If you are looking for a true partner to purchase your home we would not hesitate recommending Shawn.

Vic & Pati Haavisto