Buyer’s Homebuyer’s Guide Finding a Home in the Branson area

This Buyer’s Guide is personally written as your ‘reference guide’ to Buying a New Home in Branson.  Let’s start with a few questions you should ask yourself:
  • Are you considering a retirement home?  A single story home with low maintenance might be a prime consideration.
  • Are you buying your first home?  This will truly be a learning curve for you…but it’s much needed information.
  • Are you buying a home to fix-up or flip?  Make sure the ‘bones’ are good with minimal structural issues.
  • Or are you an experienced homebuyer?  Do a quick refresher to see if your needs have changed since you last bought a new home.
Table Rock Lake in Branson MO with Ozark Mountains in the Background
What a Combination – the Ozark Mountains, Table Rock Lake and Branson MO!

Branson MO – What a great place to live!

Doing things in the right order can make moving here an easy and fun experience!  First things first!  Obviously, the first thing to do is get your finances in order.  Will this be a cash transaction or will you need to obtain financing?  If you will be getting a mortgage loan, that is the first order of business.

All Things Financial

Before making an offer, we will need to know a price range, terms of your financing including interest rate (we need this information for the paperwork), and a pre-qualification letter that will accompany the offer on your new home.  Mortgage rates and terms vary, and shopping for the mortgage that suits your needs is very important.  Once you choose the right lender, they will make sure you have documentation that spells out exactly what your loan amount, interest rate, down payment and funds needed to close will be.  Because, we don’t want any surprises at the last minute. One thing to keep in mind – DO NOT make any changes in your financial situation during this time.  Don’t move money around from different accounts or change jobs.  And whatever you do…don’t buy/finance a new car or furniture.  Don’t even pay off an existing account.  There has to be an exact paper trail.  Be sure to ask your lender for advice and guidance on anything financial.

Search for the Right Realtor!

Finding the right Realtor is critical.  Make sure you choose someone that you are comfortable with…someone who understands your needs and will help you without a conflict of interest.  Any agent can (by law) be designated a buyer’s agent – BUT only an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent can represent you 100% without having that conflict of interest.   Real Estate agency laws are something I encourage you to investigate before hiring a Realtor.  I will be glad to answer any questions you have about this subject, so feel free to ask!

Experience is Critical!

If you want a smooth transaction from beginning to a successful closing…then look for someone with many years of experience under their belt.  Those agents are worth their weight in gold because they can spot red flags, roadblocks and issues…and handle them before those molehills become mountains.  I was working with a new agent last week, and she drew a blank when I asked her if there was a current survey on the property.  She didn’t even know what I was talking about.  Oh, My!  Buying a new home is a huge investment – so make sure your agent has the experience you need, and will be there for you every step of the way~!

Let’s Find Your New Home

It’s now time to think about the kind of home you are looking for.  Answering these questions will help us know where to start looking:
  • Are you downsizing or looking for a larger home for your family?
  • Is this going to be a home for your retirement?
  • OR a vacation home?
  • Would you like a lake or mountain view?  Or a golf course home?
  • Single story?  Two-story?  Basement Home?
  • Restricted community or home in the country?
  • What about schools?
If it’s a ‘seller’s market’ – you will really have to be on top of the things.  Your Realtor should put you on a listing notification for any home that might interest you – so that it is sent to you as soon as the property hits the market.  And be prepared to move quickly…because if you don’t someone else is likely to be living in your dream home!

Finding the Perfect Home!

At this point, we are ready to find your new Home!  Most people like to search online for homes, but remember that some of the internet sites will continue to show homes after they have been sold.  This can be disappointing to say the least.  Also, feel free to search on this website, where you can save your searches – and I can also make instant notifications available to you for any home (within your search criteria) as soon as it hits the market. Once we have a list of homes to see, I will make the appointments and off we go!  I’m not a home inspector, but I will point out obvious red flags that you should be aware of.  Home inspections are expensive, so I believe that it’s best to know as much as possible before you spend that money. It’s also good to check the flood maps, because even though the closing agent will check this…it frequently isn’t done until they are doing the title search.  By this time, you have already spent money on the home inspection and appraisal…which is not refundable.  This could easily amout to $800-$900.  Why not know up front if there is any flooding potential, and save the money?

Take a Good Look at any Property You are Considering!

  • Has the exterior and yard been maintained?  What about the roof?  Obvious signs of disrepair?  Take a look at the downspouts.  Are they positioned to take water away from the house, or are they allowing water to seep into the crawlspace or basement?  Water should be diverted AWAY from the foundation at all costs!  Do you notice any cracks in the brick or foundation?
  • Grading?  The soil should be built up and slope away from the foundation wall.  Remember that water is the enemy of a house.
  • Do you notice any rotting wood around the door or window frames?  Is the paint peeling or in good condition?
  • When you walk inside, do you notice any obvious smells?  Cigarette smoke?  Musty odors?  Pet odors?  Room fragrances and candles can be a sign that they are trying to cover up an odor, and these can be hard to get rid of.  Pet urine can seep into the carpet and pad…and almost impossible to clean.
  • Appliances?  Are they outdated, dirty or neglected?  It’s a good idea to determine which appliances will be staying with the house.
  • Flooring?  Carpet stains, torn vinyl or cracked tile?  Check the flooring under windows and exterior doors for signs of water stains.  Sneak a peek under rugs, because they can be covering up a problem.
  • That beautiful beadboard or tongue & groove woodwork on the ceiling can be just that – or it could be covering up water stains and cracks!  Be aware!

More Things to Consider:

  • Plumbing?  Notice any water stains or drips?  Flush the toilets and check for loose/rocking toilets.  It’s easy to step around the base of toilets for soft spots.
  • HVAC?  Check the age of the units as well as the water heater.  Make note* – Most home inspectors don’t check much more than the temperature of the air coming out of the vents.  If you want a good HVAC inspection, you should hire this done as a separate inspection.  You can easily check the filters to see if they have been changed out.
  • Windows?  Do they open/close easily or painted shut?  Do you see clouding that would reveal a broken seal?  If screens are important to you, make sure they are there and in good condition.  Sometimes, people don’t use them, but have them stored in the basement or attic.
  • Neighborhood?  Check out whatever is important to you.  Kids or teenagers in the neighborhood might be a noise issue for you.  What about power lines?  Do you like a restricted community, or would you rather have a few chickens?
  • Garage?  Many newer homes have the garage located in such a way that it would cause a traffic jam if you had company over.  Think about your future parking.
  • Self-employed?  Check any restrictions about working from home.  Most neighborhoods don’t object to you working from home – but consider if you have clients or customers coming to your house that would result in more traffic than usual.
  • Basics?  Are there enough closets or storage space?  Space for your home office?  If you have unusual furniture, it would be a good idea to take the measurements along with you.
  • Kitchen?  Does this fit your lifestyle?  The kitchen is the heart of the home, so make sure it works for you.

Common Sense is Best!

Just imagine you and your family living there and see if it’s a good fit.  Don’t let the seller’s furniture or staging affect your view of the house, because that furniture won’t be there when you move in.  Statistics show that homes sell better when they are staged.  That’s why you see those gorgeous model homes decorated so beautifully.  That decor sells the house.  But, when you take possession, you get an empty house…so be sure to keep this in mind. I hope you have enjoyed this Branson Homebuyer’s Guide.  I’m here to help you find the perfect home for your family in the Branson area, so please contact me with any questions you have! Or, if you’re ready to start your home buying journey!   Pam Rumley, Broker 417-242-5025  
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Branson Buyer's Guide
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Branson Buyer's Guide
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Article explains How to Buy a Home...in detail! Topics include financing, things to look for, red flags, neighborhoods, zoning and your family's lifestyle.
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