Information for Home Buyers

Buying a home can be both very exciting and challenging at the same time. The information below offers insight into several aspects of the home buying process. Take a look around and start equipping yourself with the tools necessary to make your best purchase. In most businesses, knowledge equals power, and real estate is certainly no exception.

When you're ready to act, contact Hillstrom Real Estate. A buyer consultation meeting can be set up to answer your home buying questions and help you to set course on finding the best home for you.

> First Time Home Buyers
> Choosing Your Agent
> Writing the Offer to Buy a House
> The Home Inspection - What and Why?
> Home Buyer Reports

First-Time Homebuyers

Good for you! Home ownership is part of The American Dream. We at Hillstrom Real Estate enjoy working with first time buyers to help them through the process.

• First time buyers can be more challenging to work with because you take more time, but we get special satisfaction from passing on the keys to your first home. 
• First time buyers sometimes hesitate to ask too many questions, but we don't mind because we know you need the answers.  We are patient.
• First time buyers many times want input from family members and friends.  We will talk to them, too, to let them know the reasons for our advice to you.
• First time buyers receive the same attention as our million dollar buyers.  You are all clients.

We can help you. . .
...find the best available property that matches your buying ability. 
...understand the realities of the market by showing all properties in your price range.
...understand the buying process and lead you through it.
...find the right and best type of financing that matches your financial abilities.
...Everything we do for you will be in your best interests with your consent.

>>Back to Top

We Would Like To Be Your ‘Buyers Agent’

Most likely you eventually will use the services of a Realtor to help you buy a house.

So why not make an informed choice of the Realtor who will assist you in what may be the largest investment of your life rather than ‘falling in the lap of’ a Realtor at, for instance, an open house or at a casual event where the Realtor hands you his or her business card.

Your choice will consist of a number of criteria. Top of the list will be the type of agency representation you wish for yourself:

Exclusive representation where your Buyers Agent is loyal to you exclusively in your transaction and negotiates your best interests throughout the purchase of a home;

Partial representation where your Dual Agent shares his loyalty with the seller and does not negotiate your best interests only;

Transactional salesmanship where the salesperson’s only effort is to sell you a house without being loyal to or negotiating for your best interests. There is no Agency representation in this relationship, just salesmanship.

Most people intuitively expect the benefits of exclusive representation when they make such a big financial decision, even when they do not think these exact words. The benefit of exclusive representation is the safety net they hope to have.

Most people intuitively expect the benefits of exclusive representation when they make such a big financial decision, even when they do not think these exact words. The benefit of exclusive representation is the safety net they hope to have.

Other criteria includes:

  • Solid experience representing buyers. Helen Hillstrom has been offering this service since 1979 when few other Realtors offered it. She is proud to be among those who ‘wrote the book’ on buyer agency and whose ideas are now the basis of most buyer agent training programs.
  • Up-to-date real estate brokerage tools.       
  • e-Brokerage capabilities.       
  • Excellent sources for financing, house inspectors, title companies.       
  • Understanding that clients need to be kept informed, and that they need continual information along the way to understand the process.        
  • Patience and enthusiasm for buyers’ objectives.

We at Hillstrom Real Estate pass all the above criteria, and more. We practice Single Agency which means that we represent only one party in a transaction.

>>Back to Top

Writing the Offer to Buy a House

Buyers make offers to sellers in writing on standard contracts that are developed by local Realtors and their Contract and Clause Committees and reviewed by the Realtors’ attorneys. In our area, the Realtor’s contract is relatively balanced and does not overly lean to the benefit of either buyers or sellers.  Most of the contract is made up of required disclosures and standard contract legalese. The legalese is not insignificant and buyers should read and understand it.

Buyers fill in the blanks on the contracts with the details of their offers. In the blank spaces include, among other things:

• The prices being offered,
• The amount of the earnest money deposits,
• The dates buyers wish to close on the sales,
• The amounts of the down payment,
• The amounts of the mortgages buyers intend to obtain,
• The types and terms of these mortgages and the dates they are expected to be committed,
• Structural and environmental inspections.

The above items are basic. Buyers can add anything to their offers that fits their needs. Unless offers are exactly what sellers ask for, anything offered is negotiable.

As soon as possible offers are taken to sellers who can accept, reject, or counter them. Most offers are countered on one or more issues. An issue can be as minor as changing the settlement date by a day or two. Or, it can be major such as significantly changing buyers’ offering prices to a higher figure. Then offers come back to the buyers who must decide whether to accept, reject, or counter the counter offers.

Our Realtor’s contract is written so that buyers do not loose their good faith deposits if they are turned down for loans, or if inspections turn out to be unsatisfactory.

Once buyers and sellers agree to everything, the offers become binding contracts - and there is no turning back. There is no 3-day grace period as with some consumer purchases. The only “out” is if the contingencies, such as loan and inspection contingencies, are not satisfied.

At this point, buyers are on their way to buying a new home!

>>Back to Top

House Inspections

Wise buyers have houses inspected as a condition of completing the purchases.  The are several common types of inspections that may be performed on a home:

The General inspection is the most common and it covers most systems of a house; electrical, plumbing, structural, etc.  Occasionally it is desired to have certain features re-inspected, such as roof, furnace and air conditioning, by people who work specifically in those areas.

Termite and other wood-boring insect inspections are common in the parts of the country where termites and wood-boring insects flourish.  This type of inspection may be required by a mortage lender prior to issueing a loan.

Environmental hazards inspections are recommended where appropriate. These may be inspections for radon, lead paint, asbestos, mold, and other conditions that are currently recognized as problems in human habitation.

Buyers want to know what is broken and then ask sellers to repair/replace whatever does not work.

Big ticket ($) items in houses can be repairs/replacements to:
 - Structure / Foundation
 - Roof
 - Windows and siding
 - Wall-to-wall carpeting
 - Fixtures, such as
 - Heating and air conditioning systems
 - Kitchen appliances and water heater
Some fixtures can be old but still work. Sellers hope buyers will accept these. Buyers may or may not agree and negotiations begin on what to repair and what not to repair. It is wise in negotiating to focus on the more costly issues and ignore the little problems. A crack in the pane in the attic window is far less important than the need for a new element in the water heater.

We recommend that buyers accompany their inspectors through the entire inspection. They learn a lot about the house they will soon live in for many years.
There are many qualified home inspectors, and some not so qualified. The home inspector you select should:

1. Be a full time professional.
-Not a handyman, your uncle, or someone doing it on the side
-Someone who has performed 500 to 1000 inspections or more.

2. Have a current license if your state requires one. Ask to see it.
-Most require some level of insurance.
3. Be a member of a reputable Professional association such as:
-The National Association of Home Inspectors
-The American Society of Home Inspectors

4. Have real construction/home repair/home inspection experience.
-not just internet home inspectors school.

5. Take the time to do a good job.
-quality home inspections take time 2-3 1/2 hours or more.
-less than that is not a home inspection.

6. Provide a written report listing problems and defects.
-checklists are mostly worthless to home buyers.

Qualifications list above courtesy of Scott Madison -
Check out our Preferred Inspector list.

>>Back to Top

Home Buyer Reports


Be sure not to pay too much for your home!
Whether you are buying your first home, or your fifth, the process of buying a home is a detailed, time-consuming venture...
Read More 


Ensure A Smooth Home Purchase
Buying a home can be an emotional, time-consuming, and complex process...
Read More 


Avoid the Most Common Buying Errors
Shopping for a new home is an emotional experience. It’s also time consuming and comes with a myriad of details...
Read More 


Things To Keep In Mind When Buying Your First Home
Many renters are starting to think about purchasing a home of their own. Several factors should be considered when purchasing a home...
Read More