After years of working in the real estate industry and having been through the property purchase and refinancing process myself many times, I realized that there is a lot of confusion for home buyers in Massachusetts. Not all agents follow the steps properly or explain the steps clearly to the consumers, especially if they are inexperienced. The laws and procedures can be confusing for not just first-time home buyers. You don't want to misunderstand any documents since home purchase is such a high-state transaction! That’s why I created the following guide to explain the home buying steps and regulations.Choose an Agent: The first step to buying a home in Boston is to choose an agent you feel comfortable with. In fact, in Massachusetts it’s free for the buyer to work with an agent because the seller pays all broker fee, so there’s no reason not to have an agent. All agents in Massachusetts have access to the same properties on the market, using the same public database called Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

The required documents: all agents in Massachusetts are required by license law to have the consumer sign the consumer disclosure form, which explains the roles of different agents so the consumer may be informed of their rights. There is also the buyer representation form. Ask your agent for more details. Keep in mind that agents who do not mention the consumer disclosure form in the early stage are not following the steps of the licensing laws.

Be careful with desperate or inexperienced agents who will do anything to get you to work with them but neglect to follow the laws. The real estate industry is governed strictly by laws and regulations, which are in place to protect the consumer. Given the high-stake nature of real estate transactions, you don’t want to miss a required document that could get you in trouble years after you make the purchase.

The financing process: most buyers in Massachusetts need a mortgage to purchase a home, although there are also many cash buyers. For buyers who need a mortgage, they should get this document called pre-approval letter from their lender. A pre-approval letter is a formal document from the bank or mortgage company that certifies you can afford the amount you wish to pay for a home. All sellers will require that you submit this document along with the offer contract to prove that you have the means to pay for the property. It’s like having an ID for a home purchase.

Without a pre-approval letter from a certified lender, you cannot prove to the seller’s side that you can afford the property. It’s like not having an ID. If you plan on paying cash for the transaction, you should present the proof of funds instead. Discuss with your real estate agents about what kind of proof qualifies. Some documents are more legitimate than others and a good agent can help you make your documents more compelling if there are any potential red flags. It’s like applying for an elite college. You don’t want anything in the application to reflect poorly on you as a candidate.

The house hunting process: Once you obtain the pre-approval letter and decide your agent, discuss with your agents about how the house hunting process works. A good agent will help you figure out strategies to save time and money during the house hunting. Success starts from before you even make an offer. An effective working relationship with your agent requires communication on both sides.

Make an offer: Buying a home in Massachusetts is competitive, especially in desirable neighborhoods. If you are interested in making an our buyer’s agent will prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for you and help you come up with a unique pricing strategy to win for the least price. A good agent understands how to use the CMA numbers effectively (but not blindly or unwisely) to help your offer stand out. Having the CMA is only one piece of the puzzle. A good and experienced agent can help you figure out how to work with all kinds of competitive situations. Check out my blog articles about some of the exclusive strategies for winning a bid with the least price. We make this information exclusive because we don’t want to create competition in the market.

Stay tuned for Part II of the home buying steps!