It’s never been a better time to buy a home in Knoxville! Maybe you’ve already fallen in love with a certain neighborhood. You already love the natural area access in South Knoxville, or the hustle and bustle of downtown. Let’s make your new-home dreams come true! Before you start shopping for a property, you’ll need to make a few preparations first. Get everything in order to start your home search today with our Knoxville Home Buyer’s Guide.
Check Your Credit Health
How good is your credit score? It will have a huge bearing on what kind of property you can buy and what you’ll pay for it. Check in with your lending institution to determine what you can afford for a property.
Build Your Financial File
Gather all the important financial documents you’ll need to secure financing for your property. This should include:
- Bank accounts
- Financial statements
- Recent pay stubs
- Two years of tax returns
- Investment information (including copies of leases for investment properties)
- Credit cards
- Auto loans
- 401(k) statements, life insurance, stocks, bonds and any mutual account information
Take Financial Care Going Forward
You’ll want to maintain or improve your finances from this point on. Approach your property purchase from a position of financial stability. This means no other large purchases or sudden career changes—those can wait. When you’re looking to buy a property, you’ve got to make it your priority.
It’s a good idea to obtained a lender’s pre-approval, approval letter or written loan commitment. This is a better guarantee of approval than a simple pre-qualification from your financial institution. It demonstrate to potential sellers that you’re serious about pursuing your purchase.
Knoxville has no shortage of great agents that can help you navigate this major purchase! The important thing is to find an agent that you “click” with, who understands you and your needs. Finding the best fit for you can feel overwhelming, but we’ve got a few tips that we’ve found can make your experience easier.
Start By Asking Around
You’ll want to work with someone who has a good idea of your needs. You can get great in-depth reviews from friends and family members when it comes to who they’ve worked with in the past. You can get great recommendations from folks in your neighborhood! Zero in on an agent with someone who’s worked with similar clients to you, whether you’re a first-time buyer or a homeowner looking to downsize.
Whoever you choose, make sure they’re a certified Realtor. Designations to look for include CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) and SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist). They’ll be bound by the National Association of Realtors’ code of ethics.
Get Your Financial Affairs in Order First
Before you go full-steam ahead into your home search, meet with your lending institution to determine what kind of property you’re eligible to purchase and how much you’re able to spend. You can get pre-approved for a mortgage, which will help you search within your price range and prove yourself as a serious buyer to potential Realtors and home-sellers.
Meet With At Least Three Real Estate Agents
As with a job interview, the interview experience is meant for both parties to learn more about each other. You can get a great sense of the potential Realtor’s style and expertise. You’ll want to find a Realtor who is both familiar with Knoxville and understanding of your budget.
Another thing to look for is the Realtor’s communication style and availability. If you’re looking to communicate primarily via text, or you’ll want to visit home after business hours during the week, you’ll need a Realtor who can work with that.
Look Into Your Candidates—Including Their References
You can learn a lot from potential Realtors’ online presence and online reviews, including from the Better Business Bureau. One or two negative reviews aren’t a huge deal, but overwhelmingly negative feedback tells you who to avoid. Tennessee’s real estate regulator can tell you whether an agent you’re considering is licensed or has any disciplinary actions in their file.
Ask potential Realtors to supply you with contact information for a few recent clients and information on homes they’ve listed and sold in the past year. Reach out to previous clients and ask about their experience during the search and negotiations. You can get valuable insight by flat-out asking them if they’d hire that agent again.
Trust Your Instincts
Be informed, but don’t overthink it. In the end, go with your gut and choose an agent you trust to guide you through the Knoxville real estate market. Someone can be a great Realtor and still not be a great fit for you. There are plenty of other fish in the sea and you’re bound to click with another.
Know Your Terms
Be aware of the terms you’ve agreed to in your contact. This includes the length of the contract and the real estate commission. Find out what’s negotiable and what is more fixed. Know your options so you can be confident in your purchase process.
Finding your Knoxville dream home will be like any other purchase. You’ll identify what you want, then find the property that fits your needs at a price that works for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help the process go smoothly.
Be True to Who You Are
You might love the storybook look of a Victorian home but have needs better suited to a single-level ranch. You might also be drawn to the blank canvas of a fixer-upper, but have limited experience with renovation. Closely and honestly examine your lifestyle. A little whimsy is awesome, but don’t be guided entirely by your daydreams. Keeping it realistic will serve you better long-term.
Translate your dreams into a concrete list of features you want most in a home, then determine which are needs and which would just be icing on the cake. Then, identify a few neighborhoods you can see yourself in based on recreation, amenities, commute time and schools. Then, take a look online to get an idea of which homes in your preferred areas fall into your price range. All of these steps should set you on the right path to make the most of your search time.
Keep a Level Head
It’s okay to be a little picky, but don’t close your mind to options that are slightly outside of your comfort zone. You never know—a home slightly outside of your dream neighborhood could surprise you! At the same time, don’t let a home’s “wow” factor blind you to elements of the home that make it incompatible to your lifestyle. Let your priority list be your guide and remember there’s no such thing as a “perfect” home.
Get the Opinions That Count
When you’re making a major financial decision, it’s only natural to seek opinions and reassurance. Try to keep these conversations to a select one or two folks in your life that have a good idea of what you want and need. Regardless of input, be sure you stay true to those wants and needs so your decision in based on what’s important to you.
You’ve done it! You’ve found the Knoxville home of your dreams and you’re ready to move in. There are only a few steps between here and your move-in, but they can take some patience and persistence. Your agent is well-equipped to help you navigate these steps and get you where you want to be.
Initial Agreement and Deposit
Firstly, maintain written records. You can transcribe all verbal agreements including counter-offers and addendums, then convert them to written agreements to be signed by both parties. Your agent can assist you in drafting all the paperwork for your purchase and make sure that you have copies of everything. Once the offer has been made, you and the seller will be given a timeline to mark every stage in the process of closing the real estate contract. Promptly meeting the requirements smooths out the negotiation process and also ensures both parties keep to their agreements.
Closing In on Your Purchase
An attorney or title company will act as closing agent. In doing so, they’ll hold your deposit in escrow. They’ll also ensure the title is free and clear of mortgages, leases, restrictions and leans by the close date. They’ll also include all new encumbrances of this kind in the title. You’ll want to consult an attorney or your tax advisor as to the best way to hold title at this time.
The property you’re looking to buy will undergo a series of inspections. You’ll have one or more licensed property inspectors examine all areas of the home including the roof, structural integrity and HVAC system. You’ll consider the property inspection, review all the pertinent documents and obtain financing and insurance. If these marks are met successfully the sale can proceed; otherwise, a renegotiation of the terms (usually the price) can be submitted. This is where your agent’s expertise is really going to come in to tie up all the loose ends.
Keep the Communication Lines Open
During this time you’ll want to maintain contact with your lender. They’ll inform you when you need to submit additional documentation for your loan application. If your agreement with the seller is contingent on financing, a licensed appraiser will take a look too as a third-party for the lending institution. When you’re within two weeks of the close date, check in with your lender to make sure you’re all buttoned up.
If your purchase is also conditional upon approval from an association, you’ll want to complete all the items asked of your from that end during this process as well. This includes applications, processing fees, any required interviews and certificates of approval. The closing agent will want a copy of the associational approval letter, so you’ll need to supply that as well.
Don’t Forget Insurance
If you’re taking out a loan, your lender will need you to purchase insurance on the property. You can save money on homeowners insurance by shopping around, considering the possibility of a higher deductible and asking your insurance agent about potential discounts. Finally, you should insure the value of the home—not the land. By subtracting the value of the land when deciding how much insurance you need, you’ll avoid paying more than you should.
If you’re looking to live in Knoxville, now is the time to make it happen! Knoxville boasts a strong real estate market, striking a balance between very hot and surprisingly affordable. Dubbed “Recession-Resistant” by Forbes, you need only stroll down Gay Street or take a spin around Turkey Creek to find a booming local economy and vibrant culture.
Home prices are steadily increasing but Knoxville’s average monthly mortgage payment is less than the national average. This gives the area widespread appeal to folks from all walks of life. Knoxville’s accessibility naturally translates into a flourishing housing market. Many homes in the area sell quickly, attracting multiple offers at or above the asking price.
How can this be? All signs point to Knoxville’s job market. The vitality of the Knoxville real estate market has a lot to do with area job security and increasing opportunities to work remotely. The Knoxville area is rife with well-established corporations and unemployment is at a low.
The bottom line? Knoxville is thriving and somehow still affordable. You can experience everything this lively city has to offer! We can help make your dreams a reality.