Do’s and Don’ts When Buying a Home



  • Meet with a mortgage broker to determine just how much you can spend, BEFORE you start visiting homes, and have them issue a pre-approval letter.
  • Use a local mortgage broker – not one you found on the internet across country.
  • Use an attorney who specializes in real estate.
  • Make a list of your ‘must haves’ and ‘would-like-to haves’ so you can qualify each home you visit.
  • Keep track of the homes you visit, what you like about them and what you don’t like.
  • Hire a Buyer Agent to represent you.  It is to your advantage.


  • expect to find the perfect home.  There are none.  Follow the 80-10-10 rule:   If it has 80% of the things you want, 10% are things you can change and 10% are things you can live with, it’s a keeper.
  • spend an excessive amount of time looking. It is very possible to find the right home on your first day out.   Shopping too long often leads to frustration, confusion and bad decisions.
  • expect the seller to accept your first offer unless it is at or above the asking price, especially if it is new to the market.  Low-ball offers are usually not a good strategy.
  • rely on information you find on the internet and use it to make decisions. It is often incorrect or incomplete.

See my post on “The Home Buying Process” for more information.

The Home Buying Process – What to Expect

Real estate purchase contract on a table.

Ideally, the process goes like this:

  • Your agent will present a written offer to the seller. A mortgage approval letter and a 1% deposit check should be attached.  Now is the time to identify your attorney.
  • The seller either counters or accepts the offer. Now is the time to choose the home inspector.
  • Buyer and seller agree on price, closing date, inspection date, contract signing date and mortgage contingency terms.
  • The executed offer is sent to both attorneys. The seller’s attorney writes the purchase contract.
  • The inspection date is typically within 5 days of the accepted offer.
  • The contract signing date is typically scheduled about 10 days from the date the offer is accepted.
  • The mortgage company will order an appraisal if there is a mortgage contingency.
  • If there are problems uncovered by the inspection, they are sent to the seller to be addressed.
  • Once the buyer and seller agree to the resolution of the inspection issues, the contracts are finalized and executed by both parties. The buyer now makes a full (non-refundable) deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price.
  • If the sale is contingent upon a mortgage, it could take about 30 days for the approval.
  • Once the mortgage is approved by the bank, the deal is secure and the closing can go forward.
  • Closing is typically around 2 weeks or less after the bank approves the mortgage.
  • The buyer will do a final ‘walk-through’ before the closing to insure the home is in the same condition as it was during the inspection.
  • The entire process typically takes about 60 days. With no mortgage contingency, it can be much less.

Some common exceptions:

  • The inspection uncovers many issues and the price needs to be renegotiated. This can cause delays until the parties agree, or it could end the deal altogether.
  • Buyer or seller call off the deal before the contracts are signed. The 1% deposit is returned.
  • The appraisal comes in lower than the agreed upon purchase price. The sale price may need to be renegotiated.
  • The mortgage process takes longer than expected, extending the planned closing date.
  • The mortgage is not approved and the deal is off.  The buyer deposit is returned.

2016 Top Sales

Our waterfront communities continue to hold their buyer appeal as well as value.  The most significant sales so far this year for Westport, Norwalk and Fairfield are as follows:

55 Beachside Ave, Westport, Sale price:  $8, 800,000.
Spectacular 3 acres, direct waterfront – 5000 square feet.
55 Beachside Ave.

23 Crescent Beach Road, Norwalk, Sale price: $4,237, 500.
New, waterfront, magnificent  views – 4000 square feet on .14 acre
23 Crescent Beach Road

375 Sasco Hill Road, Fairfield, Sale price: $3,637,500
Historic 1850 Antique Colonial – 8000 square feet on 2 acres.
375 Sasco Hill


Why Some Homes Sell and Others Don’t


Because of people.  There are many numbers and statistics we use in this business to determine the value and marketability of a property. But the one thing that cannot be measured or qualified is the effect of personal emotions.    It is not unusual for a buyer to pay over market value for a home if there is something about it they really want.  It could be timing (they need a quick or delayed closing and the seller can accommodate), a location benefit (a view, a friend or relative lives nearby,  proximity to a desired amenity), or maybe  a unique desired feature (special room, studio, specific layout, exquisite garden).  If it is something the buyer values and wants, they will pay for it.

On the flip side,  a seller who is committed to moving and knows exactly where they want to go, will price, present and promote their home to achieve that goal by investing in staging and presentation, keeping the price competitive, making showings easy, and negotiating successfully.  Sellers who are committed to a particular price or time frame, or who feel less certain about moving, will often find the process challenging.   Their price and presentation will be less than optimal, negotiations will often fall apart –  even if they connect to a good buyer,  and professional recommendations will often be dismissed or ignored.

Buying or selling a home is a process.  The more certain you are about what you want or where you are going, the better the process will feel and the happier you will be with the outcome.  🙂