|Realtor® in Fayetteville, AR
Cell phone: 479-966-0435
Buying a home in Arkansas
Arkansas is a wonderful place to live, off the beaten path, but easily accessible too. The larger, more urban areas provide lots to do and see in terms of cultural opportunities and educational endeavors, while the more rural areas offer a more laid-back lifestyle—hiking, boating, fishing, golf, etc. Fayetteville and NW Arkansas, for example, have made it to many “best places” lists–to live, retire, raise a family, start a small business, etc. And the quality of life assets have also made it a great place to purchase a home.
All real estate is local, governed by state law. Although there are similarities from state to state, there are some variations. For this reason, it is important for buyers to have a buyer agent who knows the local market well and will represent their interests. In Arkansas, it is possible for buyers to have their own agent at no extra cost to them on homes listed by a real estate firm, since sellers will pay the same commission whether their own (“listing”) agent sells the home, or another agent (a “buyer’s agent”) sells it. The commissions are already included in the purchase price.
The first step to purchasing a home in Arkansas as in other areas is to be pre-qualified or pre-approved by a lender. This will give buyers a price range to search, since the amount the bank will lend them serves as a guide or how much they can afford. Pre-qualification is a less formal procedure and often may be completed over the phone. It involves the buyer telling the loan originator how much money he/she makes, how much he owes, etc. Pre-approval is when the buyers actually fill out all the paper work and apply for the loan. Many loan originators work with so-called “desk top approval” software and can give preliminary approval even before all of the supporting paperwork has been submitted.
The fun part of finding a new home is looking at houses to select one to purchase. Advances in technology now permit buyers to look at the entire Multiple Listing Service (MLS) on line. Most agents now have websites, and there are other national aggregator sites like Realtor.com, Trulia.com and others where current listings can be found. There are also foreclosure sites where bank-owned properties can be found.
But Arkansas is a largely rural state and many small rural towns and counties do not have an MLS. There the home purchase process is like in the old days where a buyer may have to call each listing agent in order to see all of the homes they want to see. Some rural real estate agents don’t even have websites. In larger metro areas such as Little Rock, Ft. Smith, Jonesboro, and Fayetteville and NW Arkansas, there are MLS websites of local listings. And some smaller towns are listed under the MLS for larger areas. Your buyer’s agent will be able to guide you in this matter.
With so much information now online, it may seem that buyers don’t really need agents. Nothing could be further from the truth. The buyer’s agent can guide out of state buyers in terms of procedures, rights and responsibilities. For example, the home inspection needs to be completed within 10 business days of acceptance of the buyer’s offer. Similarly, buyers need to at least start checking on home owners’ insurance during this same period, otherwise if they can’t get insurance on a particular property after that period, they are no longer entitled to a refund of their earnest money. There are other small matters, which vary according to the area as well, for which the buyer agent can provide guidance–even which lenders may be better than others. And good buyer agents will do a market analysis on the home selected for purchase to assure that the buyers don’t pay too much.
Now is a wonderful time to purchase a home. Depending on the part of the state a buyer may want, prices either didn’t rise as high as the housing bubble nationwide (for example, Little Rock) or have now fallen significantly from their peak a few years ago (NW Arkansas). And to find a good buyer agent, select one with a CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) designation or ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative), or both. A well-trained and experience agent, with knowledge of the local market, can help make the home purchase experience more pleasant and help find that great deal.