Buyer Resources

Thank you for taking the time to allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Alicia, Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.   My vision is to streamline the buying and selling process for you, weed through the unnecessary and do everything in my power to promote your best interest to help you achieve your goals.  Below you will find insightful information on everything from what to look for in an agent to what to look for in a home inspection to lender advice.  Click the video to view a welcome email from me.



I can help with any real estate questions that may come up. Send me a message at and I would be happy to help.


Preapproval vs. Prequalification

Many homebuyers have asked, "What the heck is the difference?" Let's quickly break it down.

Getting prequalified for a mortgage loan is a rough estimate of how much you can afford in terms of a loan. It's quick and it gives you a ballpark idea of a price range, but it does not guarantee you a loan or specific loan amount.

On the other hand, getting pre-approved takes your credit, employment, and other important information into account. A preapproval from a mortgage lender is an actual written commitment that says they will finance your loan up to a certain amount.

I've always thought the terms were a little confusing, considering how similar they are. No matter what, if you're looking for a new home, getting prequalified and preapproved is an excellent first step when it comes to looking at properties.

What to Expect From Your Agent

Often times, buyers and sellers are unsure of what to expect from their agent leading to confusion and frustration.  Here is a quick video to help you understand how an agent should be representing you as their client.  Just click the video to get started!


An Open House Vs. A Showing

"What is the difference between an open house and a showing?"

An open house is when a homeowner and agent set aside a window of time where anyone can come and check out the property. Open houses tend to happen on weekends, but they can happen at any time, and they usually run for a couple of hours.

A showing is a private tour of the property. It's more intimate, and it allows a closer look, especially for buyers interested in making an offer.

 What is Buyer Agency and How Much Does it Cost Me?

often get asked the question, " Do I have to pay you to help me find a home?"  The answer is yes, a small fee.  When you hire an agent as your buyer's agent, you are agreeing for that agent to work exclusively for YOU in the purchase of the home, NOT the seller. Buyer Agency agreements allow you to have an advocate to promote, negotiate and disclose all facts and information that will affect you in the home buying process.  So, how do agents get paid for all of this and what do they do?

An agent's prime function is to help guide you through all of your decisions and processes. We help with not just finding the right home for you but also:

  • Setting appropriate budgets
  • Finding hidden details on homes (both good and bad)
  • Helping out with locating hidden costs (taxes, utilities, etc.)
  • Negotiations
  • Closing
  • Paperwork
  • Help you find the best mortgage lenders, movers, home inspectors and more


Berkshire Hathaway Home Services charges a transaction fee of $295.00 IF and only IF you find and close on a home.  You stop looking, there is NO fee.  Buyers' agents do get paid an additional commission.  This fee is paid through the seller in the form of a "success" fee to agents who bring buyers in to look at their home.  

And that's it!  Isn't it worth it to have your personal advocate through the process knowing it's really not going to cost you?  Yes.  Yes it is.

I Found a House, Now What?

You've looked and looked and looked.  And finally, we have found your dream home.  The one that you can picture yourself in for years to come and create loads of memories in.  But how do you make sure that your offer is the one that gets accepted?  In today's market, you need all the facts to help you put your best offer forward.  So, here's what you need to know.

#1.  Have you been pre-approved? In today's market, it is vital when placing an offer on a home that you are able to show proof that you have the funds to purchase that home.  It shows the seller just how serious you are about wanting that home.  This will give you a leg up over other offers who might not have everything together.

#2.  Earnest money.  What is this?  Earnest money deposits are funds that buyers offer up as a sort of "down payment" to secure an offer and show your good faith intent in the transaction.  Again, this will show sellers just how serious you are about purchasing their home.  Often, earnest money deposits will total 1% of the purchase price, but will vary based on the home and situation.  Earnest money will be credited back to the buyer towards purchase price at the time of closing.

#3. Is your offer contingent on the sale of your existing home?  This is something worth considering.  From a seller perspective, in this contingency, you are asking them to take a chance on the possibility of you selling your home in a timely manner.  They would need to take their home off of the market once accepted and lose that marketing time.  While this is a viable option, it will vary case to case what a seller would be willing to accept.

#4. Always consult with your agent on market activity.  Before putting in an offer, your agent should be disclosing market activity.  Are home values rising or falling near your dream home?  What is the proximity to schools?  Are there any environmental factors that can impact the homes value?  All these things are information you need to know to make sure that you are not overpaying for a property yet are submitting a strong offer. 

Should I Get a Home Inspection?

In my professional opinion, not doing one is the same as throwing away money.

Knowing about what kind of shape a home is in before you buy it is an incredibly powerful negotiating tool. Things like a cracked foundation, a collapsing roof and even outdated electrical wiring are all examples of issues that could be present and completely hidden to an untrained eye. That's why hiring a home inspector is so important.

Basically, here's the way I like to look at it: if you've found the house you want to live in for the next 10 years, getting a home inspection will either help you steer clear of years of expenses/headaches, or provide you with peace of mind when it comes to one of the biggest investments of your life. For a homebuyer, it's a win-win.

What is a Home Warranty & Do I Need One?

A home warranty can provide peace of mind. The last thing a home buyer wants to worry about after closing is what could possibly break or malfunction in their new home. Since that can cover a multitude of items and systems, for peace of mind, it's a good idea to get a home protection plan.

Now, whether the seller pays for the home protection plan and home warranty coverage or whether the buyer pays for it, will depend on your purchase agreement. It varies.  As a buyer, I recommend talking with your agent about the possibility of writing in a home warranty to the offer.

How Much Does a Home Warranty Cost?

They are fairly inexpensive, typically ranging from $300 to $500, depending on coverage. Home warranty companies sometimes run special sales and either discount policy prices or offer additional coverage for the same price. The policies are prepaid for a year in advance, at which time they expire and can be renewed by the homeowner at a slightly higher fee.

How Do They Work?

Although specific plans provide for specific types of coverage, most operate in a similar manner and contain common verbiage.

  • If a home system or appliance breaks or stops working, the home owner calls the home warranty company.
  • The home warranty company calls a provider with which it has a business arrangement.
  • The specific provider calls the home owner to make an appointment.
  • The provider fixes the problem. If an appliance is malfunctioning and cannot be repaired, depending on contract coverage, the home warranty company will pay to replace and install the appliance.
  • The homeowner then pays a small trade service fee for the visit (less than $100).

Types of Coverage

Because all plans differ, you will want to ask specifically what is covered. Ask your Realtor if upgrades are available. Pay close attention to whether the home warranty company will pay for repairs to make certain types of systems or appliances compliant with new regulations.