There has never been a better time to purchase Yuma real estate, and the real estate agents here at ERA are ready to help you find the land or home of your dreams! At ERA Real Estate, we don't think of a house as just a piece of property.

We see it as your home, the center of your family's life, the very special place where your children grow up, where you welcome your neighbors and friends, and where your dreams come to life. You want to make sure you feel comfortable, secure, and confident in your new home, and we are committed to working with you to find the home that fits you and your family's needs.


Renting vs. Buying

Renting offers a lifestyle that's nearly maintenance-free. That may appeal to you, but consider that renting offers you no equity, no tax benefit, and most likely no protection against regular rent increases.

If your rent has averaged $700 a month for the last 10 years, you've spent $84,000 with nothing to show for it. Isn't it time you invested in yourself instead of your landlord?

Several financing options hold special advantages for first-time buyers or families with limited cash reserves. FHA-insured and VA-guaranteed mortgages can minimize or even eliminate your down payment. You may also consider a lease-purchase agreement, or borrow cash for a down payment from life insurance, profit-sharing or a retirement account.

In addition to tax deductions you'll likely receive that can partially offset the cost of real estate taxes, insurance and home maintenance, your home may appreciate in value. If you purchase a home that costs $100,000 and the property increases in value only two percent each year, your potential appreciation in just two years is nearly $4,200. And due to changes to the tax code, subject to certain restrictions, up to $250K (or $500K if married filing jointly) of the profit you make when you sell the house is tax-free as long as you own the property for a minimum of 24 months.


Working with a Real Estate Professional

What are the advantages of using a real estate professional to help me buy a home?

Buying a home is certainly one of the most rewarding experiences most of us ever have; it's also one of the most challenging. If you're buying for the first time, the process may seem overwhelming. And even if you've been through it several times, every move is different and presents new challenges.

One clear advantage of enlisting the help of a sales professional is simply that you don't have to go through it alone. A good sales professional has the background and skills to help you through each step of the process, and make the experience of finding, buying and moving into your new home as smooth, quick and enjoyable as it can be. Another advantage is that a sales professional represents a valuable source of information about market trends; communities and neighborhoods; and especially homes for sale throughout the area. Remember, not every home seller runs an ad in the local paper or puts a sign up in the yard. In fact, many homes actually sell before there is ever a need to advertise them. The market expertise a sales professional offers you is augmented by access to complete, regularly updated information about every home listed by area sales professionals through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). As you'll see in the following questions, such professional expertise and services can be of considerable help throughout the buying process.


Starting the Buying Process

Where do I begin the process of looking for a home?

The first thing you should do is to begin focusing on what you're looking for in a home. You can start by establishing priorities in the following three areas:

Location: Are you relocating to a new town because of a new job or to be closer to your current job? How will the location of schools, shops, and transportation affect your choice of neighborhood?

Personal Tastes: How large of a home do you need? What style of architecture do you prefer? What type of lot do you prefer? Depending on where you move to, you may have a choice of homes in dozens of styles, sizes, and settings.

Budget: How much home can you comfortably afford?

As you consider these issues, do a little research of your own. Look through magazines for ideas about home styles and features. Drive through neighborhoods that appeal to you to see what's available. Read the real estate listings in the newspaper to learn about current prices in the areas you're considering. Talk to friends about the features that you'd really like to have in your home. The more knowledgeable you become, the better your final decision is likely to be.

Then sit down and consider carefully all the things you're looking for in a home. The Homebuyer's Wish List worksheet later in this section is a good starting point. When you've filled it out, you'll begin to get a good idea of what you'd like your dream home to be.


How do I find the right sales professional to work with?

The key word here is "right" While there's certainly no shortage of qualified sales professionals to choose from, it's important that you find one who can fully understand your wants, needs and individual tastes, and whose personal and professional judgment you respect.

Today's buyers also have more choices when it comes to choosing the sales professional who can best represent them in a real estate transaction. Until recent years, virtually all real estate professionals involved in a given transaction worked for the seller. However, a growing number of today's home buyers are choosing to be represented by a "buyer's agent," who represents the buyer in contrast to the traditional seller/sales professional relationship.

Many real estate companies throughout the United States have both buyer and seller agencies. A sales professional should present you with a disclosure statement before any working relationship is created. That statement should explain what a buyer's agent is and does, what a seller's agent is and does, and what dual agency means. It is very important to remember that real estate firms are governed by laws that can vary by state. Disclosure laws also vary by state.

Here are a few guidelines about the kind of service and experience you should be looking for. Plus review the top Six Reasons to Choose an ERA Professional.


How do I know how much I can afford?

We've found that affordability is probably the single biggest concern of today's first-time home buyers. Given the wide range of media coverage regularly devoted to the issue, it's not surprising that many young families wonder how long it will take them to afford their first home.

Our advice: Don't sell yourself short. Talk to your real estate professional. A good sales professional is committed to honestly and responsibly working with you to determine your affordable price range. There are many financing options available today, and some include low down payments. Your sales professional will help find an option that fits your budget, and you may be surprised at just how much home you can afford.


Property Taxes

How can I find out what my property tax bill will be?

Usually, the total amount of the previous year's property taxes is included on the listing information sheet for the home you're interested in. If not, ask to see the seller's receipt.

Remember, tax rates change from year to year, so the previous year's bill should be considered simply as a "ballpark" figure of what you would pay. For a more precise projection, call the local assessor's office for assistance, or ask your real estate professional.


Choosing a Community

What should I think about when I'm deciding which community I want to live in?

Good city services, nice parks and playground facilities, convenient shopping and transportation, a track record of sound development and good planning -- these are just a few considerations that are important to many people when they choose a community in which to live.

As for individual neighborhoods within a village or city, there is no better source of information than your real estate professional. Sales professionals know the people and the communities they serve, and chances are they can help you find a neighborhood that really fits your family's needs.

*Buying Tip: If commuting time is important to you, take a "test drive" -- get up extra early a few days and drive to work from the home you're considering.*


Where can I get information about local schools?

Again, a good real estate professional is perhaps your best source. They know where the local schools are and can provide you with valuable information about school districts, including test scores, extracurricular activities, bus service and more. If you're relocating, a sales professional may even be able to put you in touch with teachers and principals when you visit the area.

And if you want to do a little searching on your own, the Internet may also be a good place to start. has a special link to neighborhood information, including information about area school districts.


How can I find out what homes are selling for in a given neighborhood?

In most areas, home sales are a matter of public record -- you can get all the information you want about recent sales, including prices and listing times, by calling the county Recorder of Deeds.

An easier way is to ask your real estate professional. If you're interested in a particular home, a sales professional may be able to provide you with a list of comparables -- sale prices of homes in your area that are roughly the same size and age as the home you're considering. Although there will certainly be some differences between the homes -- the house next door may have an extra bedroom, or the one down the block may be older than the one you're looking at -- it's a good basis for evaluating the seller's asking price.


Understanding Listings

If I'm moving a considerable distance, is there any way I can screen homes before I start traveling?

Yes. Today's Multiple Listing Services (MLS) -- which include as much as 90 percent of the homes listed in any given community -- have made it relatively easy for buyers to access detailed information on homes for sale practically anywhere in the country.

ERA Real Estate has taken the MLS concept into the next generation with, our Web site, which features over 50,000 domestic listings. It's a powerful way for buyers to find the perfect home. The site also includes ERA International listings, allowing interested buyers to expand their search to other countries without ever leaving their home.

If you run across any other abbreviations or terms you don't understand, don't be embarrassed -- after all, you don't buy a home every day. The glossary of real estate terms in the back of this book provides further assistance, or you can simply contact a local ERA office; they'll be happy to "translate" for you.

*Buying Tip: Pay attention to the original listing date of the homes you look at. Sellers tend to be more flexible the longer the house is on the market.*


Making an Offer

When I've found the home I like, how do I make an offer?

When you've found a special house you want to call home, you'll probably feel excited and a bit nervous. Let the sales professional know you're ready to write an "offer to purchase" -- a written document that declares how much you are willing to pay for the home provided that certain conditions are met. Because it's a legally binding contract that you will sign and date, it may be a good idea to have a lawyer review it, within the grace period noted in the contract.

This is the time when it is most important for you to keep in mind that, unless you have specifically retained the services of a buyer's agent, the sales professional is working for the seller. As the legal agent of the seller, he or she is obligated to help the seller get the best price, and will report to the seller any confidence you share.

It's best to make your offer without sharing with the agent your willingness to offer any higher price if the seller does not accept your offer.

Your offer should have a time limit for the seller to accept it, reject it, or make a counter-offer. If a counter-offer is made, you will have some time to respond. Often, several offers go back and forth until an offer is accepted, or one party decides to end negotiations.

*Buying Tip: Measure all rooms for your furniture -- don't try to judge by looking at the current owner's placement.*


How do I determine the amount of my initial offer?

There is really no rule to use in calculating an initial offer. Naturally, the buyer wants the best value and the seller want the best price, but negotiations can be influenced by many factors, such as a seller who may be changing jobs and wants to sell quickly, or a buyer who is set on a specific home.

After you've looked at the home's features, asked questions, checked comparables, and talked about it with your sales professional, you should have a good idea of what the home's value is in the current market. Consider what you can afford, and make an offer that you consider to be fair.

Most buyers and sellers negotiate on price, with both sides "giving" a little until both agree.

At that point, you typically will begin the process of arranging for an inspection and applying for a mortgage. See the "Financing" section of this book for more information.


What is "Earnest Money" and how much do I need?

When you sign an offer to purchase, your sales professional will ask you for " earnest money." This refers to a monetary commitment that shows you are serious about wanting to buy. Usually, you will be asked to write a check for one to 10 percent of the sale price.

This money will be held in a special escrow account. If your offer is accepted, your earnest money will be included as part of your down payment. If your offer is not accepted, you'll get back all your earnest money. But keep in mind that if you back out, you may forfeit the full amount.


Is there any way I can protect myself against emergency repair bills in my new home?

Yes. Home warranties offer you protection against many potentially costly problems not covered by your homeowner's insurance. Such warranties have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason.

The coverage can save you thousands in the event of a major mechanical breakdown at a time when your cash reserves have been depleted by your down payment and moving expenses. For more about home warranties, see the information on the ERA Home Protection Plan.


Home Protection Plan

The Home Protection Plan for ERA

When you're buying a home, buy with no major repair worries -- choose a house covered by the Home Protection Plan for ERA *. It's your best protection against costly, unexpected repair bills after closing.

The Home Protection Plan for ERA is simply an exclusive ERA program to protect you against expensive repair or replacement costs when the major working components in your new home break down: water heater...furnace...built-in appliances...electrical wiring...central air duct work...interior plumbing system and fixtures. Your protection lasts for a full year from the date of purchase on a previously owned home. And if you've purchased a new home, the Extended Home Protection Plan for ERA protects you from the first anniversary to the fifth anniversary of closing. ** Limited protection on Condominiums, covering the water heater, interior plumbing fixtures, and built-in appliances is also available.

Homes protected by the Home Protection Plan for ERA sell 15% faster on average. *** As an added bonus, the Home Protection Plan for ERA also protects sellers the same way. While your home is on the market, the same major components are covered until the day of sale -- or a maximum of 180 days. ****

So relax. Not only will you have peace of mind regarding unexpected repairs but you also increase the chances that your home will sell faster at a better value. The Home Protection Plan for ERA, another reason why we say, at ERA, "We're Selling Houses."


The Extended Home Protection Plan for ERA

The protection you need, when your builder's mechanical systems warranty runs out.

Buying a new home is certainly a wise decision. Chances are, you're covered by a builder's warranty for the first year, which gives you the protection you need against defects in your new home's major mechanical systems.

But what about normal wear and tear after the first year? A builder's warranty usually doesn't cover it. Neither do homeowners' insurance plans. And that's why you should have the Extended Home Protection Plan for ERA for new homes. It covers you from the 2nd through the 5th year, when you need it the most. Coverage through the 5th year, even if you sell. Coverage begins on the first anniversary of the close of escrow on your new home, and continues for four full years.

What's more, the coverage is transferable to a new buyer, provided you have at least one year remaining on the warranty, you sell your home through an ERA broker and a transfer fee is paid. So if you're transferred and have to relocate, the Extended Home Protection Plan for ERA can work for the new owner, as well. Which makes it an attractive sales tool to help your home sell quicker and easier. The ERA Extended Home Protection Plan. The protection you need for the new home that won't be new next year. Available exclusively through your ERA Real Estate Specialist.

* Costs, conditions and limitations apply. See contract for complete terms and conditions. A product of AON Home Warranty Services, Inc.

** First year protection through builder's home warranty. Protection for second through fifth years through Home Protection Plan for ERA administered by AON Home Warranty Services, Inc. See contract for complete terms and conditions.

*** Averages are based on a 1996 survey of 11,332 random listings among ERA Member Brokers throughout the United States. Methodology and findings verified by Flaspohler Rose Quantitative Research, Inc., an independent market research company. Survey results are available upon request.

**** Heating and air conditioning units require a professional mechanical inspection for seller coverage.