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“The love for the industry encouraged me to get my real estate license,” she said. “I have been in the industry since 2005.”

Celena first began working in the home industry after obtaining her builders license and building a few spec homes. Celena says her favorite part of her job is helping families sell their existing home and finding a new home that is right for them. It is very rewarding to see a family grow and make memories in their new space. For first time homeowners, the home buying process can be overwhelming. Celena does her best to make the process easy and provide resources for every aspect of purchasing.

Together with the buyers, Celena will make a list of criteria they are looking for such as location, price and how much space they would like. Once those are narrowed down, she will begin scheduling tours of homes. For engaged couples, Celena said it’s never too early to get pre-approved and have a a consultation with a loan officer. The loan officer will review their financial picture and let them know their purchase options. “Looking at homes should begin about 45 days from wanting to close on a home,” she said.

When it’s time to begin the loan process, Celena will suggest to the couple loan officers who specialize in first time buyers and have the product knowledge needed. Loans are usually based on income, liabilities, etc. A buyer usually provides pay stubs, W2’s, bank statements and any other items requested from the loan officer. These items, along with an appraisal, will be reviewed by a loan underwriter for approval.

When the couple is ready to make an offer on a home, the agent will write the offer on a form that includes the terms the buyer is offering the seller including price, closing date and closing costs.

When first time home buyers are considering the contract, they should be aware of what they are committing to, including purchase price, closing date and who is paying closing costs. The process can span several weeks to a month. When paying with cash, it takes less than a week to close.

During the process, an escrow account will be setup, which is where the lender holds several months of taxes and insurance back so when the times comes to pay it, the lender pays it for the buyer from what they collected. Each month a small portion of their payment is held in the escrow account.

After the home buyer’s offer has been accepted, the buyer should get a home inspection. The home inspector inspects the entire home’s condition and discusses it with the buyer. The buyer also has the option to buy a home “as is”, which means the buyer is accepting the item with any faults. If the buyer chooses to purchase a home “as is”, they should still get an inspection to be aware of any pre-exisiting issues with the home.

Another step in the home buying process is homesteading the home. In Alabama, homeowners are allowed to claim one home as their primary homestead. This is the home occupied by the homeowner and claiming homestead reduces property taxes almost by half.

Once the home buying process starts, a closing date will be set. However, closing dates can sometimes change, but Celena says when a buyer utilizes the list of vendors she provides, who have a great track record, missing a closing date is very rare. Closing day is actually an easy process. The attorney has the mortgage paperwork ready for the buyer to sign and it usually takes less than an hour.

After closing, the new homeowners will take possession of the home. If it is vacant, this can happen immediately. If it is occupied, it might be 24 to 48 hours depending on terms agreed on. Several days before closing, the buyer will set up service with the utility companies.

What sets Celena apart from other agents is her full understanding of the home buying and selling process. She works full-time and has years of experience.

“My team and I are engaged working for buyers and sellers all day every day and I am always available for my client’s questions,” she said. “My experience has allowed me to become an expert negotiator as well as having resources that provide excellent service.” Celena ranks in the top percentage of sales in our market.

After closing, Celena stays in touch with her clients to be their resource for all things home ownership.

Celena Miller Real Estate Agent: Celena@bhamlistings.com

Hair & Makeup: Makeup Mel (Melissa Bogardus)

Photo Credit: Carnaggio Photography