Whether you are a first time homebuyer, or an experienced homeowner, buying a home is considered one of the most complicated financial decisions a person makes during their lifetime. I have developed this list of 8 Steps to Buying a Home to help take some of the “unknowns” out of the process.
1. Find a Real Estate Agent
When selecting a real estate agent, you want somebody who not only knows the “area” that you are looking in, but also knowledgeable about the home buying process in general.
2. Get a mortgage Pre-Approval
Unless you are paying for a home with cash, the first step after finding an experienced realtor is to get pre-approved for a home loan. This is where your agent can recommend lenders that he/she has done business with and get you pointed in the right direction. Most home sellers now require the pre-approval to show that you are a serious buyer, it also helps you know what price range you should be searching in for your new home.
3. Make your Wish List and view Homes
Discussing with your realtor a list of needs and wants can prove to be very helpful in finding the right home for you with the least amount of frustration. Are you looking for a single family home with a yard? A one or two story? Office or extra bedroom? What area/city/neighborhood are you looking at? Once you have established your wish list its time to get out and see some homes that meet your criteria.
4. Find a home and Make an Offer
Now that you’ve found that perfect home, it’s time to make an offer. Your agent will help you determine the best price to offer based on the comparative market analysis (CMA) of other homes that have sold recently in the area. Once your offer is reviewed by the seller, you should expect to receive a counter-offer on one or more terms in the contract. Counter-offers can include other items than price, such as closing costs, repairs, improvements, furnishings, appliances, and the closing date. Keep in mind that this IS a negotiation and is seldom a “winner take all” process, but rather works best with some compromise and mutual respect. Your agent will guide you through this process and help you settle on a final purchase contract where both parties are satisfied.
5. Offer is accepted, now what?
Having an offer get accepted is great, but there are still a few items that need to be taken care of before the closing. A few of these items are: 1) The Appraisal: Typically done by the lender to make sure the home is worth what the lender is giving you in the form of a mortgage to pay for it; 2) Home Inspection: Usually ordered and paid for by the buyer to determine the condition of the property (e.g., roofing, plumbing, electrical, structural, etc.); 3) Preliminary Title Report: Issued by the escrow company to make sure their are no “skeletons” or other documents that go against the property such as tax liens, judgements, easements, homeowner dues, etc.
6. Before the Closing
As the closing approaches, you and your agent will be working with an escrow company as well as your lender to make sure all the necessary documents have been prepared and a date has been set for closing. Also, before you close you will want to acquire a homeowner’s insurance policy, and transfer utilities to the new home. Your agent can help you coordinate this step.
7. The Closing
Closing, also known as escrow, is where ownership of the home is legally transferred from the seller to the buyer, that’s You! You will receive the keys and the seller receives payment for the home. The escrow officer finishes with recording of the new deed, loan papers, and other documents prepared with the county.
8. Enjoy your new Home
That’s it! You’ve found an experienced agent, obtained financing, made your wish list, found a home, made and negotiated an offer, and gone to closing. All that is left is to move into your new house and make it “Your Home”!
If you have any questions about the home buying process, feel free to contact me.