So you’ve decided you’re ready to tackle the home buying process. Making the decision to purchase a home is an exciting step and the first of many you’ll make during the home buying process. Hopefully, you’ve already (if you haven’t yet, do so now!). But now what? Navigating the buying process can be a little overwhelming, especially for the first time homebuyer, so here’s a quick guide that outlines what you can expect throughout the process.
THE HOME BUYING PROCESS
STEP 1 – GET PRE-APPROVED FOR A MORTGAGE
The first step is to figure out how much the bank is willing to lend you and determine your budget. Your lender will look at your income, credit history, debts, and how much you’ve saved for a down-payment. Once they’ve done that, the lender will issue you a written approval guaranteeing that you are pre-approved for that mortgage amount at a specific interest rate for a period of time. Keep in mind, being pre-qualified is not the same as being pre-approved. I always require that clients get pre-approved because the listing agent will typically insist on a pre-approval letter from your lender when you submit an offer, especially if there are multiple buyers interested in the house.
STEP 2 – MAKE A WISH LIST
Make a list of what you’re looking for in a home. Actually, make two lists. One of those lists should be your “must-haves” – the things you absolutely will not or cannot compromise on. Make another list for the things you’d love to have but could maybe live without if push came to shove. Knowing which items on your lists are deal breakers and which ones aren’t helps me narrow down the homes that would work for you.
STEP 3 – FIND AN AGENT
For most people, buying a house is one of the biggest decisions and investments they’ll ever make. So it makes sense that you’d want a support team you trust and can rely on to help the transaction run smoothly. That’s what your real estate agent is there for. As your agent, I’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for and take a lot of the stress out of the house hunting process by pre-screening homes that I think would work for you based on the details we discuss.
STEP 4 – START HOUSE HUNTING
Now it’s time for the fun part – looking for your perfect home. You’ll probably start your search by scouring the MLS listing sites online to see what is out there but I’ll also email you links to homes I think might work for you. Then we hit the road and start looking at homes in person. The more homes we visit, the more you’ll begin to understand exactly what you’re looking for and you might adjust your wish list accordingly. Eventually, you’ll walk into the perfect house and that will be it. You’re ready to make an offer!
STEP 5 – MAKING AN OFFER
So you’ve found the property you want to buy, now what? Well, we sit down, decide how much you’d like to pay for the home and hammer out a written offer – click here for more details on What Goes into a Written Offer. But for now, just know that a written offer includes how much you’d like to purchase the home for, what you’d like the seller to include (washer and dryer, refrigerator, blinds, etc.) and when you’d like to close on the home. After we submit the offer, we wait to hear back from the seller and their agent on whether your offer was accepted, rejected or signed back with a counter-offer. Be prepared that we may have to go back and forth with the seller a few times before everyone is happy and the deal is accepted.
STEP 6 – CONTINGENCY PERIOD
Now that your offer has been accepted, the deal goes into a “sale pending” state. This is when you’ll want to have home inspections done so that you can learn everything about the home from the ground up before making the final commitment to purchase the property. During this time, you can also ask the seller to repair any problems revealed during the home inspection or make consignments to offset the costs of fixing the problems yourself once you move in. While the home is in a “sale pending” state, you’ll also finalize all paperwork with your lender to make sure your financing is squared away.
STEP 7 – PENDING STATE
Once the contingencies have been removed, your home will enter the final stage of escrow. During this time, all documents are prepared and signed for the title transfer. As your agent, I’ll also make sure that all appraisals, repairs and re-inspections (if there are any) are completed and can assist you with preparing to move into your new home.
STEP 8 – CLOSING
You’re almost there! Closing is the formal process where all parties sign the necessary paperwork to complete the transaction and funds are transferred from your lender to the escrow company and the title of the home is transferred to you, the buyer. More importantly, it is when the seller hands over the keys to your new home!