Many may think that the first step is to start looking for a home they like but they are wrong!
Below we have laid out the steps to the home buying process as well as a few tips to keep in mind along the way...
1. Get Your Finances in Order
Start Saving and be prepared for unexpected costs.
Check your credit score and build it up if need be.
Shop Mortgages and interest rates.
Talk to a lender and get PRE-APPROVED (not pre-qualified) for what you CAN afford, not what you think you can afford. (Remember to include Real Estate Taxes, Insurance, and possibly HOA Dues into your budget)
Educate yourself on first time home buyer programs and grants in your area.
Retain a Real Estate Attorney.
2. Start Your Home Search
Find a great Realtor.
Start using a Real Estate Search Site that gives you everything you need, weekly updates, favorites, advanced search technology and a direct connection to the MLS. And we have that for you right here!
Look for homes in your price range. (There is always room for some negotiation but don't think you are going to get 20% off the asking price)
Concentrate on what you really want in a home. i.e. 2 car garage, pool, good neighborhood, schools, etc...
Pin Point an area you prefer.
Start Viewing Homes with YOUR Realtor (Your Realtor is there to make appointments for you to view and show you properties. They are on your team. Don't start driving around calling signs and other agents after you have already teamed up with a great Realtor. Your Realtor has access to every home available on the Market. They are here to help you find a home and will negotiate the best deal possible for you and only you.)
3. Find a Home and Make an Offer
Decide on your offer price with the assistance of your Realtor. This offer can be tailored to each and every seller situation. Some sellers need to move quick, others have all the time in the world. You want to take all factors into consideration but you don't want bid too low and lose the house to another buyer, so make sure you offer is reasonable.
Look at Comparable homes in the area and what they "Sold" for, not what they are "Listed" for. Your Realtor can put together a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to help you with your decision.
Don't compare a home that sold in 2005 to now. Look at recent sales. The past is the past. The market has changed.
Consider your future housing expenses. i.e. electric, water, insurance, taxes, community fees/dues.
Sign the Real Estate Contract. Your Realtor will go over the elements of the contract with you but it is your job to read it and understand how it binds you to the purchase. Your Realtor is not allowed to give your legal advice. (Components of the contract to consider: Escrow deposit amount, closing date, title insurance, inspection period, down payment amount, attorney, type of financing, additional contingencies)
Negotiation will take place with each seller. Sometimes it comes down to just price, other times it may involve Roof or Air Conditioning replacement.
4. Offer Accepted! Now Time to Inspect
Once your offer has been accepted you have a certain number of days to do your home inspections. During this time you may hire any licensed inspector or contractor to thoroughly examine the home.
If something is found during this period you may either negotiate that with the seller for repair, walk away from the contract or move forward with the purchase.
After your inspection period is over you must move forward with financing.
This is also a great time to lock in home insurance providers, schedule electric and water turn on dates, and make sure your attorney is doing all their property title insurance and permit searches. They may also need to order a survey, unless the seller can provide an updated survey previously used.
Most importantly you'll need to communicate with your lender on a regular basis to make sure they are on track to close the transaction and have all your financial information.
5. Time to Close the Deal
Closing can be done at an attorney's office or at a title company.
They will communicate with your lender prior to closing to calculate final numbers owed and amounts to be wired.
They will provide wire instructions and your final number to be wired the day before closing.
Signing papers is the last thing to do! Don't forget two forms of ID.