Before You Begin Your Search
Purchasing a home is one life’s biggest decisions. While it involves a long-term financial and emotional commitment, it can also be a very exciting and rewarding experience.
In this section we’ll help you address the many questions you’ll encounter when buying a home:
Before beginning your home search, consider completing the following steps:
Check your Credit
Obtain a copy of your credit report to avoid any surprises when you move to the next step (getting pre-qualified for a loan). If any errors or issues appear, correct them as soon as possible. Consider reducing your consumer debt as much as possible by paying down credit card balances.
Unless you are paying cash for your home, you’ll need to apply for a mortgage. Contact a mortgage loan specialist before you begin your home search, to determine how much of a loan you can obtain.
By calculating the loan amount and the monthly payment amount you would be comfortable paying, a mortgage specialist can calculate:
Getting pre-qualified for a loan also increases your chances of your offer being accepted. A seller is more likely to accept an offer from a buyer who already has funding versus one who still needs to get a loan.
Define your Target Area
Consider what locations you are interested in. Make a list of areas you are most interested and define how far outside of that area you are willing to consider.
Make an Amenities List
Defining what features are most important to you will save you from shopping for homes that do not meet your needs. Determine which criteria you absolutely cannot live without and which ones you are willing to sacrifice. Here are a few things to consider:
Choose an Agent
With your target locations and amenities defined, you’ll need to decide if you want to use the services of a real estate agent.
See Choosing an Agent for more information on how to find and select an agent.
Beginning Your Search
With your list of preferences in hand and an agent at your side, it’s time to begin the search for your new home. Based on the criteria you provide your agent, they can search their listing database for homes that meet your needs.
While visiting properties, compare homes and remember, every home is unique! Even if every home has all of the criteria you are looking for, each will have different characteristics. Bring a blank Home Search Checklist with you to each home and check off which features each house has. Make notes about what you like and dislike about each home.
Taking notes and using your checklist will help you later when you sit down and compare properties. Comparing notes will keep the details straight and help prevent you from making an emotional and impulsive decision.
Additional things to consider when touring homes:
Making an Offer
Once you have found your dream home, it is time to prepare an offer to purchase. Your buyer’s agent can provide guidance to you on the price you should offer for the property. Have your agent compare prices for similar homes that have sold in the area recently to help you to determine a reasonable offer.
In addition to the selling price, the other items to include in the terms of the Offer to Purchase include:
Don’t be surprised if your initial offer is not accepted. Your REALTOR® will represent you in all contract negotiations until an agreement is reached between the seller and you.
Closing the Deal
Once your offer has been accepted, it is time to work on the final details of purchasing your home. Several tasks are accomplished during this phase of the process:
Arrange to have a professional inspect your home. Inspectors are trained to spot electrical, plumbing, and structural problems that may not be noticeable to you. A home inspection is not required, but it is in your best interest to do one to avoid surprises upon moving in. This is an expense incurred by the buyer and is usually included in your closing costs.
You may also need to get a pest inspection on the property to make sure there is no structural damage caused by termites. Your agent can usually make a recommendation of a reputable inspector.
Applying for a Loan
Once an offer has been accepted, contact your mortgage specialist to officially apply for a loan. Be prepared to provide the following for your loan application:
The Final Walkthrough
Prior to closing, conduct a final walk through and inspection of the property. Schedule this as close to the closing date as possible, preferably on the morning of the closing. Your home inspector will not be with you during this walk through, so it is your responsibility to inspect the home and ensure everything meets your approval.
Things to look for during your walkthrough:
Usually at the time an offer is accepted, or after you have a commitment from your lender, a date and time will be arranged for your closing. The closing procedures will be handled by an attorney of your choosing. Several days before, you will be told the total dollar amount you will need to bring to closing by the closing attorney. They will also provide you with any additional information you may need to prepare yourself for the proceedings.
On the day of closing, remember to bring:
During the closing, details of the sales contract will be explained to you. If everything meets your approval, you will sign the contracts to finalize the deal.
Congratulations! You are now a new homeowner!!!!!!