March 11th, 2018 9:16 AM by Jackie A. Graves
How to find exactly what you want, and how
to work with the experts who’ll help you get it.
So you’re thinking about buying your first home. Your very own
house (and mortgage). A place to call — and make — your own.
It’s a big move, literally and figuratively. Buying a house
requires a serious amount of money and time. The journey isn’t always easy. It
isn’t always intuitive. But when you get the keys to your new home — that,
friend, can be one of the most rewarding feelings pretty much ever.
The key to getting there? Knowing the home-buying journey.
Knowing what tools are at your disposal. And most importantly? Creating
relationships with experts who can help you get the job done.
That’s where this guide comes in. We’ll show you not only the
major steps you’ll take during the home-buying process, but also explain the
relationships and experts you’ll need along the way. We’ve even made a handy infographic that outlines the home-buying process from
start to finish.
You ready to live the dream? Here we go.
Do Your Homework | Start Shopping | Find a Great Agent | Choose a Lender| Pick a Loan (It’s Not So Bad) | Visit Open Houses, and Look Around | Make an Offer | Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate | Get the Place Inspected | Ace the Appraisal | Close the Deal
Do Your Homework
Oh sure, everybody wants to jump right into open houses. But
before you even set foot into a foyer, you should identify your list of “musts”
and “wants.” This list is an inventory of priorities for your search. And
there’s so much to decide: Price, housing type, neighborhood, and school
district — just to name a few.
To get yourself grounded, we recommend filling out this brief worksheet.
If you’re planning to buy a home with a partner (in life or in
real estate), fill the worksheet out with them. You want to be on the same page
while buying a house. If you’re not, you’ll be less able to give agents or
lenders the information they need to help you. And you risk wasting time
viewing homes you can’t afford — or don’t even want in the first place.
you know what you’re looking for, the next step is to start looking at listings and housing information online.
(This part? You’re going to crush it.)
relationship with your real estate agent is the foundation of the home-buying
process. (And your agent = your rock.) He or she is the first expert you’ll
meet on your journey, and the one you’ll rely on most. That’s why it’s
important to interview agents and find the agent who’s right for your specific needs.
you’ve found your agent (AKA, your new best friend), ask him or her to
recommend at least three mortgage lenders that meet your financial needs.
This is another big step, as you’ll be working with your lender closely
throughout the home-buying process.
you’ve decided on a lender (or mortgage broker), you’ll work with your loan
agent to determine which mortgage is right for you. You’ll consider the
percentage of your income you want to spend on your new house, and you’ll
provide the lender with paperwork showing proof of income, employment status,
and other important financials. If all goes well (fingers crossed) you’ll be
pre-approved for a loan at a certain amount. (Sweet.)
that you have both an agent who knows your housing preferences and a budget —
and a lender to finance a house within that budget — it’s time to get serious about viewing homes. Your agent will
provide listings you may like based on your parameters (price range, ZIP codes,
features), and will also help you determine the quality of listings you find
online. Then comes the fun part: Open houses and private showings, which give
you the unique opportunity to evaluate properties in a way you can’t online.
you find the home you want to buy, you’ll work with your agent to craft an offer that not only
specifies the price you’re willing to pay but also the proposed settlement date
and contingencies — other conditions that must be agreed upon by both parties,
such as giving you the ability to do a home inspection and request repairs.
an offer can feel like an emotional precipice, almost like asking someone out
on a date. Do they like me? Am I good enough? Will they say yes? It’s
stressful! Some home sellers simply accept the best offer they receive, but
many sellers make a counteroffer. If that happens, it’s up to you to decide whether you want your agent to negotiate with the seller or
walk away. This is an area where your agent can provide real value by using
their expert negotiating skills to haggle on your behalf and nab you the best
your offer is accepted, then you’ll sign a contract. Most sales contracts
include a home inspection contingency, which means you’ll hire a licensed or
certified home inspector to inspect the home for needed repairs, and then ask
the seller to have those repairs made. This mitigates your risk of buying a
house that has major issues lurking beneath the surface, like mold or cracks in
the foundation. (No one wants that.) Here’s what to expect.
you offer to buy a home, your lender will need to have the home appraised to
make sure the property value is enough to cover the mortgage. If the home
appraises close to the agreed-upon purchase price, you’re one step closer to
settlement — but a low appraisal can add a wrinkle. Not one you can’t deal
with. Here’s how to prepare.
last stage of the home-buying process is settlement, or closing. This is when
you sign the final ownership and insurance paperwork and make this whole thing
official. There’s some prep work you have to take care of first.
When it’s all said and done —
break out the rosé. You’ll have the keys to your new home!
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