Buying a Home is a big move! Buyers guide
For most people buying a home is the largest investment of their lives. It can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. Don’t stress out! You have an expert on your side. Actually it’s a lot of fun! There is around 10 steps to buying a home and a lot of it is done by professionals. Owning a home is a wise decision, and the American Dream!
- Research & Prepare
- Build a Wish List
- Mortgage Pre-Approval
- Start Shopping
- Scheduling Showings
- Make an Offer
- Close the deal
1. Research & Prepare
Lenders like to see that your down payment has been securely in your account for some time. Also check your credit report for errors or blemishes. Typically this isn’t a good time to open any new lines of credit, or finance a car.
Plan ahead! If your sale goes through you could be moving in less than 30 days, but sometimes it can take 45 to 60 days. You should probably consider packing up the knick-knacks and fancy china now so you dont have to in a rush, beat Murphy’s Law!
Surf the internet for inspiration! Pinterest is a great place to spark your imagination. Sit down with everyone involved in your move and narrow down the neighborhoods that best suit everybody. Maybe its central for everyone, or near the freeway. Research the schools, shopping, parks and recreation for these areas. Here are some tools that might help you.
2. Build a Wish List
While you have everyone together write down a checklist of “wants” and “must haves” for your next home. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- What neighborhood or area would you like? Do you want lots of land, or lots of neighbors?
- Walkability, shopping, or near parks?
- What price range?
- What type of home? (ranch, 2-story, split-level, townhouse, condo)
- Do the local schools matter to you?
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? How many do you want?
- Garage or Basement?
- Do you want move-in ready, or a fixer upper?
- Formal dining room or a home office?
3. It’s time to get Pre-Approved
Many buyers will call a lender while they’re looking to seek information about financing. In the process they become “pre-qualified“. This gives them a good idea of what they can afford, or more accurately, what loan type and amount they qualify for.
You should take it one step further. If you aren’t already, get yourself pre-approved now! You’ll be in a stronger position to buy when you find the right home.
You become pre-approved when you apply for a loan. The lender checks credit, verifies employment, and often verifies that you have sufficient funds to close. Then once you find your dream home, just about the only thing left is the appraisal. Sellers prefer pre-approved buyers because it can cut significant time out of the closing process.
Pre-approval can really help you to determine your price range, which helps you narrow your choices of homes to buy. You will already know how much you can afford before you even start looking.
4. Start Shopping
With your Wish List I can customize searches that only include your specific criteria, even for specific locations (within certain school districts for example), my search will automatically email alert you as soon as potential properties hit the market! Surveys show that over 90% of online shoppers found their home this way!
There are many apps out there for searching for properties. Some are more effective than others, and sometimes they can be discouraging. Anything you may find I am happy to verify.
I recommend Homesnap. It is one of the top rated real estate apps, and works the same as all the rest. It receives all its data from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which can only be edited by licensees. So it is the most complete, accurate, and up-to date information available to consumers. If you register you can keep track of your work, thumb up or down on listings, or request more information and schedule showings easily.
5. Scheduling Showings
It’s as easy as pointing out which ones you like and what time you like to see them. I’ll do some research, get the keys, and open them up. Seems like the first thing everyone wants to do is kick their shoes off and make a dash for the kitchen. lol That’s perfectly ok! But take your time, take it all in.
6. Make an offer
When you find the home you want to buy we sit down and craft an offer. Basically its a contract that lays out all the details of the sale. Loan type, deposit, contingencies, inspection period, closing date, possession, etc.. This is where we need to show off that pre-approval letter!
At this point the seller can either accept your offer, or counter-offer. And you can counter-offer their counter-offer, and they could counter again… I highly recommend acting fast during this time. There are a lot of angles to negotiate with, and it helps to have an expert on your side. Once we come to agreement we call the offer bottom lined, and we have a contract.
The exact timeframe for inspections will be laid out in the offer, but is usually within 3-7 days of the accepted offer. A General Home Inspector looks for problems with the home. If they spot something outside their scope of expertise they may recommend that you obtain a more specialized inspection.
An appraiser is a state-licensed or certified professional, unaffiliated with any party in the transaction. Their job is to assess the entire property and determine it’s value as it sits on the market, at a certain point in time. Banks usually only lend up to this amount.
10. Close the Deal
Most sale contracts allow the buyer to walk through the home within 24 hours of closing to check the property’s condition. “Closing” is when everyone comes to the table and signs the final ownership and insurance paperwork. Hand over the keys, and shake hands!