The home buying process is one of the most exciting, and sometimes stressful, experiences you’ll ever go through. This holds true whether you’ve bought many homes or you’re looking to buy your first, whether you’re in the market for a new home, an investment property or that perfect vacation getaway.
Today’s real estate market can offer more opportunities, yet can be filled with more risks than ever before. There are a multitude of factors to consider and decisions to make. When buying, it’s crucial to have all the available resources necessary to make a well-informed decision, together with the time required to make use of them. It’s important to enlist the help of a trusted real estate professional who’ll be able to provide expert guidance at each step of the buying process.
Finding and purchasing a home includes the following steps:
1.) Define your goals, research your options, make your plans
Given that buying a home is such a big step, it’s very important to educate and prepare yourself as much as possible. This means clearly determining the reasons you’re buying and what kind of home you’re looking for. Since buying and financing a home are so closely related, it also means examining your current financial situation and projecting how much you can afford.
Once you’ve answered these questions, even tentatively, you’ll be in a better position to research housing and mortgage options, and create an action plan and timelines for moving forward. Although it is possible to do this yourself, you’ll benefit by consulting an experienced real estate professional right from the start.
2.) Contact a real estate professional
Buying real estate is a complex matter with many factors to consider since no two homes or transactions are alike. Moreover, with all the unique opportunities and potential pitfalls of the current market, it’s more important than ever to contact a real estate professional once you’ve decided
When choosing a real estate professional to guide you through the property search, financing, negotiation and transaction processes, you should consider their local market knowledge, experience, and track record.
3.) Get pre-approved for a loan
We recommend that you get pre-approved for a loan before you start viewing homes with the serious intention of buying. The pre-approval process involves meeting with a lender and authorizing them to examine your current financial situation and credit history. On the basis of this examination, the lender may provide you with a document detailing the amount you can borrow to buy a home. Consider looking online to see what different lenders offer, or contacting your local bank or credit union.
The benefits of pre-approval include:
You’ll know what you are eligible to receive and be able to plan accordingly . As a qualified, motivated buyer you’ll be able to submit an offer on the home you love. Lenders can tell you if you qualify for special programs that will help you afford a better home.
Real estate financing is available from many sources, and an experienced real estate professional will be able to suggest lenders with a history of offering excellent mortgage products and services.
4.) View homes and select THE ONE
Simply put, the key to the home search process is knowing what you’re looking for. Among other things, that means distinguishing between “must-haves” and “like-to-haves”. To help you to target your search and define your home preference priorities, you can start by creating your own “can’t live without” and “can’t live with” lists.
However, it’s also important to view homes in person. While the property details may seem similar online, homes can be very different in terms of layout, design, workmanship and other aspects. Ideally, you should view homes with the help of an experienced real estate professional who’ll notice things you might miss, provide expert analysis, and act as an impartial sounding board.
5.) Make an offer and negotiate with the seller
Once you’ve found the home you’d like to buy, it’s time to make an offer. There’s a saying in real estate, “If it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist.” The contract to purchase your home will set out all the timeframes and guidelines for the process of transacting your home purchase. You should carefully review these clauses with your real estate professional to be sure that they accurately express your intended offer.
Once you’ve written the offer, your real estate professional will present it to the seller and/or the seller’s representative. At that point, the process will vary somewhat depending on the market you’re in.
Generally speaking, the seller can accept your offer, reject it, or counter it to initiate the negotiation process.
Successive counter-offers, with deadlines for responding and meeting conditions, may be exchanged between you and the seller until a mutual pending agreement is reached or the negotiations breakdown.
6.) Secure your financing
Once you have a pending agreement, it’s time to return to your chosen lender to finalize mortgage details in order to close the deal. This means finalizing your down payment, interest rate, regular payment schedule and all other financial conditions associated with the closing.
Unfortunately, too many buyers suffer negative consequences from not fully understanding their financing decisions. Thus, it’s crucial for you to work with people you trust. In this regard, a good real estate professional can become a true friend for life. If you don’t know a realtor or loan officer, your best option would be to ask a friend or relative to introduce you to someone.
Even if you’ve efficiently taken care of everything connected with purchasing your new home, going through the home buying process can be complicated and there may be a few surprises. Your agent will help you navigate those bits of turbulence.
A typical process will take 30 days beginning to end and will be busy at the beginning. Once your contract has been accepted there are a lot of tasks to be done. Your mortgage person will be contacting you a lot for updated bank statements or other related documents. During the middle of the 30 days, things will quiet down as your inspections and appraisal have been done, it’s a matter of the bank processing your paperwork. Towards the end of the 30 days, the action will pick up again as you head for the closing date. You’ll need to make your final deposit. Your bank will reverify your employment. And you’ll need to go to the escrow company to sign your loan documents. Once that’s done, you can expect to receive your keys in a few days.
The most crucial element of the whole process is you. It’s important to be very responsive to your realtor and mortgage officer. The contract timelines are ticking and there are set deadlines to meet.