Whether you’re buying your first home, or upgrading to a bigger residence, it’s an exciting process. Scouring neighborhoods, looking at schools and crime rates, and figuring out the ideal price range for your needs is exciting. It can also be confusing, and scary.
Our guide walks you through what you can expect during the home buying process. We’ll take you through finding an agent, all the way up until you walk into your brand new house.
You need someone to help you in the home buying process. A real estate agent knows the local market. They know what neighborhoods fit your needs, how much you can expect to spend, and how to negotiate the best deals for you.
Your agent will also have industry connections, so you don’t have to hunt for financing, inspectors and others you’ll need throughout the home buying process.
It’s best to interview a few agents, so that you make sure you’re picking someone who’s a good match for you. Here are some things to look for:
You’ll need a preapproval letter before you make an offer in most cases. But more than that, you need to know how much you have to spend. Working with a mortgage loan broker will help you figure out how much you qualify for, what the terms of your loan will be, and what monthly payments you can expect.
Once you’ve figured this out, you’ll be able to shop for homes with confidence. You’ll know what homes are in your price range, and what types of offers to make. Talk to your loan professional, and they’ll walk you through the approval process, and help you get everything in order for your loan.
This is where the fun starts. Work with your agent, hop on the internet, drive around and start finding houses you like. Your agent will be able to arrange showings for you, and you can really start honing in on your preferred house.
It’s very easy to fall in love with the first house you see, but do your best to resist. Look at several homes before you make an offer. It will help you understand what you want, and what a fair offer will be.
Once you’ve found the home you want to make an offer on, do some research. Look at crime rates and schools, and walk around the neighborhood. Visit at day and at night to get a feel for it. You’ll be here for a long time, so make sure you’re comfortable.
Found the perfect place? Awesome! Now it’s time to make an offer. Your agent will be a huge help here. They’ll know what homes in the neighborhood are going for, and how many other people are looking at the house. They’ll help you figure out how much to offer, and what to ask for in that offer (warranties, repairs, etcetera).
Once you make the offer, the sellers will have a few days to respond. They might accept your offer, make a counteroffer or reject your offer outright. If they accept, you move into escrow.
When you enter escrow, you are typically entering into a 30-60 day period for inspections, and final negotiations. This is the time when you should have an inspector check out the property. Inspections aren’t always required, but they are always recommended. An inspector will find things like mold, foundation issues, problems with the water heater and many other issues that you might miss. Anything found during the inspection can be used to negotiate with the seller.
At the end of escrow, you’ll close the sale, with whatever the final terms were, and you’ll be the official owner!
When you close you’ll go to a third party title agency, and sign all the paperwork, exchange any needed funds and get your keys. Closing usually involves bringing money orders for down payments, and signing loan documents as well as state disclosures, and any other paperwork needed to complete the process.
This usually takes a few hours, and at the end you get copies of everything you signed, and the keys to your brand new house!