So you’ve decided you want to buy a house. Congratulations! It’s one of the best investments you can make. The following list is a step by step guide to the home buying process. This list is designed to make your home purchase a smooth and enjoyable experience, avoiding many of the pitfalls that can occur if the home buyer is not properly prepared.
1) Choose an Agent.
Find a qualified and experienced Buyers Agent that has YOUR best interest in mind (not the sellers). Put agents through the interview process. Ask questions like: How many years have you been a licensed, full time agent? Do you have a list of testimonials from past clients? Can you demonstrate your knowledge of the components of a house and its construction? Will you be attending the building inspection, final walk-through and closing with me? Can you demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the Residential Contract and Contract Riders that will be used to write my offer to purchase? A seasoned agent will not be deterred or offended by such questions and in talking about such issues you will be able to get a good feel for the knowledge and competency of the agent. After all, this is most likely the biggest financial investment you will ever make.
2) Get pre-approved for a loan.
Shop around for a good lender with competitive rates and closing cost fees. Ask the loan officer to give you a Good Faith Estimate, outlining (and disclosing) all fees charged by their establishment. Ask what each fee is for and if it is considered a ‘junk’ fee. Compare these estimates with at least one or two other lenders. You will be surprised at the differences you may see with each lender. Why wait until the day of closing (by then it’s too late) to see the actual costs being charged to you by the lender. Proactive is the word of the day!
3) Choose a Building Inspector.
Ask family and friends that have already purchased a home who they used as their building inspector. Did they like him/her? What are their qualifications and their level of education? Are they ASHI approved? Do they have certifications in the areas of structural engineering, electrical, plumbing, roofing, etc? Don’t wait until you have an accepted offer to scramble around and find a qualified inspector. Once your offer is accepted there is a time limit and deadline in which inspections must be completed. Time is of the essence!
4) Do your homework.
Your agent can be most effective if you know what you want, where you want it, and how quickly you want to close. In a sellers’ market houses go fast! By giving your agent specific guidelines, ie; price range, number of bedrooms and baths, formal dining room, number of garage spaces, etc… your agent can more effectively find homes that fit your needs. This eliminates hours of wasted time in pursuing homes that won’t fit your needs or lifestyle and allows you to be the first buyer to find that new listing that is perfect for you and your family
5) Make an offer!
You’ve found THE house. Time to act on it quickly! Many variables are involved in your initial offering price: How long has it been on the market? What condition is it in? How old are the systems (furnace/hot water heater/ac)? How many agents have signed in on the sign in sheet recently? This is where a good agent comes in handy. Especially one that has had many years of negotiating experience and is adept at assessing the situation and the motivation of the seller. Hint: give a short response time in order to reduce the possibility of another offer coming in while you’re negotiating towards an accepted and binding contract!
6) Our contract has been accepted!
Now what? This, my friends, is where step #1 pays off. If you have done your homework and hired a seasoned, professional Buyers Agent, congratulate yourself. You won’t have to worry about the myriads of details that follow an accepted contract to the closing date: Building inspections, formal loan application, contract sent to lender and title company, title work ordered, survey ordered, municipality inspection ordered, earnest money deposited, home warranty ordered, closing packet filled out and turned in, appraisal ordered, predication work addressed, inspection negotiations finalized, utilities transferred, final walk through scheduled and closing time set. This is just a partial list of items to be addressed after a contract has been accepted. Luckily, you have a professional to rely on!
“I thoroughly enjoy my profession of 27 years as a Real Estate Broker. Helping clients realize their dream of owning their own home has been most satisfying. I can’t imagine doing anything else! I am just a click away for anyone who has real estate questions. What are homes selling for in my neighborhood? What are current mortgage rates? Current market trends? What will my return be on certain renovations to my home? You ask, I’ll answer.”