Buying a home can be one of the most pivotal and rewarding events of your life, especially if it is your first time. While it can be rewarding, it can be one of the most stressful and intimidating experiences as well, which is why we want to give you a few pointers on what to expect during your home buying process.
It is a good idea to take the initiative and get pre-approved. This will help in a couple of ways: 1) it will show that you are serious about purchasing a home, which will be beneficial during the negotiation process and 2) you will know your price range; there is nothing worse than finding your dream home only to find out that you can’t afford it. We have built great relationships with several lenders over the years and can help you find the right one.
Finding the right realtor for you
While the pre-approval process is a vital step, it is more important that you choose a Realtor that will meet your unique needs during the home buying process. Since you will be confiding in your real estate agent and trusting them with personal and financial information, you need to feel comfortable with them. You are counting on and trusting them to take care of any problems or issues that come up, so make sure that they are experienced and knowledgeable. Don’t be afraid to ask for references or do a little research of your own. Once you select an agent that you are comfortable with, make sure that you sign them up as a buyer’s agent to ensure that they are representing you and only you.
Looking at homes
Before you start looking at homes, you are going to want to meet with your Realtor for a consultation. This will prepare them for, exactly, what you are looking for in a home and they can prepare you for what to expect during the process. Once this is done, you get to start looking at homes. You should limit the number of homes that you look at in a day or else you will get a little overwhelmed and they will start to run together. A helpful tool would be a checklist to help keep track of the properties you have visited. Make sure you communicate to your Realtor which homes you like and why, as well as which ones you do not like and why. This will help keep both you and your Realtor on the same page to ensure that will find the perfect home. It is also a good idea for your Realtor to research any advertised properties and make the initial phone call to a for-sale-by-owner that may interest you. Trust that your agent will work for you.
Make an offer
Once you have narrowed it down to one or two homes, your Realtor will then do the necessary research to help you make your final decision. Based on this information, the two of you will set a price that you are willing to pay for the house. You will also have to decide the price you will offer, how much deposit you will offer, closing date, and what inspections you plan on having conducted. Almost anything is negotiable, just be mindful and respectful of the seller’s position as well. While there may be some things that you feel aren’t negotiable to you, be willing to give a little on the things that are. Your Realtor will help you structure your offer clearly and concisely. After it is presented to the seller, they will accept it, reject it or come to you with a counter offer. The counter offer process can sometimes be lengthy and a little frustrating, but as long as you and your realtor stay focused you will accomplish your ultimate goal as a first time home buyer.
Appraisals and Inspections
When you make an offer you must decide if you want to request additional time to allow you to conduct your own inspection and/or appraisal, therefore requiring you to write up a conditional offer. When submitting a conditional offer, it is important that you meet all deadlines and that all of the conditions are executed exactly the way that the contract states. This is something that your real estate agent is responsible for so it is imperative that you two keep open communication.
This is a bit different than submitting a “conditional contract” for appraisals and inspections. A walk-through is the buyers right to a pre-closing inspection. This is your final chance to find any problems with the house including: electrical systems, plumbing, appliances, heating and air conditioning. All of these should be in working order. If any of these or other problems arise, there are many options available to ensure that they are taken care of per your contracts’ agreement. This is something that your real estate agent will discuss with you in detail to come up with the best solution for all parties involved.
Closing on your first home and getting the keys
Now, you are ready to start signing all of the mortgage documents and get your keys. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and if you don’t understand something, don’t sign. Rest assured that your lawyer and real estate agent will explain everything to you. If you would like, you can also request a blank copy of all the documents to review before you sign. This is also when you present your down payment and closing costs. Once all of this is done, it is time to get your keys! After the grueling process of finding the right home, getting pre-qualified, inspections, appraisals, walk-throughs and closing, you are finally a first time home owner. Congratulations!