Thinking of buying a home for the first time? Here is a synopsis of the home-buying process:
Hire a Real Estate Agent
This professional will be your guide from beginning to end and will assist in your home selection, purchase negotiations and closing. Work with someone who listens to what your housing needs are and is knowledgeable of your market area. Here are some of the activities your agent will coordinate with you:
- Learn what home features are most important to you – condition of the home, age of home, design of home, quality of home features, etc…
- Do you prefer a newly built home or a re-sale home?
- Make arrangements to tour homes
- For each home tour, provide details about the property
- Discuss benefits and drawbacks of each home toured in relation to your needs
- Provide current comparable market analysis of homes in the areas of most interest with information that includes: active listings, sold homes and pending home sales and sale histories of the home of interest
- Insure you understand all of the terms and conditions of the purchase contract and other documents
- Perform detail work and negotiations that arise from submitting your purchase contract to the seller
- Insure all parties involved are performing their roles to bring about a smooth purchase transaction through to the closing
Qualification for Mortgage Loan – Determine Your Purchasing Power
Before beginning a home search, it is best to have pre-qualification for a mortgage loan so you can determine the amount you can afford as well as an estimate of what costs you will incur with the mortgage. Pre-qualification gives a buyer stronger negotiating power over non-qualifed buyers.
Your mortgage loan officer will also educate you on the different type of loans that are available and will help you choose the one that best serves your needs.
Take time to figure out where you want to live. Factors may include:
- Near to schools or work
- Proximity to highways (or other transportation) and airport
- Ambiance of the area: Does the neighborhood have well-maintained yards? Is it a walkable area? Is there a nearby business district or recreation area? Do you prefer a neighborhood that offers an outdoor pool and other amenities?
Make An Offer
Your real estate agent will assist you in making an offer on a home. This purchase contract will include the price you are willing to pay, along with any terms you have included (such as occupancy date and inclusion of appliances, to name a few). Many contracts also have contingencies to purchase such as a house inspection or financing.
Once the contract has been submitted, there may be a period of negotiation of price and terms. Your real estate agent will guide you through this back-and-forth process, and hopefully the result is an accepted offer.
Once you have an accepted purchase contract, you will want to schedule a whole-house inspection to evaluate its structural and mechanical condition. This inspection reveals observable conditions and the professional inspector may make recommendations to consult a specialist (such as a roofer, engineer, etc.) You will receive a detailed report from the home inspection. Based upon the results of this report, you may have more negotiations with the seller.
Finalized Your Mortgage Loan and Obtain Insurance
At this point your loan will be going through its final steps with your loan officer. The mortgage institution will require an appraisal of the property. You will need to obtain home owner’s insurance. And, you will need to consider purchasing an owner’s title insurance policy to defend and protect your investment from future liens or disputes of title claims. Learn more about title insurance here.
An exciting day is when you sign on that dotted line and take ownership of your first home. Usually the sellers, buyers, their real estate agents and the closing officer meet together at an agreed upon time and location. Your agent will review all of the documents with you so there are no surprises at your closing. Congratulations, you are now a home owner!