UNDERSTANDING THE HOME BUYING PROCESS
This week, I am going over a simple breakdown of the six steps in the home buying process:
- Gather docs and get pre-approved.
- Locate down payment funds.
- Begin the house hunt.
- Negotiate an offer and contingencies.
- Schedule a home inspection.
- Close, get the keys, and move in!
When purchasing your first home, it’s important to know what the process is going to look like.
- Gather your documents
- Obtain pre-approval or proof of funds
- Locate down payment funds
- Prepare for any additional costs (e.g. home inspection, appraisal, survey)
You need to be pre-approved for financing. Unless you are paying cash for your home, you do need to talk to a lender before you start looking at houses. One reason is that it helps you set an accurate price range for house hunting. Looking at homes that you can’t afford to make an offer on just leads to frustration. A mortgage lender will not only tell you what amount you can borrow, but also your projected monthly payment, your closing costs, and what you should or shouldn’t do with your finances to maintain your eligibility throughout the lending process. Another reason for having an up-to-date pre-approval in hand is so you don’t lose out to another buyer. If you find the perfect house, you will want to get an offer in before someone else gets it, and that pre-approval letter must accompany your offer.
- Preview potential properties online
- Schedule showings and view the properties you are most interested in
Once you’ve got your finances in order, the fun of looking for the perfect home begins!
One of the first questions I ask my buyers when we begin the search: What are your must-haves, and what is negotiable?
Figuring this out ahead of time will help everyone be on the same page with what we’re looking for and what the deal-breakers are, act quickly and confidently when the perfect home hits the market, and save a ton of time and emotional energy.
If white kitchens, marble countertops, and spa bathrooms are the first words tumbling out, it’s time to take a step back. See, there are the must-haves and the like-to-haves.
Must-haves are the features of your new home that no decorator or designer in the world could change given all the money in the world. Here are some must-haves to keep in mind that you will not be able to change:
- Location. That 5-digit zip code isn’t going to budge.
- Lot. That steep drop off will always be, well, steep.
- Price. That mortgage payment is your new bestie.
While the like-to-haves shine and sparkle, it’s the must-haves that help me find you the home of your dreams.
- Write an offer to purchase on your favorite property
- Negotiate the terms of the offer and accept the contract
- Deposit escrow (earnest money), complete loan application, obtain homeowners insurance quotes
- Title company will conduct a title search
You’ve found “The One.” Now it’s time to write up your offer. Your broker will need the following information to put together an offer:
- Pre-qualification letter or proof of funds: You’ve already got this ready to go of course!
- Offer price: Your broker will help you determine the property’s fair market value
- Escrow deposit: Usually 1-5% of the purchase price.
- Financing amount: What percentage of the loan are you financing, and how much you are putting down.
- Closing date: If getting a mortgage, this is typically 45-60 days from acceptance of the offer. This will be the day the keys are handed from seller to buyer
- Inspection period: Typically the buyer shall have 15 days, unless otherwise stated on the contract, to perform inspections on the home and terminate or renegotiate the contract if the inspection comes back unacceptable.
The title company will do a title search that makes sure no one else can make any claim on the house. If there are any issues with the title, they will work to resolve them for you.
Your lender will process your loan application. It is important that you deliver any information they request in a timely matter. Also, be sure not to make any large purchases on credit and not to open any new credit accounts that during this period as that may affect your loan eligibility.
- Conduct inspections
- Resolve/negotiate any issues from inspection
- Obtain homeowners insurance
You should have an inspection of the property done by a certified home inspector. This cost varies depending on the size, condition, age, and features of the home, but is usually a few hundred dollars. You may elect to pay for other inspections based on the results of the initial inspection. For example, if the inspector notes an issue with the HVAC system, you may need to pay for an HVAC contractor to look at the system. You want to get as much information during your inspection period as you need to confidently move forward with the purchase.
You might also consider getting a survey done. A survey verifies the boundaries of the property you’re purchasing. An up-to-date survey comes in handy if you’re planning to install a fence or expand the driveway.
- Receive closing statement/clear to close
- Wire funds to the closing company
- Conduct a final walk-through of property and sign your closing documents
- Get your keys, it’s all yours!
After months of looking and weeks of paperwork, today is the day you take full ownership of your home (and say goodbye to all those creepy drive-bys you’ve been doing. It’s okay — we all do them).