Buying a home is a life-changing event that will affect your entire family. If it is your year to buy a home, here is the ultimate checklist to get you started in the right direction.
- Get a realtor. The benefits of hiring a realtor far outweigh the costs since you gain a valuable resource to the home buying process. Realtors are licensed professionals with access to massive amounts of information about the current market and can provide you competitive market analysis reports, arrange home showings, prepare necessary paperwork, and provide sound advice throughout your home buying process. A realtor is the key to successfully finding the right home at the right price. Contact George today.
- Go to a Mortgage Professional. If you are serious about buying a home, it’s important to know how much a bank is willing to give you for a home mortgage. Most lenders can provide a “Pre-Approval Letter” that states a pre-approved amount for a mortgage based on the information presented by the potential buyers at the time of request. This letter is NOT a guarantee for an approved mortgage, but a tool to assist buyers with a price range they should consider. The Pre-Approval Letter also lets sellers know you’re a serious buyer not a casual shopper.
- Create a list of wants vs. needs. Write down all the features you ‘must have’ or need in the home such as number of bedrooms, a garage, family room, etc. Now make a second list of the features you want but don’t necessarily need like a pool, a greenhouse, or marble tile; this list should not dictate your showings but would be icing on the cake if they were available in homes in your price range. Share this list with your realtor to help them narrow down your search based on your absolute ‘needs’ and maybe throw in a few of those ‘wants’ if available.
- Start looking. In today’s market, 80% of all home buyers start their search online, and why not, it’s so easy to preview a home from the comfort of your computer. Begin your search with a reputable site like REALTOR.com, a collection of real estate listing from brokers across the nation. Simply type in your criteria and start looking. Online listings include photographs, virtual tours, and details about the home and location. Also, ask your realtor to provide you a list of available homes in the locations of interest or ask them to setup an auto-email notification to alert you when new homes come on the market with your criteria.
- Review and choose. After sorting through lists of potential homes, now it’s time to go out and preview the homes you’ve narrowed down. Contact your realtor to set up showings. They will contact homeowners or other agents to arrange for entry. Consider previewing 3-5 homes at a time, otherwise, you lose track of which home had what features. If at first you don’t succeed, keep looking, find 3-5 more for your next showing. New listings come on the market everyday, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t find your dream home on the first few tries. Remember, this is a life-changing decision for you and your family, so take your time and find your utopia.
- Consider the costs. Once you find the home you want to pursue, ask your realtor to run the numbers on what it will cost to buy the home. They can provide an estimated ‘cost to buy’ outlining closing costs required at settlement which may include things like: prorated property tax, attorney fees, state and local fees, home inspections, title insurance, etc. Buyers can use this information to negotiate when making an offer on a property. Also, this estimate keeps you in line with the financial goals of your pre-approval letter.
- Make an offer. Once you’ve reviewed the cost to buy, now its time to make an offer. All offers should be in writing. Your realtor will have access to the necessary forms required by your state to present a real estate offer on a residential property. They will then prepare the offer document and review it with you to establish price, settlement date, home inspection addendum, or any other stipulations you wish to add as part of the offer. You will sign and your realtor will then present the offer to the real estate agent representing the homeowner.
- Wait for it…accepted or denied? The anticipation of waiting for a response can be brutal. Keep in mind the homeowner may have multiple offers to consider. In most cases, you hear back from your realtor within 24-48 hours with a response to the offer or at least an update. If accepted, you move to the next step and start the path to settlement. If denied, keep looking, it’s just a matter of time until you find another potential home.
- Get the ball rolling. Your offer has been accepted. If you included a home inspection (at buyers expense) as part of your offer, it will happen next. The home inspection normally covers things like structural and mechanical items within the home. The inspections can also include mold and water tests if you ask for it. If the home inspection reveals an unfavorable defect, you have a short window of time to request repairs be made by the homeowner. Once you and the seller are satisfied with the home inspection results and other stipulations of the offer, a ratified contract is established. Contact your lender and get the mortgage process started. Provide the lender a copy of the ratified real estate contract and they will start the mortgage process. Be patient, it can take 30-45 days for financing to be approved.
- The Closing. Often referred to as the settlement or closing, the final step brings the buyer, seller, lender, and realtors together for a final review and handoff of funds and keys. The settlement usually takes place at an Attorneys office or a Title Company. The final documents are signed and a deed is created and recorded at the local court house.
There is nothing more satisfying than having a home to call your own. It brings great pride and confidence to families and communities alike. Let George Papakostas help make your homeowner dream a reality; there is no time like the present. Contact us today to start your home search!