1. Interview & Choose an Agent
To start, talk with several different agents. Ask yourself: is the agent very informed in the area that you’re looking in? Is this agent somebody you would enjoy working with? Is the agent able to answer your questions and advise you? Remember the home-buying process could take several months, so you should enjoy working with the agent you choose.
2. Get Pre-Qualified for a Loan
First, shop around and understand who you would connect with. Start with recommendations from your agent and friends who have recently made a home purchase. Before you find a house, understand which lender/loan agent is going to have the best rates for your qualifications.
3. Identify & Visit Selected Properties
Sit down and make a list of wants and needs you have for your home. Then, adhering to the budget you developed in Step 2, identify which neighborhoods or property types (home, townhome, condo) are going to be the best fit for you. Once you have narrowed this down, work with your agent to generate a list of possible candidates. At this point, your agent can set up showings at the properties that you have identified. When you visit a property, strive to picture yourself inhabiting the specific space, regardless of whether it has no furniture or is being lived in. Trust both your gut and your head during your visits.
4. Make an Offer on Your Chosen Property
Once you have decided on the property that best fits your needs and wants, as well as your budget, work with your agent to decide on an appropriate offer to make. Your agent will help you by offering a recent history of sales in the area, and other comparable statistics that will ensure that you make a reasonable offer. Together, you and your agent can put together an offer that is financially sound and attractive to the seller.
5. Negotiate Your Accepted Offer
Inevitably, there is some back and forth negotiating with the seller, and buyers often will receive a counter offer. The timeline to finalizing the contract depends on several things, and may be only a couple of days or may last a couple of weeks. No matter how much negotiating occurs, your agent will help you make the decisions that are best for you. Upon coming to an agreement with the seller, will be putting down an earnest money deposit to demonstrate your seriousness and willingness to complete the transaction.
6. Inspection & Appraisal Performed
Both an appraisal of the property, which confirms the property’s value to the lending company, and an inspection, which confirms the integrity and quality of the property, need to be conducted. Your agent will help you schedule both of these events. Sometimes a result of these inspections is some repairs that need attention. Consider with your agent if you should request the repairs to be completed before close of escrow or if you should ask for a credit for the repairs.
7. Loan Application & Underwriting
Now that you have a identified a property and have a ratified contract, your loan agent begins to process your loan. Depending on the type of loan approval you have, you likely will be submitting all your updated financial paperwork to your loan agent. There is likely a loan contingency time period in your contract which gives you time for this loan approval process. Once approved, you and the property have full underwritten-approval and the loan contingency can be removed.
8. Title Search & Commitment
Your agent will help you, as the buyer, choose a Title Company to work with as you move closer to purchasing your property. The Title Company confirms the property’s ownership and history, and covers all of the legal issues involved with purchasing a home or land.
9. Final Documents to Lender & Walkthrough
Once you remove contingencies, you are committing that the loan and property condition. You will do a final walkthrough with your agent to verify the condition of the property. You will complete all of your financial paperwork with your lender. You will also need to purchase homeowner’s insurance during this phase.
10. Sign Closing Documents and Move In!
You and your agent will sign final documents with your Title Company. You’re going to sit down with a notary and sign the paperwork as well as a few escrow instructions, an estimated net sheet and property deed transfer forms. This appointment will probably take you one hour to complete. Then you get the keys and experience the thrill of taking ownership of your new property.