Home Buying 101
BREAKING IT DOWN
The initial consultation is so that you and your Realtor are on the same page. The Home Buying Process is explained, expectations are discussed and your wants/needs are established. This is when your Realtor should go through what to expect from each step, talk about the market and whether it is currently in favor of the Buyer or Seller and how you can best prepare.
CHoOSE A LENDER + GET Pre-ApprovEd
You’ll often hear the terms Pre-Qualified and Pre-Approval. Pre-Qualified simply means that you’ve talked with a Lender, given them a snapshot of your income and debt and they’ve given you a ‘guesstimate’ of how much you will qualify for. Pre-Approval, on the other hand is a more in-depth process; you will give the Lender pay stubs, tax documents, bank records and other documentation so they can give you an exact number for which you are approved. This is especially important so that you do not start searching for a home that is outside of your price range- there’s nothing more heartbreaking than finding your dream home and then being told you can’t afford it. Additionally, Pre-Approval is what communicates to both the Realtor and home sellers that you are serious and ready to purchase a home. If you plant to talk with a Lender soon, to the right is a list of general documentation you may need when getting Pre-Approved.
mls setup + updates
Once the Buyer has been met with the Realtor as well as been pre-approved, they will be set-up on the Multiple Listing Service
(MLS) and have access to all active listings. Having gone over all of the Buyer’s desired criteria and differentiating between wants vs. needs, their Realtor should set up their preferences so they receive updates of all properties meeting their criteria. Although the Realtor will be scouting out specific properties that look ideal for the Buyer/s, it’s always great for the Buyer to be on the lookout as well.
After the you have been sent properties to review, you should narrow down your favorite homes so your agent can schedule showings to see homes in person. Keep in mind that seeing more than 4-5 houses in one day if often overwhelming- if more than 5 are seen, they will start to mesh together and its difficult to remember the pros and cons of each property. Your agent should give you a paper with the listed properties with space to make personal notes where need be.
Once the you find 'the one,' you and your Realtor will work together to formulate an offer.
There are a number of variables that go into putting together an offer; market analysis (to see if the asking price is appropriate or over-priced), decide on your offer price, seller concessions (things that the Seller will pay for; home warranty, closing costs, etc.), closing date and disclosures. Another factor of your Offer is the ‘binder’, or earnest money deposit, which is a number amount, generally 1-2% of the offer price, offered as a show of seriousness to the Sellers. This will be due upon acceptance of your Offer and will go toward your closing costs.
Once the contract is submitted, one of three things will happen: the seller will accept the offer, counter the offer or reject the offer. This is where your Realtor utilizes their negotiation skills on your behalf.
Home Inspection + Repair Request
Once a contract has been signed, you will order a Home Inspection. While you are welcome to use any Inspector you prefer, your Realtor should provide you with a list of reputable Inspection companies in the area. The Inspector will investigate the property thoroughly and report findings directly to you and your agent. At this point, you decide which repairs are a important for the Sellers to fix or if there are any you can easily do yourself. This is not the time to ask for petty changes like paint color- focus on high priority items such as structural integrity or faulty electrical. Your Realtor will help guide you through this and offer your best options. If the listing is advertised as “AS-IS,” the Sellers will very likely not be willing to repair anything.
Around the same time the property is inspected, your Lender will order an Appraisal. The Appraiser offer an unbiased opinion of what the true (or fair market) value of the home is worth. This guarantees the Lender that the home is worth the borrowed amount.
Once all deadlines and contingencies have been met, both parties will attend a 'Closing' on a pre-determined date. This is when the deed will be signed (along with a lot of other paperwork!) and you will submit your funds for the down payment as well as closing costs. After all is finished, the keys will be given to you!
Depending on the contract, you can start moving into your new home! Congratulations!