Are you ready for the next chapter? Perhaps you received a great job offer or want to be closer to family. No matter the reason, there may come a time when you are looking to enter the housing market. It can be overwhelming to buy a piece of property, whether to move, rent it out, or more. But these steps can help make sure you’re starting in the right place
Before doing anything, it’s vital to think about what’s most important to you, the buyer. To do this and to make the right kinds of decisions without accidentally overpaying, it can be very helpful to find a real estate agent with a good track record who you can trust. First, it’s important to know your price range — how much you can spend and how large of a loan you can receive. This can be determined by visiting a lender and usually has to do with your income, credit rating, current monthly expenses, down payment, and interest rates. This is where you can consider getting pre-approved for a loan, which can help speed the process.
Once you’ve done that, you and your team can begin to go through the details of your wants and needs. Do you need to move as soon as possible? Are you dead-set on an architectural style, a location, or a type of infrastructure?
Another important thing to give some real thought to is the benefits of renting versus owning. Renting has its pros, including lessened responsibility since your landlord handles taxes, upkeep, and more. It also means you can move more freely. Some cons, however, include that the landlord can raise your rent. Owning a home, on the other hand, can come with some up-front costs but can help raise your equity and provide a stable sense of community. It also acts as an investment in your future more than paying rent to a landlord does, though you are responsible for repairs and upkeep.
Determining what is necessary for your purchase can help narrow down the options and ensure you are buying the best possible property for your needs. After that is determined, you can set off!
Now that you have an idea of the type of property you are looking for, you can begin the formal steps of the buying process. You’ve already found a real estate agent, a lender, you’ve done your homework and compared estimates and negotiated to be sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
While you’re in the process of shopping for the perfect home — or in the midst of making an offer—shop for homeowners’ insurance, which most lenders require. During this time and throughout the property-buying process, be sure you understand your rights as a consumer. This can include equal opportunity housing, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, and protection against predatory lending. A professional real estate agent can help with these as well. As you’ve researched, compared deals, and shopped around, say you’ve found the perfect home—in your price range, has the details you want and the necessities you require. What next?
First, the seller has a chance to respond. This can include an outright rejection, counter-offer negotiating, or outright acceptance. Some things that can affect this include a home inspection. If the home inspection reveals any issues with the home, the negotiating power of the buyer increases, and the seller has an opportunity to rectify or repair any problems. Getting your inspection completed by a professional, licensed home inspector is vital.
Say that after some negotiating to make sure all parties agree to the terms of sale, your offer has been accepted. Congratulations! The next few months may be complicated, but with the help of a professional, everything can go smoothly.
The offer has been accepted. Now it’s time to enter “escrow,” the period between an offer and the moment when the keys actually change hands. This usually lasts anywhere between 30-90 days. During this time, the buyer puts “earnest money” in an account handled by an escrow officer, typically through a bank, demonstrating the buyer’s commitment to the purchase and ability to follow through. The seller will provide necessary documents such as tax receipts, equipment warranties, or more.
Title insurance is its own process. A property title search analyzes public records to determine the legal owner of the property. At the end of this process, the legal owner should be you, the buyer. The title search will also help overturn any last-minute stones in case there are any claims or liens on the property that may affect your purchase. How you choose to title your home is also important—single homeowners have different responsibilities than joint homeowners, and issues like the right of survivorship come up here.
Finally, everything is in order! You’ve made an offer, and it’s been accepted. The paperwork is going smoothly. It’s almost time to live in a new home. Moving can be as stressful as any other part of buying a home, but packing in an organized manner, thinking about hiring professional help, creating a checklist, and following a budget are all great ways to streamline the process. Donating or throwing out whatever you don’t need is also recommended — a move can be a great time to do a closet cleanse.
Once that’s all completed, and you’re ready to start unpacking boxes, congratulations! You’ve successfully made it from the beginning to the end of the home buying process.
It is our commitment to you as a homebuyer help you obtain the American Dream of "the white picket fence" which symbolizes home ownership. Together with our team of professionals, we are here to make all things Real Estate possible. We will help you successfully acquire an investment that will reward you for years to come.