Buying a home is one of the most exciting (and sometimes, intimidating) moments of a person’s life. On one hand, you are taking on a financial responsibility that is like no other, but, on the other, you become a proud homeowner, building equity and providing a nest egg for your future.
One way to get over the home-buying jitters, is by learning as much as you can about the process: read; ask questions; take notes. Here are 7 steps to help you navigate the home-buying process.
- Get your finances in order: make sure you are monitoring your credit score and history. Save up for a (possible) down payment and know what your monthly budget is. Buying a home is an important step. You want to make sure you aren’t biting off more than you can chew.
- Find the perfect REALTOR®: a REALTOR® differs from a real estate agent (who may also assist in your home search and purchase) in that they are held to a higher standard. They must uphold the Code of Ethics set forth by the National Association of REALTORS®. Your REALTOR® will be your partner throughout the process so it is important, not only, that they are effective in what they do but that you are comfortable working with them.
- Make a Wish List: write down your wants and needs in a new home. Is the school district important? Need 3 bedrooms and a 2-car garage? Put it on your list! Be realistic, though, and ensure what you want or need fits within your budget. This will help narrow down your search and help you find your dream home.
- Talk to a lender: they can help to determine the best loan options based on your finances and needs. Obtaining a pre-approval letter is a must before starting your search. It will help in determining your price range and what homes are in your budget (there is nothing worse than finding the perfect home only to discover that it is outside your budget).
- Start looking: if you’re anything like me, I downloaded every home search app the moment I knew my price range. Your REALTOR® can send you alerts and listings that fit your search criteria. Make sure to read the fine print when combing through listings—the devil is in the details. Attend open houses and check out homes that interest you.
- Make an offer: the most exciting (and sometimes scary) moment of the entire process. Your REALTOR® will help you determine the fair market value of your desired home so that you make a competitive and fair offer with appropriate contingencies. Contingencies can range from appraisals to meet loan requirements and home inspections and, They protect the buyer and seller. If and when the offer is accepted, be prepared to provide an earnest money deposit. This is typically due to the seller’s agent within a certain amount of time after executing your contract.
- Closing: As your closing date approaches, everyone from your REALTOR® to your lender and title agent will contact you to make sure everything is finalized prior to closing. You will complete a final walk through with your agent prior to closing. On the big day, be sure to bring photo identification and a cashier’s check (unless directed otherwise by your closing agent) to cover any additional closing cost or down payments. You will be provided with material for signature including a closing statement which outlines all your costs and estimated monthly payments. Once funding is complete you can celebrate—you are officially a home owner!