Ok, I’m Ready to Buy a Home. Now What?
There’s no one “right” way to buy a house.
The exact steps may vary depending on where you live and your personal situation.Steps to help you get ready to buy your home.There are many reasons you may want to own a home. You may want to paint the walls the color you want and to plant your own garden, but along with these benefits come increased responsibilities. On top of your legal obligation to repay your mortgage, almost every home will demand time, energy and money to maintain – no landlord to fix the leaky faucet.• STEP 1: Pre-qualifyIf possible, get “pre-qualified” for a loan. This means the lender or real estate broker will informally qualify you for a loan by getting basic information on your income, debts and credit. By getting pre-qualified, you can usually estimate how much you could borrow for a home.• STEP 2: Find A Real Estate AgentYou may want to use a real estate broker/agent to help you with your search. This is the selling broker/agent. Interview several broker/agents to find one you are comfortable working with, who will answer your questions and help you find a property that meets your specifications. A listing broker lists the property for sale and actively markets the property. The selling broker or agent shows the house to the buyer. Sometimes, the listing and selling brokers are the same agency. The fees for the listing and selling broker/agent are generally paid by the seller, usually as a percentage of the purchase price.• STEP 3: Determine Type Of Home And LocationGiven your price range, decide what kind of home you want/need: size, location, special features (such as fireplace or fence), etc. You will also want to consider school districts and other factors that are important to you and your family. Consider your home as an investment. What will make your home attractive to purchasers when you are ready to sell? A couple without children would not be interested in local schools for themselves, but the quality of local schools may be an important factor when they want to sell the house. There are good resources available at bookstores, your library and through real estate agents on what factors are especially important for buyers and for sellers.• STEP 4: Begin House HuntingAllow time (up to several months) to see a number of houses, so you have a good basis for making a final decision. When you find a home you like, carefully give it your own personal inspection. You will also want to tour the neighborhood and perhaps see the house at different times of day or on weekends to check traffic patterns and other amenities that may affect your decision.• STEP 5: Make An Offer And Sign A Purchase ContractIf you’re comfortable with the home, make an Offer to Purchase, including an “earnest money” deposit. You should make sure the Offer allows you to get your money back if a professional inspection reveals problems with the house, or if you aren’t able to get approved for a mortgage. Remember that negotiation of home prices is a commonly accepted practice.• STEP 6: Find a Real Estate AttorneyThe use of attorneys for real estate transactions varies by state. In some states, you won’t need to hire an attorney to assist you with purchasing your home since your real estate agent will be trained to prepare the necessary contracts and the closing will be conducted by a title insurance or escrow company. In other states, you’ll need to hire an attorney to prepare the documents and conduct the closing. As with all transactions involving legal documents, it’s important to read and understand any documents you are asked to sign. If you are unsure about the meaning of any documents, it is a good idea to consult an attorney who specializes in real estate transactions.• STEP 7: Get Professional InspectionsYour Purchase Contract will permit you to have various professional inspections and will govern your rights if the inspections show problems. Before you make an offer and sign a purchase contract, ask you real estate agent or attorney which inspections are best for your area. For example, standard purchase contract forms often do not provide for radon inspections. Have the necessary inspections included as a contingency for your offer. You may also want to negotiate certain repairs on the home based on inspecting findings before you agree to close.You are now ready to select and apply for a mortgage.