Buying a Home – The First Key Steps
What’s so hard about buying a home, right? People do it every day. If you talk to people who have completed a home purchase, some will tell you it was easy, some will say there were a lot of disappointments and a lot of things they wish they had known going in.
Your first key is knowing what to expect. Buying a home can be easy and accomplished with little stress, if you have a plan. Here’s the quick overview:
1. Get Pre-Approved for the Loan
The time to do this is before you’ve fallen in love with a home you can’t or shouldn’t buy. You greatly increase your chance of getting your offer accepted if you come to the party with your home financing in place. Don’t assume that you’ll be the only buyer making an offer on this special home. Give yourself every advantage in the negotiation.
2. Decide What you Want in a Home and Where you Want to Live
This is not as easy as you might expect, especially if you’re buying a home with another human. You may have to decide between getting everything you want, while paying a fair price and prioritizing the list in order to keep it within your budget.
As for location, remember that beyond the home itself, you’re going to be grocery shopping, dining out, sending your children to school. Explore some areas and see what feels good in every way.
3. Find a Good Real Estate Agent
You should look for someone knowledgeable about the area, who can demonstrate experience and expertise in writing contracts and negotiating in particular. A good real estate agent can save you a great deal of money, and a bad one can cost you both money and the house of your dreams. (And be sure to find someone you like and want to spend some time with. Finding the perfect home can take a while!)
4. Begin the Search Process
Once upon a time, this simply involved having a real estate agent show you homes. You already know that today you have access to pretty much any home listed for sale, literally at your fingertips.
Once you have a general idea of what is available in your price range, in the areas you’re considering, there is no substitute for going out with your real estate agent and seeing six or so homes. By the end of that tour, home prices will make infinitely more sense. So each method has advantages; use them both.
5. Make an Offer
How do you decide how much to offer? It’s a buyer’s market, right? Everyone says so! Here is where market knowledge comes in handy.
You have to have physically seen enough homes to recognize value when you see it. You just don’t get that from the internet. It’s also where your real estate agent’s experience and expertise comes into play. Choose wisely.
Stage Two: The Escrow Process
Once your offer is accepted, you move into Stage Two. This is when you’ll conduct your due diligence to learn everything you need to know about the home, continue the loan approval process, review and approve disclosures and go to closing.
Each one of these topics can be found in our upcoming series: Stage Two – The Escrow Period. Stay tuned.