Are you done with paying rent every month and dealing with landlords and are now thinking “maybe it’s time to buy my own house?”
Gearing up to set in some roots and get your own place can seem daunting at first. So many questions come up and we want to help give you the 411 on what the process looks like, what to consider and how things will go so you can feel the most prepared.
1. What are you looking for?
First and foremost, make sure you know what you’re looking for in your new home. Make a list of your needs and think about the areas you want to be close to.
Some questions to consider are:
- How many bedrooms do you want?
- Do you want an office?
- Do you have children? What do they need?
- Do you want a garden?
- Do you want acreage?
- One-story or two-story?
- Do you want to be near a school? Have you researched schools?
- Would you like to be close to stores and shopping centers?
- Do you want to be in a neighborhood? Or do you want to be out of town?
2. How much money do you qualify for?
Now that you have an idea of what it is you’re looking for, you’ll want to know what you can actually look at. Your pre-loan qualification is the first step in the loan process. It’s a quick conversation with a loan officer, or loan originator, who will ask about income, marital status, credit score and a few other details. Find out your credit score before scheduling an appointment with a loan officer. This will move things along quickly.
3. What documentation will you need?
Once you’ve qualified for a loan and have an idea of what that could look like, you’ll need to get the proper documentation together to aid in the loan approval process. This will include items such as tax returns, work history, other income, child support or divorce decree, and current rental or mortgage information.
4. Shopping Time
Now that you’ve been pre-approved, you and your real estate team can get together and start looking for houses. Getting a real estate agent that knows what you’re looking for puts you ahead of others who don’t have one. Your realtor can keep a look out for properties that match your needs and notify you immediately.
Enjoy the home-buying process. It can get a little stressful sometimes, but if you continue to come back to the idea that this is a new and exciting venture for you, you can bring out the fun of looking for a new home.
5. Making an Offer
So you’ve found a home you’re ready to go for. You’ve toured it a couple times and you’re excited. Your real estate agent will help you put the offer together and submit it to the seller. If accepted, escrow opens and the next phase begins.
6. What is escrow?
Escrow is a third-party company that holds funds and regulates payment transactions for the buyer and the seller. “Earnest money” is the initial escrow account deposit that you (as the buyer) will pledge, creating a contract. That earnest money can be used toward the purchase price, closing costs or it can be refunded back to you at closing. The terms are written into your contract.
7. What happens during escrow?
While escrow is open, you’ll check all the details of your hope-to-be property. This includes a home inspection that will uncover problems that may need to be taken care of before closing the sale. Depending on what comes up, you may be able to negotiate pricing or negate the deal altogether. Meanwhile, your loan lender will order a property appraisal to ensure they’re not loaning you more than necessary.
8. Escrow Closes
Once the contract has been finalized, escrow closes. This means the property title transfers to your name and closing costs are paid.
Don’t forget that your real estate team is there to assist you, answer any questions you have and help you get through this process as smoothly as possible.