A Guide to the Home Buying Process
Buying a house can be stressful if you don't know what to expect. There are many obstacles and moving parts involved in the home buying process, and just one wrong move can either be expensive or set you back on your desired schedule. Here is a short roadmap to buying a house, so that you can get it right the first time.
Start With a Budget
Too many buyers begin their home search process by looking at homes in an unrealistic price range. Instead, figure out what you can afford first, and then you can comfortably concentrate on buying a house within your budget. Lenders often recommend that a home not cost more than three to five times annual household income. You should sit down and make a budget, however, that considers all of your debts as well as the down payment you'll need for a home, which is generally 20%.
Get Mortgage Pre-Approval
You'll be better armed to speak to sellers and negotiate a deal if you have a mortgage pre-approval in your pocket. This will also give you peace of mind, knowing that you're shopping for homes in your price range. Contact a reputable mortgage banker and provide them with the information that they require to get this pre-approval completed.
List Your Must-Haves and Wants
You aren't likely to find a home with everything on your dream list, but having a list at all is key to buying the right home for you and your family. What is important to you in a home? Is it location for good schools or large outdoor space? Some items, such as upgrades, can be done later.
Look at Homes for Sale
This is the time that you might want to consider hiring a real estate agent to help in your search. This is free guidance to not only find the right home but to also navigate obstacles in the home buying process. It isn't necessary, however, and you can look at homes that meet your established criteria online or through other sources.
Negotiate Your Offer
If you've found the place that you'd like to call home, it's time to put in an offer. If you have a real estate agent, they can advise you on the process. If not, you'll want to make an offer that you feel is justified and that will at least receive a counteroffer. If your offer is accepted, you'll have a sales contract on the home, be asked to place your deposit in escrow, and move towards closing.
Coordinate Inspections and Appraisal
Most home purchase contracts are contingent on inspections. A home inspector will carefully go over the property and tell you if there is anything wrong that might either affect the price of the home or that could possibly be fixed prior to closing. A mortgage company will need to make sure that the home is worth at least the value of your mortgage. This is the purpose of a home appraisal.
Finalize Your Mortgage
A pre-approval doesn't tie to you any particular lender, but many choose to use to the same mortgage company that provided it. Either way, this is the time to finalize your mortgage with a lender and provide all documentation required, whether it be about your personal finances or the new home.
Close on Your Home
At the closing, you will meet at the title company and sign a long list of papers to finalize the purchase of your home. You'll sign a HUD-1 settlement statement, as well as your final mortgage paperwork. Once all of your paperwork is signed, you'll be handed the keys to your new home.
While buying a house is often stressful, it's a standard process. Once you understand the steps involved, it's much less intimidating. Ready to see what's available in your area? Search properties with your specific criteria now.