The home-buying process can be scary and confusing, especially if you've never done it before. Our very own Emily Kubichko has passed along her knowledge to help you on your way to owning your dream home! If you have any questions, or if you're ready to begin your journey to home ownership, get in touch with an agent today!
- Consult with a Real Estate Agent. Talk to your agent about your likes and dislikes, and the general area you’d like to be in. Ask for a lender recommendation.
- Get a pre-qualification letter from your lender. Meet with them to discuss your loan availability and the best loan program for your needs and budget. They will also check your credit at this time. You will need the pre-qualification letter before you are able to make an offer on any property, so it’s important to have that before you begin looking so you can move quickly if you need to!
- Find a home! Once you’re armed with your letter, it’s time for the fun part! Looking at properties and finding the one that best fits what you want.
- Make an offer. Once you’ve found the perfect property for you, discuss terms and price with your Real Estate Agent. Make sure you think carefully and take the advice offered to you about comparable sold properties, so you make a smart offer.
- Negotiate terms. Your first offer will almost always be followed with a counter offer from the seller. Again, discuss negotiation tactics with your Real Estate Agent to best decide your best move. Hopefully with a little back and forth you will come to an agreement, and will be under contract!
- Start the clock. Once the Purchase & Sale agreement is signed by all parties, the clock starts. All deadlines on the contract start from the day it’s signed by everyone. Now is the time to schedule your inspection, and get back in touch with your lender to tell them it’s time to move forward with your application.
- Deposits. There is typically 2 deposits, the first one is usually due right away, and the second one is usually due a couple of weeks after that. Pay attention to the dates on your contract. Your Real Estate Agent will also remind you when deadlines are coming up.
- Due diligence. Review the due diligence portion of your contract. You need to read the deed for the property, association documents, or any other rules and regulations within the time frame that’s in your contract. If you are unhappy or uncomfortable with anything, you can still back out of your contract, provided you are within the time frame mentioned.
- Inspection. If you’re having a home inspection, be sure it’s scheduled soon after the contract is signed. Ask your Real Estate Agent for a recommendation for a home inspector. Attend the inspection if you can, so the inspector can discuss any issues with you in person and you can ask questions.
- Work with your lender. Your lender will be asking you for all sorts of information. It’s best to have most of it before the process begins. Typical things you will need are: pay stubs, tax returns from at least 2 prior years, bank/investment account statements, proof that a gift (if you’re parents gave you a down-payment, or if a relative left you money in their will. etc) isn’t a loan. Depending on your situation, there will probably be more required documentation. When your lender asks for something, it’s best to obtain a copy for them as quickly as possible to not hold up the process. You will also have to pay up front for your appraisal (estimated to be about $475-525) so keep that in mind when planning.
- Purchase homeowner’s insurance. You can contact an insurance company (you can sometimes bundle it with car insurance for a discounted rate) and work with an agent to obtain homeowner’s insurance on your new home. They will typically ask for the property disclosure and the listing sheet. Your Real Estate Agent can help you with this. Depending on your loan package, your premium might have to be paid up front, so be prepared financially for that too.
- Contact a title company. If your lender hasn’t already done so, your Real Estate Agent or lender can recommend a title company for you. Make sure the title company is on your lender’s approved list. The title company will be performing your title search, preparing your closing statement, and conducting the closing.
- Prepare for closing. Hopefully everything goes well with your home inspection and financing, and you get the magical “Clear to Close” from your lender. At this time you will want to change the utilities over to your name, effective the day of closing, schedule your move, and conduct a walk-through of the property before you close. Another thing to remember is that you will have to pay the seller for any remaining oil/propane that it’s in the tank, so be prepared for that.
- Close! On the day of your closing, you will do a walk-through of the property with your Real Estate Agent to make sure everything is in good working order and no changes have happened. You will need to bring photo identification to the closing, and your checkbook for the fuel. You can choose to close by mail if you’d like to, or you can close in person. There are several documents to sign, and once you are done, the property is yours! You will get the keys at closing.
Congratulations, you made it!!!
Things to remember:
- When you are in the process of buying a home, do not do anything that will adversely impact your credit. This is not the time to go buy a new car, or go on a credit card shopping spree!
- Read what you’re signing, and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to in order to be able to completely understand the process, and what you are getting into. Using your agent's recommendations for inspectors/lenders/title companies, you will have a team that’s behind you 100%.