Buying your first home or moving into another is one of the most exciting, and frequently stressful, experiences you'll ever go through. It's crucial to have all the available resources and information necessary to make a well-informed decision. Below is the step-by-step process of each stage of finding and buying your own home. I hope it gives you confidence in your search.
These are the core successful members of your team:
Real Estate Attorney
Lender/Bank (if financing)
Find out how much house (plus taxes) you can afford before you begin your home search. Rule of thumb: Your monthly home payments should not exceed 36% of your gross monthly income. If you will be getting a mortgage, you will need a pre approval letter. If paying cash, you will need to be able to provide proof of funds when you make an offer.
Once you find a house you love, work with your buyer agent to make your bid. Your offer will include: purchase price, down payment amount, contingencies (e.g. inspections), and possible closing date. Have your REALTOR® share the best comps to determine your offer strategy as well as perform other due diligence (e.g. researching open permits, etc).
You get an AO, but that doesn't mean the house is yours just yet. The possibility still exists that another buyer could make a better offer so it's critical to move quickly towards inspections and a fully executed contract.
Try to be present during inspections because you will learn a lot about your house. Recommended inspections include Termite, Radon, Septic, Water, Oil Tank (if below ground), and mold (if warranted).
Your real estate attorney will review the contract in detail with you and make necessary revisions. Upon agreement, all parties sign and you provide your down payment, which will go into escrow until the closing.
If you are financing, you will likely be required to pay for a bank appraisal so the lender can confirm the property is worth what you're paying. A title search is run to determine if there are any liens or judgments against the property.
After your lender gives you the clear to close, the attorneys will set a closing date. Your buyer agent will schedule a walk-through of the property typically within 24 hours before the closing. Your attorney will tabulate the list of final costs and checks you need to bring to the closing table. When the closing is done, grab the keys and celebrate.
As soon as you are done signing all of the closing documents, the house is yours. You can move in immediately or on your own time. Remember to write a review for your agent - 5 stars if they earned it.
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