How to Buy a Home in Four Simple Steps
Step One: Get Pre-Approved
- You need to know how much home you can afford and what kind of down-payment savings you need to have to make an offer.
- Remember: your competition will most certainly be pre-approved--and in today's market, you must have that competitive advantage.
- To a seller, there is little difference between a pre-approval and a cash buyer. If cash is king, then pre-approval is queen.
- Give your pre-approval letter to your broker so it can be uploaded into your file.
Step Two: Find a Broker
- Find a seasoned real estate broker.
- Ask them how long they've been in the business, how many clients they've represented and how established they are in the community.
- Remember: you will pay for a realtor even if you don't use one. A buyer's agent's commission generally comes from the sale of the house--not your pocket--so doesn't it make sense to have representation in the biggest purchase of your life?
Step Three: Start Touring Homes
- Start your search online and narrow down your criteria. Get clear on all the features you are looking for and consider your must-haves, could-haves and nice-to-haves.
- Pick your Top 10 Favorites (so exciting!) and ask your broker to schedule a private tour to see them.
- Let the fun begin!
Step Four: Make an Offer
- Once you have selected your home, your broker will make an offer to the sellers. There may be some back and forth (or there may not be) to find terms agreeable for both buyer and seller.
- Once your offer is accepted, you will be asked to give an earnest money deposit to show the sellers you are serious in the purchase of their home.
- You will need to schedule a home inspection from a reputable home inspection company.
- Your lender will ask you to obtain a homeowner's policy from your insurance agent and you will also have to pay for an appraisal. If paying cash, it is HIGHLY recommended that you still obtain homeowner's insurance and an appraisal.
- Your broker will start title work, which is done to ensure that the title is free from any liens or encumbrances against the property when it is passed on from Seller to Buyer. The process takes about 30 to 45 days to complete.
- Once your mortgage is approved through your lender's underwriter and/or the title report comes back as "clear", all parties close the transaction. This can be done at the title company, broker's office, etc.