Buying a Home.
A daunting endeavor, I know. There are many, many moving parts to the home buying process. So how do you do it? Here are some steps that you should take and some things you should be ready for.
1) Contact a lender. If you do not know any lenders, your Realtor should have some excellent contacts for you, simply ask. The big thing here is that you get a Pre-Approval letter. This letter is going to give you your buying power. With this, we can establish a budget and get an idea of where to start our search. Be ready to have credit pulled and to answer questions about money on this step.
2) Determine what it is that you need, and what you want. For this step you really need to get down to what exactly is important to you. Some of the details you may want to look at are, location, size, number of bedrooms, yardage, and floor plan. Ideally you would want to narrow down your needs to things that are not fixable or very difficult to fix, such as location and sizing.
3) Find the house! It seems like it should be easy but do not just go try to see everything on Zillow. You should ask your Realtor to set you up on an MLS (Multiple Listing Service) search to narrow down what you have to look at. At this point the best course is to look at all of these options and narrow that pool down to about three or four options. Then its finally time to go meet your homes in person!
4) Put in an offer. This step is where the rubber meets the road, and where the value a good Realtor can provide becomes evident. This step involves pulling comparable properties, getting tax information, negotiating price, negotiating concessions, and several other important contingencies that need to be on the contract.
5) Contract to Closing. This is a long period that is the life of the contract, with using a Realtor, you wont have to worry about doing much except a few signatures and decisions here and there. This period includes scheduling and completing inspections, negotiating repairs, negotiating further seller concessions, compiling of legal forms and paperwork for the attorneys, and of course ensuring that all deadlines are met and that closing does not get delayed. The buying process here is very in depth and includes much more due diligence than can be entirely listed briefly.
6) Closing! This is the final step, after all of the stipulations of the contract are met, the final step is going to the closing attorneys office and signing all of the paperwork. Make sure you can sign your full name in cursive!
This process can be extremely trying on someone who works full time, has a family, or has a busy social life. "Hiring" a Realtor for the buyers process is optional, however by hiring a Realtor you are acquiring representation. The buyers agent is typically paid by the sellers agent through a commission split, unless there is an unusual circumstance such as purchasing a for sale by owner property. So getting representation is a very good idea to protect you from cut corners, bad deals, and to make sure you get the best possible outcome.
Lastly, each and every contract is unique, just like the client. This means that there may be a standard "guide" to buying, but there will always be some unexpected situations that need to be navigated. My recommendation is to get all the assistance you can when looking for a home, because it is by far the largest investment most people make and you should not cut corners when making it.
Keven Beach, Realtor