Buying a home is the single most expensive purchase most people make in their lifetime. When a person moves it is considered one of the top 5 most stressful things they can do. In our legalistic society, buying a home can be complicated and risky with all the forms, contingencies, legal documents and disclosures. To alleviate some of the uncertainty and fear in buying a home here are some tips in sequential order to help you traverse through the process.
1. Find a Realtor
According to the National Association of Realtors, 98% of home buyers start their home search online. That’s good. But to get the most accurate information and advice, a potential home buyer should set up an appointment with a Realtor to create a “buying a home” plan. A good agent will discuss your top priorities, goals, objectives and concerns including your time frame. Another topic to discuss is the areas you would like to live in.
2. Mortgage Lenders
Next, you and your agent can talk with a couple of mortgage lenders to determine which would be the best fit. During the lender interview process you can secure documentation (a Good Faith Estimate) to determine your price range and monthly payment. It is important not to skip this step. 25% of all canceled escrows in California were due to buyers not being able to qualify.
3. Search For Homes Online
Once you’re qualified, your agent will most likely send you emails of potential homes. You can begin driving the areas you are interested in buying a home in to get a feel for what you like and don’t like. These tours will help you determine which neighborhoods you want to focus on. It is wise to find a first choice area and neighborhood with one or two back up neighborhoods.
Once you determine your target neighborhood you can start viewing homes for sale. You want to determine your top 5 home choices in your favorite area. To narrow down your choices you can interview the immediate neighbors on either side; look at comparable homes for sale, sales history, and market data.
For most people, making a decision to buy a home will come down to location, price and décor.
The three questions you want to ask yourself when looking at homes are; do I like this home, do I see myself living here and is this the one I want to write an offer on. When your answer is “yes” to all three it’s time to write an offer.
4. Writing an Offer
In writing an offer, your agent can discuss with you a negotiation strategy that would work best in your current market. Most people prefer to start with a low offer and work to a middle ground with the seller but you may have to submit your best offer first.
5. Open Escrow
If your offer gets accepted it’s time to open escrow-this is when you know you’re really in the process of buying a home! Once in escrow it’s important to work with your agent on all the time lines and items that need to be completed before close of escrow. Have your agent write you out an organized calendar of events. Be sure to hire a professional property inspector to inspect the home. This can be the most stressful time in the process because you’re working on the escrow and your own move all at the same time.
The best thing to do is take things one step at a time and most of all don’t fall in love with the home until you close. There are a lot of things that could happen between open of escrow and close of escrow to prevent the sale. Try to keep as unattached to the home as you can be.
Also, it is a good idea to still look at what else is available on the market during escrow.
When you close escrow, one thing most people forget to do is transfer all the utilities into your name. If forgotten, you’ll be moving in the dark, won’t be able to shower and there will nothing to watch on TV. Congratulations on making it to end of the sale. It’s time to start enjoying your new home.
Hope this was helpful and best of luck as you jump into the buying a home process!
Buying a Home Advice Summary
1) Find a Realtor. Not just any realtor. Talk with friends, family and coworkers. Learn about the Realtor and then set up an appointment.
2) Mortgage Lenders. A loan officer will help you qualify and figure out how much house you can afford when buying a home.
3) Browse homes online. Your agent will send you listings but you can also browse sites like zillow.com, trulia.com, and redfin.com
4) Write an offer. When your answer is yes to “I like this home,” “I see myself living here,” and “This is the one,” then it’s time to write an offer. Accompanying your offer you can write a personal letter to the seller. Tell them how much you liked the house, why you’re putting in an offer and how you see your future in it.
5) After escrow is closed it’s time to move-in to your new home. Don’t forget to set up your utilities
I really hope this overview on the home buying process helps. If you like to create your own personal home buying plan with me, please call me at (760) 580-1967.
I would love to find the perfect home for you and your family.