Home buying is a major purchase that requires research, careful analysis, and consideration. Figuring out what you want, e.g., location, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, outdoor space design, etc. is the easy part. However, there are many other factors to think about in your home search. From your initial search to the moment you get the keys to your new home, I will be there, guiding you through the process.
As an area expert, I can help you explore neighborhoods, schools, and other local community amenities that suit your lifestyle.
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The Home Buying Process
Step 1: Get a Pre-Approval Letter
Before you even begin your home search, you should review your budget and determine how much you can afford to pay for a house. However, you need to take it a step further and talk to a loan officer. This process is FREE, and you can get the approval letter within 24-48 hours. After you discuss your financial situation and home-buying plan with a loan officer, you will find out how much the lender is willing to let you borrow and the best loan option for you. The loan officer will also issue you a pre-approval letter, which you will need to submit an offer.
Read more: Why Pre-Approval Should Be Your First Step
Step 2: Search for Your Desired Home
Now that you know the price range, we can find a house that fits your budget. Usually, we start with the basics like:
- # of bedrooms
- # of bathrooms
- geographic areas
If there are homes that meet your requirements, we can set up a tour to view several properties on the same day. If we cannot find a home that meets your needs, we can tweak the search criteria or expand search areas to see if we can find homes that might be suitable.
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Step 3: Submit an Offer
Once you find a home you like, I can help you prepare an offer to purchase the property. There are some essential items that we need to decide on as we put the offer together, for example:
- Offer Price
- Seller’s Subsidy
- Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) amount
- Title and Escrow company
- Settlement Date
- Financing and Appraisal
- Home Inspection
- Home Warranty
I will go through each section of the offer with you so that you can better understand what you are offering the Seller. When we finish putting together the offer, I will submit your offer along with the pre-approval letter from Step #1.
Step 4: Your Offer is Accepted
Once your offer is submitted, I will help you negotiate with the Seller for the best terms. The negotiation usually takes 2-3 days, and after both parties agree on all the terms, we have a Ratified Contract. The date on which we have a ratified contract is called the Ratification Date, and this is the date that all the critical contractually agreed-upon deadlines are measured against. Here are some of the important dates:
- EMD deposit deadline
- Loan application deadline
- Home inspection deadline
- Appraisal deadline
- Financing deadline
Step 5: Work with Your Agent (that’s me!)
After the Ratification Date, I will help you work through a few key steps:
- Submit the ratified contract to the lender and title company so that they can start working on their ends
- Coordinate with you regarding EMD deposit to the Escrow Company (this is usually the Title Company)
- Set up a Home Inspection appointment. We can also do Radon Testing at the same time. Depending on the property, we may also need to set up other inspections, e.g., Septic, Well, water quality, lead-based paint, etc.
- Help you prepare and negotiate the Home Inspection Removal Addendum (HICRA)
- Order Wood Destroying Insect (WDI) Inspection.
- Order a Home Warranty.
- Set up utilities.
- Do a final walk-through inspection of the property before closing.
Step 6: Work with Your Lender
At the same time, you will start working with your lender on the following items:
- Start the Loan Application process.
- Lock the interest rate (Rate Lock).
- Submit the lender’s required documents.
- Set up your Homeowners Insurance. Your lender requires a homeowner’s policy.
- Order an Appraisal.
Step 7: Work with the Settlement Company
In the background, your Settlement Company will work on transferring the property and disbursing funds on your behalf. In the process, you may have to respond to their requests. Typically, you will have to let them know:
- How do you want to hold the title to the property
- Choose your Survey option, i.e., no survey, plat only, or plat with markers.
- Choose your Title Insurance, i.e., no insurance, Standard policy, or Enhanced policy.
I will be involved and help you coordinate with the Settlement Company throughout the process.
Step 8: Settlement
Before the Settlement Date, your lender will contact you to review the Final Closing Disclosure. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for an explanation. On your final Closing Disclosure, you will see the amount of money (if any) you need to send to the Settlement Company. For your safety, you need to call the Settlement Company directly to arrange funds transfer.
On your Settlement Date, you meet with a Settlement agent at a prearranged time and location. For this meeting, you should bring:
- A government-issued ID, e.g., a driver’s license
- A personal check (just in case)
Remember, this is just an outline of the process. I will be with you each step along the way.
Here is the approximate timeline for the eight steps above:
|1-2 days||1-4 months||1-5 days||30-45 days||1 hour|
After the Settlement, you also want to review the change of address checklist.