BY KAREN LIBIN
If you’ve never bought a home or it has been a long, long time since you have done so, the process can seem overwhelming. What all needs to be done and when? Like any large task, the process can be broken down into manageable steps. Here are the basics:
- Hire an excellent Realtor
The first and perhaps most important step is to hire an experienced Realtor who can assist and guide you through the process. They will make sure your best interests are represented and that the transaction occurs smoothly. Their fee is paid through the seller, so you will incur no costs for their services.
- Determine your budget
To calculate this, contact a mortgage. Through them, get a pre-qualification (for a loan) letter. Even better is a pre-approval letter. This makes you a more attractive potential buyer to sellers. This is especially important if you end up in a situation with multiple competing offers.
- Choose a property type
City or country? Home or townhouse? Which neighborhoods? When determining what you want to buy, consider both short and long-term needs. Make a “wish list” but prioritize the most critical items as it’s likely that no one home will check all your boxes.
- Find a property
After seeing potential properties, choose the home that best appeals to you and suites your needs. (Short sentence for a sometimes long process!)
- The offer and counter-offers
Your Realtor will help determine the market value of your chosen property, review this with you to determine your offer price, and then will draft the offer contract. If needed, your Realtor will assist you through the counter-offer process as well.
- Purchase contract and earnest money.
Once terms are agreed upon by both parties, the final contract is completed. At this point your earnest money is due.
- Property inspection and resolution
The inspection is conducted to uncover problems or potential problems with the home. Sometimes other experts will need to be contacted for additional information or bids. Once the Inspection Report is completed, if needed, your Realtor will assist you in reaching an acceptable financial resolution with the seller.
- The loan
The contract will specify a deadline the lender must furnish the buyer with a loan approval or declination. This step must be handled properly or you can risk losing your earnest money.
- The survey
The lender or title company may require a property survey. Again, your Realtor will have contacts and can guide you through this step.
- Homeowner’s insurance
While your loan commitment is being secured, you will need to purchase homeowner’s insurance before the loan can be finalized.
- The closing and title transfer
Four days before the closing (the property purchase), a settlement statement will be available. At the closing you will bring a certified bank check unless a prior wire transfer has been made. After signing what feels like an unbelievable amount of documents, you will be finished and own your new home!