What a wonderful feeling it is to buy your first home. Of course, there will be questions and feelings of anxiousness along the way. Here are a few tips that can ease you through the process.
1. Decide what's important to you
Do you want a condo in the city, or a house in the suburbs with a big yard? Consider what's important to your lifestyle – do you need a good school district or be in an area with all the best restaurants Do you want to be within walking distance of a grocery store or park? Consider how long you are expecting to stay in your house.
2. Meet with a mortgage consultant
Meeting with a mortgage consultant will help you explore the various financing options and get pre-approved for a loan. The lender will give you a written preapproval letter. It will tell your real estate agent and home sellers how much you can borrow and that you have acceptable credit to purchase a home. It can improve your negotiating power as sellers will know you are serious about buying a home, and it will make your offer more attractive.
3. Start the home search
This is definitely the most fun part! Most buyers start their search online so they can get an idea of what areas and types of homes they are most interested in.
4. Hire a Realtor
You professional Realtor will be an invaluable guide through the process providing insight and expertise as you undergo the mountain of paperwork, inspections, price negotiations and the various closing details. Your Realtor should offer you a buyer’s consultation so he/she can get a better idea of what it is you are looking for.
5. Find the right home
Work with your real estate agent and decide what properties you would like to see. Begin touring properties. While on tour, take notes of likes and dislikes. Make a list of your top 3 houses so you can narrow your choices down. Once found the right home, work with your REALTOR® to present an offer to the seller. Counter-offers are common, so be prepared to negotiate on price, closing date, and appliances or needed repairs.
After you've agreed upon the offer with the seller, your lender will order an appraisal on the property. Your real estate agent will work with you on contract deadlines such as building inspection, termite inspection, loan commitment, insurability etc. The day before closing you will do a final walkthrough to ensure that everything negotiated in the contract is indeed intact. Your Realtor will give you final numbers for the cashier’s check to bring to closing. This amount will consist of the down payment and closing costs.
Congrats - you've just made the leap to homeowner!