Homebuying road map
Buying a house is probably the biggest purchase of your life. The process can seem long, complicated, and downright overwhelming. Before you go on a trip, you carefully route your trip using a map, a computer program, or perhaps a GPS. They guide you step-by-step until you safely reach your destination. Why not take the same approach to buying a home? Use a homebuyer’s roadmap to ensure you take the right path to your dream home destination!
Step Number One: Plan Your Destination
You’ve got to know exactly where you’re going. Great trips take some planning, and so does buying the house of your dreams.
- Prequalify for a loan: Learn the amount you qualify for based on your debt-to-income ratio and credit score.
- Select an agent: Let a professional help you. Ask around. Family and friends can probably give you some referrals. If not, interview a few agents and look for someone that is compatible with you and specializes in your geographical area.
- Make appointments with your agent to search for homes: Be sure to let the agent know all your needs: distance to specific locations, specific school districts, and a list of nonnegotiables when it comes to your likes and dislikes.
- Work with your realtor to make a fair offer: Your realtor can help you determine a good price point. If the seller accepts, you’re generally required to make a deposit (typically 1% of negotiated price) on the home.
Step Number Two: Make Regularly Scheduled Pit Stops for Maintenance
During a long trip, you have to stop for general maintenance like filling the gas tank, inflating low tires, or perhaps even an oil change. After a seller has accepted your offer, your journey into home buying has only just begun. There are lots of stops left to make.
- Consult with an attorney: Have a real estate lawyer review the contract before you sign it. If an attorney is not possible, have a title company review it.
- Schedule an inspection: Book an inspector who is not affiliated with either party to examine the home. Based on the findings, you have the right to renegotiate, stipulate repairs, accept “as is,” or even withdraw from the contract.
- Sign a Purchase and Sales agreement: The agreement is signed following inspection. Your down payment is transferred into an escrow account at this time.
- File your mortgage application: This “mortgage contingency period” can take up to 45 days or longer. An appraiser will assess the property to verify that the purchasing price is comparable to other homes in the area.
Step Number Three: Enter the Home Stretch
On a long trip, you see the mile marker stating that you’re really close. You’re excited that the journey is almost over, but there is still some distance to cover.
- Wait for notification that your mortgage was approved: Your lender will send this notification that itemizes all closing costs.
- Hire a reputable moving company: Make sure to get a firm quote and then schedule your day.
- Contact utility companies: Remember to not only shut off utilities at your current residence, but also schedule a date to be turned on at your new home.
- Contact USPS: Fill out necessary forms to have address updated.
Step Number Four: Arrive at Your Destination
- Take a final walkthrough: The final walkthrough is your opportunity to tour the property with your agent to ensure that all the agreed terms (repairs, items to be removed or remain) with the seller were met.
- Finalize closing paperwork: This is the time when you’ll meet with your agent and attorney to review and sign loan documents. You’ll also get your new keys once the seller signs the deed that transfers ownership to you.
- Breathe a sigh of relief, and celebrate: It may have seemed like a long process, but you made it. Hopefully you’ll be enjoying your new home for many years to come. Treat yourself to a great dinner in your new home. If all your furniture hasn’t arrived yet, just grab a blanket and a bottle of wine and call up the nearest pizza delivery place. You can’t beat a pizza picnic on the floor of your new home!