1. FIND AN AGENT
The first step in the home-buying process is to find a Realtor® you feel comfortable working with on what will likely be the largest financial decision of your life. Be sure to ask friends and family members for referrals, and interview several real estate agents to find the one you feel most comfortable with.
2. FIND A LENDER
Once you've chosen a real estate agent you trust to be your advocate, ask them to recommend lenders, either an organization or a person who will lend you money so you can buy your home. A local Realtor® has experience working with mortgage brokers and title companies and can recommend lenders. Choosing someone to handle the financial part of the home-buying process can feel like a scary step, but choosing a lender that’s competitive on rates, and a good communicator is key.
3. CLEAN UP YOUR CREDIT
Now that you have a great lender, ask for their guidance on any credit score issues you may be facing. Big or small, the lender can provide guidance to help repair your situation and make sure you'll be approved for a loan. Don't make any major purchases until before closing because that can affect your qualification for your mortgage.
4. APPLY FOR MORTGAGE PRE-APPROVAL
A lender will help you determine exactly what amount you can afford which will determine houses you should be looking at. To arrive at a purchase price, you’ll add in expenses like homeowners insurance, association dues, taxes and utilities to make sure you can comfortably make your mortgage payments. The lender will then tell you the total amount of money they’re willing to lend you.
5. CREATE A HOME WISH-LIST
After you know what price home you can afford, talk with your real estate agent about your ideal home. Be sure to share your “need to haves" as well as "nice to haves" you’d be willing to compromise on. Think bigger than just the color of the walls or what type of flooring it may have.
6. BEGIN THE SEARCH
The fun part! Searching for homes that meet your criteria. When you begin seeing homes that are on your list, bring along a notepad and write down your thoughts as you approach each home. Can you see yourself living there? Be sure to make notes of what you like about each home. At the end of a long day of house hunting, they all begin to blur together.
7. MAKE AN OFFER
It’s the Realtor’s® job to walk you through the steps needed to make an offer on a home.
Your offer will include a deposit which will apply toward your down payment on the home. Be sure to consider review the important documents and talk to your Realtor about the terms & condition you want to include in the offer. There will probably be some negotiation, it’s a very competitive market and your Realtor® will have ideas on how to make your offer competitive.
8. GET FINAL MORTGAGE APPROVAL
When your offer to purchase is accepted, you'll work with your lender to get final approval for your home purchase by the date specified for the closing. The lender may require you to pay property taxes or homeowners insurance for the first year at the time of closing, so make sure you know what funds you will need. A good lender will hold your hand and walk you through the steps, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
9. DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE
This process usually includes getting a home inspection to make sure you haven't missed any hidden problems on your visits through the home. If issues are found you will be able to negotiate for the current owner to fix them or take the cost of repair off the closing costs.
10. ATTEND THE CLOSING
Once you’ve completed all of the steps, you’ll be on your way to the closing table. This is when the title to the home is transferred from the seller to the buyer. Every transaction varies, but plan to sign a ton of paperwork. Then you’ll officially be a homeowner and receive the keys to your new home.