Buying a home is one of the most exciting processes a person or family will encounter. It’s also one of the most complex. To be sure that you are making the most of your house purchasing experience, you’ll want to follow certain guidelines to make sure that you are purchasing the right home and that your buying with the greatest deal of effectiveness. Because of the drastic changes in the market in recent years, the preparation you make for your house purchase is more important than ever.
In this article is a checklist of steps you should consider through the process of buying your new home. A house purchase is not something one should take lightly and missing even a minor detail in the process can cause headaches, and even worse, make for a bad investment.
Be An Informed Consumer
To start your house purchasing process, first learn as much as you can about the local market you’re seeking to purchase in. Before making a bid on any home, you should know what comparable houses in the area are selling for so you can appropriately negotiate for the home you seek to buy. Know how the house buying process works and learn subtleties of the industry. The more you know about house buying, the better you’ll come out of your purchase or have the knowledge to know when to walk away from what can seem like a good deal.
Be Familiar With The Mortgage Process
Once you’ve decided that you will buy a home, unless you have the capital to buy one outright, which very few people do, you will need to know what kind of home loan you will qualify for. Visit a number of banks and talk to loan representatives about what kind of loan you can get and what percentage interest you will pay on that loan based on your credit. Also, ask them what kind of paperwork you’ll need to provide to get approved for a loan.
Get Pre-approved For a Loan Before You Find a Home to Buy
When you start looking for the specific home you’ll want to purchase, you’ll want to already be backed by the bank and be able to negotiate. Negotiating a price for the home for sale is much easier when you have the power of being a cash buyer, which with your pre-approved loan, you will have. Your home buying process will be less of a hassle with a loan pre-approved.
Know Your Financial Status, Budget, and Credit Report
Knowing all three of these is a vital component to the purchase of a new home. Knowing your predicted future income and the budget you can allow yourself to fit in will make or break your ability to pay off your loan. It’s important to be honest with yourself on your budget because all too often people purchase homes with the thought that they will be making a greater income in the future and end up buying too much home for them to afford. This will only lead to an inability to pay and having your home repossessed by the bank. Also, have a copy of your credit report handy. Your credit will be the most important piece of information that the bank will use to decide what kind of loan and at what percentage they will offer you for your home purchase.
Know Your Home Buying Timeline
The home buying process is not something that can happen overnight, especially if it requires the use of a bank loan. Any home buyer should allow themselves at least three to four months to complete the process before finally closing on a home. For those who rent and want to purchase a home, they should start actively seeking a loan and the home they want to buy at least six months before their current lease agreement ends at their apartment or rented home.
Find an Honest, Reputable Real Estate Agent
It’s ok to start looking at and pricing homes in the area you want to buy in your home in, but it is vitally important to hire appropriate representation before you make any contact with the home owner. When seeking an agent, do your homework. Research their experience, professional background, and what kind and how many house deals they have brokered. Hiring the right agent could be the most important part of the house buying process.
Determine your housing needs
When looking for the home you want to buy, be sure and fully consider your needs from a house. Try to think of what you may do in the future and how the house can be used to accommodate your home lifestyle. For example, if you are expecting to have children you should consider a house with an extra room or if you are planning on buying a boat you may want to seek a home that has extra driveway space to store it.
Keep a log of the houses you’ve seen
Once you’ve hit the trail of houses for sale and gone over options with your agent, you’ll want to keep a note of the houses you looked at and give each house a score based on your interest based on the price and value of the home to you. Decisions and preferences can change in a hurry when looking for a house to buy and you don’t want to forget about a house you weren’t crazy about before but could be perfect for you if a decision on your housing needs changes suddenly.
Familiarize Yourself With How to Value a Home for Sale
The more you know about what gives a home value, the better you can know what to expect about the price of a home. When buying a home, you are not just purchasing the structure you’ll call home; you’re buying into the surrounding neighborhood and the convenience of its location to desirable destinations, shops, and entertainment. Knowing how to value a home will create a smaller chance that you may be disappointed with your purchase.
Write an Offer to the Homeowner
Once you’ve decided on a home to purchase, you will formally make an offer to the homeowner. An offer is a non-binding proposed selling price that the homeowner can accept, reject, or make a counter-offer back to you. Offers can include contingencies such as making the offer valid only with a full home inspection or appraisal. Offers should include the specifics on exactly what should be coming with the purchase or any expectations that certain household items should be fixed or improved before the purchase can occur. If the offer is accepted by the homeowner, the offer is later turned into a binding contract.
Negotiate the Listed Price
Often times, the listing for the cost of a home is a roundabout number that the seller is willing to negotiate. Never make your first offer the amount that is being asked. Offer a price that is less than what is asked but not so low that it is insulting to the homeowner. Depending on with what urgency the seller is looking to move the property, you may be surprised with what kind of price you may get by negotiating with the selling party. Rarely, a seller cannot be negotiated with and will be firm on the selling price. This would mean that the owner is in no hurry to move the property and unless you find the price they are firm at to be fair, your best bet is to move on to another seller who you can work out a deal with.
Schedule an Inspection of the Home
Before ultimately binding yourself into a contract to purchase a home, have a professional home inspector fully investigate the home. You don’t want to buy the home of your dreams and later find out that it is littered with termites, has a faltering foundation, or has rotting trusses in the roof supports. The inspection is to be sure that everything in the house is sound for you to move in with no serious extra costs to fix the home. It’s much like having a certified mechanic inspect a used car you may want to purchase.
Consider a Home Warranty
Because even a full home inspection will not cover knowing every little thing that can go wrong once a home is purchased, it can be wise to purchase a home warranty with your home purchase. They are typically good for one year after the home has been closed on and will cover the cost of certain home components like plumbing, washer and dryer, electrical units, oven, refrigerator, and everything in between. If the home you purchase is less than five years old, this is not usually a good investment but it is recommended for anyone buying a home that is more than five years old. The price of the warranty will vary greatly based on what is covered, the age of the components covered, and the value of the items covered.
Secure a Homeowners Insurance Plan
Although a home warranty is not always necessary, homeowners insurance is a great investment into the purchase of a home. The insurance will cover a number of possible damages and will decrease your risk of great financial loss from insuring your home from casualty like fire damage, liability in case someone is injured in your home and sues you, and personal property which insures the items in your home should they become damaged. Owning a home without this insurance puts you at risk to lose your entire home investment.
Make Moving Arrangements
Before you finalize the purchase of you home be sure to arrange how and when you will be moving your personal items and furniture to your new home. Moving arrangements with a moving company should be made at least a couple weeks ahead of time
Secure Final Loan Approval
When you went through the loan pre-approval process, a financial lending institute will have approved you to make a home purchase up to a certain dollar amount, but before you attempt to close on the house, it is always a good idea to double check that your loan to purchase the home is secured and ready to be issued when you do close on your new home.
Do a Final Walkthrough
Every other step in the process short of actually entering yourself into a binding contract to purchase the house has been made. This is a good time to take one last walk through of the home you intend to purchase. You may see something you didn’t before and it will give you a final opportunity to make sure that the home is the one you want to purchase before you’ve taken on the mortgage and ownership of the home.
Arrange the Closing for Your New Home
Once you’ve found the home you want to purchase, been approved for the loan to purchase the home, negotiated the price with the seller, had an inspection of the home completed, and secured your homeowners insurance, it’s time to meet with the seller for the closing. The closing will usually take place at an attorney’s office, Title Company, or an Escrow Company. It will usually include the buyer, seller, and real estate agents. This is where the title or deed is signed over to you, the buyer. Other documents that need to be included in the closing process are the contract, loan papers, title insurance, homeowners insurance, and the check for the down payment or closing costs.
Once all of these steps have been completed, you’ll be the proud owner of your new home! At the closing you’ll be given a set of keys to your new home and now that you have a home of your own, you can move in your furniture and personal possessions and make any changes to your home that you wish. Welcome to home ownership!
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