1. YOU’VE FOUND YOUR REALTOR®
Even though you can see all of the houses for sale online, your Realtor®, also known as the Buyer’s Agent, can give you information about the market, guide you through the process, help you negotiate the contract terms, and work through issues like obtaining financing and negotiating the home inspection. Your Realtor® will also take care of the administrative side of the transaction, coordinating all of the “moving parts” to be sure you get to closing on time. While the Listing Agent (the agent with their name on the sign) will be looking out for the Seller’s best interest, your agent will look out for your best interests.
Homework: Ask your REALTOR® what their role is in helping you find a home.
2. FIND A LOCAL LENDER
Next step, talk with a local lender with whom you feel comfortable. If you do not have anyone in mind, your Realtor® can recommend some great local companies. Talk with the lender about your financial situation and what you would like to do. The lender will then be able to “pre-qualify” you for a certain loan amount based on what you have told them. Can you afford the filet mignon, or the sirloin? Shopping for a home without getting prequalified is like going grocery shopping with out knowing how much money is in your checking account!
Homework: Ask your lender what documents you must bring to your appointment
3. FIND A HOUSE
Your Realtor® can help you narrow down home choices and show you a variety of properties. When looking, always keep in mind the difference between things that can’t be changed (location, steep driveway, busy road) versus things which may be easily corrected (odd paint colors, worn carpet, outdated appliances). Buying a house is a long term decision, it’s important to “think long-term” when going through the process.
Homework: Complete Wants and Needs List and Give to Your REALTOR®, before making offer visit online sex offender registry and educate yourself on Radon and Lead-Based Paint.
4. MAKE AN OFFER
You find the perfect home, you can afford it, so you make an offer. The Sellers make a counteroffer. You counter their counter…sometimes it can feel like a game of ping-pong. The negotiation may continue for several days before an agreement is reached and you have a ratified contract on the home. Trust your Realtor’s counsel as you are going through this process, and remember to think “long-term”. Most folks expect to compromise somewhat through the negotiation, so maintain your composure and keep taking small steps towards an agreement.
Homework: Save up for your earnest money deposit
Don’t…Switch jobs, quit your job, decide to become self-employed.
Don’t…Buy a car, truck, motorcycle, or boat.
Don’t…Use additional credit. Credit cards, current accounts, new accounts (say, for furniture).
Don’t…Change banks, co-sign a loan, omit any debts or liabilities from your loan application.
Homework: Only spend money on groceries and gas until closing!