Buying a home is the biggest (most likely) purchase you'll ever make. And, one of the most difficult. Though there are no set rules when beginning a search, I have complied a list of items I "think" may be of help when you are starting your House Hunting process and through the purchase.
- If you don't already have a Realtor, NOW is the time to get one. For that search, read my HOW TO FIND A REALTOR for a few tips...or call ME. If you are not buying in my area, I can help find a Realtor for you!
- Meet with your lender to discuss "How much" you can afford. Maybe you have a budget in mind yourself--share this information with your lender. Sometimes, you may be able to afford more than you wish, but may want to stay within a certain monthly mortgage payment. IF you're not working with a lender, ask your Realtor for a list of several names. Once you've met with the lender and decided on a purchase price, ask for a Pre-Approval letter to give to your Realtor. This will be submitted with your offer when you find the "perfect" home.
- Make your (wish) criteria list: size of home, size of lot, bedrooms, baths, garage and, of course, location. Schools may play a big part in your decision, so you'll want to research the district you wish to live. YOUR Realtor can help you with this.
- Prioritize your list: things you really NEED verses what you WANT. Another words, what can you really live without. This may make your choices of homes broader and will help your Realtor when he/she is searching.
- When you go previewing homes with your Realtor, take a notepad and keep notes on the properties you see. IF a house is absolutely NOT a possibility, get rid of that listing sheet. Keep narrowing down the list and before you know it, you'll be very close to what you NEED and want.
- Look beyond cosmetics. Maybe the home is not as spiffy as you'd keep it. Maybe it needs paint and a little TLC. Look past that. The most important thing is structure and once you've decided on a home, and an offer is submitted and accepted, you'll have a Home Inspection (or should) and the inspector will tell you about items that may be of concern verses just needing a good cleaning or simple repairs.
- WHEN you KNOW you've found "the one," sit down with your Realtor and get an offer prepared and submitted. Don't wait to long...even in a slow market, keep in mind that there are other buyers out looking.
- Once your offer is presented to the other Realtor, and accepted, contact your lender. The loan process MUST begin ASAP.
- Escrow is opened (in CA, we use escrow companies--( description of escrow )to handle the funds of the transaction.
- Ask your Realtor for a list of Home Inspectors and set up an appointment to have the home you've chosen inspected. Be there if possible so he/she can explain points of concern during the inspection.
- You'll be given seller disclosures, a preliminary title report, Natural Hazard Report (in CA). Read these carefully before signing off on them. IF you have any questions or concerns with any of these documents, discuss them with your Realtor. Foreclosures (bank owned properties) generally do NOT have disclosures. They are generally sold "AS IS." (However, in CA, all purchase agreement contracts state: "As is.")
- After the home inspection, you MAY wish to ask the seller to make some, or all, repairs found on the inspection report. BUT keep in mind, though the seller may or may NOT agree to repairs, the only thing a seller HAS to do (in CA) is have the water heater braced and working smoke alarms.
- The buying process is now moving along....and before you know it, if you accept all findings of the inspection, disclosures and your loan is approved, you'll be handed the Keys and You'll be a Home Owner!