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It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the process of buying a home, especially for first-time home buyers. However, I’ve broken down the home-buying process into 10 easy steps:
1. Meet with a lender – you can do this over the phone, or in person. If you don’t already have a lender in mind, your real estate agent can recommend lenders for you to contact. At this meeting, your lender will discuss loan options as well as your down payment amount. (FYI – there are loan options that allow you to put less than 20% down.)
2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage (NOT pre-qualified) – you can do this step during your initial meeting with your lender.
3. Meet with a real estate agent – this is an important step to ensure your real estate agent is aware of your wish list and can best help you find your ideal home.
4. View homes – your real estate agent can set up a search for you based on your wish list. Once you identify homes you’re interested in, your real estate agent will set up showings to see the homes in person.
5. Place an offer – once you’ve found the home you’d like to buy, your real estate agent will work with you on an appropriate and reasonable offer amount and will submit your offer to the seller’s agent via a contract. In addition to the purchase price, there are several other terms that will be included in the offer contract. Your real estate agent will explain the additional terms to you.
6. Negotiate counteroffers – your initial offer may or may not be accepted by the seller. Be prepared for potential negotiations, in which the seller and you go back and forth with new offers and counteroffers (this is all facilitated by your agent and the seller’s agent).
7. Inspection – once you and the seller have agreed on the contract terms, the inspection needs to be ordered. Your real estate agent can recommend licensed inspectors for you. An inspection will protect you from any problems with the home that are not detectable during the showing.
8. Attorney review – you will need a real estate attorney to review the contract and all legal aspects of the home purchase. Your real estate agent can recommend real estate attorney options if you don’t already have one.
9. Appraisal – your lender will arrange for an appraiser to determine the fair market value of the home. This protects the bank from loaning you more money than the home is worth. It also ultimately protects you from paying too much for the home.
10. Attend the closing – this is the day the home officially becomes yours. In addition to your real estate agent attending the closing with you, your attorney will be there to guide you through all the documents you need to sign. Once everything is signed, you receive the keys and the home is yours. Final step…CELEBRATE!