Advice for Home Buyers
Buying your new home is a serious venture. It can be an absolute pleasure or a difficult ordeal. Your house is not just your home, it is a serious investment in a structure, its location and your future.
When buying a home – you’re bound to have many questions. For example, “In what area can I find a home that suits my needs?”, “How much money will I need to afford the monthly payments?” and “How long will the home buying process take?”
Below is some valuable information and useful procedures to help you.
Steps to Take
- Pre-Qualification: Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home.
- Pre-Approval: While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You’ll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home you’re interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-approved for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. In fact, most sellers will not consider an offer from a prospective buyer that has not been pre-approved.
- List of Needs & Wants: Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. The lists will keep you on track to find what you are looking for.
- Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller.
- Focus & Organization:Keep the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts handy. Such items may include:
- One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted
- A file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you have cut out from the newspaper or real estate magazines
- Paper and pen, for taking notes as you search
- Photo or video camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you are attending a series of showings
- Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer
- Have the property inspected by a professional inspector
- Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing
- Check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed upon (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light)
There are multiple forms, in addition to the purchase agreement, that the buyer is required to return to the seller within a specific time frame. It is important to understand, adhere to, and review each contract/form carefully and know when each is due. Once this is done, the final terms of the sale are negotiated, the escrow officer acts as a neutral third party while inspections and final walk-through take place, contingencies are removed, and the property is conveyed.
If you don’t have the time or adequate knowledge to accurately and conveniently perform all the steps involved in the buying process, it is highly recommended that you find a real estate agent to represent you. A competent, communicative and professional real estate agent will have the time, tools, and expertise to comfortably and efficiently guide you through all of these steps to make the purchase of your home a smooth and pleasant transaction.