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Kelly Laird Smith

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Buyer Guide

Buying a home is the biggest investment you’ll ever make. Do you take the risk?

Buying a home is supposed to be one of the most exciting experiences you will ever go through. However, it can also be the most stressful. This is the case whether you’ve bought a home before, or are a first time buyer looking for an investment property, or simply looking for your next vacation home.

More than ever, today’s real estate market not only offers more opportunities, but also more risks. You have a lot of things to consider and plenty of decisions to make during the buying process. When buying real estate, it is very important to make sure you have the necessary resources to make the best decisions, as well as the time to make use of the resources. You need to make sure you have the help of a trustworthy and knowledgeable real estate agent that will help you from beginning to end of the buying process.

Below, you will find the steps necessary to follow during the search and purchase process:

1: Set goals. Do research. Make a game plan.

Being that home buying is such a huge step in your life, it is extremely important to educate and prepare yourself. You need to find the reasons behind buying, as well as determine what you are looking for. Since home buying and financing go hand in hand. It is also important to look at your current financial situation and budget accordingly.
After following the steps above, you will be more comfortable when starting your home search and applying for mortgages. You may feel that you are ready to start this process on your own, but finding a real estate professional from the start would be more beneficial.

2: Get in touch with an agent

There are many things to consider when buying a home since no two homes or transactions are the same. In addition, it is crucial to get in touch with an agent when you decide to buy because of major opportunities and potential risks in the current market.
When you are ready to choose a real estate agent for your home buying process, it is important to consider their knowledge of the area, track record, and most importantly, their experience. Do your research and read reviews from previous buyers.

3: Pre-Approval

If you are serious about buying a home, it is crucial to get pre-approved for a loan before you start looking for properties. This would involve meeting with a mortgage lender and allowing them to research your credit history and current financial situation. Once you allow for them to do this, your lender will be able to provide you with the amount you can borrow to buy a home. You can start this pre-approval process by looking at what lenders offer online, or by getting in touch with your bank or credit union.

Why being pre-approved will benefit you:

Knowing how much you are pre-approved for will make your home search much easier
When it comes time to make an offer on your new home, the seller will take the offer more seriously knowing you are already qualified
If you are a first time home buyer, you will also learn whether or not you qualify for any special programs, or first time home buyer discounts
There are many sources when it comes to financing. Your real estate agent will be able to refer you to an experienced lender that has a strong background in offering attractive mortgage services and products.

4: Start your search. Find the ONE.

Knowing what you are looking for is key to the home search process. This means determining your “must haves” and your “would like to haves.”
Here are a couple key facts about searching for homes that may help with your approach:

  • 92% of buyers use the internet or mobile apps to search for homes.
  • The typical buyer searches for 12 weeks and views 12 homes.
  • 97% of buyers view real estate agents as important in the home search process.
  • 31% of millennials looking to buy a home want to buy within 2 years
  • It will be 35% cheaper to buy than rent in 2018 in America
  • 88% of first time buyers are buying homes through an agent

Just like the website you are currently on, it is helpful to search for homes on a real estate agents website. Not only can you view all of the active listings in the MLS, but you can also research the area you are looking in, school districts and read blog posts that may contain some helpful information.

Looking at homes on the internet is important, but viewing them in person is a must. Although the property information and photos resemble a property, homes can look different in terms of arrangement, style, craftsmanship, landscape, as well as other details. Preferably, you should visit homes along with your agent, who has the experience in noticing things you may miss.

5: The offer and negotiation process

After the long search process, you have finally found the one, which means it is time to make an offer. This is generally where contracts come into play. These contracts are used for transactions in the area and are normally provided by the state or local real estate associations. Contracts allow for you to identify a sale price, and include any “terms of purchase” clauses, such as closing date, closing costs, amount of deposit, etc.
You and your agent need to thoroughly read through any clauses to ensure they are accurate and clearly define your proposed offer. Your real estate agent will be there to answer any questions about the offer process.
As soon as the written offer is completed, your agent will present it to the listing agent and/or seller.
At this point, the seller will either accept, reject, or counter, which is also known as negotiate.
Until an agreement is reached, there could be multiple counter offers with strict time frames for responding.

6: Get the funds ready

Once you and the seller come to an agreement, you will have to go to your lender to finalize and close the deal. The down payment, interest rate, monthly mortgage payment schedule and all other details will be presented to you at this time.
Quick tip: Not all lenders are trustworthy. It is an unfortunate fact but true that that there are misleading lenders in the world who will add in extra fees during closing and hide them from you. These lenders may not even want to find you the best loan for your situation. Many brokers look for mortgages that offer them the greatest profit, rather than a deal for their client. Just make sure you speak with your real estate agent, family, friends and colleagues. The best referral you can get is by word of mouth from people you trust.

7: Closing of Escrow

You have finally made it! As long as you have thoroughly taken care of everything in connection with purchasing your new home, this day should go down as one of the happiest, most joyous days of your life.
Steps to the closing of escrow:

Title Search – this is all of the history and legal documents in relation to ownership of your new home. This is to confirm that there are no claims/liens against the title of the home. Title insurance is also a necessary step to protect yourself and your home if errors or mistakes in the review process are made.

The walkthrough – this gives you the opportunity to walk through your new home to ensure it is still in the same condition as when you made the first, initial offer.
Closing Date – on this day, you will generally meet with your agent, a lawyer, or an escrow officer to sign all of the paperwork to finalize your purchase. You will also receive the property title and copies of all of the signed paperwork relating to your transaction.