Home Buying Step-by-Step
Ten steps to buying the home of your dreams
- Get started the right way
- Choose your agent
- Choose a lender
- Pick a loan and get pre-approved
- Start shopping
- Make an offer
- Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate
- Get the home inspected
- Get the home appraised
- Close the deal
Get started the right way
Oh sure, everybody wants to jump right into open houses. But before you ever set foot into a foyer, you should identify your list of “musts” and “wants.” This list is an inventory of priorities for your search. And there’s so much to decide: Price, housing type, neighborhood, and school district — just to name a few. This will reduce the risk of you wasting time viewing homes you can’t afford — or don’t even want in the first place.
Once you know what you’re looking for, you can to start looking at listings and housing information online. My site has a great search engine with advanced criteria to narrow down your searches and mark your favorites.
Here are some home questions to get you started
- Why are you buying a home?
- What is your timeline for buying a home?
- What type of property are you looking for?
- How many bedrooms?
- How many bathrooms?
- What are your property must haves or nice to haves?
- What are your neighborhood and community must haves or nice-to-haves?
- Any other home criteria?
Choose your agent
Your relationship with your real estate agent is the foundation of the home-buying process. (And your agent = your rock.) She is the first expert you’ll meet on your journey, and the one you’ll rely on most. I recommend a REALTOR®. A REALTOR is a broker or agent who belongs to the National Association of REALTORS. (NAR), the largest trade group in the country. A REALTOR. commits to following a strict Code of Ethics intended to protect buyers and sellers; for example, REALTORS. Pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. Agents and brokers who are not NAR members can’t call themselves REALTORS. In most cases, using an agent, broker, or REALTOR won’t cost you a penny because the seller typically pays both the listing agent and buyer’s agent’s commissions.
With all that said… Hello, I’m Tammie Lunsford, REALTOR and I would be happy to help you buy a home.
Choose a lender
Once you’ve found your agent (AKA, your new best friend), ask her to recommend mortgage lenders that meet your financial needs. This is another big step, as you’ll be working with your lender closely throughout the home-buying process. You can find links to mortgage lenders here that I have worked with over the years that my clients have had good experiences working with to obtain their mortgages.
Pick a loan and get pre-approved
Once you’ve decided on a lender (or mortgage broker), you’ll work with your loan agent to determine which mortgage is right for you. You’ll consider the percentage of your income you want to spend on your new house, and you’ll provide the lender with paperwork showing proof of income, employment status, and other important financials.
Now that you have me as your agent who knows your housing preferences and a budget — and a lender to finance a house within that budget — it’s time to get serious about viewing homes. I will provide listings you may like based on your parameters (price range, ZIP codes, features), and will also help you determine the quality of listings you find online. Then comes the fun part: Open houses and private showings, which give you the unique opportunity to evaluate properties in a way you can’t online.
Make an offer
Once you find the home you want to buy, you’ll work with me to craft an offer that not only specifies the price you’re willing to pay but also the proposed settlement date and contingencies — other conditions that must be agreed upon by both parties, such as giving you the ability to do a home inspection and request repairs.
Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate
Making an offer can feel like an emotional precipice, almost like asking someone out on a date. Do they like me? Am I good enough? Will they say yes? It’s stressful! Some home sellers simply accept the best offer they receive, but many sellers make a counteroffer. If that happens, it’s up to you to decide whether you want me to negotiate with the seller or walk away. This is an area where I can provide real value by using my expert negotiating skills to haggle on your behalf and nab you the best deal.
Get the home inspected
If your offer is accepted, then you’ll sign a contract. Most sales contracts include a home inspection contingency, which means you’ll hire a licensed or certified home inspector to inspect the home for needed repairs, and then ask the seller to have those repairs made. This mitigates your risk of buying a house that has major issues lurking beneath the surface, like mold or cracks in the foundation. (No one wants that.)
Get the home appraised
When you offer to buy a home, your lender will need to have the home appraised to make sure the property value is enough to cover the mortgage. If the home appraises close to the agreed-upon purchase price, you’re one step closer to settlement — but a low appraisal can add a wrinkle. Not one you can’t deal with.
Close the deal
The last stage of the home-buying process is settlement, or closing. This is when you sign the final ownership and insurance paperwork and make this whole thing official.
All of this may sound complicated, but I will be with you through every step of the process to answer questions and provide recommendations, so don’t worry.