Congratulations on your decision to purchase a home. You'll be joining the ranks of thousands of Americans who realize that home ownership offers a number of benefits including building equity, saving for the future, and creating an environment for your family. But before you move into your new home there are, Important things you can do in the process of buying. By doing this in the right order will greatly increase your chance of success finding right home at right price.
*Pre-approval vs. Prequalification
*Making an Offer
*Negotiating to Buy
Congratulations on your decision to purchase a new home! Your first step toward buying your new home will be to analyze your needs. You should have a clear picture of exactly what you want your new home to look like and how it should function for you and your family.
Second, establish a time frame that you would like to stay within for buying your home. Depending on your reasons for wanting a new home and the current state of the market in the area you are looking to buy, you should be able to come up with a rough guideline, which you can finalize at a later time.
Last, you most likely have a mental picture of what you would like your house to look like and what features it should have. It's very important to write these ideas down to avoid any ambiguity later in your home search. You should make at least two lists: one should be a list describing your dream home and the other should list the features of the home that are an absolute must have in order to buy it. In a perfect world, your new home would fulfill both lists 100 percent. It is more likely that you will end up blending the two lists into a schedule of prioritized items as you progress through the buying process. This is a natural and evolutionary process as you get clearer about what you want and what is available.
Preapproval vs. Prequalification
Now you are going to need to know in what price range to look.
Either way, you will need to contact a mortgage company. There are some key differences between prequalification and preapproval for a loan that you need to be aware of. Loan prequalification is a simple process. It takes into account very basic information regarding your financial status and gives you an amount for which you may qualify. This can be done strictly on a verbal level or electronically over the Internet. The prequalified amount is based solely on the information you provide. In most markets, prequalified buyers usually hold little clout compared to preapproved buyers due to the fact that the information given during the prequalification process is not thoroughly investigated and therefore may be unreliable. Where a preapproved buyer is actually approved for a loan of a certain amount, a prequalified buyer is only told that they might be approved for a certain amount.
Pre-approval is a much more involved process. The lender will take all pertinent information regarding your finances and perform an extensive check on your current financial status. This will ultimately give you the exact amount that you will be eligible for (depending on what type of loan you decide to go with). Being preapproved lets the seller know that you have gone through an extensive financial background check and there should be no unexpected obstacles to buying the home. You can see how being preapproved would be more attractive to a seller than just being prequalified.
Now that you have your list of needs and wants and you know how much you can afford to spend, it's time to look at some houses! Not just yet. Step back for a moment and consider the larger picture. People don't just buy a house; they buy the neighborhood the house is in. Think about that...if you found the perfect house but it was in a neighborhood that wasn't to your liking, would you make an offer on it? Most likely the answer would be, "No."
So, you will need to make another list of what type of neighborhood you want to live in. You will most likely want to consider things like how living in the neighborhood will affect your drive time to and from work, what amenities are offered (swimming pool, tennis courts, park, etc.), and, if you have children who are attending school or soon will be, what school district you will be in and how close the schools are. You may even want to make two lists just as you did with your home criteria.
Your real estate agent can help you consolidate the information from your list of needs and wants for your home. Your agent's experience in local markets will be an invaluable resource during this step.
At this point you will have a good idea of what you can afford and what type of neighborhood you will want to live in. Taking that information into consideration you are ready to embark on your actual home search. If you don't know much about the city that you are moving to you will most likely want to start your search by finding neighborhoods that meet your criteria and then narrowing your search to particular homes in the area.
There are a few ways to go about this. Possibly the most efficient way to find homes is to allow your real estate agent to keep you up-to-date on available properties that may meet your criteria, then and allow your agent to screen these properties for you. When your agent presents you with a property that interests you, he or she can arrange for you to tour the property when it is convenient for you.
You can also access local publications highlighting available real estate in the area, contact local Neighborhood Associations, visit the local Chamber of Commerce, look on the Internet, and even drive through neighborhoods that you feel would meet your needs. Driving around a particular area looking for a home that is for sale is good because you can actually see the house, but it can be very time consuming and very "hit or miss."
Making an Offer
Your agent will ensure that you have everything down in written form... no verbal agreements. After consulting with your agent to put your offer in a written contract that meets all the legal requirements according to local and national guidelines, your agent will present the seller with a written document detailing what needs to be done by both parties to execute the transaction. The contract should protect the best interests of all parties involved and should be comprehensive in nature. Your agent will also ensure your financial position as the buyer by including any necessary contingencies, which would protect you if a particular requirement were not met. Once the seller accepts it, it may be too late to make any changes. Remember that the legalities of this phase are very important. If you have any questions or concerns, they need to be addressed right away. After all, no one has ever said at their closing, "I wish I had asked fewer questions."
Negotiating to Buy
Once your offer is made, you and your real estate agent may need to enter some negotiation in order to reach an agreement. Keep in mind that almost everything is negotiable when you are buying a house. This can give you a great deal of leverage in the buying process -- that is, if you have adequate information and you use it in an appropriate manner. Your agent will have the market knowledge and negotiating expertise necessary to make sure that your offer is accepted at the best price and terms possible for you.
Some of the things that you may have to negotiate are:
· The price
· Closing costs
· Repairs that need to be done
· Appliances and fixtures
· Occupancy time frame
The key to successful negotiating is keeping in mind that the end result must make both you, the buyer, and the seller happy. Otherwise, negative feelings will persist throughout the remainder of the process and someone may walk away feeling that they were not treated fairly.
After your offer has been accepted, your agent will supervise the coordination of all necessary vendors and serving as your advocate when working with each vendor. Your agent will make sure that the vendors have access to the property at the appropriate times to perform their procedures and oversee the execution of those procedures on your behalf.
For instance, the property will need a thorough examination. Working with your lender, you may need to have a formal appraisal and a survey done for the property designated in the contract. A property inspection, a foundation inspection, and an environmental inspection may also need to be completed to make sure that the property is up to the standards set forth in your written agreement. If there are issues or inconsistencies brought to light during this time, it may delay or even nullify the contract depending on the contingencies set forth in the contract.
Homeowner insurance is another very important item that will need to be taken care of at this point. Insurance experts recommend that you obtain insurance equal to the full replacement value of the home. Unless you have insurance coverage on the home, the closing can not proceed. Your agent's experience in this area will be invaluable in making sure that everything is completed on time and in a professional and legal manner.
As the closing date draws near, your real estate agent will contact the escrow company and your lender to make sure that all the necessary documents are being prepared, and that they are complete, accurate, and delivered in a timely manner. Your agent will also need to confirm that the documents will be delivered to the correct location so they can be reviewed and that they will be ready for the appropriate closing date.
At this point, you and your agent should find out what form of payment you will need to bring to the closing for any unpaid fees. Make sure that your payment is made out to the appropriate party. Ensuring that each closing document is ready and available will enable you to have a quick, easy closing.
"Closing" refers to the meeting where ownership of the property is legally transferred to the buyer. It is a formal meeting in which most parties involved in the buying/selling process will attend. Closing procedures are usually held at the title company's office or lawyer's office. Your closing officer coordinates the document signing and the collection and disbursement of funds. Your agent will generally be present at your closing to read the documents on your behalf, answer any questions, or help to resolve any last minute or unexpected details that may come up.
Congratulations on the purchase of your new home! Now that you have taken ownership of the property you will need to have your local services such as electricity, cable, and phone set up. Your real estate agent can help you coordinate the set-up of these local services. No doubt your agent already knows who the local vendors are for such services as water and electricity, as well as others, so he or she can help provide you with a list of contacts.
Also, you should already be aware of the expenses that are typically associated with owning a home. Neighborhood Association fees, landscaping costs, and annual taxes should be budgeted for throughout the year.