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When you’re approaching the home buying process, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There are so many steps to take and things to consider that it can feel impossible to navigate, especially if you’re a first-time buyer.
But remember that over 6 million homes were purchased in 2020 alone. If all those people successfully made it through the process of buying a house, you can too!
The trick is to get organized. You need to know what you’re up against, and what steps you need to take before you begin. That way, you’ll know exactly what’s coming from start to finish.
To learn everything you need to know about buying the perfect home for you, just keep reading.
Table of Contents
Imagine Your Dream Home
The first of many home buying process steps is to imagine your dream home. What does it look like? What features does it include? Is it a condo? A townhouse? A single-family home?
Don’t worry about the opinions of others during this step (except, of course, the ones who will be living there with you). This is your home, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t align with what someone else considers the perfect house.
While you’re considering what you want out of your home, it’s a good idea to think about your long-term goals as well. Do you want a fixer-upper or a move-in-ready home? Are you planning to stay in the house for decades to come, or is it more of a transitional space?
Knowing exactly what you’re looking for will help you narrow down your options and find the right one for you.
What You Qualify for vs. What You Can Afford
For most home buyers, the largest determining factor is your budget. The most important thing to remember is that what can qualify for and what you can afford might not be the same thing.
When you apply for a mortgage, a lender will give you a maximum home price that they’re willing to lend you. This number will be determined by the amount of debt you already carry, your income, and your employment history. If you’re interested in learning more about home loan rates, click here.
Let’s say the bank gives you a maximum price of $300,000. You now have to decide whether or not you’re able to or want to pay for this much house. The last thing you want is to be “house-poor” and unable to make any purchases outside of your monthly bills.
Write down your monthly expenses first, then think about your lifestyle. Do you enjoy shopping? Are you or do you hope to be a frequent vacationer?
As you begin shopping for homes, make sure you look past the ticket price as well. You have to consider HOA fees, property taxes, homeowners insurance, maintenance, etc., to get the true cost of the home.
Choose a Real Estate Agent
While it’s possible to purchase a home without the help of a real estate agent, you’re setting yourself up for a great deal more work and stress if you do so. A real estate agent has the tools, experience, and knowledge to not only teach you how to buy a house but handle most of the hard work for you.
Now, the average home buyer doesn’t find their dream home right away. It takes time and trial and error. Because of this, you’re going to be spending some time with your real estate agent and you need to choose them carefully.
The best real estate agent is one that not only gels with you and your personality but has a wealth of knowledge about the specific area in which you’re looking to buy.
Time to Make an Offer
So, you made a list of what you want and need from a home, decided on a budget, and found a real estate agent you love. The next step is to browse the internet for potential options and go with your realtor for in-person tours of the homes you like most. Your real estate agent should also come to you with ideas after you’ve told them what you’re looking for.
When you find a house that you absolutely love, it’s time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will help you determine an opening offer and any conditions to include with the dollar amount. They will then negotiate with the seller’s agent until both parties reach a contract they agree on.
Have the Home Inspected
Congratulations – the sellers have accepted your offer and you’re ready to move forward. Before you sign any paperwork, you need to have the home inspected. This is a must, even if the buyers had their own inspection done, even if the home seems flawless.
You never know what major repairs might be lurking that will cause you to either change your offer or rescind it altogether.
Close on Your New Home
After you get the green light from your home inspector, you’ve finally arrived at the final step. This is the closing, which involves sitting down in a lawyer’s office with the seller and their agent to sign a mountain of paperwork. As the buyer, you’ll have ten times the amount of signatures to make than the seller, so bring your favorite pen.
Be sure to bring the money for your closing costs as well. These include loan fees, surveys, taxes, credit-report charges, and title insurance. Your real estate agent should be able to give you an exact amount.
Make the Home Buying Process a Breeze With This Guide
Now that you have this home buying process checklist to refer to as you maneuver through the steps toward your new home, take a deep breath – you’re ready to get started!
Buying a home is going to come with a stressful moment or two, that’s a given. But by staying organized and preparing yourself for what’s to come, you can limit the amount of stress you experience and get more enjoyment out of the process.
In need of more advice for navigating the purchase or sale of your home like a pro? Take a look at our blog!