As a first-timer, you may not know the best place to start or how to proceed with the process of purchasing your first home. Have no fear! It seems intimidating to some, but these pro tips can help you in your journey to homeownership.
Connect with a Lender
The first step in the home buying process should be to connect with a lender. Once you have selected your lender, be sure to ask for a preapproval letter including the dollar home loan amount you are qualified to purchase. If you have cash, then a proof of funds letter can be provided by your lender. Many sellers will ask for the preapproval letter to accompany any submitted offer. Obtaining the lender letter prior to making an offer will indicate to a seller you are a buyer who is prepared.
Find a Real Estate Agent
Next, you will want to find a trusted real estate agent or a REALTOR®. Take note, not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). REALTORS® are held to a higher ethical standard than non-member, licensed agents and must adhere to NAR’s code of ethics. Using a licensed professional will help to make the transaction as seamless as possible.
Do Your Research
As you proceed, you will want to thoroughly research the area you would like to live. If you are interested in a specific subdivision, take a tour. Ask your agent about obtaining covenants & restrictions and a list of amenities such as a neighborhood pool, clubhouse, &/or playgrounds. Be sure to inquire about Property Association’s (POA) fees for maintaining these amenities, particularly the amounts and frequency in which they are collected. Additionally, property taxes for the area should be researched. If you have children, familiarizing yourself with area schools may be necessary. You may determine the service area by using an online boundary checker provided by the school district. Be sure to visit school websites or campuses for more detailed information.
Submit an Offer
Once you have found the perfect home, consult with your agent to determine the best offer. Your agent may help by providing a list of comparable homes recently sold as a guide for selecting an offer price. Once an offer is accepted, you are on to the final stages of the buying process and one step closer to homeownership!
Select a Title Company
Now that a contract is in place, a title company must be selected. The role of the title company is to prepare title work and coordinate with the lender; working behind the scenes to ensure the contract terms are followed and met. Timelines for closing on a home range on average from 30 days to 45 days, but the terms of the contract will dictate the exact time frame for your closing.
Schedule an Inspection
A home inspection is strongly recommended and should be indicated in the contract during negotiation. Hiring a licensed, professional home inspector will be a worthy expense. The home inspector can determine specific items you may want to ask the seller to repair or indicate any major issues that might halt the buying process. Even new construction homes can have items requiring repair.
Owning a home is and always will be the American dream! Although on the surface it can seem like a daunting process, you should not let the home-buying process deter you from owning your own piece of paradise! Following these pro tips toward homeownership will help make your journey to homeownership quick, painless, and fun!