7 Simple Steps to Buy a House
Buying a house is an exciting adventure but it is also a huge undertaking. If this the first time you’re going to be buying a house, you definitely want to make sure that you have all the information you need to make an educated decision.
Knowing what’s coming ahead is a great way to get yourself ready so that you can be in the best position to purchase that first house that will become your dream home.
Even if you’ve bought a house before, it’s important to review the steps to make sure that you’re even more prepared than the first time around.
7 Simple Steps to Buy a House
Buying a house can be stressful at times, but it doesn’t have to be.
Following a proven guide is the best way to prepare for your homebuying adventure. Learn the smart way, not the hard way to buy a house.
The step by step guide below is the best way to learn how to buy a house.
- Save for a Down payment
- Get a Pre-approved for a Mortgage
- Find the Best Real Estate Agent
- Go House Shopping
- Submit Your Purchase Offer
- Get Home Inspection and Appraisal
- Close on Your House and Welcome Home
Buying a house is a very important decision which is why you shouldn’t rush into it. Besides, the homebuying process is not a one-day thing.
Buying a house takes time.
The whole process can last months and sometimes it can last several years for some people.
Though buying a house is exciting, always make sure that it’s a house you can afford and that living there is a place that will feel like a gift and blessing to you and your family not only for today but for many years to come in the future.
When Should You Buy a House
The best time to buy a house is when you want to buy a house and when you are ready to buy a house. Wanting to buy a house and being ready to buy a house are two completely different things.
You may want to buy a house but you may not be ready to buy just yet.
And while you might be ready to buy maybe you don’t want to buy.
The key is to be in alignment with what you want and what you’re ready for.
The perfect time is you want to buy and are ready to buy.
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the pre-requirements.
First, evaluate and analyze your finances. This means, going over your income and budget to make sure you are earning a good salary that will allow you to buy the house and also maintain the house. You need to have money for the down payment as well as money for the closing costs and other fees.
Second, prioritize your needs, wants, and values. While buying a house is a huge accomplishment that you should be proud of, buying a house is not a decision you should make strictly based on emotions. Prioritize what you need, what you want, and the factors that are important to you in the purchase of your home. For example, what’s more important, location, size, neighborhood, amenities, community? You can have all you desire but it’s important to know what your priority is. This will also provide you with clarity during the home shopping stage. Some people want to be close to work; others want to be close to another family member. Some people prefer a fast-paced city; others look for more of a residential quiet neighborhood.
What’s important to you is what matters.
Make a list of your must-haves so that you can be clear of what house is perfect for you and your family. When you see it, you’ll know you found the one.
Step 1: Save for a Down Payment
Most buyers start looking for homes before they save for a down payment. It’s fine to start looking on the internet to see what’s available but when the first step in getting ready to buy a house is to first save for a down payment.
There are many costs associated with purchasing a home. Whether you’re paying cash or using a mortgage to finance the house, you will start spending money, the moment you sign the contract. There are certain fees that are standard that you pay upfront such as escrow deposit, home inspection, and home appraisal. And before you can even get the keys do your knew home, you will have to pay for the down payment, the many costs associated with financing the loan, and perhaps other costs that you may not have anticipated.
Buying a house is one of the biggest purchase most people make in their lives and before you sign a contract to make an offer on the house you want to buy, be sure that you have saved a decent amount for the down payment.
Step 2: Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage
Unless you are paying cash for your new home, you will have to get a mortgage. Before you can even put an offer on your new home, you should have a pre-approval letter from a lender and provide that letter to your Real Estate Agent.
If you don’t know a good lender, talk to your Real Estate Agent and ask them to provide you a list of mortgage lenders that they’ve previously worked with. A good real estate agent will provide you with at least three (3) mortgage lenders who can help you get pre-approved and tell you exactly what you can be pre-approved for and how much can you actually afford to spend on your new home.
The lender you choose to work with will work closely with you to explain which mortgage financing option is right for you. They will also provide you with an estimate of your down payment and closing costs. Furthermore, a good mortgage lender will also educate you on possible grants and programs that could help you with your closing costs depending on your financial situation.
Step 3: Find the Best Real Estate Agent
Most people start looking at homes one and sometimes across the streets from where they drive. While your search may have started online and across the street, it definitely doesn’t end there. Once you are serious about buying, it will soon be time to start going inside of those houses to take a closer look.
But first you must find the best Real Estate Agent. This should be someone who is honest, dependable, and trustworthy. They should have a proven record of helping people buy and sell houses. Not all real estate agents are right for you.
The key is to find the best Real Estate agent for you.
Be sure to talk to this person and get a feel for who they are and how they conduct business. How they start the relationship with you is a good indication of what you can expect throughout the home shopping and buying process with them. Remember, a house is not bought in one day. The process is long.
Overtime, you will develop a relationship with your Real Estate Agent; therefore, it’s important to ask the right questions to understand who you will be working with because this person will also be working on your behalf for weeks and months. The right real estate agent will educate you on the homebuying process, help you find the right house that meets your needs, negotiate on your behalf, and provide solutions when problems arise.
This person is the foundation of your homebuying support system.
Step 4: Go House Shopping
Once you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage and you partner with the best real estate agent whose right for you, it’s time for the joyous adventure to begin.
It’s time to visit open houses and well as schedule private showings.
Your agent will be very hands on in guiding you through this step.
But here are some things to keep in mind:
- Make a list of your must-have home features.
- Don’t compromise what you can’t change: location and layout.
- Be open and flexible on what you can change: wall décor and paint color.
- Stick to your budget. Do not overspend from what you can afford.
- Buying the cheapest house in the best neighborhood is more important than buying the most expensive house in a not so great neighborhood.
- Have your realtor help you research home values in the area.
- Research school districts, public funding for parks and libraries, crime rates in the area, and local public service organizations.
Some people fall in love with the first house they see. For other people, they may have to see three, four, five, seven, ten, or more houses. Don’t worry if it’s taking you a while to find your dream home. Remember, buying a house is a process. And the process is different for everyone.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the average home buyer takes about 10 weeks before finding the house that fits all their needs. If it’s taking you longer than expected to find your dream home. Keep looking.
There’s a house out there for you and you will make it your dream home.
Step 5: Submit Your Purchase Offer
At this point, you have now found your dream home and are ready to make an offer. This is where the home stopping stops and the purchase beings. This step is very serious because you are getting ready to sign a legal document.
Once you found your dream home, it’s time to sign the purchase contract.
Be sure to understand the legal terms you are signing. Your Real Estate Agent should explain all aspects of the contract to you. It is also recommended that you have a real estate attorney to review anything you are signing.
After all, you are signing a legal contract with the sellers.
There is a chance that your fist offer might get approved. But there’s also a chance that the sellers present their own counteroffer. And depending on the market, you may also end up in a bidding war situation.
This is why it’s always best to present a solid offer.
Working closely with your Real Estate Agent will come in handy in knowing your market, supply and demand, and what terms and numbers make a strong offer.
The items below are usually included in the purchase offer:
- Buyer name(s), address, and contact information
- Seller name(s), address, and contact information
- Property address and legal description
- Purchase Price, Financing Terms, and Buyer’s lender information
- Escrow deposit amount and down payment amount
- Timeline for escrow deposit, home inspection, approval, and financing
- Home items that are included and excluded from the purchase
- Purchase contingencies based on home inspection and appraisal
- Purchase contingencies on final mortgage approval
Sometimes this is a straight forward process. And other times, both parties go back-and-forth before a final agreement is reached. Don’t give up if you don’t get everything you want. Remember, a real estate transaction involves several parties working towards the same goal. Sellers want to sell their homes and buyers want to buy the homes. If you find yourself in a situation where you are not sure about which term you should give into vs which terms you should stand firm on, talk to your real estate agent to understand how this affects the deal.
Remember, there are many parties in the transaction that are working towards the same goal. Having a clear idea of what’s negotiable and nonnegotiable will keep you from feeling confused or conflicted about the decision you’re making.
Step 6: Get Home Inspection and Appraisal
By now, you’re under contract and have made your escrow deposit.
It’s time for your home inspection and appraisal.
You have contingencies to meet in order to stay in agreement with the contract you signed. Contingencies are the terms and conditions you have to meet before you can go to closing and get the keys to the house. Contingencies also protect you from having to buy the house in case something goes wrong with the inspection and the appraisal (depending on the terms of your contract).
Every buyer has the right to a home inspection. Even if you are paying cash for the home, it’s important to get the home inspected. Always get the house professionally inspected by a licensed home inspector.
DON’T EVER SKIP OUT ON YOUR HOME INSPECTION.
The home inspection is where you discover if the house is a safe place to live in and what maintenance, damages, and repairs need to be made. Don’t let this step scare you. This is an important step that provides you with important information about the house. An inspection report can save or kill the deal.
It’s better to know what you’re getting yourself into before you buy.
Always get a home inspection by a licensed professional.
If you are paying cash for your home, you might choose to skip out on the home appraisal. But our recommendation is that you don’t. It’s important to know the market value of the house you’re buying. If you’re getting a mortgage to buy your house, your lender will definitely require you to get a home appraisal.
This is for them to evaluate the value of the house as it compares to your purchase price. If the home appraisal is above the purchase price, then you’re in the best spot possible. It’s time to celebrate because you are buying with equity. This means the house is already worth more than you’re paying for it.
If the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price, talk to your Real Estate Agent and your lender about which options are available to you. You may ask the sellers to lower the price to the appraisal value, renegotiate the purchase price to something more reasonable, or give you a closing credit.
You may also choose to buy the house over the appraisal value.
If you are getting a loan and choose to purchase the house above appraisal value, you will have to come up with the difference out of pocket.
Everyone’s needs are different.
Talk to your realtor and lender about what’s best for you.
Once the home inspection and the appraisal are done, it’s time to meet your final condition with your lender in order to get the final approval to buy the house. During this time, keep on saving money. Do not open new lines of credits. Doing so may prevent you from being able to purchase the house.
Step 7: Close on House and Welcome Home!
It’s been a long journey and you finally made it to the final steps.
It’s time to close on your house, get the keys, and welcome home.
Once you receive the closing document and have had the proper legal time to look over them, it’s time to sign lots and lots of papers. Your closing documents will tell you’re the exact amount of your closing cost, the prorated taxes, insurance, association fee, and any other fees that you had to pay for.
You will have to provide the title company the funds for the closing costs.
Always make sure to verify the account transfer numbers with the title company.
There’s a lot of fraud happening in the market. Never trust a text message or an email about a change in where you should submit your closing costs. Always pick up the phone and talk to your title representative to make sure you have the right account information before you sent the money for your closing costs.
Once that is done, it’s time to go to the title company and sign the paperwork.
Give yourself enough time to review and sign everything.
This may take an hour or two.
Once both parties are done signing and the loan is funded, it’s key time!
Take a deep breath and smile. You’re officially a homeowner.
It was a long process but you did it. You bought a house. You’re a homeowner.
This is a huge accomplishment and you should be very proud of yourself.
It’s time to go to your new house and make it your new home.