The Buying Process

#1 What's the Right Home For You?

The search for a new home will go more smoothly if you do some advance assessment and decision making. Examine your desires, needs, hopes and dreams. Think about what you want, what you need and what concessions you are willing to make. Determine what type of home will work for your lifestyle and what your parameters are. Define what features are nonnegotiable and what is open to compromise.

Creating a prioritized list will help guide your search and balance what is available on the market with what you want. A good place to begin is weighing how the following factors impact you and will influence your decision.

#2 How Much Home Can You Afford?

Now that you have figured out the type of home that best suits your needs, next you will need to determine what you can afford to buy. Knowing your price range allows you to avoid wasting time looking at homes that do not fit your criteria. If there are more homes available in your area than there are buyers, then you are in a buyers’ market. You may look at homes that are priced slightly higher than your upper limit because there is more room for negotiation with the seller.

#3 What If You Already Have A Home?

Buying a new home while selling an existing home, presents additional challenges. Your real estate professional can assist you and ensure that the road is as smooth as possible. Being a buyer and a seller at the same time is a balancing act.

#4 Choosing Your Real Estate Agent

To start, you will want to find an experienced real estate professional that is able to smoothly guide you through the home-buying process.

Buying a home is a major life decision so choosing a knowledgeable agent with whom you can build trust, is a good listener and works in the area in which you would like to live is essential.

Choose a professional that understands your needs and concerns and will provide you with personalized service.

#5 Making An Offer To Purchase

You have found the home that you can't live without and are ready to make an offer. Your real estate agent is ready to guide you through the next step of this somewhat complex process. You can count on your agent's expertise again—this time in the art of negotiation.

Your agent will direct you toward at a price that both you and the home's sellers can agree upon. A formal purchase contract, written by you and your agent and signed by you, will be submitted to the seller for review and consideration. During this step, compromise is vital; you want to arrive at a fair price where everybody is satisfied.

#6 How Will You Pay For Your New Home?

Paying Cash for Your Home

Paying cash for a home has advantages and disadvantages. You will need to weigh all of these factors to determine if and how paying cash will impact your home purchase in the short and long run. A qualified financial adviser may assist you in determining if a cash purchase is the right choice for you.

#7 Getting Your Mortgage

Researching and talking with mortgage companies prior to submitting an application is important. Find out what their loan programs are, requirements for down payment and any fees or incentives available. You are in essence paying the lender for the use of their services—ask questions and make sure you get the answers that you need.

Mortgages may be obtained through a mortgage company, bank or credit union. Your real estate agent can provide you with a list of reputable lenders or refer you to a specific lender that will suit your individual needs. 

#8 The Home Inspection

Once you and the seller have agreed upon price, you are ready for a formal inspection of your potential home to detect defects or problems. Typically, a clause in the sales contract states that the offer is contingent upon a home inspection.

A home inspection typically takes between 2-4 hours depending on the size of the home and the number of rooms, features and amenities. Many potential problems can be uncovered during the inspection.

#9 Closing on Your New Home

The day has arrived for the final step in buying your home—the closing. The closing, also known as the settlement or escrow, in simplest terms is when money is taken in from the buyer and paid out to the seller. Ownership is transferred to you. The closing can take place in person or by mail and is handled by the real estate company or a title company.

You may be entitled to perform a walk-though of your home prior to the closing, depending in what state you reside. You should not close unless all of the items that have been agreed upon are completed and you are entirely satisfied.

Moving To Your New Home

You will begin to prepare for moving day prior to the closing. The date of possession will be in your sales contract. Make sure to coordinate the date and time of your move with the seller if the move falls on the same day.

No matter how many times you have moved, it is never easy. However, you can take certain organizational measures to ensure that your move is as smooth as possible.

Prior to moving, create a simple record-keeping system with a checklist and a schedule. Keep detailed records of your expenses—they may be tax deductible. The more prepared you are, the fewer surprises await you on moving day, so stay on schedule.

A short to-do list prior to the move might include: