Once you’ve made the decision to buy a home, it’s time to start thinking about what comes next. Every buyer needs a checklist that will guide them through the process of searching for the perfect home, evaluating their choices and making a purchase.
Learn The Lingo
When you set out to buy a new home, you will need to familiarize yourself with various real estate terms, conduct research on the market value of homes in the area in which you intend to shop and learn the art of negotiation. This information will help as you browse homes, talk with REALTORS® and get further into the buying process.
Get A Free Credit Report
Every 12 months, you are entitled to request a free copy of your credit report from each of the two major credit reporting agencies – Equifax and TransUnion. You should make this request before you begin looking at homes in order to allow yourself enough time to identify and dispute any inaccuracies in your credit file(s). When you approach a lender, you will need to make sure that everything is correct and up-to-date.
Pre-qualification is different than pre-approval in that it gives you a possible price range that you can afford, but does not guarantee you the loan. Pre-qualification is important because it will help you narrow your search to include only homes that you can afford. Knowing what you can pay beforehand will save you both time and disappointment in looking at homes that do not fit your budget. In today’s real estate market you should not begin your search before you have been pre-qualified.
Speak With A REALTOR®
Nobody knows the real estate business like a REALTOR®, so let them help you to find your new home. Based on your specific requirements, a REALTOR® can locate a home that will suit you at a price that’s within your budget. When he/she finds one or more possible candidates, you will be invited to tour the home. At this point, you should take a camera for the purpose of later reviewing each house with visuals instead of relying solely on memory.
Make An Offer
Once you find the perfect home, make an offer that’s less than you are actually willing to pay. This way, the seller can make a counteroffer that would hopefully still be within your budget. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the art of negotiation so that can learn how to get the best deal without insulting the seller. Although it's ALWAYS better to be pre-approved, if you have not yet been pre-approved, make sure that your offer is contingent upon your being able to obtain the necessary financing.
Obtain A Loan
Once you and the seller agree on a purchase price, you may be required to provide an earnest money deposit that will secure the home as you obtain a loan (if applicable). A lender will require an appraisal for the property in connection with your loan application. In most cases, you will know within a few days whether or not your application is approved.
Now that the papers are signed and you have the keys to your new home, it’s time to get moving – literally. Remember to decorate your new home and add all of those special touches that reflect your personality. It's better to do those changes before moving with an empty house rather that with all the furniture in place. After all, a house is only a house until you make it a home.