The Buying Process
Not sure what to expect when purchasing your first home? We’ve put together a step-by-step list below to help you understand the buying process.
1. Contact a lender to determine how much you can afford. If you do not have a particular lender in mind, your real estate agent can suggest lenders to contact. Once you are pre-approved, your real estate agent can determine properties for you to view. Most sellers ask for pre-approval verification prior to their property being shown.
2. Contact an experienced real estate professional to help you purchase a property. Your real estate agent will discuss the parameters for the property such as price, bedrooms, baths, type of home, garage size, school system, location and other information important to you.
3. Select the properties you wish to view. Upon learning your price point and property requirements, your real estate agent searches the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to determine homes that meet your criteria. You and your real estate agent will determine which properties you would like to view and will schedule appointments.
4. Viewing properties. A seller has the option to be at the property during the showing, but typically they leave so you are able to discuss your thoughts/opinions of the property. Please be considerate when viewing properties by not touching personal belongings, valuables and by holding onto or carrying children.
5. Writing the offer. Upon deciding which property you’d like to purchase, your real estate agent will work with you to write an offer and will explain the paperwork involved. Once the offer is written and signed, your real estate agent will present the offer to the seller. The seller has a specific day and time to respond to the offer. The offer can be accepted as written, countered or not responded to. If a counteroffer is written, you have the option to accept the counteroffer, counter the counteroffer or let the deadline pass without responding.
6. Acceptance of an offer. Upon the offer being accepted, it is time to finalize all documents with the lender to begin the loan process.
7. Inspections. Your real estate agent can provide a list of inspectors for you to use. Your real estate agent will schedule the inspections and will notify you and the seller of the date(s) and time(s). The most common inspections are a pest, home, and radon inspection. Other inspections that may be performed are well, septic, and lead. You should be present during the inspections to understand the results. The seller can also be present during the inspections. If there are any items of concern, an addendum to the purchase agreement will be written by your real estate agent which will state the items you require the seller to correct before closing.
8. Scheduling a closing. Once the inspections are complete and the paperwork is in order, the lender is now ready to schedule a closing. Your real estate agent will coordinate with you, the seller, the lender and the title company to set a date, time and location for the closing.
9. Preparing for closing. The closing will normally take place at a title company. Your real estate agent receives closing numbers from the lender or title company approximately 24 hours in advance and your agent will review the numbers with you to determine if everything is correct. You will bring a cashier’s check to closing so allow enough time to go to the bank and have the check prepared. You will also need to bring a photo ID such as a driver’s license. Contact utility companies to transfer utilities into your name (gas, electric, water, sewer, etc.) and any other deliveries/installations such as phone service, cable/TV service, waste removal, moving company, etc.
10. Closing. The day has come to sign all of the documents transferring ownership of the property into your name. At the closing, the closing agent will review the paperwork with you and your agent as you sign documents. The seller will bring the house keys, garage door openers and any other items/documents that relate to the property for you. If the contract specifies, the seller may have several days after closing to vacate the property, in which case a day, time and location will be agreed upon between you and the seller to transfer keys and other items. After all of the papers are signed by all parties you are now a proud owner of your new home.