When you are looking to buy a home in the spring market, or any other time of the year, it is nice to break down the process into reasonable steps to buy a home. Buying a home is a straightforward process but having the right experienced team is crucial. Here are the main 10 steps to keep in mind during your process.
- Time To Start - If you are looking at buying a home in the spring or any other time of the year, it is always a good idea to start early. There are several preliminary items that can be started well before you want to start your home tours.
- Find a Realtor Buyer’s Agent - Your first step is to find your choice of a buyer’s agent or usually called your Realtor. How do you find a good Realtor? Referrals are your best source. Ask your friends, family, co-workers or anyone you trust for recommendations. It is ideal if your Realtor knows the area well or lives in the neighborhood that interests you for your home purchase. Also, similar interests or lifestyle can assist with trust and bond. It is important to trust and have a good working relationship with your Realtor.
- Get Financing - Your mortgage loan is a very important aspect of your buying process. Where do you start? There are many sources for finding a lender for your new purchase. First and foremost, lenders WANT to give you money. They make money only when they give money so your lender should be focused on finding the right mortgage for you. Ask your Realtor for their recommendation, talk with your local bank or once again, ask your friends, family, co-workers or anyone you trust for recommendations. Here are our recommended lenders. The reason you should get started early with a loan application is to confirm you know where you stand from the lender’s point of view. This includes your income/debt ratio, credit rating, and many other factors. There may be certain things you can do BEFORE you purchase your home to get you the best mortgage options.
- Online Searching - Searching for homes online is easy these days. You can search Google and have thousands of choices of online home searches but many of those can show you properties sold or under contract and no longer available. Also, search systems that will email you any new properties that meet your specific needs, as properties come on the market, is a necessity. Knowledge is power.
Try Our Online Home Search Tool
- Initial Tour – Market Inventory - Time to go look at homes. This is not to buy a home on the first tour but give you an idea of types of homes, locations, amenities and prices of properties to give you an idea of what meets your needs. Also, this is an important time to let your Realtor know what YOU think. How do the homes you are looking at serve your daily living needs or when you entertain? What do you think about the finishes, room sizes, floor plans? You must tell your real estate agent your thoughts so they can assist you find the right home.
- Getting Serious - Once you have a good idea of what you want and what is available in the market, you are ready to make your move. Be focused on new properties hitting the market and price reductions on properties that have been on the market for a while. When you see properties that interest you, give your Realtor the MLS number or address to add to your tour. When you are looking at homes, compare the features, size, price and location. Your agent can assist with feedback and compare properties you are looking at with others that have sold in the past.
- Comps - Ok, you have found a property or two that fit your needs. Now it is time to put your offer on paper. Your Realtor will research properties that have recently sold to compare the price and condition of the property you are looking to buy. This information will assist with how to structure the offer and negotiate terms. Your mortgage company will also order an appraisal for their records. An appraisal is an independent valuation of your new home and confirm the price you are paying is not more than the value of the home.
- Contract - Once we have the terms we are going to offer, we will write up the contract. In the Washington DC metro area, the most common contract is called the “Regional Sales Contract”. This is an 8 page contract that is the foundation of the offer. We then add additional documents or addendums which add terms or contingencies like protections for home inspection, financing and appraisal. Your agent will then present the offer to the listing agent and start the negotiations. Once you and the seller agree on terms, you will have a “ratified” contract and move forward to closing. Typically, it takes about 30-40 days to get from contract to closing.
- Close - Closing or settlement is the process of signing the loan documents and the transfer documents. In other parts of the country, this process is called “escrow”. Once all the documents are signed, you will get the keys and you can move in. The settlement usually takes about an hour. Your agent and the settlement attorney will walk you through all the documents and answer any questions you may have.
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