Begin thinking about what you want and what you can afford
In the early stages of your home search, you'll want to identify some of your criteria and a rough pricing estimate. For example, maybe you'll plan to look at homes in a few neighboring zip codes that cost around $500,000 and have two to three bedrooms. You don't need to decide on every aspect immediately – you can refine your search when you begin touring homes in person – but if you look at every listing under the sun, you'll have trouble keeping everything straight.
Schedule a kickoff call with your REALTOR®
Even if you aren't quite ready to make a move, you should let your REALTOR® know that you're considering buying a new home. While you can see homes for sale on your own, your agent gets access to those listings even earlier, and they can help you identify the pros and cons of each. They also can set you up with a private tour of any home on the market, so you don't have to wait around for an open house (or see a home go under contract beforehand)! Let me know if you'd like more information.
Talk to a lender and get pre-approved for a loan
Unless you're paying in cash, you'll want to talk to a lender to get confirmation on what you can afford. You're welcome to speak with multiple lenders to learn about the interest rates they might offer, the fees they charge, and their work style. In a competitive market, it's crucial to have a lender who can act fast, getting you pre-approved in time to submit an offer when you find a home you like. Need a lender recommendation? Fill out my contact form and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Time for the fun part – touring homes!
Once you've discussed your criteria and budget with your REALTOR®, you'll begin receiving emails with homes for sale once they're put on the market. Let your agent know which ones look best, and they will schedule a tour for you to visit the home. Personally, I recommend seeing homes as soon as they're available so you have plenty of time to think it over and determine whether you might want to write an offer. Most buyers find the one after touring 12 or fewer homes!
Get your pre-approval letter and write an offer
If you have any intention of writing an offer in the near future, you'll want to get pre-approval from your lender. In most cases, sellers will not consider offers from buyers who don't have pre-approval, because they have no confirmation that said buyer can truly afford their home. Once you've been pre-approved, your lender should provide a letter of confirmation which you can submit with your offer. For ideas on how to write a competitive offer, check out my blog or reach out with questions.
Update, negotiate, and continue your search as needed
With limited inventory and competition among homebuyers, it's common for sellers to receive multiple offers. Sometimes, sellers receive ten or more in just one weekend! This depends on the specifics of the home, but it's possible you'll need to adjust your offer to make it more competitive. No matter how strong your offer looks, someone might be willing to pay even more, so you should be prepared to keep looking in case it doesn't work out.
Clear contingencies and finalize your financing
Once you've gotten an offer accepted and you have a ratified contract, the clock has started; you now have a limited amount of time to satisfy the contingencies in the contract. In many cases, you'll need to schedule an inspection within the week so you can determine how to proceed. You also will need final confirmation from your lender that they can provide the loan you need. If you have questions on any of these steps, do not hesitate to reach out.
Tie up loose ends and prep for closing
Clearing contingencies will be the primary focus for you and the seller, but as you approach closing, you'll have some other items to take care of, too. For example, you'll need to set up homeowner's insurance and utilities, and if you're moving to a condo or an HOA community, you may need to verify that the home is compliant with their regulations. Make sure to check in with your real estate agent to confirm you're doing everything that needs to be done.
Sign the papers, get the keys, and start moving in!
Congratulations! Your new home is finally yours! In most cases, once you're done signing paperwork, you'll receive the keys and be able to go right to the property. If you have questions about closing or any other part of the homebuying process, please feel free to let me know – I would be more than happy to help.
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