Most buyers will start their search online as the world wide web has many resources. But, the one resource they don't have is market knowledge; that's where your Realtor will play a big role in the home buying process. Ask your friends, neighbors and family about their real estate buying experience. Ask for referrals to agents that you can talk to and interview. The agent’s experience and knowledge is a big factor and therefore the agent you decide to work with should have years of experience and knowledge of the market. Would you want a doctor right out of school performing open heart surgery on you or a loved on? NO, So why would you want a real estate agent who just got their license helping you purchase one of the largest investments you will ever make?
Knowing how much you are approved for will help you in the long run. How devastated will you be if you fall in love with a home and then find out you don't qualify to purchase it? Getting approved is simple and only takes a short period of time. The more information you can provide your lender, the stronger your approval will be. Until your lender receives a written application and supporting information, your approval is just an estimated amount based on the information you've provided. Therefore absolute honesty is the best policy to give you an accurate approval. It’s worth the time and effort to go through the process on the front end!
Now that you have your approval in hand, you know how much home you can afford. Let your agent know how much you are approved for/want to spend and then start shopping! Be realistic about what you are shopping for. If your loan approval is for $200,000 don't expect to purchase a home valued at $300,000. While good deals are available that's kind of difference is not likely. As the saying goes, don't expect champagne taste on a beer budget, otherwise you will be very disappointed.
You've identified a property that you want, so now what? It's my responsibility, as your agent, to now run comparables to figure out if the property is listed for what the market will sustain. Once we have a price to offer, I will prepare an agreement to purchase, having you sign it; I will then present it to the listing agent. In our agreement to purchase we will have (ITEMS) to protect you, such as, general inspections, plumbing inspections and termite inspections. Once we receive an accepted agreement to purchase we proceed to inspections.
Inspections is your due diligence phase. This is the opportunity to look through everything including items such as: Do all of the electrical sockets work? Is the roof in good condition? Do the AC and Heat work properly? Do the faucets and toilets work? Does each window open and close properly? These items plus 100 others are your “checks and balances.”
I'll also recommend having the plumbing inspected(either under the slab or under the house if raised). The inspector will run a video camera through the pipes to make sure that the sewage drains properly, and NOT under the house. You want to ensure that the plumbing is connected properly to the city sewage or properly connected to a treatment plant on your property.
You will also need a Wood Destroying Insect Report (WDIR), referred to as a termite certificate. This is to ensure that the property doesn't have any active termites (wood destroying insects). This is typically required by the lender, as well.
Any defects found can be requested to be repaired by the seller or you can request to null and void the contract. Of course, if all of the inspections come back in good order, we proceed to the closing.
Once your loan is ready, inspections have been done and the closing attorney says the title is good and transferable- we want to set a closing date!
When the day of closing arrives, it's recommended to arrange and perform a final walk through. This is simply walking through the house to make sure that when the sellers moved out they didn't beat up the walls with the furniture or that when they moved out someone didn't break in the home (being that it's vacant) and cause any damage. When you arrive at the closing office or attorney's office, you will need a picture ID or drivers license. The funds you are required to bring to closing will need to be in certified funds or cashier’s check. Once all the papers are signed, you receive your keys to your NEW HOME.
I hope you've had a wonderful experience. The best compliment you can now give me is by sending a referral and a testimonial that I can use!