The Simplified Version of Stages to Buying a Home
1. Working with your needs and wants
Our initial meeting is an extremely important meeting where we will sit down together and talk about what your wants and needs are in the purchase of a new home. Not only will we discuss square feet requirements, bedrooms and bathrooms, but also style, likes and dislikes, neighborhoods, etc. I will ask you many questions to make sure that I understand what you are looking for. If style is important to you, I recommend bringing in pictures or magazines that reflect this preference. Just as important as figuring out your needs, is the discussion of what you are comfortable spending, and making sure that you have or will meet with a lender who can educate and inform you about the process of getting a loan.
2. Finding the right home
Once I understand what you are looking for, I will begin searching for properties that meet your needs. I can e-mail listings to you for your review prior to taking you out in person. We will set up appointments (I generally prefer 24 hour notice so that I will have plenty of time to set up showings with the seller) and view several properties at a time. I will ask that you rate each property as we go through it and let me know what your likes and dislikes are regarding each property so that I can further my knowledge about your needs and wants.
3. Making an offer
Once we find the right property, I will provide you with information on recently sold and other active properties that are similar to the home that you like. I will work with you to find the right price to offer for this house. I will write up the offer and coordinate it with your lender to make sure that this purchase will work for you financially, and once it is complete I will walk you through the contract to make sure that you are comfortable with the terms and conditions. At this time you will need to write a check to a designated neutral third party (usually the Title Company) for an amount suggested by the Seller. This money is called Earnest Money and shows to the Seller that you are serious about buying this house. This check will only be cashed after the contract is accepted. I also recommend including a letter from your lender stating that you are pre-qualified to buy this house.
4. Negotiating the Contract with the Seller
After we submit the offer to the other realtor, who will present it to the Seller, we most likely go through a stage called Counterproposal. During this period we will receive a counter offer from the seller (unless they take the original offer as written) in which we may negotiate price, dates, inclusions and exclusions. Time is very important during this phase since until everything is agreed upon, and the paper work is signed and returned to the seller, other parties can still write offers.
5. Under Contract
After all the terms are worked out, you will be officially under contract. Your Earnest Money check will be cashed and put into the escrow fund and will go towards your closing costs or down payment. At this point, we will set up a time to have an inspector go through the house to see what needs to be repaired or is a health or safety hazard. I can provide you with names of people that I recommend to fix these items and get bids. You will also need to work closely with your lender to finalize any outstanding paperwork that is required, your terms of the loan, and housing insurance depending on whether you buy a home or a condo. The Title Company will be researching and sending you information regarding this particular property to make sure that when it is turned over to you, it is free and clear of liens and encumbrances.
At the end of the contract stage, you will close the contract generally at a Title Company who will walk you through all the documents that you will need to sign in order for you to take possession of the house. It is at this time that you will need to bring with you the final balance of the down payment and/or closing costs. This is generally a one- to two- hour process. After the closing you can take possession of your new home.