Buying a home can be a daunting experience, especially if you’ve never bought property before. However, it doesn’t need to be. Technological advances have made shopping for a home a lot less intimidating and in some instances, fun.
Today, we’re going to walk you through the process of buying a home. Whether you’ve bought property before or not, you should find the information detailed here helpful.
The At-A-Glance Steps to Buying a Home
- Get Prequalified
- Get a REALTOR®
- Search for Homes
- Attend Open Houses and Showings
- Make an Offer
- Offer Accepted – Pay Earnest Money
- Finalize Financing with Lender
- Define Closing Date
- Schedule Home Inspection
- Schedule Movers
- Review Home Inspection and Request Owners Make Contingent Repairs or Concessions
- Finalize Sale After Repairs are Completed
- Order Appraisal
- Review Title Commitment
- Transfer Utilities
- Final Walkthrough
- Go to Title Company to Sign Closing Documentation
- Moving Day
The Details of Buying a Home
If you’ve decided to make the leap into home ownership, or buy again, the first thing you need to do is get prequalified for a mortgage by a mortgage company. Many people skip this important first step, only to discover later that the homes they’ve been looking at, they’re not qualified to buy. Being pre-qualified also helps when you find a home you like, you’re in a position to make an offer. And with the housing marketing being competitive, prequalification is essential.
Generally, when getting prequalified, you’ll have to provide the loan officer with tax documents and filings, pay stubs, and bank statements. Based on the information you provide; they’ll give you a conditional approval with what you can afford.
Find a REALTOR®
Buying a house is probably the biggest investment you’re going to make, so it’s important to have an advocate who is representing your interests when buying a home. A REALTOR® (aka real estate agent) is your guardian to make sure you’re getting a fair deal, as they’ll be responsible for negotiating the terms of you buying the home, scheduling home inspections, and generally insuring a smooth transaction. A REALTOR® is paid a commission based on a percentage of the sale price of the home and is usually paid from what the seller of the house earns from the sale.
Search for Homes
Once you’re prequalified, you’re going to have a great idea of how much house you can afford. Armed with that information, you and your REALTOR® can start looking for homes. Conveniently, you can search for homes right on this website. There are also other ways you can search for homes using apps, websites, and social media. Your REALTOR® can do an advanced search in the MLS if you have very specific requirements for what you’re looking for in a house.
Attend Open Houses and Showings
If you find a home that’s to your liking, have your real estate agent schedule a showing, which is your opportunity to tour the home in person. Sometimes pictures and video don’t do the home justice until you’ve seen it in person.
Make an Offer
This step is pretty straightforward. If you’ve found your dream home, have your agent make an offer on your behalf. Your agent can advise you on what they think is a fair offer given the market and location of the home as well as other details (days on the market, price point, etc.). Sometimes, you may have to offer above asking in order to get the home, especially in a competitive environment.
Sometimes, the seller will counter your offer. If this happens, you can certainly make a counteroffer of your own, or accept their counteroffer.
Offer Accepted – Pay Earnest Money
If your offer is accepted, you’ll have to pay Earnest Money to start the transaction process. Earnest money is a good faith payment to the seller that you intend to move forward with buying the home. Generally, earnest money is somewhere between $500 and $3000, but goes toward the final purchase price of the home.
Once your offer is accepted, you’ll finalize the loan with your lender. You’ll have one more round of providing paystubs, bank statements and other documentation to show proof of income.
Schedule the Home Inspection
Your REALTOR® will schedule a home inspection to make sure there aren’t any significant issues with the house. If problems are found, they’ll be detailed in the report and you’ll be able to decide whether you want to move forward with buying the home or not. If you do, the sale will become contingent on the seller making the repairs or concessions requested.
If you are moving a lot of stuff, contacting a moving company can save you a lot of time and labor. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with moving yourself, especially if you don’t have a lot of stuff or are just looking to save some money.
Review Home Inspection and Request Owners Make Contingent Repairs or Concessions
Generally, within a few days of the home inspection, your REALTOR® will receive the inspection report, detailing any problems the home inspector found with the home. Depending on the severity of the issues, you can decide to move forward with the purchase or walk away. Issues can be minor such as cracks in the driveway, making sure the HVAC system is tuned up, etc. However more significant issues such as mold, or roof problems may require additional labor and expense to fix and can be required to be fixed by the seller prior to sale. Get recommendations from your agent on the best course of action.
Finalize Sale After Repairs are Completed
Assuming the repairs are made to your satisfaction and the seller has provided proof of the repairs, the sale can move forward.
Order Appraisal – Done by Mortgage Company
Once the home inspection has been completed and contingent repairs or concessions are agreed upon, your mortgage company will order an appraisal on the home. An appraisal is only required if you’re going to finance the purchase. If you’re buying a house with cash, no appraisal is necessary.
Review Title Commitment
Next, you’ll receive documents from the Title Company indicating closing costs, documentation, payoffs, etc. You’ll review those documents for any errors and sign off.
As closing day approaches, you’ll need to contact the utility companies to transfer existing service to your name. These include water, power, gas, and trash. It’s also a good time to schedule any new services you’d like for the home such as Internet, phone, or television.
Generally, the day of closing, you and your REALTOR® will make one last walk through the house to make sure everything has been fixed and there are no blatant issues or damage to the home.
Go to Title Company to Sign Closing Documentation
And now, to make it official, you get to go to the title company offices to officially buy the home. You’ll formally sign the documents you reviewed earlier, and the title officer will notarize the documents and file with the appropriate entities. You’ll also be provided a copy of your loan documents and first payment voucher. Once you’re done signing, and after the title company gets a notification that the loan has been funded and the sale recorded, you’ll receive the keys to your new home!
Depending on when you close on the home, you may actually move in the same day as closing. Moving day is always exciting as it’s the start of a new chapter and adventure.
A Few More Things
Once you’ve bought a new house, make sure that you apply for your Idaho homeowner’s exemption so that you’ll save money on the property taxes.
You’ll also want to make sure you’ve identified where shutoffs, etc. are for your home. You’d also probably want to order a free energy-saving kit from Idaho Power to see if there are things you can do to be more energy efficient.
The Last Word
Hopefully, this guide gives you a little insight into buying a home. If you’re interested in buying a home, contact a member of our team to start the process.