If you have always been a Renter, the thought of purchasing a home might seem rather intimidating. After all, sometimes it seems that Realtors and homebuyers are speaking a different language. Amortization? Contingencies? It can seem like too much to figure out.
But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, as you get into the homebuying process, you’ll find that many of the things you need to know, placed in their proper context and discussed with a great, client-focused Realtor like those at Eng Garcia Grant & Co., will become second nature. Soon, we are sure, you will be referring friends to us so that they can start their home search, too.
Here are ten things that can help you prepare for the process of buying a home.
Think Ahead: Do you love House Hunters? What’s the first thing they do on that show? Walk through their dream neighborhood and compare how the homes in that neighborhood fit with their projected budget. You can do something similar by looking at real estate listings and thinking about what neighborhood fits your lifestyle and your wallet. Check out how homes in your target neighborhood are selling by noticing how long they stay on the market and whether they are reducing asking prices. This can give you some indication of market trends in general and neighborhood health in particular.
Crunch Numbers: Use an online mortgage calculator to get a sense of how much home you can afford. Look at your debt, since debt to income ratio is one of the factors that lenders take into account when working with you on your mortgage. If you can pay off some debt, do so. If you need to save a bit more to get a better down payment, start working on that goal.
Talk to a Mortgage Professional: Whether you work directly with a lender at your bank or credit union or with a mortgage broker who has many products to offer, it is essential that you get pre-approved for your mortgage so that you have a much greater sense of how much house you can afford. Your lender will also need to see your financial documents, so you may need to go ahead and get started on this year’s taxes in order to provide that information as well.
Choose your Realtor wisely: Your Realtor will be your strongest ally in the home buying process. Choose a Realtor, like one of the many great pros here at Eng Garcia Grant & Co., with whom you communicate well and with whom you enjoy working. And remember, for all of the great service your real estate agent will supply, you pay nothing. The Buyer Agent’s commission is paid by the seller.
Shop around before you decide: Start by attending Open Houses and touring homes chosen in cooperation with your Realtor. Be ready to take notes so that you can keep all of the details straight. Look at the house itself, the rest of the neighborhood, the traffic, and the local amenities. Take some time to narrow your search then, when you find the home for you, work with your Realtor on a pricing and negotiation strategy. Once you have an offer accepted, Congratulations! You are now in escrow.
Get a Home Inspection: One of the contingencies that your Realtor will put on the purchase is a Home Inspection Contingency. This means that a qualified inspector will look over the home carefully and report to you on anything he or she finds so that you have a better idea of the condition of the home and its systems. This allows you to determine if there are items that you want the homeowner to fix before you continue with the purchase or, if you can’t reach an agreement, it allows you to walk away from the purchase if necessary. In most cases, the parties can find common ground, whether it involves making repairs or offering a credit for some or all of the requested repairs.
Choose your loan: By this time your lender will have some options ready for you to choose from and you can find the mortgage that best fits your budget. Some will have smaller down payment requirements while others will have larger down payments in order to have smaller monthly payments. Your lender can help you look at all of the options, as well as your own future financial goals, to determine the right loan for you.
Get an Appraisal: Your lender will arrange for an appraiser to determine the correct market value for the home you are buying. The appraiser will not be affiliated with the lender, but will be independent so that everyone can be assured that the price you are paying is a fair one.
Gather the paperwork: Your Realtor will help you choose a title company or title attorney to coordinate all of the paperwork necessary for the purchase of your home. Among other things, they will check the title of the home to ensure that it is clear and that, once you purchase the home, there can be no question of your right of ownership going forward.
Welcome to Closing: By the time you are “clear to close” the closing itself is fairly straightforward. Sign (a lot) of papers, hand over your check, and pick up your keys. Congratulations, Homeowner!
As you might have noticed, most of the steps in this list are coordinated by or handled entirely by your Realtor. A great Realtor knows not just the market and the home, but all of the other industry professionals who make the home buying process work seamlessly for the client. Let one of our Realtors help ensure that your home purchase is as hassle-free as possible. Create an account at our website and talk with one of our real estate agents to get targeted listings sent directly to you, on your schedule. And use the news, blogs, and other resources on our website to learn more about the home buying process and the DC market.