Six Steps To Buying A Home
Step 1. Prioritize Your Requirements.
Once you've decided to invest in real estate, start by laying the groundwork for your decision-making process. How much can you afford to spend? If you're not sure, find a lender and get pre-qualified. Most lenders can pre-qualify you for a mortgage over the phone based on general questions about your income, debt, assets and credit history. Then it's time to dig deeper into your requirements. Where do you want to live, in the heart of downtown or in the hill country? How many bedrooms and bathrooms will be ideal to prevent family feuds? And does Fido need a big, fenced yard to run around in? Print out and complete our Home Buyers Wish List to help you prioritize your most important criteria.
Step 2. Choose the Right Agent and Lender.
It's important to choose an experienced real estate agent who will be your advocate through the entire process, from finding your ideal home to negotiating the best deal, to a smooth closing. If you don't already know much about us, please read our Why Carvajal Group spiel to see why you should consider our team.
This is also the time to secure financing. It's important to select the mortgage company that is right for you, your future plans and your financial outlook. Different lenders offer different rates, fees, and points, so you'll want to make sure to do your research so you have an apples-to-apples comparison. Found the loan officer for you? It's time to complete your loan application and get pre-approved. You'll know the maximum amount you can borrow, but only you can determine what you can comfortably afford. This is also a good time to make sure you'll be prepared to fork over the closing costs, including your down payment (typically as little as 5% if the property will be your primary residence).
Step 3. Find Your Home.
If you want to begin your property search online, CarvajalGroup.com is a great place to start. We've worked hard to ensure that our search engine is fast, intuitive, and most importantly, up to date. Click on search, select the property types you want to consider, along with your ideal price, size and location. You'll see all of the properties that meet your requirements with detailed information, pictures, virtual tours and more. Then save your favorites to your shopping cart. If you're not big on searching online or you just don't have the time, we're okay with that too. Just call us at 512.419.7770 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know all of your requirements and we're happy to find potential properties for you.
Once you've found properties that interest you, it's time schedule showings with your agent. This is one of the most important steps in the buying process. Keep checking your priority list and don't get too hung up on cosmetic details that can be easily changed. Keep asking questions and continue narrowing down your choices until you've found your ideal home (and yes, sometimes that means waiting six months longer than you planned until the right one comes on the market)!
Step 4. Make the Right Offer
You've found your dream home, you and your agent have reviewed the seller's disclosure list and survey, and you're ready to make an offer. Your offer price is rarely the list price. Often times it is lower, but certain circumstances warrant an offer above the asking price. This will depend on several factors, including the current market, the particular property, other interested parties and your interest level in the home. If your roommates or kids have already picked out their bedrooms, that might factor into your offer. Don't forget, price is just one factor to consider. Other important terms are the option period, option money, earnest money, closing date, home warranty policy, allowances to pay for known issues, along with other concessions and contingencies. Your agent will help you present the right offer and negotiate any counter-offers on your behalf. Have your checkbook in hand when you're ready to sign the offer, as you'll typically write one for the option money (the money the seller keeps if you change your mind within the option period) and one for the earnest money (the money the seller keeps if you change your mind after the option period but before closing). These two deposits are typically deducted from the money you owe at closing.
Step 5. Do Your Due Diligence
Your offer has been accepted. Hooray! Now it's time to make sure you actually want to purchase the property. You and your agent will want to arrange an inspection right away, well before your option period ends. A property inspection will ensure there is no serious structural damage or major repairs necessary that may change your mind on the purchase. It's the inspector's job to note every issue discovered, so don't panic when you receive a 15-page report of problems. Most of those things will be easy to fix. If there are major issues, talk to your agent and possibly a specialist to decide if the right decision is to walk away.
Step 6. Close & Move In
Everything looks fine in the inspection, you've rechecked your financing, and you've called your Insurance Company to lock in Homeowner's Insurance coverage on the property. You and/or your agent will want to walk-through the house one more time to make sure everything is as it should be (i.e. the kitchen appliances and all the light fixture are still in place). Your agent will also confirm that the settlement statement, certified funds and evidence of insurance are lined up prior to closing. On closing day, bring your driver's license (if you and your spouse are listed on the mortgage, you'll both need to attend closing unless you've arranged for a power of attorney) and be prepared to read and sign a lot of paperwork. Your real estate agent is there to help you, so stop and ask questions at any point in the process. Your mortgage broker may also attend the closing as your representative.
You'll typically walk out of the closing with the keys (it's always a good idea to change the locks before you move in) and be ready to direct the movers on exactly where that coffee table and Monet painting is supposed to go. Unless you're planning on remodeling, which is an entirely different article. Last but not least, enjoy your new home!