What is the homebuying process for first time homebuyers?
There are upwards of 25 to 30 things, depending on how you count them up, homebuyers need to check-off before they finally move into their new home. We will highlight the top eight major parts of the process for first time homebuyers.
- First and foremost, connect and partner with a qualified and engaged Realtor. You need a realtor who knows the area, understands the market, has empathy, experience and negotiating skills and who builds great working relationships with other agents. The latter is important, sometimes, in winning or losing an offer on a house. Lastly, an experienced Realtor will have relationships with quality local lenders who will work seamlessly with you to get your pre-approval letter and ultimately get your loan approved. Sign an Exclusive Buyer Agency Agreement with your Realtor of choice. This protects you, as they are now legally contracted to give you the best possible fiduciary advice and simultaneously work for your best interest.
- Get your pre-approval letter. A quality lender and the pre-approval letter is very important. You really shouldn’t be looking at homes without having your pre-approval letter. You cannot make an offer on a property without having a pre-approval letter. Likewise, a quality lender will make a phone call to the listing agent after you make an offer to let them know that you’re approved to buy this home and why. Oh, by the way, a quality agent will make a phone call to your lender, after you make an offer, to get an understanding about your approval. First time homebuyers need a quality lender, not just for the pre-approval process but also for an easy-to-understand explanation of all the loan program opportunities for first time homebuyers. There are Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance programs (DPA). There are federal, state and local government loans and programs that can give financial resources.
- Define your search. Focus on an area within your price range. Think through the number of bathrooms, bedrooms, lot size. Do you need a garage? Do you want a Condo near amenities? Do you want a Townhouse or a Single-Family house? Urban or bucolic? Do you need or want access to mass transit?
- Make an offer when you find the property you can see yourself living. What strategies do you employ when writing an offer and trying to ratify a contract? Here’s a Blog post we published on strategies for homebuyers. The contract includes:
- Lenders letter
- Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) (typically 1-2% of sales price)
- Settlement Date
- Settlement Agent/Title Company
- Contingencies and timelines:
- Home Inspection
- Radon Test
- Termite Inspection
- Financing Contingency
- Appraisal Contingency
- RATIFIED Contract. Here is where the relationships, experience and skills of your realtor help you meet deadlines as defined in your legally binding contract.
- Schedule your movers and order utilities to be transferred to your name.
- The pre-settlement walk-through is important. Make sure that the home inspection items, if any, have been repaired. And the home is delivered in the condition you expect per the contract.
- SETTLEMENT DAY!! – wire your funds for settlement or bring a certified check. Remember to bring your driver’s license or valid legal id.
If you’d like to get more in the weeds, especially on what you need to do before you plan on buying a new home, you read this article from Realtor.com.
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