Whether you have spent many years preparing to buy a home or you are still unsure what you need to do to get started, the questions surrounding a home purchase can feel endless. By working with a real estate professional, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that all your questions will be answered and that your best interests will be represented at all times throughout the planning and purchasing process. Your real estate agent will work with you through each step of the buying process. Here’s what to expect during the typical home buying experience….
- Loan Pre-Approval – Before beginning the search for the ideal home, it is strongly recommended that you obtain mortgage loan pre-approval. Being qualified for a loan determines how much house you can afford, allows you to move more swiftly when you find the right house and is a distinct advantage to you in the process of negotiation.
- The Home Search – Meet and talk with your real estate professional to describe, in detail, your ideal home and the features that are important to you. Your agent will then guide you through the process of selecting homes to visit and tour the homes with you. As you view homes that fit your pre-selected criteria, it is important to keep detailed notes about each home and even rank the homes. Your search may take only one day or it may take several weeks. Many people choose to begin their search on-line. That’s a great option but photos can be deceiving. Your agent can arrange for you to tour homes up close and personal – the only real way to make an informed decision and recognize a solid purchase option for you. Perhaps begin your search here on Bethesda365.com by visiting the search page and registering so you can save your favorites and get automatic market updates using your pre-selected search criteria.
- Offer, Negotiation and Acceptance – Once you have selected a home and have decided to negotiate a purchase, you will work with your agent to prepare a purchase contract. This agreement lists all the details of your offer including purchase price, proposed closing date, contingencies of your offer and other details that require negotiation and legal incorporation into your contract. Your agent will then present and negotiate the offer on your behalf and assist you in responding to any counteroffers.
- Home Inspection – Once the offer is made and accepted (ratified), we highly recommend you hire a professional ASHI-certified Home Inspector to perform a thorough structural and pest inspection of the home. The inspection is perhaps the single most valuable investment you will make in the process of purchasing a home. You may decide to cancel the contract based on the inspection findings, renegotiate the purchase price or negotiate repairs prior to closing. Alternatively, the inspection may not indicate any significant concerns. Either way, the piece of mind of knowing that you are purchasing a safe home without any major defects is worth the modest cost of an inspection.
- Appraisal – If you are obtaining a mortgage loan, your lender will request an appraisal be conducted on the home. This is not nearly as detailed as a home inspection. Rather, the appraisal includes just a basic visual inspection of the property and an assessment of the home’s value. The appraiser is hired by the lender to ensure that the purchase price you have negotiated is in line with the current market value of the home based on recent sales of similar homes in the area and the property’s overall condition. As a buyer, typically you have the right to termite or renegotiate a contract if the appraisal value is below the negotiated sales price. Alternatively, if the appraiser missed an important feature or recent sale that would support a higher value, it may be possible to have the appraisal reevaluated and adjusted. Usually, the appraisal process is a smooth one and just one step on the way to settlement. Your agent can assist you through any challenges that may arise.
- Settlement – Once you have finalized your loan documentation and locked your interest rate, your lender will forward your loan paperwork to the selected settlement office. You will also conduct a final walk-through at the property to ensure that the condition of the property meets the terms of the contract. At settlement, all parties will sign the required documentation and the settlement company will disburse all monies and record the new title. Upon completion, you will receive the keys to your new home!
This is a simplified version of the process of buying a home but covers the basic steps you can anticipate. Perhaps the most important step as a buyer is to hire a team of seasoned professionals who specialize in your geographic area of focus. Local market knowledge is very important. Working with a local loan officer and an experienced buyer’s agent is highly recommended.
Brian and Amy Maury are Bethesda, Maryland and Northwest DC specialists. They offer a no-obligation consultation to anyone considering a home purchase. The consultation will provide you with referrals to local lenders and other service providers, help you identify neighborhoods of interest, answer any questions you may have about the home buying process and help you prepare a home buying plan. This meeting is invaluable for a smooth working relationship and less stress for you throughout the buying process. Please contact Brian and Amy anytime to discuss a home buyer consultation.