Buying a Home in Eight Steps
By: Elizabeth Garner
Buying a home might seem daunting when you are getting started, but I'm here to tell you it's much easier than you might have built it up to be. With these eight simple steps, you'll be in your new home in no time.
Find a RE/MAX Agent
First things first, find the right RE/MAX Realtor for you. Having a seasoned Realtor can go a long way because they have the network, knowledge, and proven success. Look for an experienced Realtor who is knowledgeable with the market area you want to live in; for example, you wouldn't want to hire a Realtor whose market area is San Antonio when you want to live in Hutto.
Once you have the RE/MAX Realtor that fits your needs, you'll need to get pre-qualified with a mortgage company. To make sure you qualify for the amount you want to purchase a home for, you will need to make sure your credit score is sufficient. Your loan officers can give you an idea of what you'll need, so you have time to get your ducks in a row before completing their paperwork for the pre-approval process.
Maintain your credit score during this entire process. Pay your credit cards by the 28th day of the month before your application for pre-qualification. Remember that any change to your credit score can affect your closing since your credit score is rerun on closing day, so I would refrain from using any credit until after closing.
Search For Homes
Now that you have your pre-approval letter, your RE/MAX Realtor will then set up an online home search via email for you from the MLS (Multiple Listings Service). This search will include listings in the area you would like to live, with the budget set by your pre-approval amount, and any other parameters you have discussed with your RE/MAX Realtor, like the number of bedrooms, lot size, and more. When you find a listing you like, let your RE/MAX Realtor know, and they will set up a showing appointment to view the property either in-person or virtually.
Make An Offer
Don't be afraid to ask your RE/MAX Realtor for their advice on what a reasonable offer is. They are experienced in negotiations and will be your advocate throughout this process so utilize their knowledge to your benefit. If you feel at home with what you see and decide it's the right fit for you, your RE/MAX Realtor will write up an offer letter to send to the seller's agent.
Offers And Negotiations
So your offer has now been submitted, and you've entered into the waiting stage. Your RE/MAX Realtor will get confirmation that the offer was received, and you'll be notified typically within 48hrs if your offer was accepted, countered, or declined. If your offer is accepted, you can move on to the next steps. If your offer is countered, your RE/MAX Realtor will advise you on the next best step. You can either accept the counteroffer or ask your Realtor to send another countered offer. This process can take time and is a bit nerve-wracking, but as I said before, your RE/MAX Realtor is an expert at negotiations and will help you navigate until you and the sellers reach an agreement.
Get Appraisal & Home Inspection
You did it! Your offer has been accepted, and now we move on to the next steps in the home buying process; the appraisal and home inspection. Depending on the type of financing you are utilizing, an inspection may be required. If you're unsure, always ask your RE/MAX Realtor for their advice. They have helped many people in the same situation and offer some excellent knowledge on the subject. As for the appraisal, this is a mandatory step that cannot be waived with certain types of financing, like the home inspection. An appraiser will use a multitude of data to calculate the home's value, like recently sold comparable homes in the area. If the house doesn't meet appraisal, you, as the buyer, would be responsible for coming up with the difference. For example, if the home is under contract for $350,000, but the appraisal comes back as $330,000, you would need to come up with the remaining balance of $20,000 because the bank will only loan you up to the appraised value of the home. So even if you qualified for the total of $350,000, the bank would only lend you up to the appraised value. On the other side, if the home comes back in with a higher appraised value, you would pocket the difference in equity. For instance, a home goes under contract at $350,000, and the appraised value comes back at $380,000. In this case, you would have instant equity of $30,000. As the buyer, depending on you financing type, you will have the opportunity to choose to waive the appraised value of the home if you want the house and can make up the price difference.
It's finally the closing day, and you're headed to the title company with your RE/MAX Realtor to sign the paperwork to purchase your new home. It might have felt like a lifetime during the process, but you and your RE/MAX Realtor were a successful team from start to finish, and the last step is to go over the final paperwork, sign, and get your keys.
If you are unable to be in person for your closing, don't worry; most title companies offer some remote signing options.
It's a moving day! You did it. You purchased a home that's all yours. Congratulations. Now it's time to pack up those boxes and bring them to your home. Make sure you label those boxes clearly, so you know where to put them, kitchen to the kitchen, living room to the living room, and so on to make the process easy and fast.
Pack an overnight bag with all the essentials you'll need, like toilet paper, a toothbrush, and a change of clothes. The last thing you want to happen is not having TP on hand and having to dig through 50 boxes when you have got to go!
Hopefully, this breakdown of the home buying process has helped alleviate some of your questions and concerns. Like I said in the very beginning, buying a home can seem daunting, but with the right RE/MAX Realtor by your side, you'll be showing off your new home to family and friends very soon.