Home Buying Process Quick Guide
If you’re a first-time home buyer, or returning to the market for a home, the process can be filled with as many questions as there is square footage. From our experience, the following steps can make buying your home a more streamlined process.
Step 1: Crunch the numbers. Start with our online calculator to determine just how much home you can afford. You can “adjust the dials” based upon your down payment and estimated amount of mortgage. Having a conversation with one of our experienced loan officers early in the process can also help you establish a smooth path to homeownership, and provide a picture of what you should expect in terms of down payment and the costs associated with closing on a home.
Step 2: Identify your favorite features. Decide what you truly want in a home. Make an honest assessment about the home features that are “necessary” for you and your family, and those that could be optional or part of a home improvement project. Remember that everyone’s tastes are different, and yours might even change as you look at homes and their potential with you at the helm! This step will bring focus to your search efforts and inform your decision to pursue or pass on a listing.
Step 3: Map out a serious budget. As you begin narrowing in on location, styles of homes and all the amenities on your wish list, you’ll want to know with confidence how much you can comfortably spend on a mortgage payment each month after all of your other bills and personal expenses are accounted for.
Find out how much home you can afford with our simple mortgage loan calculators here.
Step 4: Check your credit score. Your score can affect your interest rate, which could mean a lower monthly payment. Take a thorough look at your credit report as you may discover errors that can be reversed or other entries that you can take steps to amend to improve your score.
Step 5: Get pre-qualified. Schedule time with one of our loan officers to pre-qualify for your home loan. With pre-qualification (or credit approval), you’re ready to start bidding once you find your perfect home, giving you an edge in a competitive buyers’ market. This early step will also provide insight into the different loan types, interest rates, closing costs and much more. It will also help you determine the range of home pricing suitable for your budget and give you an accurate snapshot of your monthly mortgage payment.
Step 6: Develop a list of estimated home expenses. Along with your mortgage payment, additional expenses may include closing costs, moving expenses, property taxes, mortgage insurance, homeowner’s insurance, utility bills, garbage collection, yearly maintenance and any homeowner’s association fees. You can access your County Treasury to research property taxes; maintenance fees can be estimated based upon your home’s age and square footage.
Step 7: Consider utilizing a buyer’s agent. If the home is being shown by a realtor, that person is working for and representing the interests of the seller. With a buyer’s agent, you’ll have someone on your side who’s experienced in the inspection and bidding process, can help you locate homes that match your preferences and set-up appointments for viewings.
Step 8: The offer and inspection. Even if the home is exactly what you’re looking for and your offer is accepted, you’ll want to have the home inspected to reveal any issues that could represent unforeseen costs. The home inspection is just as important if you’re buying a fixer-upper, so that unexpected repairs or maintenance don’t come as a surprise after you’ve closed on your home.
Step 9: The final walk-through and closing time! After the inspection, do a final walk through to make sure what you and the seller agreed upon has been completed. Then, with all the necessary paperwork signed, you and your loan officer will make the deal official. Congratulations!