Buying a home doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process if you break it down into manageable steps! We covered Steps 1 – 4 in Part I of this series yesterday:
Step 1 – Decide to Buy.
Step 2 – Hire Your Agent.
Step 3 – Secure Financing.
Step 4 – Find Your Home.
Today, we’ll discuss the four remaining steps in your home buying process.
Step 5. Make an Offer.
When searching for your dream home, you were just that-a dreamer. Now that you’re writing an offer, you need to be a businessperson. You need to approach this process with a cool head and a realistic perspective of your market. The three basic components of an offer are price, terms, and contingencies (or “conditions” in Canada).
Price-the right price to offer must fairly reflect the true market value of the home you want to buy. Your agent’s market research will guide this decision.
Terms-the other financial and timing factors that will be included in the offer.
Terms fall under six basic categories in a real estate offer:
- Schedule-a schedule of events that has to happen before closing.
- Conveyances-the items that stay with the house when the sellers leave.
- Commission-the real estate commission or fee, for both the agent who works with the seller and the agents who works with the buyer.
- Closing costs-it’s standard for buyers to pay their closing costs, but if you want to roll the costs into the loan, you need to write that into the contract.
- Home warranty-this covers repairs or replacement of appliances and major systems. You may ask the seller to pay for this.
- Earnest money-this protects the sellers from the possibility of your unexpectedly pulling of the deal and makes a statement about the seriousness of your offer.
Step 6. Perform due diligence.
Unlike most major purchases, once you buy a home, you can’t return it if something breaks or doesn’t quite work like it’s supposed to. That’s why homeowner’s insurance and property inspections are so important.
A homeowner’s insurance policy protects you in two ways:
- Against loss or damage to the property itself
- Liability in case someone sustains an injury while on your property
The property inspection should expose the secret issues a home might hide so you know exactly what you’re getting into before you sign your closing papers.
- Your major concern is structural damage.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Things that are easily fixed can be overlooked.
- If you have a big problem show up in your inspection report, you should bring in a specialist. If the worst-case scenario turns out to be true, you might want to walk away from the purchase.
Step 7. Closing.
The final stage of the home buying process is the lender’s confirmation of the home’s value and legal statue, and your continued credit-worthiness. This entails a survey, appraisal, title search, and a final check of your credit and finance. Your agent will keep you posted on how each if progressing, but your work is pretty much done.
You just have a few preclosing responsibilities:
- Stay in control of your finances.
- Return all phone calls and paperwork promptly.
- Communicate with your agent at least once a week.
- Several days before closing, confirm with your agent that all your documentation is in place and in order.
- Obtain certified funds for closing.
- Conduct a final walk-through.
On closing day, with the guidance of a settlement agent and your agent, you’ll sign documents that do the following:
- Finalize your mortgage.
- Pay the seller.
- Pay your closing costs.
- Transfer the title from the seller to you.
- Make arrangements to legally record the transaction as a public record.
As long as you have clear expectations and follow directions, closing should be a momentous conclusion to your home-searching process and commencement of your home-owning experience.
Step 8. Protect your investment.
Throughout the course of your home-buying experience, you’ve probably spent a lot of time with your real estate agent and you’ve gotten to know each other fairly well. There’s no reason to throw all that trust and rapport out the window just because the deal has closed. In fact, your agent wants you to keep in touch!
Even after you close on your house, The Seay Realty Group can still help you:
- Handle your first tax return as a homeowner.
- Find contractors to help with home maintenance or remodeling.
- Help your friends find homes.
- Keep track of your home’s current market value.
Attention to your home’s maintenance needs is essential to protecting the long-term value of your investment.
Home maintenance falls into two categories:
- Keeping it clean: Perform routine maintenance on your home’s systems, depending on their age and style.
- Keeping an eye on it: Watch for signs of leaks, damage, and wear. Fixing small problems early can save you big money later.