The process of buying a home can vary widely depending on the situation. However, buying a home generally takes between one and two months once the buyer locates the property that he or she wants to buy. Prior to that, there is typically research involved to select a neighborhood and even a few months, at minimum, to improve credit scores and secure a monthly payment.
Hire an Agent
An agent will be your best friend during this process. Not only do they have answers to almost any question specific to a neighborhood, they can usually help guide you to alternatives as needed. You’ll be amazed at how much help your agent will be once they know what you’re looking for and what’s most important to you. They will have access to resources that aren’t public, including houses that aren’t on the market yet, and can get you into any property for a showing.
Make an Offer
There’s nothing more exhilarating than making an offer. You’ve found the right house and you’re anxiously waiting to hear whether your offer was accepted. Depending on the market and the property, there may be some back and forth. After the home inspection, there may be additional rounds to fix or compensate for a repair.
Rest assured, you can walk away at any time if you’re not happy with the price or the process. Even if the offer is accepted, you can walk away within a period of time, although you may lose any due diligence deposit.
If you’re not pre-approved, now’s the time. Many sellers won’t accept offers unless they come with a pre-qualification or pre-approval. While some people use these terms interchangeably, there is a difference: pre-qualification is typically the first step in the approval process which yields a ballpark amount you qualify for based on an overview of your finances and history. Pre-approval is very similar, although it usually comes after a verified review of your income, debt, assets, tax returns and credit report. It’s very common to work with a Mortgage Loan Officer before engaging a real estate agent to make sure you’re really in the market financially, and at what price point.
The process of buying a home can take much longer if your credit score is low, or if you don't already have a down payment saved up. In order to be approved, these two things will need to be considered.
If you are already in good financial standing, things will potentially move along much more quickly. In this case, you can start mortgage shopping and become preapproved for a mortgage loan. Once you are preapproved, you can start looking for the right house to buy.
Researching the Market
What kind of property are you interested in? Where do you want to purchase? Check out listings online or in your local paper and gauge how quickly they are selling. Visit your favorite neighborhoods during rush hour, at night and on the weekends to check out how busy they are. If you’re preparing your finances, you’ll have plenty of time to get a read on trends in the areas where you’re interested in living. These are some of the many ways to prepare and avoid home buyer’s remorse. It’s also not necessary to have an agent at this point, and you don’t need one to visit an open house.
The Home Inspection
After the offer is accepted and the sale is pending, it’s highly recommended to hire a home inspector to look carefully at the property to identify and detail any issues with the house. The inspector will generally examine all areas of the house, including the roof and the foundation. They will also have a close look at the grounds as well as outbuildings such as a garage. In return, you get a highly detailed report about the condition of the property.
Issues, once noted, can be fixed by the seller, taken out of the price for the buyer to complete at their convenience, reviewed with no action taken, or may be reason enough for the buyer to walk away.
The offer was accepted, the home inspected and everything is in order. Now it’s time to schedule the closing, where you sign all of the paperwork, usually in the presence of your real estate agent and a lawyer. The closing is where ownership of the home is transferred to the buyer and all outstanding financial issues are reconciled. Any questions regarding repairs, warranties, outstanding funds and other areas are addressed and the buyer gets the keys to their new home.
How to Buy a Home
10 Terms Every Homebuyer Should Know
Should I Build a House or Buy an Existing Home?
What Are the Hidden Expenses of Owning a Home?
What First-Time Homebuyers Need to Know.
What You Should Know Before Making an Offer on a House.
How to Avoid Home Buyers' Remorse
Why Does Your Loan-to-Value Ratio Matter?
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Provision of the calculator on this page is not an offer of credit. Its use in no way guarantees that credit will be granted. This calculator is solely for informational purposes and provides reasonably accurate estimates; the calculations are not intended to be relied upon as actual loan computations.