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Buy your dream house with confidence
So, you want to buy a house—now what? The first time buying a home is an emotional, exciting, and also exhausting experience. You may also be wondering along the way—what am I missing? This is a common question. Here’s how the buying process works from start to finish.
Do some preliminary online searching. Check into what homes are selling for in the areas you’re interested in to give you an idea of what you’re looking for. This will help later on when communicating your wish list with your real estate agent.
Take care of the budget. Use an online mortgage calculator to determine what your monthly mortgage payment would be if you were to purchase one of these homes you’ve found online. Make some additional estimates for utilities and see if this fits into your budget.
Get pre-approved. To get pre-approved for a mortgage you’ll need to get some paperwork ready: pay stubs, W-2s, bank account statements, tax returns for the past two years, and credit lines, and names and addresses of your landlords for the past two years. Start with your current bank, but make sure you check out competitor banks as well – you might get a better mortgage loan rate by shopping around. Also, consider the amount your lender approves you for as a maximum – this is by no means what you should spend.
Find an agent. A good real estate agent will help you navigate the process every step of the way. Your friends and family will be great sources—see if any of your trusted contacts have someone they recommend.
Make an offer. Once you’ve found your dream home, you may want to move quickly. Your agent will guide you on a reasonable first offer to start negotiations based on market conditions. Also, make sure you consider closing costs which could account for 2-5% of the home price.
Do a home inspection. Even if the home appears to be flawless, there’s no substitute for having a professional inspector review the property for quality, safety, and general condition of your potential home. You don’t want to be surprised with a home that needs a lot of unexpected repairs. If the inspection reveals undisclosed serious defects, you can negotiate further to have the seller make repairs or discount the selling price. You’ll also likely have the option to withdraw your offer and get your deposit money back.