1 – NEEDS ANALYSIS: What do you want your new home to be?
You’ve decided to buy a new home! Congratulations! Now, in order to create a clear picture of what you want, it’s time to develop a written analysis of your needs. This is a three-step, written process.
- Why are you looking for a new home? Ultimately, what do you expect your new property to provide?
- What is your time frame for buying your home? Determine a rough schedule that can be refined later.
- What would you like your new home to look like and what features should it have? Create two lists: the first is your dream home and the second is a home that focuses on primarily your needs. This will help you differentiate what you “want” vs. what you “need.”
After completing your lists share them with your agent. Your realtor is a trained professional who can help you focus your wants and needs and ascertain how best to achieve them.
2 – MORTGAGE INFORMATION: Determining What You Can Afford
After you’ve determined the features you want in your new home, you’ll need to calculate how much you can afford. Although you can do much of the basic research using the WEB, as well as playing with the mortgage/loan calculator on the right, eventually you’ll want to contact a mortgage company. A mortgage company will:
- Help you determine how much you can afford
- Have up to date mortgage rates
- Explain closing costs, down payment options, etc.
- Explain the difference between being prequalified and preapproved
- Help you get either prequalified or preapproved
3 – Home Search: Finding Your Dream
You know what type of home and neighborhood in which you want to live. It’s time to find them. If you don’t know much about the city that you are moving to you will want to start your search by finding neighborhoods that meet your criteria and then narrowing your search to particular homes in the area.
There are various steps you can take to narrow your search, including:
- Contacting your agent who has the capacity to stay up to date on available properties that meet your criteria and who will arrange for you to see appropriate homes.
- Contacting local Neighborhood Associations and the Chamber of Commerce.
- Accessing local publications and Web pages that focus on local real estate.
- Driving through neighborhoods that meet your criteria can be helpful.
4 – NEIGHBORHOOD INFORMATION: Location, location, location.
The community your new home is in can be as important as the home itself. You’re not just purchasing a house, you’re investing in a home and a neighborhood. Next you want to create a written list of what you expect in a neighborhood.
You should follow these steps:
- Develop a list of your ideal neighborhood. You may want to make two lists, as you did for your home, one that describes a neighborhood that possesses both your wants and needs and another that outlines a community that primarily meets your needs.
- You’ll want to consider various criteria such as schools, taxes, commuting time, population density, etc.
- Share the list with your agent, they can help you focus and prioritize your wants and needs and connect you with the right communities.
5 – MAKING AN OFFER: You’ve Found It!
Once you’ve located the home you want, it’s time to make an offer. An offer is based on numerous criteria, including:
- Recent sales of homes in that community which are similar in size, quality, and amenities.
- Conveniences and perks the home and neighborhood provide.
- What you are willing to pay.
In making an offer, it is best to employ an expert to aid you. That expert is your real estate agent. A good real estate agent will:
- Save you time and money by making sure that your contract meets all legal requirements according to local and national guidelines.
- Expertly advise you on how to create an offer that will have the best chance of being accepted.
- Ensure your financial position by including any necessary contingencies that would protect you if a particular requirement is not met.
- Answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding the property, legal procedures, etc.
- Present the seller with a written document, a contract, detailing what needs to be done by both parties to complete the transaction.
The contract, though not limited to this list, should include the following:
- A legal description of the property
- The offering price
- The down payment
- Financing arrangements
- A list of fees and who will pay them
- Amount of the deposit
- Inspection rights and possible repair allowances
- The method of conveying the title and who will handle the closing
- A list of appliances and furnishings which will stay with the home
- The settlement date
- Any relevant contingencies
6 – NEGOTIATING TO BUY: Happiness through Compromise
Successful negotiating is based on the premise that in the end both the buyer and seller will be happy. Once your offer has been made there may be areas open to negotiation. During this time your agent, with a portfolio of experience and expertise, can serve your best interests ensuring that you get the finest terms and price. Some areas that may be open to negotiation include:
- Closing costs
- Necessary repairs
- Appliances and fixtures
- Closing and occupancy period
7 – Vendor Coordination: It’s more than Just You and Your Agent.
After your offer has been accepted your property will need to be thoroughly examined. This means various inspections and procedures will be performed to protect your investment. Your agent can ably coordinate and supervise these efforts, saving you time and money. Some of these procedures include:
- A formal appraisal and survey of the property
- A property inspection
- A foundation inspection
- An environmental inspection
- Obtaining property insurance equal to the full replacement value of your property
8 – PRE-CLOSING PREPARATION: Closing in on the Closing
For the average buyer as the closing date approaches nerves can become frayed. At this time a veteran, professional real estate agent can help assure you of a quick and easy closing by:
- Coordinating the necessary documentation with your closing officer
- Communicating with the escrow company or closing attorney
- Staying in touch with your lender
- Assuring that you are ready for the closing by confirming the proper form of payment made out to the correct party
9 – CLOSING: You Have Arrived
Closing is the legal transfer of real estate from one person to another. During a closing, which is held at either the title company’s or lawyer’s office, numerous legal documents are signed and the collection and disbursement of funds occurs. Your real estate agent will be available at this time to handle any questions or resolve any issues that may arise. After closing the property is yours. In order to insure a smooth closing you should:
- Have your agent with you to handle any last minute details
- Have the necessary funds in the proper form of payment
- Have all necessary documentation
- Remember that this is not a time for negotiation, all negotiations should have been completed already and the results recorded in writing
10 – POST-CLOSING: You Thought You Were Finished
Now you own a home, and with that home comes a list of companies you need to contact. Before closing, an organized agent will have already helped coordinate your enlisting the efforts of numerous groups, including the:
- Electric company
- Phone company
- Cable company
- Water company
- Other local vendors and association