Where Do I Start?
It’s recommended that you begin your house search with determining your budget. This is the biggest factor that affects which kind of houses you should be looking at. In the majority of cases a loan in the form of a mortgage will be needed to pay for the home. That means the lender will be the one setting your budget based on their policies and you should start talking to those specialists first. Once you’ve picked a lender where you like their process, rates, terms and lending power, get a firm pre-approval.
You can visit this page to learn more about this step or reach out to me for my recommendations on some lenders.
Picking a Real Estate Agent
Depending on your time frame and how close you are to buying, a casual place to start is attending open houses and doing online searches. Open houses can help you meet real estate agents and get an initial look at what to expect at different price ranges. Online searches such as through this website can also give you a couch-comfy seat to view homes, and learn about different agents via websites and social media pages. Better yet, ask your friends and family for a referral!
I am happy to provide anyone looking to buy a home with a no-obligation, free consultation to discuss what it is like to work with me as part of their initial stages! You can have some time to think about it after, or hire me on the spot to get started right away. At this point, you should pick one agent to work with going forward. The first meetings with your designated agent are important as to tackle all of the regulatory paperwork and start discussing your criteria so you don’t have interruptions and hold-backs later.
Viewing Houses and Putting in an Offer
Your real estate agent will use the criteria you gave them to help you locate houses for sale. I have access to my board’s Multiple Listing Service, which is a large database of houses listed by other real estate agents and a very fast and effective tool for searching for appropriate properties to view. Your agent can arrange for private viewings to go and look at the houses you are interested in. This process can take from a week to a year or more depending on the market and your criteria.
Once you’ve found a property you are interested in buying, your agent will help you to put in an offer to purchase it. This is where strong negotiation becomes important. The goal from here is for an offer or counter-offer to be accepted by both parties.
Many people often have special terms and conditions written in the contract that essentially indicate “I will buy this property IF…”. After an offer is accepted with those conditions, there is a period where those must be satisfied in order to continue with the full sale of the property. Once all of the “IF” statements have been satisfied, an offer becomes unconditional and firm under contract – the property is officially sold.
Closing and Possession
The term “closing” refers to the date that the money and ownership of a property officially change hands and occurs at a previously agreed date sometime after the conditions are removed. Often this is technical process that notaries/lawyers coordinate. “Possession” is simply move in time!