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10 Steps To Buying a House

10 Steps To Buying a House
by Kevyn Pitts - September 19, 2022,

Buying a property can be difficult even in the best of circumstances, and in a highly competitive market, it may feel positively overwhelming. Although a few of the specifics may appear different at the moment, the basic buying procedure stays the same, and understanding the major phases can help you achieve your objective and make your dream a reality.

Regardless of when you want to buy, there are a few things you should be aware of. On average, purchasing a home takes around six months. In 2021, the average buyer's search lasted between two and three months. Then add thirty to forty-five days to close.

However, the process of purchasing a home entails more than merely seeing properties. In addition, you must analyze your credit and finance choices, identify the best real estate agent, make offers and negotiate, obtain an inspection, plan your relocation, and ultimately close on your new house.

Where To Begin When Purchasing a Home?

When purchasing a property, you should consider your budget, where you would like to live, and your priorities as a buyer, among other factors. Here are some questions to consider:

  • How much house can I afford?
  • Am I going to take out a loan?
  • How much do I have saved for a down payment?
  • Can I afford my desired neighborhood?
  • Are home values increasing or decreasing in the neighborhood?
  • How long will my commute take? 
  • Is the school district a fit for my family? 
  • Is it within walking distance to amenities and activities?

Once you have determined the answers to these questions, you may begin your house search.

Here are the ten most crucial procedures when purchasing a home.

Step 1: Check Your Credit Score

Before allowing a lender to examine your credit score, you should carefully analyze your credit report.

What constitutes a credit report? TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian are the three major credit reporting organizations whose information is included in a credit report. This report is utilized to generate both your FICO and Vantage scores.

At least annually, you may obtain free reports from all three reporting agencies. If you uncover inaccuracies on your credit report, dispute them promptly so they can be corrected before you apply for credit.

What exactly is a FICO score? The FICO score is the number that creditors use to determine your creditworthiness. This range is determined by Fair Isaac & Co. and falls between 350 and 850.

How do Vantage Scores work? A Vantage Score is the credit score that will be shown on consumer-facing credit check websites. Your Vantage Score and FICO score may differ. Your Vantage Score is not used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness.

The lower your interest rate will be, the higher your credit score. In general, a credit score of 720 or better will get you a favorable interest rate on a conventional loan, although eligibility requirements vary by lender. With a credit score of 580 or better, you may often qualify for an FHA loan.

If you are attempting to increase your credit score prior to applying, you should be aware of the following factors:

  • Payment history
  • Total debt
  • Length of credit history
  • New credit
  • Type of credit

Step 2: Figure Out How Much House You Can Afford

When you are pre-approved, your lender will tell you the maximum amount you may borrow (we will discuss the pre-approval procedure in greater detail later). However, you need not wait for pre-approval to get a basic idea of what you can afford. 

Prioritize your want list according to your finances

Create a list of must-have house features when you have an approximate budget in mind. Your budget will certainly affect your future home's size, location, and features. Consider the following instances of wish list items:

  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Square footage
  • Outdoor space
  • Preferred location
  • Type of home
  • Layout, features, and finishes
  • School district
  • Pet-friendliness
  • Work commute

Step 3: Find a Real Estate Agent

The majority of purchasers find it beneficial to have a competent real estate agent on their side. According to a report, 82% of buyers in 2021 utilized an agent at some point during their house hunt. Typically, sellers pay the commission for the buyer's agent, making the use of an agent a cost-effective choice for purchasers.

Here are a few places where a buyer's agent can be of assistance:

  • Identifies home value trends, new developments, buyer demand, and the market's overall condition.
  • Offer price: establishes the home's value and suggests a competitive starting offer amount
  • Knows when to negotiate a cheaper price and how to negotiate contingencies and repairs.
  • Local knowledge: has insider information about the neighborhood and schools in the area
  • Provides references for a reputable lender, attorney, contractor, or other service providers.
  • Experience: streamlines the process by addressing problems, meeting deadlines, and supervising paperwork.

Step 4: Get Pre-approved

A lender's pre-approval will provide an official judgment on your house-buying budget unless you're purchasing a property entirely with cash. According to a 2022 study, 86% of sellers prefer a buyer who has been pre-approved, as opposed to pre-qualified, for a mortgage.

A lender will compute your debt-to-income ratio and evaluate your overall financial health by examining your:

  • Statements of income, such as W2s, 1099s, rental income, and tax returns
  • Bank statements and retirement funds are examples of assets.
  • Debts, such as monthly payments for school loans, credit cards, and other mortgages.
  • Bankruptcies and foreclosures are recorded.
  • Current rent, child support, alimony, and down payment gifts
  • When you're pre-approved, you'll receive a pre-approval letter. Not only does it indicate how much you may borrow officially, but it can also be useful when submitting an offer. A pre-approval letter demonstrates to a seller that you are committed to purchasing their house. This is particularly critical in a competitive market, where you will likely be competing with other offers.

Note that you are not required to finance your loan with the same lender that pre-approved you. In actuality, it is usually advisable to obtain estimates from various lenders and evaluate interest rates and expenses prior to obtaining a mortgage.

Remember that your debt-to-income ratio will be reviewed once more prior to closing. Taking on additional debt might reduce the overall loan amount available for financing.

Step 5: Start The Home Search

Online home searches are an excellent method to begin the house-hunting process. According to a Group Report, 95% of buyers do their house searches using internet tools. Begin by searching for homes in your desired neighborhood, then narrow your results by price and your must-haves. Furthermore, your agent may email you listings and arrange showings.

Try to maintain flexibility; you will likely need to modify your criteria as you continue your house hunt. For instance, you may decide that sacrificing an extra bedroom is worthwhile in order to live in your ideal community. Experiment with search settings to determine what your money could purchase if you slightly altered your wish list.

What to look for when touring homes

Once you begin seeing properties in person, be sure to evaluate the property's "fitness" so you can anticipate any big obstacles that may arise if you decide to make an offer. The inspection will ultimately provide you with a formal report on the home's quality and condition, but keep an eye out for the following while you walk the property:

  • Structural defects and cracking
  • Water pressure (turn on faucets and shower heads)
  • Electrical issues (try the light switches)
  • Functionality and heat retention of doors and windows
  • Roof and exterior quality
  • Noise from neighbors or traffic

Step 6: Make An Offer

After locating the ideal house, you should base your offer on a comparative market analysis (CMA) performed by your real estate agent. The CMA is a computation of the market worth of a home based on previous sales of comparable homes in the same region.

30-45 days are required to close on a mortgage-backed house purchase after the contract has been signed.

Using the comparative market analysis (CMA) as a starting point, your agent should assist you in estimating a realistic offer price and help you decide if you should allow space for negotiation, depending on the status of the local real estate market.

In addition to the CMA, the following factors should be considered while making an offer:

Disclosures: Disclosures are known structural flaws, unpermitted construction, natural hazards, and flood risks. Most states require sellers to give disclosure paperwork, so be sure your agent seeks them.

When purchasing a home with a mortgage, it will take 30-45 days after the contract is signed to close on the property. You can request a delayed closing date in your offer to accommodate your relocation schedule, but the seller may reject this request.

Contingencies: A contingency is an agreement between the seller and the buyer or the lender and the buyer on sale-related circumstances. Certain contingencies, such as the appraisal contingency that your lender will demand to guarantee they are not overpaying for your loan, are required. It is optional to include an inspection contingency; however, it is strongly encouraged. 

Earnest money: An earnest money deposit is a quantity of money you are willing to put down with your offer to demonstrate your commitment to purchasing the house. If you successfully close on a property, the earnest money becomes part of your down payment. If you withdraw from the transaction without a contingency, you will forfeit the deposit.

It is essential to understand that not every offer is successful. Try not to be disheartened if you are not offered the first house you make an offer on. In fact, 59% of buyers who placed an offer ultimately submitted several bids prior to closing on a house.

Step 7: Schedule The Inspection

According to a report, 88 percent of purchasers inspected the property they were purchasing. The inclusion of an inspection contingency and completion of a home inspection is the best strategies to assure the property you're purchasing has no significant underlying flaws.

Your real estate agent should be able to recommend a licensed, reputable house inspection. The inspection is often scheduled within a week after the contract's execution. It is advised that you attend the inspection in order to have a deeper grasp of the home's inner workings. Typically, your agent will also be present. After receiving the formal inspection report, you and your agent will have time to review the findings and determine how to reply to the seller.

If significant, non-cosmetic defects are discovered, you can resume talks and request that the seller pay to rectify the defect before closing or provide you with a credit so you can address it yourself after closing.

Step 8: Secure Your Financing

Even if you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, you must complete a few further procedures before submitting the application. After completing the procedures below, provided everything is in order, you should receive the "clear to close," which indicates that the lender has accepted your purchase.

Loan application

If you decide to apply for your loan with the same lender who pre-approved you, they already have some of the documentation you'll need. You will likely be required to furnish current financial statements. Rapid response to inquiries is the most critical action you can do during this process. If the lender requests your W-2, for instance, deliver it soon to avoid a delay in the closing. If you want to proceed with a different lender, they will provide you with a list of the papers required to complete your application.

Appraisal

Your lender will engage the appraiser, so there is nothing you can do in this regard. Your real estate agent should coordinate the appraisal with the seller's agent and the appraiser. After the appraisal has been completed, you and your agent will receive copies of the appraisal report so you may review the estimated fair market value and comps utilized in the calculations.

If the appraisal matches your offer price, you should be able to proceed with the closing.

If the appraisal exceeds your asking price, that's even better! This implies that not only are you free to close, but you are also acquiring the property for less than its market value, granting you immediate equity.

If the appraisal comes in low, your lender will not approve the whole loan amount because they believe you are paying too much for the property. Either you must pay the difference between the assessed value and the offer price in cash, or you and the seller must renegotiate the offer price. If you feel the appraisal was inaccurate, you can ask your lender for a second opinion.

Step 9: Purchase a Homeowners Insurance Policy

Proof of homeowner's insurance will be required prior to closing, so if you currently own a house, contact your current agent to assist you in obtaining a new policy. If you do not own a house, check around for the ideal insurance package. Your lender may be able to assist you in coordinating a policy that can be paid via your escrow account each month.

Step 10: Close And Move

Many purchasers opt to have a final tour the day or morning before closing. Its objective is to confirm that the property is in the same condition as when you submitted your offer and that the seller has done all agreed-upon repairs (if applicable).

On the day of the closing, anticipate spending several hours at the title business signing documents. You should also be prepared to pay your closing expenses, which normally run from 3 to 5 percent of the transaction price.

After the signature and recording of the transaction, you will receive the keys. The residence is yours!

You may now set up utilities for the new home, such as electricity, internet, and cable. If you are purchasing a condo with an HOA that pays certain utility bills, confirm with your real estate agent the contractual obligations.

You should read our article to determine the income that you need in order to buy a house.

Author

  • Kevyn was Rory's first protege and has proved himself worthy of his title as a real estate expert through his years of working in the company. He makes sure we get the latest real estate updates and shares his insight to our readers on which investments they should keep an eye on.

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