The Basics of Buying a Home in Eight Steps
For first-time home-buyers, the process of purchasing a home can be daunting and at times, confusing. Fortunately, an experienced realtor can help explain the process to you and guide you through the essential steps you need to take to purchase the home of your dreams. At Domain Realty Austin, our friendly and knowledgeable realtors have helped countless people just like you buy their first homes, so if you are considering purchasing a home in this great city, make sure that we are your first phone call. Since we strongly believe that an educated buyer is a happier buyer, we have prepared this list of eight fundamental steps that can serve as your “roadmap” to buying a home.
Step #1: Select Your Realtor
Choosing the right agent to represent you is the first (and arguably the most important) part of the home-buying process. Because this is likely the largest purchase you have ever made in your life, it is vital that you pick an agent that has the experience you need to help you through the process. An inexperienced or apathetic agent may not have the knowledge or experience to negotiate the best deal possible for you, and you may end up spending more than you need to. An experienced realtor with a strong knowledge in your particular market will likely be able to find you the right house, connect you with the right lender, and negotiate the right price for the home you want. In addition to market knowledge and negotiating skills, make sure the realtor you choose is someone who you trust and want to work with. The home-buying process can be a lengthy one, so select an agent that you can communicate with and has your best interests in mind at all times!
Step #2: Choose a Lender
The majority of people who are purchasing a home for the first time will need assistance from a lender. You can select a mortgage lender yourself, or your realtor may be able to guide you to a broker and title company that they recommend and have worked with in the past. The financial part of the process is often the scariest step for many buyers, but don’t worry, it is an essential step to take toward owning versus renting your home! When selecting a lender, look for one who offers you competitive rates and personalized customer service. When it comes to financing, you don’t want to be viewed as a number or a file; you want to know that your lender cares about you and is there for you when you have questions or concerns.
Step #3: Get Pre-Approved
It may seem like common-sense, but many people don’t immediately understand the value of their lender’s pre-approval letter until they start searching for a home in earnest. After reviewing your application, your lender will issue a pre-approval letter letting you know how much financing you may qualify for. This amount will give you a good idea of what you can afford to spend on a home, which will weigh heavily on your home search. Remember to factor in costs like taxes, home insurance, HOA dues (if any), and utilities into your budget, and from there, you should have a reasonably good idea of what your price range is. Your pre-approval letter will also help show potential sellers that you will be able to qualify for a loan, which can help strengthen your offer if you choose to make an offer on a home.
Step #4: Create a Wish List
Once you have your pre-approval letter in hand, work with your realtor to create a “wish list” that outlines the things that are important to you in a home. You should discuss the area of town you would like to live in, neighborhoods that you prefer, school districts, and exterior and interior features including yard size, kitchen features, bath and shower preferences, and other “must-haves.” It is essential to set realistic expectations, but you can let your realtor know what your preferences are to give them a good idea of where to look and what to look for when generating your search list.
Step #5: Take a tour
Many home-buyers find the process of viewing homes to be one of the most fun parts of the buying process. You get to see homes within your price range and can imagine yourself living there. Make sure to take thorough notes on each house, and approach the process with a critical-yet-open mind. Keep in mind that minor cosmetic things can always be replaced or fixed, and sometimes you find the perfect home that is move-in-ready, and sometimes you find a gem that just needs a little polish!
Step #6: Make an Offer
Once you have found a home that you are in love with, it is time to make an offer! An experienced agent’s knowledge will come in handy at this stage, as you will likely have to negotiate and make a competitive offer, especially in a hot real estate market like Austin. Be aware that you may have to put down some earnest money that will go toward your down payment on the home, and you may want to factor in contingencies into the offer, including having the house inspected before finalizing the purchase.
Step #7: Do Your Due Diligence and Finalize Your Loan
Before closing on your home, it is vital that you have your home inspected to identify any potential issues. On the outside, the house may look perfect, but serious issues may be lurking within or underneath. These problems may include plumbing or wiring problems, or foundation problems that can be extremely costly. If your home inspector finds a problem, you may decide not to purchase the home, or you may wish to negotiate with the seller to repair the issue or lower the sale price of the house to cover the cost of the repairs. Once you are satisfied that the home is ready for purchase, you can finalize your loan with your lender. During this time, it is essential not to make any significant purchases (cars, furniture, expensive appliances) that may affect your credit.
Step #8: Close On Your New Home!
The final step to becoming a new homeowner is finalizing the purchase and closing on your home. The deed to the house will finally be transferred to you, and you will officially be the owner of the property. Depending on your specific transaction and the details of the contract, you will likely have quite a bit of paperwork to sign, but your agent and the title company’s closing agent will guide you through the process so that you know what you are signing and why. Once the paperwork is complete, the funds will be transferred from your lender to the seller, and you will get the keys to your new home!
Why Do So Many First-Time Buyers Choose Domain Realty?
First-time home-buyers are looking for an agent that has their best interests at heart. That’s why so many first-time buyers turn to us for help with the most significant purchase of their lives. We know the home-buying process, and we are experts in the Austin market. We work tirelessly on behalf of our clients to explain the process, find the right home for their needs and budget, and will negotiate firmly to get them the very best deal possible. We know that you have many choices when it comes to selecting an agent in Austin, so we strive always to distinguish ourselves from the rest. Call us at (512) 872-4211 to find out why we’re different.