A Quick Guide to Buying Your First Home
Purchasing a home can seem overwhelming, particularly if it’s your first rodeo. There’s no
getting around the fact that it’s a complex process that requires a number of steps — both major
and minor — and you undoubtedly have many questions about how it all works. However, if you
plan and prepare beforehand, you can set yourself up for a smooth process and reduce some of
the stress that comes with it.
Hire a real estate agent.
Bankrate points out that if you find a great real estate agent they will be able to guide you
through most, if not all, of the home buying process. Ask around your network of family and
friends for suggestions, and research the websites and social media accounts of local agents.
Interview no less than three agents, and ask each candidate for references of homes they’ve
listed/sold in the past year. If you want to take it a step further, call some of their former clients
to get their opinions.
Figure out your finances.
Early in the process, you will want to get a free credit report from each of the three major credit
companies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Knowing your credit score will show you what
kind of mortgage you can expect and whether you need to improve your credit before moving
forward. You will also want to start putting money aside for a down payment.
Then, you will need to speak with a lender and get pre-approved for a loan. As Credit.com
notes, this part of the process, combined with any anticipated budgetary changes in the future,
will give you a better idea of how much house you can afford. Also, don’t forget that you’ll need
to set aside at least 2 to 5 percent of that purchase price to cover closing costs. Although you
might be able to negotiate with the seller regarding these costs, it’s always best to have the
money available just in case.
Start your search and make your offer.
This is the fun part: house hunting! Your agent might already know of some potential homes, but
even if so, have them look at online listings with you. Once you find a few homes you’re
interested in, your agent will set up tours. More than likely, you will need to tour several homes
and refine your search before you find the right one. Then, you’ll be ready to formulate an initial
offer with your agent, present it to the seller, and move on to counteroffers if necessary.
Arrange a home inspection.
If you find your dream home and come to an agreement with the seller, it’s essential not to skip
this step! Arrange for a professional home inspection. This is when all potential issues with the
home—both major and minor—are brought to light. Once you and the seller get a copy of the
report, you can move on to negotiating how to handle any necessary repairs.
Do a walkthrough and finalize.
A walkthrough consists of you and your agent visiting the home to ensure all agreed-upon
repairs have been satisfactorily performed and that all other functions of the home are the same
as when you made your offer. Of course, if you and the seller agreed on a reduced sale price or
credits in lieu of repairs, your walkthrough would only consist of the latter part.
After the walkthrough, it’s time for the closing day! You will need to sign a bunch of paperwork
and send it to the lender. Then, the lender will provide you with a check, you’ll give the check to
the seller, and you’ll close the deal.
Just because the home buying experience is complex doesn’t mean it has to be overwhelming.
Start by getting a good real estate agent and sorting out your finances. Then, search for homes,
make an offer on the home you want, get the home inspected, do a final walkthrough, and close
the deal. Before long, you will be moving into your new dream home!