Most people, as they get ready to take that next step in their life and buy a house can get overwhelmed by all the steps involved in the process. Those who can afford it will find a realtor or an agent who will give them guidance, but for those who cannot, here is a quick guide to the home buying process.
This process involves quite a few steps from deciding on the when to the where and to the how. The very first step is choosing an area of the city or state where you would like to move to. Be sure to consider county and state requirements and regulations, crime rates, school district, transportation, property taxing etc… Much like apartment hunting, a good suggestion would be to make a list of all the accommodation that you would like your neighborhood to have, and using that list as a research tool to help you decide on the best area to select your future home from. One thing to keep in mind when narrowing down the search is the amount you are willing to spend on the home as it will limit the submarkets that you will be able to enter.
Once you have narrowed it down, your next step is to figure out your method of financing. How will you be able to pay for the house. It is best to start the financing process early to ensure that you are at least pre-approved for a loan before even settling on a property. That will ensure that you will be able to get the house of your dreams without any unwanted surprises. Make sure to check your credit score, get the necessary paperwork and determine what type of loan to get by shopping around to find the lowest rates (for a residential property consider getting an FHA loan). Additional steps will be needed after the purchase agreement has been signed.
Once you are done prospecting and are ready to make an offer, the following step is to send a letter of intent (LOI) which is a non-binding letter that gives information on the buyer’s timeline to the seller. It includes the name of the seller, the address of the property to be purchased, the price, the intended method of financing, the amount of earnest money which is a sum of money paid to the seller as a show of good faith that can later be applied to the down payment on the house. It also includes the terms of due diligence, the closing dates and any additional terms that the buyer might want to include such as contingencies. The LOI can be used as a basic outline with adjustable terms for the transaction.
The LOI usually state the acceptance time frame of the offer. Upon receipt, if the seller does not provide an answer within said time frame, the offer falls through. Once accepted however, the transaction can then begin through the negotiation of the terms of the purchase agreement. The purchase agreement is a binding contract between the buyer and the seller. Before the closing, the seller retains his right to keep the house or sell to another party. The written contract can be considered as “an agreement defining all the responsibilities of involved listed parties”. The terms included in the agreement cover everything mentioned in the LOI but in a much more detailed format, it also covers conflict resolution in the event that both parties get in a disagreement and termination information in the case that the sale falls through. It would be advised to get help from a professional before setting the terms of the contract.
After all the details are ironed out, you can conduct the above-mentioned due diligence (inspections, zoning, appraisals…), finalize your financing and purchase your homeowner’s insurance, after which if satisfied, you can move forward and close the sale. The average closing time for most properties is between 30 to 45 days. Once closed, you can consider yourself as the new owner and prepare to move in with your family.
TemplateLab. (n.d.). 37 Simple Purchase Agreement Templates [Real Estate, Business]. Retrieved from TemplateLab: https://templatelab.com/purchase-agreement/#:~:text=The%20purchase%20agreement%20for%20buying%20a%20property%20is,parties%20to%20the%20agreement%20defined%20within%20the%20document.
Zillow. (n.d.). 10 Steps to Buying a House . Retrieved from Zillow: https://www.zillow.com/home-buying-guide/10-steps-to-buying-a-home/#h_2_9