Whether you are a first time home buyer or back in the market again after a long hiatus, the home buying process can seem intimidating and overwhelming.
Keeping yourself informed and educated is the key to a smooth and successful real estate transaction. Knowing what you need to do first and being aware of potential situations along the way can keep you calm and organized before you’re sitting at the closing table. Take advantage of this Home Buyer check list to walk you through the buying process.
1. Get A Mortgage Pre-Approval:
Speak to a few different mortgage lenders and Brokers to determine what you qualify for. You’ll want to hunt for the best interest rate available while learning what you need for a down payment, where your credit stands and what kind of loan you can get.
2. Work With An Exclusive Buyers Agent:
Interview a few agents and find someone who has experience and compatible personality, but specifically you’ll want to work with an Exclusive Buyers Agent. These agents work with Buyers and represent you and your needs only.
3. Research location and wants/needs in a home:
Researching Sarasota neighborhoods and determining what you need in a house is important to know ahead of time so you don’t get frustrated when looking at homes. Find a location and neighborhood you feel good about and differentiate what you must have and what you would like to have in a home. This will help define the criteria of homes that make sense for you to consider.
4. Narrow Down Potential Properties & Investigate:
When you and your agent come up with some properties that fit your needs, ask about reviewing property disclosures, research community HOAs or restrictions and review county records for liens and legal status to know if it is in foreclosure. These factors will assist in the decision making process about whether this property is good for you.
5. Set up Showings:
Work with your agent to start setting up times for you to go and see the properties you like. If you are out of town but want an expert opinion of the property, have your agent do a “Preview” where they see the property on your behalf. Stepping inside a property and seeing it for yourself gives you the chance to really tell if this can be your future abode.
6. Present An Offer:
If you found a property you want, work with your agent in researching and reviewing comparable properties to see what the house is valued at. Many factors go into a home’s market value; supply and demand, property updates and features, location, etc. Once you know what the house is worth, determine what a good purchase price would be and write up an offer to present to the sellers. Add necessary contingencies, determine what your earnest money deposit should be and select a date you want to move in. Negotiations may take place to find a happy middle place, but if all is satisfactory on both ends, an offer can graduate to an executed contract.
7. Set Up Inspections:
It is up to the buyers discretion if you want to conduct inspections on a property, however it is highly recommended that you do. It’s always a good idea to find out if there is anything wrong with a property before purchasing. Home Inspection, termite inspection, septic inspection (if applicable) etc. Along with inspections, some types of loans require you to do a property appraisal and home insurance companies need up to date wind mitigation and 4-point home inspections to ensure your property is insurable. Be prepared for the costs associated with these since they can reach a couple hundred dollars to accomplish them all.
8. Finalize The Finance Process:
Be sure to tie up any lose ends with your lender to be sure you are good to close on the property. Try your best to keep away from opening new credit or maxing out current credit since this can affect your credit score and affect your loan qualifications.
9. Prepare for closing:
Keep in contact with your agent as the closing date approaches. You should receive your closing documents at least 2 days in advance to the closing, be sure to review these documents to make sure everything is in order and to determine how much your closing costs will amount to. Be sure your earnest money deposit has reached the Closing Agent and be prepared to render any down payments necessary to close the deal. Work on getting all utilities set up and established beforehand to ensure you have a smooth move in day.
10. Final Walk-Through:
You will need to participate in a final walk-through of the property to make sure everything is as it should be before moving in. This is the time to make sure all fixtures, appliances, window treatments etc. are all in compliance with your purchase contract. The walk-through will usually take place a day or two before the closing or on the day of the closing.
11. Sign and Arrive:
You and your agent will attend the closing (unless it is a mail away, in which case the documents will be sent to you to sign and be notarized) to sign all closing documents and present any remaining funds. Once the paperwork is complete, the keys are released and the home is yours.