Home Buying Timeline
House hunting can be both exciting and frustrating. Most home buyers see roughly 15 houses before buying one. To make the search easier and faster, nearly half of all house hunters today begin by browsing for properties on the Internet, using web sites like this one.
The internet is a quick way to see whether the houses that are currently available are in the right location, have the right features, and is offered at the right price. If you find after your internet search that few properties meet with your expectations, you may want to readjust your criteria, such as changing the location, home features, and/or list price to increase your chances of finding a house that works for you. If you have any difficulties in this initial search, feel free to contact me for assistance. New homes come on the market every day, and your agent is always the most current resource for up-to-the-minute new home listing information.
Once you know what you want, where you want it and what you can afford, it’s time to see the houses for yourself. To help stay focused, bring with you a checklist of things that you’ve decided ahead of time are important qualities of your future home.
This might include:
- Is there enough room for you to grow in?
- Is the house structurally sound?
- Is the house in move-in condition or will it need work?
- Is it close enough to everyday needs, such as grocery stores, schools, work?
- Will you feel safe here?
- Do the appliances that are part of the sale work?
- Is the yard right for your needs?
- Do you like the floor plan?Is there enough storage?
- Will you be happy in this house in winter, spring, summer, and fall?
You certainly want to be happy with your new home, but try not to get paralysis through over-analysis. An experienced agent on your side can help you to sift through the homes you’ve seen and offer objective advice.
Once you’ve found a house that meets your needs and you’ve reviewed the disclosures with your agent, you’re ready to make the offer. Here are a few questions to guide you in constructing your offer, and remember, your agent’s knowledge and experience can benefit you greatly in this stage of the real estate process:
- How much did the seller pay for the home?
- Is the asking price fair?
- Is the house in good condition?
- Has it been on the market long?Is it a sellers’ or buyers’ market?
Once you’ve determined how much you’d like to offer, work with your real estate professional to submit the proper information to the seller. This includes:
- A complete, legal description of the house
- The amount of earnest money you’re paying
- Down payment and/or mortgage pre-approval details
- A proposed move-in date
- The price you’re offering
- A proposed closing date
- The length of time your offer is valid
- Negotiated items, i.e. payment of closing costs, etc.
After initially submitting your offer, the seller has three options: accept your offer, counter your offer, or reject your offer. It’s not uncommon for negotiations to volley back and forth; it’s important to trust your real estate professional to advise you in this process.
Inspection and Appraisal
Once your offer has been accepted, the contingency period begins. This is time that allows you to obtain financing and homeowner’s insurance. In addition, this time also allows professionals to perform inspections as well as any other contingencies of your purchase agreement.
A professional inspection is one of the best safeguards you can take before buying. A home inspector should check (and may give you a rough price for repairs on) the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, water source and quality, pests, foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors and roof.
Keep in mind that the inspector isn’t there to tell you whether you’re getting a good deal. He or she is there to give you an educated and professional opinion on whether the house is structurally and mechanically sound and to fill you in on any repairs that are needed.
Obtaining financing might include loan approval, which will include an appraisal of the property. Also be prepared to make your down payment, which is usually due several days before the close of escrow. You can choose to put down as much or as little as you want (depending on your mortgage type), but remember, the more you put down toward the total price of your home, the less time it will take you to pay off and the less your mortgage payments will be every month.
After this “escrow” process is complete, you’re ready to close on your new home. Congratulations!