The decisions you make in the home-buying process can make a difference between a home that’s a blessing to you and your family and a home that becomes such a financial burden you feel like you can’t breathe.
Buying a house doesn’t have to be a stressful, or draining experience. It can actually be a lot of fun especially if you’re making smart decisions that focus on the long term.
When to Buy a House.
How do you know it’s the right time to buy a house? Before you even think about starting the steps of the home-buying process. These are the few things you need to do.
- Evaluate the finances you have. Make sure you have a consistent income and a good chunk of cash for a substantial down payment.
- Consider the housing market. Consider buying a house that will go up in value.
- Think about your life stage. Don’t buy a house when you know you may move to another area. Consider buying a house when you are confident you are going to stay in the area for the next 7 to 10 years.
If you think it’s the right moment for you to buy a house, here’s how to get started.
- Save for a Down Payment.
Buying a house is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. Are you sure you’re ready? Before you begin the process, we recommend paying off debt and saving up three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund. Being financially ready to buy a house is important.
- Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage.
The best way to buy a home is with cash. Getting preapproved takes a little more work. A lender will need to verify your financial information and submit your loan for preliminary underwriting. But it pays off when you begin your home search because a preapproval letter shows that you’re a serious buyer. Bad financing turns your biggest asset into a liability. That’s why getting the right mortgage is so important and if you are buying a house with your spouse make sure you’re both on the same page about your budget.
- Find the Right Real Estate Agent.
Though your search for homes may start online, it shouldn’t end there. You can do a lot of research on your own, but you need the help of an expert when it comes to actually finding and securing your perfect home.
An agent can help you navigate through the home-buying process. In some cases, they may even be able to help you find a house before it hits the market, giving you a competitive edge. And when it comes to making an offer, your agent will negotiate on your behalf so you don’t pay a penny more than you have to.
Not all agents bring the same knowledge and experience. Don’t work with an amateur. A real pro will not shy away from tough questions and they are ready to fight for your best interests as you’re searching for the right house and negotiating the terms of the contract.
- Go for House Hunting.
Once you reach this step, your finances should be rock solid so you know exactly what you can afford. And with a real estate agent to guide you through the process. Before you dive into the home search, create a list of must-have home features. Once you have clarity on the features share them with your real estate agent and use those criteria as the foundation of your home search.
- Submit an Offer.
Once you’ve found the right home, submit an offer and sign a contract agreement with the sellers. Your real estate agent will work with you to submit a solid offer. If you end up in a bidding war with other buyers, keep a cool head and put your best foot forward. Things like being preapproved with your lender and having a flexible closing date can help make your offer strong.
- Get a Home Inspection and Appraisal
As a buyer, you have the right to a professional home inspection before you purchase the house, this is one of the most important precautions you can take before purchasing a home because it keeps you from being blindsided by structural issues or expensive repairs. If the inspection reveals major problems with the home, you can ask the seller to fix the problem, reduce the price, or cancel the contract.
If you’re getting a home loan, your lender will require an appraisal evaluating the value of the property. An appraisal protects you from paying more than the home’s true value. If the appraisal comes in lower than your offer price, your real estate agent can provide the best guidance for what to do next.
- Close on Your House
Before you get the keys for your new home and officially call it your own, you have one more sprint ahead of you: paperwork. You should receive a copy of your closing documents to review.
Once you sign all the paperwork, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief. You’re officially a homeowner.