One of my very first jobs out of college, was working in a real estate firm, as an administrative assistant. I thought I would just be answering phones and handling day to day office duties, but I wound up with a fairly extensive knowledge of how the real estate game is played, and even entertained the idea of going for my Realtors license- before I realized how very demanding a job in Real Estate truly is. Since I did gain such valuable knowledge, however, I feel prepared for knowing the ins and outs of home buying, and working with a Realtor. My husband and I haven't purchased a home yet, as we may soon be in transition, but I definitely have my checklist ready for when we do enter those waters of potential home ownership.
Here are some first steps to take on the road to home ownership.
Get pre-approved for a loan. Very few Realtors will show homes to potential clients without a pre-approval letter. A pre-approval letter lets the Realtor know that you're a serious buyer who won't be wasting their time. It also lets the Realtor know what kind of budget the client has to work with when searching for a home. Learn how you can save on variable rate home loans by NPBS.
Select an agent
It is in very poor taste to call several different real estate offices, asking for information on home listings. Know what you're looking for, before you contact an agent, and then work from there. Research agents in your area, and select one that you were either referred to, have a personal relationship with, or one that is well educated on the type of home you are lookin to purchase. An example would be- if you're looking into purchasing an historic home, go with an agent that primarily sells those types of home, and has knowledge of historic properties. Looking for new construction? Choose an agent who lists and sells mostly newly constructed homes, and might have ties to the contractors. Select one agent and stick with them- they will guide you in the process.
Do your homework
Don't leave all of the work up to your agent. Have a wish list already prepared to present to yout agent. Let them know your budget right from the start, and if there's an amount you don't want to go over, let that be known. You can search for active listings on your Realtor's website, or through the website offered by their firm. Make a list of homes that interest you, and present them to your agent. Be sure to stay within your budget. Your Realtor will take it from there to set up showings.
Consider your needs
Do you have a family? You may want to seriously consider the school districts the home lie within before asking to see a house. Make sure it's in an area you actually want to live in. You can search home type by area, by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, etc, making sure you find a home with the room you need for your family. Do you have a pet, and have need for a fenced in yard? Is a two car garage on your must-have list? Consider all of these factors before asking to see a particular home.
The home buying process may take a few weeks or months, considering the circumstances. Once you have reached a decision, your agent will help you make an offer on the home you'd like to call your own. Keep in mind that a seller may not accept your offer from the start- they may counter, and you might have to counter offer back. There might also be multiple offers on the table from other intereste buyers. The seller will make their decision, pass it onto their agent, who will in turn pass the decision onto your agent. Once an offer has been accepted, the sale will be considered pending. This is the time where you place money into an Escrow account, have home inspections done, and wait for everything to check out before closing on the home. Your agent will guide you through this process, and will help you prepare for the closing.
At the closing, usually the buyers and buyers' agent are present, along with the sellers, sellers' agent, and a closing attorney. From the closing, the deed to the home must be recorded at the Register of Deeds Office. The closing on your new home is not offical until the sale is recorded. If possible, try not to have your closing scheduled late on a Friday afternoon. In some cases, if the deed is not recorded by closing time, you may not receive the keys to your home until the following Monday, when the Register of Deeds Office is open again.
Once your deed has been recorded and you have your keys to your new home in hand, congratulations- you're a homeowner! Now the real fun begins!