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5 Steps to Buying a Home in Today’s Market

Buying a home in today’s market is different than it was even 10 years ago! Times change, regulations, laws and rules change. Knowing how the process works BEFORE you are in the middle of it goes a long way to keeping stress at bay.

Overview to Home Buying

The most recent National Association of Realtors survey says 98% of buyers today, start their search online. There is more information than ever at our fingertips and it’s a good way to narrow down things like location. schools, style of home, size, lot size and more!

Pictures really are worth a thousand words where homes are concerned. Peruse what’s available to get an idea of what is “necessary” versus what is a “want”.

When you sure you have you have your wish list, the first step is finding an agent to work with!

Step 1 - Hire Your Agent

Hiring your agent NOW, is really the best way to get the service, advice and experience that will help the purchase of your new home go as smoothly as possible.

A good agent will take the time to explain the process in detail and answer all your questions about buying a home. Whether you’ve bought a home before or are a first time home buyer, knowledge is power and can keep surprises from catching you off guard.

Things like earnest money, inspections, contingent and non-contingent offers, appraisals, Seller’s Disclosures and more are a few of the items that can become overwhelming.

Also, your agent can be a great resource for the next step in the process!

Step 2 - Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

There are lenders online and on every corner, it seems! Finding the one who will give you the service you deserve can be challenging.

Real Estate Agents know lenders. A good agent will have a few different suggestions for you. You ultimately decide but it’s nice to know where to start!

A Pre-Approval letter is basically mandatory in today’s market. pre-approval

Seller’s want to have a pre-approval letter accompany any offers. It shows them you are financially able to purchase the home and are a serious buyer.

Also, a pre-approval is different from a pre-qualification. A pre-approval pulls credit, verifies your income and lets you know how much you can spend on a home.

A pre-qualification is what you get online. No documentation is needed so it’s not coveted by sellers like a pre-approval.

Once you know how much you qualify to spend, you decide the price range you are comfortable spending. Just because you qualify for a $500,000 mortgage, doesn’t always mean you want to spend that much! Take some time to decide what monthly payment fits your budget best and then it’s time to look at homes!

Step 3 - Find Your New Home

Your agent can help you in a multitude of ways! Remember how the internet is filled with homes for sale and you can check them all out? The problem is most are 3rd party sites and it takes some time for new listings to trickle down.

An agent can set you up on a search where you will be notified as soon as a home comes on the market. This helps you get in there FAST for a showing!

Most home buyers view 1 to 7 properties before making an offer. We find 3 to 5 is the sweet spot with our clients. Looking at too many homes can be overwhelming.

Armed with your homework complete (knowing what is “must have” and what is a “nice to have”), it’s best to disqualify homes that don’t meet your needs and only go for a viewing of those that do.

Once you’ve found your home, your agent will help you craft an offer and negotiate the sale.

Congratulations! You are under contract to buy a home!

Step 4 - Inspections and Appraisal

The inspection process starts pretty quickly since that contingency has a time limit. Your agent will suggest some home inspectors if you don’t know of any. Check them out online for reviews, pricing and turn times. All these are


important details in the inspection process.

The most important thing to remember with inspections is that no home is perfect. Let me say that again: NO HOME IS PERFECT. Your agent and inspector will help you understand the report and what items are normal maintenance, aesthetic and what is a major concern you want to ask the sellers to repair/replace.

It can be an intimidating part of the process but your agent is there to help!!

Sometime during this time, your lender will also order the appraisal. The appraisal ensures you don’t pay more for the home than it is worth in today’s market.

The appraiser is an unbiased 3rd party who will value the home based on lots of critereia – square footage, condition, improvements, location and more. He turns his report in and the lender’s underwriter verifies it.


If it comes in at the agreed upon purchase price or higher – YAY! If it comes in lower, then it’s back to the negotiating table with the sellers.

Again, your agent will walk you through this process and explain your options. Remember, lenders will not approve a loan for more than the appraiser says the home is worth. This protects you and the lender!

Step 5 - Closing Appointment

You are through inspections and appraisal! Now, the lender will ready your file to submit to the underwriter for final approval. He/She may ask you for some additional documentation. Get it to them as soon as possible to keep things on track!

clear to closeOnce you receive final approval – aka Clear to Close – your agent works with the co-op agent, lender and title company to set the closing appointment.

At the closing appointment, you will sign the documents for your new mortgage! If you get possession at closing, the seller will give you the keys, too!


Last Thoughts

The whole buying a home process has been shortened to just 5 steps. However, there are a myriad of steps in buying a home in today’s market within each step. There is lender, state and local compliance items, contract contingencies and much more. A real estate transaction has lots of moving parts. The best way to keep stress and frustration at bay is to use a real estate agent. They do this everyday and know what to do, how to do it and when to do it.

Hiring an agent can save you time, money and heartache. That’s definitely worth it, right? I mean, after all, you just want to move in to your new home and start making memories!!