Buying a house. Is there a more terrifying statement? For someone who likes knowing and understanding a process before beginning a project, it is about as scary as it can get. I’m an admitted control freak and buying a home leaves a lot out of your control. Is home-buying a stressful process? At times, yes. Is it worth the stress? Absolutely! Here are a few tips for starting the home buying process that I learned along the way. (Please note: I am NOT AN EXPERT, these are just my personal thoughts on the process.)
1. Assemble your team of experts.
I can honestly say our home buying process went as smoothly as it did because of the people we chose to work with. Recommendation – Always use a professional.
- Finding a Lender: We spoke to a few different mortgage lenders, with each one we asked about the process of applying, what we qualified for, interest rates and how our loan would be handled post-closing on a house. From this conversation, we had important questions answered and we were also able to find a lender we felt personally comfortable with. Remember, this is a person that you need to be comfortable enough with that you won’t hesitate to ask questions when you have them. Once we chose a lender, we got our pre-qualified letter and could move on to our next step.
- Finding a Realtor: First thing, don’t feel bad about interviewing a Realtor! You don’t have to agree to work with the first Realtor you meet. This is a person that you will be spending a lot of time with and you want to have a good rapport and trust in that person. Speak with a few different Realtors, maybe try a couple different offices and see where you feel most comfortable. When we were looking we already personally knew a lot of Realtors and so we chose a Realtor through a personal recommendation from a friend. I was looking for someone that I knew would be caring enough to get me through the stressful moments but also would be strong enough to fight for us during the deal. Our Realtor went above and beyond for us! She was patient with us when we struggled to find a home, walked us through each step of the paperwork process and then went to bat for us when we made our offer.
2. Begin the house hunt!
The house hunting portion looked a lot more fun on HGTV then it was in real life. We picked a time to buy when there was a shortage of houses in our area, especially in our price range. It was such a hot market that many times a house would come on the market and sell an hour or two later. We couldn’t even get in to see a house before it was sold! (I cried a little during this phase, pregnancy and house hunting are a terrible combo). We also struggled because my husband wanted a fixer upper with more square footage and I wanted a smaller home with little work needed. In the end, we found a compromise, a house with an upstairs that needed little work and the basement was/still is a work in progress.
- Make a List: When you start looking make a list of your must haves and your wants. You may have to compromise a couple wants for a must have, this is just a reality of buying a home, so know your priorities. Be honest with yourself on what you can afford. Yes, I know that the price range right above yours always looks so much better than yours but hold firm to the top of your budget! You can do it!
- Talk to your Employer: House hunting is far more time consuming than I would have expected, luckily by working with my employer and creatively using my lunch hour we were able to get into most houses the day they went on the market. If your employer is strict on scheduling, be sure to tell your Realtor when you are available to look at homes, evenings, weekends, etc.
- Don’t get Let Down: Did you lose out on your “perfect home” because it sold too quickly or your offer wasn’t chosen? Remind yourself that there are new homes on the market every day. It takes time but you will find your right home. I was guilty of letting the disappointment overwhelm me at times but I don’t regret missing out on any house because we ended up right where we should be.
3. Writing an Offer.
I’m not sure why writing an offer terrified me so much, it’s probably because I had never done it before. In the end I’m not sure why I was so afraid of the process, it was quick and painless for us.
- Consult with your Expert: With your Realtors guidance and expertise you can come up with an offer you are comfortable with.
- Talk it Out: Talk to your significant other or a close family member and really think about what you want to offer and if there is anything in the home you want to ask for. You want to feel good about what you have offered, after all this is ultimately your money and your home.
4. Your Offer was Accepted!
Congratulations! Now the real fun begins.
- Home Inspections: It is up to you if you asked for a contingency on a home inspection or not. We did and it was incredibly helpful for us, it opened up negotiations with the sellers. Now that we are in the home we are using the home inspection list to gradually fix up the house as well. It’s like a master to do list!
- Negotiations: You may go back and forth with the seller working out those final details. That is totally dependent on your specific situation. Even better, maybe you have no negotiations because everything is exactly how you want it!
- Home Insurance: During this time, you will be looking for who you would like to ensure your future home. I would talk to a few agents and get some different quotes. This allows you to make sure you are getting a good price for the coverage you want. We got a lot out of actually sitting down face to face with an agent and having the different options reviewed.
- Work with your Lender: At this point your lender will start having you sign lots of documents. Get your sloppy signature ready! Your lender will help walk you through the bank process and get you ready for your closing.
5. Closing Day.
The day you thought would never get here. It is such an exciting feel be at the end of the
process. You sign document after document, that seem to all say basically the same thing, but it all needs your approval. Then the big moment… when you get that key! It’s finished! You are a homeowner!
I left out steps and just focused on the big points that impact us during our house hunt. Take what you will from our experience and good luck on the big purchase!! (Please note: I am NOT AN EXPERT, these are just my personal thoughts on the process.)