The following is a general overview of the buying process; please use it as your guide.
1) MAKE THE COMMITMENT
There are few things in life that have been as rewarding as homeownership, both financially and emotionally, but owning Real Estate can indeed be one of them. Most folks start with their first home and keep trading up sometime 5 or 6 times over their lives. Keeping that in the mind set, stay open minded. Rationalize whatever you have to but first and foremost make the commitment that you are going to purchase a home. It''s a lot of effort on your part but you''ll be happy you did.
2) FIND AN AGENT
Obviously a personal referral is your best source. Ask friends, family, co-workers who have recently purchased if they would recommend their agent or not. If this method is unsuccessful the internet is always an option - look for agents that are advertising in the areas you are considering. Make a list of names, company and phone numbers, but most of all; be sure to review their resume since you are hiring them to go to work for you. And if they don''t have one, look for an agent that does.
3) MAKE THE INITIAL PHONE CALL
During this conversation you can pre-screen the agent with questions about how many years they have been in business, how many successful closings they have had, are they a full time agent, do they have an A.B.R. (Accredited Buyer Representative) designation and do they have their own web site. If they can''t pass the first test, move on to the next agent. MY SUGGESTIONS, you should HIRE A FULL TIME AGENT with MORE THAN 15 YEARS EXPERIENCE, a CLOSING AVERAGE OF AT LEAST 50 HOUSES PER YEAR, an A.B.R. DESIGNATION and THEIR OWN WEB SITE. These are the basic Realtor qualifications for a serious, dedicated professional that will know how to make your purchase as smooth as possible. We constantly have to clean up messy transactions and rebuild Realtor credibility because purchasers hired someone without checking to see how qualified they were. The market is flooded with agents that don''t have the experience and education that others do.
4) SCHEDULE AN OFFICE CONSULTATION ONCE YOU''VE NARROWED THEM DOWN
Make a list of all of your questions, start your list of wants and needs, ask about procedures, mortgage companies, home inspections and anything else you are concerned with. Ask to see the agents'' credentials in print form. I always suggest seeing their resume IN WRITING for obvious reasons. You want to know that the agent you are about to hire to help you through the buying maze has been there before.
5) OBTAIN LENDER APPROVAL
Once your agent choice is made and you''ve completed the buyer representation agreement with them, it''s time for financing. Your experienced Real Estate agent will be able to make suggestions for lenders since they work with many everyday. It''s strongly suggested that you get approved for your financing before you start shopping.Not pre-approved, not pre-qualified, but APPROVED. It is usually necessary for your lender to have tax forms, full mortgage credit reports, employment verifications and total assets to close verifications in order for you to have this approval. This will put you in a strong position when presenting your offer to the seller and you''ll know for sure what price range your purchasing power allows you. It is also strongly suggested to work with a lender recommended by your Real Estate agent since agents do much of the pre-screening before the lender can get on their preferred list. The top reasons that purchasers can''t get approved are:
* INADEQUATE FUNDS FOR DOWN PAYMENT AND CLOSING FUNDS
* INADEQUATE INCOME FOR HOUSING MONTHLY PAYMENTS
* EXCESSIVE DEBT
* POOR CREDIT HISTORY
6) THE FUN PART!
After you''ve done all the preliminary work it''s time to start shopping. Your Real Estate agent buyers program goes into effect and you''ll be driving around different neighborhoods looking at exteriors, and then picking out the houses you want to see. This is the educational part of buying a home and can be very enlightening as to pricing for different areas, schools, styles, amenities, etc.
7) YOU HAVE MADE A CHOICE
Once you have selected your home your agent will draft a contract and you will enter into negotiations. When the seller signs the contract and you have what we call a "meeting of the minds" that the property is considered yours as long as you perform according to all of the due diligence portions of the contract.
8) CLOSING PREPARATIONS
After all inspections and approvals are complete, and we have obtained clear title insurance, the next step is to set up a mutually agreeable closing date and time. You will need to have your home insured as of the date of closing and your insurance agent will provide you with a paid receipt and an extra copy of your policy to provide to the lender. Between the lender and your agent you will be instructed what to bring to closing, how the monies will be handled and if the utility name changes need to be addressed at that time. Closing should take 45 minutes to an hour and as long as everyone has done what they were supposed to do it should be relatively painless. (Easy for me to say!)
9) POST CLOSING ITEMS
The next step is to prepare for moving. Do you hire a mover? Do you get the family and friends to help? When are the sellers going to be out? When can we paint and have carpets cleaned? All the little details that come with a new home. It is very important to look at this as a fresh beginning and have fun with it! Also, it''s really important to set up your new residence "file". Keep everything in it. All receipts, all instructions and warranty info, etc. There will be a time in the future that you will need all of that.
Obviously this is the condensed version of all that you will experience during the process. I cannot emphasize enough that the key person to a smooth transaction is your tour guide (Real Estate agent). Make sure that they are qualified under the above mentioned guidelines and that you feel you can work with them. Most of all just set your sails and have fun with the process!