Buying a home is a major decision—and, while having an expert agent on your side is the key to navigating the nuances of the process with ease—you also want to ensure you yourself have a clear understanding of what’s involved. Staying informed along the way and knowing what comes next will help you feel empowered and prepared—rather than overwhelmed and caught off-guard—as you work through each phase of the homebuying process.
Today, then, we wanted to offer up a simple, at-a-glance overview of the nuances and intricacies of buying a home. Read on for a comprehensive look at the process.
1. Make the decision.
Embracing the choice to move forward with buying a home is always the first big decision in the process. It’s no small feat, and we’re well aware this means closing one chapter of your life as you move onto another—so we applaud and congratulate you!
2. Find your realtor.
An experienced, agile realtor is invaluable when it comes to helping you navigate the nuances of buying a home. The right agent for you will:
3. Get pre-approved.
Unless you plan to pay cash, obtaining pre-approval before you begin looking at properties is a necessary part of the process of buying a home. In hot seller’s markets, many agents will choose to not show properties to buyers who haven’t yet obtained pre-approval or proof of funds, so locking in your pre-approval prior to home shopping really helps streamline the process and will save you time and stress down the road. Your real estate agent should have a few lenders they feel comfortable recommending—or you can use your own bank or a lender you know.
4. Find your home.
Now we’re getting to the fun stuff! Here’s where you begin seriously searching for your dream property—arguably the most exciting, rewarding part of the entire process of buying a home. We recommend having a clear idea of your wants, wishes, and needs and clearly communicating those to your agent—as well as a fairly solid idea of the items from that list you are not willing to compromise on (and the items you are). It’s so important to remain open-minded and patient during this phase, particularly if you’re in a market with low inventory.
5. Make a strategic offer.
You’ve found the one—congratulations! Now it’s time to write up an offer on the property you fell in love with. Much more than just choosing a number, there is strategy that goes into writing an effective offer. Your agent will take into account the property at-hand (including how long it’s been on the market and how motivated the sellers are or aren’t) and the realities of the current market in order to ensure yours is a competitive offer that’s both attractive to the seller and comfortable for you. Once your offer is drafted, your agent will negotiate on your behalf—keeping you informed every step of the way—to help ensure your offer is accepted.
6. Open escrow.
Congratulations—your offer was accepted! Time to open Escrow—and you’ll be working with your agent, their transaction coordinator, and an escrow officer as you work through this stage of the process of buying a home. Expect to sign lots of paperwork as inspections and appraisals begin; your lender, in the meantime, will get to work on your loan acceptance (unless you’re planning to pay cash).
7. Secure an inspection.
Here’s where a professional home inspector steps in to conduct an inspection. (It’s the buyer’s responsibility to choose a home inspector, which is something your agent can help with). After inspection, you’ll receive a list of repairs that may or may not be addressed. Depending on the property at-hand and its location, you may want to choose to have a termite/pest inspection, a geological survey, and/or a septic inspection as well; your realtor will be able to help you determine if these are necessary.
8. Go through appraisal.
If you’re buying a home with a loan (rather than cash), the lender will require a formal appraisal to ensure they’re not lending you more than the property is actually worth. In order to do this, an independent appraiser will assess and determine the current market value of the home you’re purchasing. Keep in mind: the bank will not lend over the appraisal value, regardless of what you were pre-approved for.
9. Request repairs.
If the inspection uncovered repairs that will cost you money, you then have the opportunity to request the seller make those repairs, cover the costs for you to make them yourself, or partially cover the costs. This is yet another place where an experienced real estate agent is invaluable—she or he will help you determine which repairs are worth requesting seller credits for and will negotiate on your behalf.
PRO TIP: If you’re buying a home in a seller’s market, know that you have less negotiating power when it comes to repair requests.
10. Remove contingencies.
Any contingencies the final sale was conditional upon are removed after being addressed (including your loan approval, which counts as a contingency)—and you commit to moving forward with the intent to close escrow.
11. Have your final walk-through.
Just as it sounds, your final walk-through is where you walk through the home you’re buying with your agent prior to closing to ensure the property hasn’t been changed, modified, or altered. You’ll also check to ensure that any repairs the seller agreed to address have been made.
12. Close escrow.
Once all requirements and contingencies have been met and funds have officially transferred, you’ve reached the close of escrow. This is the final step in the process of buying a home—and it’s one that’s absolutely worth pausing on and celebrating. You’ve made it through searching, offering, and signing—and you’ve secured a property that will serve as the backdrop for the next chapter in your life. We wish you all of the best memories in your new home!
Overall, while there are plenty of steps and strategies that go into buying a home, having the right real estate agent on your side can make all of the difference. Our goal at Susan Cosentino & Co. is always to ensure homebuying is empowering, efficient, and exciting—rather than all-consuming and overwhelming. We would love to help you on your hunt for your dream home—reach out today, and we’ll schedule a time to chat.
In the meantime, browse the rest of our Journal for even more tips, resources, and insight.
Whether it’s wanting the perfect Malibu home to plant your roots—or selling your property for a price you can feel great about as you move onto something fresh—we would be honored to guide you along the journey to your goals.
24903 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 200 Malibu, CA. 90265
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Copyright 2020 Susan Cosentino & Co. is a team of real estate licensees affiliated with Compass RE. Compass RE is a licensed real estate broker and abides by equal housing opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Nothing herein shall be construed as legal, accounting or other professional advice outside the realm of real estate brokerage.