Tips on buying

1 Figure out how much you can afford

What you can afford depends on your income, credit rating, current monthly expenses, down payment and the interest rate. Talk to a trusted mortgage lender about how much you can afford and get pre-roved before you start looking.

If you find a house you are crazy about, you can make an offer right away, knowing that the offer will be backed by a solid commitment for a mortgage and there shouldn’t be any unpleasant surprises down the road. Be sure to keep in regular touch with your mortgage lender so they can keep your notified of any changes in the terms and you can share any changes you have had.

2 Determine your needs in a home and a neighborhood

Make a list of what you want, need and don’t want in a home. Rate your desired home attributes on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being a “must have” and 1 being “nice, but not at all necessary.”) and give a copy of this to us. It will save time, effort, frustration, or emotional knee-jerk reaction if you know what exactly you are looking for before you begin.

If you find yourself becoming interested in a particular neighborhood, familiarize yourself with the crime rate, property taxes, schools and other neighborhood features. Remember, you’re getting more than just a home–you’re buying the whole neighborhood package.

3 Shop for a home

View and Evaluate available homes.

As you look around the house, determine if it has adequate space for you and your family both now and in the future. Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms? Is the yard and garage big enough? Will your furniture fit? If you want to add on in the future, is there space to do so? Does it match your “must have” criteria?

4 Select a home and make an offer

The offer process varies for different buyers, sellers, market conditions and many other factors. Whatever course of action you and your Realtor decide to take, the offer will likely need to be negotiated until both you & the seller agree to the terms of the sale.

Terms include everything you want from the seller, such as home inspection contingencies, items included with the sale of the house, the amount of earnest money you’re putting in escrow, and any concessions you’d like the seller to make. Once the offer is accepted…

5 Get a home inspection

A home inspection is an evaluation of a home’s condition by a trained expert. During a home inspection, a qualified inspector takes an in-depth and impartial look at the property you plan to buy. Unless you have extensive experience in various phases of home building and major systems (plumbing, electrical, etc.), I always recommend having a professional inspection.

6 Shop for homeowners insurance

Lenders require that you have homeowners insurance. Be sure to shop around and ask your current insurance provider if there is a discount for having both auto and home policies with them.

7 Sign papers

Once the lender has processed all your paper work for your loan, the documents will be sent to the Title Company (Escrow).

Now you’re ready to sign your loan documents as well as the title documents. This appointment can take some time, be sure to read everything before you sign! Once the loan documents are signed they are returned to the lender/underwriter for review. The review can take up to 48 hours.

8 Closing

You’re finally ready to go to “closing.” The lender funds the loan, the monies are dispersed and the title is recorded with the state. Now you get the keys to your new home! Congratulations!