Buy Your Dream Home
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So How Do I Buy A House?
Do Your Research
The first thing you should do when looking for a house is, well, start looking for a house! Browse the web and local newspaper and magazine ads looking for real estate listings. Take notes on the homes and areas that interest you. Looking for sudden changes in asking prices will give you a good idea about the housing market in certain areas.
Find Out What You Can Afford
A baseline for loan affordability is three to five times your annual household income with an initial 20% down payment. However, this is just a baseline. The decision to purchase a house should be based on your own, unique financial situation.
A question most people have when looking for a home is, "How much can I actually spend on a house?" Getting prequalified for a mortgage is the surest way to find out. Mortgage prequalification is as easy as giving your household finances to a loan officer. This will include income, savings, payments, investments, etc. Your lender will take a look at the information and give you a number. That number will tell you the price range of houses you should be looking at.
Find the Right Real Estate Agent
This is where we come in! Real estate agents are the glue that binds together any real estate transaction. They can provide you with crucial information on homes and neighborhoods that isn't always available to the public. Their knowledge of the home buying process, negotiation skills, and firsthand knowledge of the surrounding area are extremely helpful. And guess what? We don't charge you anything! Real estate agents are compensated from the commission paid by the seller of the house.
Shopping and Making Offers
This is most likely where most home buyers will spend most of their time. Start looking at houses with the intent to buy, using your agent to take a tour of each house that particularly interests you. Keep in mind things like the other houses on the block, street traffic, parking, location, and other things that will be important to you or your family and visiting friends. Spend the time to find something that suits you, then work with your agent to negotiate an offer based on recent sales in the area. After a price has been agreed upon by both parties, the house will go into escrow, a period in which all the rest of the home buying steps are completed.
Many trees are sacrificed to facilitate the sale of a home. There are a lot of documents and signatures involved in this process, and your agent will arrange for all of the paperwork to be handled by a title company. They handle all of the documents and make sure that the seller is the rightful owner of the house you are buying.
Most of the time, an offer on a home is contingent on a home inspection of the property to check for signs of structural damage or things that may need fixing. Your real estate agent will help you arrange the inspection, which is generally done within a few days of an offer being accepted by the seller. This protects you by giving you a chance to renegotiate your offer or withdraw it without penalty if the inspection yields red flags. You can also decide if you want to ask the seller to fix certain problems before closing the sale if they inhibit your disposition to purchase.
Have the Home Appraised
The lender will arrange for an appraiser to provide an independent estimate of the value of the home you are buying. The appraiser is an unbiased third party and is not associated with the lender. The appraisal lets every party know that you are paying a fair price for the home.
Select Your Loan
There are quite a lot of loan programs available to qualifying home buyers. You'll have quite a few questions about all the different mortgage options, and your real estate agent will be there to answer every one of them with the aid of a competent loan officer who will generally be suggested by your agent.
Close the Sale
You're done, you've passed the finish line, you've collected your $200 (figuratively, of course) and now, with the final signatures on that foreboding happy stack of documents and the delivery of the check to the seller, you are ready to move into your new home!