Looking for a new home can be an exciting time. I am all about arming yourself with information, so I hope the following overview of the buying process will be helpful to you.
Create wish list. Before you embark on the house-hunting process, I recommend making a list of your new home requirements. I always make a spreadsheet or a basic document with three columns:
- absolute musts: these are non-negotiable. However, keep in mind that you might encounter ways to get creative. For example, if you need three bedrooms, but find a house with two bedrooms plus a den, you might be able to make it work.
Get pre-approved. Nothing says serious buyer like handing your agent a pre-approval letter for financing. This separates you from the looky-looks. It also makes the process of making an offer quicker, and it signals to the seller that you can proceed to opening escrow should they accept the offer. If you are buying in a seller’s market, including a pre-approval letter will make your offer stronger and stand out from other interested parties.
Search for potential homes. The next step is to look at listings, usually found online. You or your agent can do this. If you find any on your own, forward them to your agent. Do not contact the listing agent directly. This causes confusion during the process. Also, remember to keep an open mind. A home may not seem to appear all your needs, but those might be addressed with creativity.
View homes. Your agent will take you to tour several homes. Hopefully, the sellers will have followed my tips on how to prepare their home for sell and it is clean and free of clutter. If they staged it, it will help you determine how you might live there and where your furniture would go. Looking at a house that is too personalized and cluttered always makes it more difficult to imagine how you would use the space.
Research the manufactured home community. Before making an offer, find out information about the mobile home park where the home is located. Your agent will provide details on the park, but it is also helpful to speak with the onsite manager.
Make offer. Here’s the most important thing I have learned in my years of buying properties: do not wait. If you find a house you think is perfect, make an offer. It is normal to think that you “may find something better,” but that usually does not happen. By the time you complete your search and circle back to your first choice, it is usually gone.
Also – be prepared for buyer’s remorse. This is normal human behavior. You will start second-guessing your decision, but hang tight.
Escrow. Once you agree on terms, you and the seller will sign the purchase agreement and open escrow. We will look at the escrow process in depth in another article.
Inspections and contingencies. The executed contract will include contingencies such as inspection and financing. Each contingency will have deadlines that you must meet. If you don’t, those contingencies will be accepted by default.
Closing. The last step in the buying process is closing escrow. Any funds due to the seller will be transferred, and the transaction recorded with the appropriate agencies. Usually, the purchase agreement will state that the buyer received the keys at the close of escrow. At that point, you are the new homeowners!
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