Buyer's Guide

Are you ready to become a homeowner? Make sure you're prepared for what to expect and take time to save money, get informed, and do your research before your search officially begins. The following guide provides an overview of what you can anticipate.

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Understand Your Budget and Get Pre-Approved

Knowing what you can afford will save you time and energy ahead of time. The second you start considering purchasing a home, start saving. Not only do you need to save for the house itself and living expenses, but consider closing costs, down payments, homeowners insurance, etc. 

What might be affordable to one person could be out of another's league. It means something different to everyone, which is why budgeting, saving, and research will be in your best interest. You first need to get pre-approved for a loan from a certified lender or mortgage broker. Doing so will give you a starting point from which you can then hire an agent and start looking for your dream home.

How Do You Get Pre-Approved?

Having a certified pre-approval letter strengthens your standing with sellers and makes you a qualified buyer.

Provide proof of your income, employment verification, and credit score, as there will be a credit check. 

The pre-approval process typically consists of a lender asking you questions about your income, assets, and the type of house you plan to purchase.

The mortgage lender will confirm your credit and verify the documentation you provide before providing your loan options.

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Hire a Buyer's Agent

Your buyer's agent will be your representative throughout the home buying process. The seller might have their own agent, and if so, you can't depend on their agent to look out for your best interests, which is why it's best to have an agent of your own. A certified realtor will minimize stress and help you find the right home for your budget. 

Finding the Right House

Before your search begins, think about what you want out of a house, especially if it's somewhere you plan on living for a long time.

The Following List Is a Good Starting Point to Help You Prioritize What Is Most Important to You

Once you've created a list ranking your needs and wants, your agent can prioritize the search based on your criteria.

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Making an Offer

Consult with your agent to determine the best course of action re: pricing strategies. You will submit an offer letter in writing when you have decided on the offer amount. Typically, your certified realtor will write the letter on your behalf and deliver it to the seller's agent. From there, the seller can then accept, reject, or counteroffer. 

If the seller wants to counteroffer, allow your realtor to handle the negotiations, as that is what they are trained to do. Sometimes you can't always reach an agreement, and it's best to walk away and try again with another property. Try not to get too emotionally invested until the deal is complete.

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Home Inspections and Appraisal

Inspections are necessary because they protect you as the buyer. After a seller accepts your offer, it's wise to hire a third-party home inspector to examine the property and specifically look for any problems the seller may not have disclosed. With the inspection results in hand, you can go through line by line to determine if the property has a severe health hazard or problem. 

Then you can ask the seller to correct it before closing. Usually, buyers include inspection contingencies in their initial purchase offer. Similarly, a home appraisal is a chance for you to get a third-party opinion on how much the property is worth before you buy it. Lenders usually require these, so they're not loaning more money than the house's actual value.

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Closing

During closing, you can ask for a discounted price based on the inspection contingencies, ask the seller to have the problem fixed before you close, or request that the seller give you credits to cover some of the costs. Then you should do a final walkthrough through the house to ensure nothing has been left behind and check on requested repairs. Finally, you and the seller will finalize the paperwork and documentation before receiving the keys to your new home.

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