Today I am going to be sharing the general steps for buying a home in 2020! This is probably the most asked question I receive as a realtor, and for good reason. Homeownership is a process that many do not fully understand. This is why it is extremely important to find a realtor to help you with the home buying process. As a buyer, a Realtor’s services are FREE to you, making it a win-win situation. If you are in GA and looking to purchase or sell a home, I would love to help. Contact me with the information below to schedule a free consultation.
Remember** Each and every person and scenario is different but generally, the home buying process follows these steps.
If you are new here, my name is Ashli Taylor, and I am a licensed realtor in Georgia. I have been in Residential Real Estate for 2 years but have studied and worked in Real Estate my entire life. Read my story here!
Now onto the steps!
1. Find an Agent
- Interview different agents if necessary – It’s important to find an agent who is knowledgeable about the market, trustworthy, patient, and easy to communicate with. Chances are, you may not find this with the first agent you talk to. Be clear that you are just starting the process and interviewing different agents to find the best fit. You will know when you found the right one!
- Note: Finding an agent first will allow you to have an amazing resource that can recommend lenders/vendors throughout the process.
2. Get Pre-Approved for Financing (if necessary)
- If you will be seeking financing (a home loan/ mortgage) for the purchase of your home, you need to be pre-approved BEFORE starting the homebuying process.
- Being pre-approved will let you know how much the bank is willing to loan you towards a home (your BUDGET), estimated monthly payments, how much you will need to pay for a down payment, and the general terms of the loan.
- NOTE: Just because you are pre-approved for a certain amount doesn’t mean you have to purchase a home for that amount. Decide for yourself how much you can afford + consult with your agent to see if it’s a reasonable budget to find everything you want in a new home!
** Your agent should receive a copy of your pre-approval letter. They will attach it to all offers to show proof of funds.
3. House Hunting – The Home Search
- Now, THIS is the fun part. For your home search, your agent will select homes that meet your criteria and you will be able to decide which ones will make the shortlist of homes that you want to tour!
- Normally you will see about 10 homes, sometimes more or less depending on your individual process and market.
- Step #2 – The pre-approval is important because it narrows down your search and is more efficient. You only want to see homes you can actually afford to avoid seeing homes you love but may be out of price range.
** I will normally preview homes before touring with clients to be sure it is actually something you will be interested in. A lot of homes will have amazing pictures but will not show some undesirable features. By going out ahead of time, I am able to save my client time and stress by only showing homes that are serious contenders.
(NOTE: If the market is BOOMING, like it is now, I will skip this and tour my client ASAP. Time is of the essence, and sometimes a few days can be the difference between securing the property under contract and losing out on a great deal! )
4. Offer + Negotiations
- After you have found the home you love, it is time to prepare an offer. The offer is a legal document that states the terms by which you want to purchase the home. It includes but is not limited to, the purchase price, closing date, financing type, due diligence period, and so much more. ( I will create an entire post for this in the future! Stay Tuned! )
- The pre-approval letter ( Step #2) is really important in this step. It strengthens your offer, by showing proof of funds. It’s great that you want to offer $250,000, but the seller wants to see if actually have the funds to back that up!
- This is a crucial step where your agent can really show their value. You probably already feel that with Zillow, Realtor.com, and other sites you can find your dream home on your own. But when it comes to the offer/ contract process, you really want someone who is an expert at negotiation and real estate policies and law. This is a complete legal situation and you want to ensure you are covered! Not only will your agent write up the legal paperwork for you, they will help recommend a purchase price + terms for the home based on current market conditions.
Negotiations: This is where you (the buyer ) and the seller go back and forth until you come to terms you can both agree on.
The seller can respond to your offer in 3 ways :
- Accept your offer
- Counteroffer (Adjust the terms of your offer to terms they can agree with)
- Decline your offer
Once both parties have agreed, you are officially UNDER CONTRACT!
5. Due Diligence + Home Inspection
- Now that you are UNDER CONTRACT, the real work begins.
- Within the contract, you negotiate a due diligence period. The due diligence period is an amount of time where you (the buyer) are able to look/inspect further into the home to ensure you want to purchase. During this timeframe, you are able to terminate the contract for any reason and receive your earnest money back. Any terminations after this period will result in you losing your earnest money. (with the exception of some scenarios)
- I ALWAYS recommend my clients get a home inspection, especially on resale homes. A home inspection gives you a better idea of the condition of the home regarding issues you cannot see with the naked eye. (Think electrical, HVAC, structural, roofing, and more )
- When you receive your official home inspection report you can amend the contract to address the concerns found in the home. The seller is not required to fix issues in the home, but many sellers will find it advantageous to fix issues that may hinder the home sale.
6. Appraisal + Title search + Underwriting
- After you (the buyer) have decided you want to move forward with the home purchase, your lender will order an appraisal to be sure the home is actually worth what you are paying. (Note: The lender will not lend more money than the home is worth.)
- Later the attorney’s office handling closing will order a title search to ensure ownership rights. They want to ensure there are no liens, additional owners, and more.
- One of the final steps of the process is when financing is set. The lender will prepare documents and do one last credit / financial check to ensure nothing has changed since the pre-approval process!
PRO- TIP: Do NOT make any large credit purchases, charge more debt, apply for new loans or credit cards. Keep financials the same, save as much as possible to prepare for closing. Increasing debts or lowering credit scores could jeopardize the entire deal with in the last days before closing!
7. Closing + You are a Homeowner !!
The last step of the home buying process is the actual closing! You will be required to wire the necessary funds due at closing. The lender will wire the necessary funds and prepare a closing packet. The attorney’s office will handle all legal paperwork and the transfer of title from the previous owner to you! Once you sign all paperwork, the keys are yours!! You are officially a HOMEOWNER.
I hope this blog post answered many of your questions about the home buying process. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to me!
Again, if you are looking to buy or sell a home in Georgia, I would love to be your realtor! Reach out to schedule a FREE consultation to see how I can help!