Buying a house can be confusing and stressful. Especially for first time home buyers. Understanding the home buying process will make you feel more comfortable and ensure everything goes a little smoother.
The first step is to get pre approved for financing. This is very important for a few reasons. Knowing how much you are pre approved to borrow will determine the price range you should be searching in. Things like credit, financial history, and your debt to income ratio determine how much your lending institution will allow you to borrow. Don’t waste your time looking at houses that are out of your price range. Having a pre approval letter will also put you in a stronger position to close earlier and negotiate a better price. Sellers are less likely to negotiate with a buyer that is not pre approved because they have no assurances that you will be able to afford the cost of their house.
After you’re pre approved and you’ve hired a realtor (when purchasing a house, a realtors services cost you nothing, that’s right, NOTHING, so why wouldn’t you?!), you’re ready to begin looking for that perfect house. This can be a short and easy process or a long process depending on your needs/wants and what is available on the market at the time. One thing that can help speed up this process is separating your needs from your wants. You might want a finished basement but if there are no current houses with finished basements in your price range are you willing to settle for unfinished then plan to finish it in the future?
So, you’ve found the perfect house, your realtor has gone through negotiations, and you have a signed contract. Now what? Once the purchase agreement (PA) is signed you apply for your loan. This is different than getting pre approved and must be done within 3 days of signing the purchase agreement. Next comes the inspections. Unless the county you’re buying in requires a certain inspection such as a septic inspection, you can opt in or opt out of any inspections. Most common inspections are the general home inspection which is always highly recommended, mold, radon, septic if the home has a septic system. Unless negotiated and stated in the PA, the inspections are paid by the buyer at the time of the inspection. After inspections are completed and all requested repairs, if any, are made by the seller, the lender then orders the appraisal. As long as the appraisal comes back at or above the purchase price, you’re on your way to closing!
On average it takes 30-45 days from contract to close. Be patient and don’t hesitate to talk to your realtor or lender about any questions or concerns you have along the way. After all, that’s what they’re there for!