How do you buy a house?
These are the main five steps to the home buying process, explaining the different parties, fees, and other surprising things that pop up when trying to buy your first house.
#1 Decide You Want To Buy a House
This might seem obvious, but many would-be homebuyers don’t give this decision enough critical thought. Shopping for homes when you’re not emotionally, financially, or logistically ready to own a piece of real estate guarantees dissatisfaction. So, no matter what stage you’re at in the process, take a step back and decide if this is the right move for you.
From a monetary standpoint, since you build equity in your property, you may write off the interest on your loan payments and other things around your home and you’ll never be paying more on your mortgage than the property was worth when you purchased it…meaning, if you bought the home for $100,000 ten years ago, you will still only be paying a $100,000 mortgage today even if the home is now worth $250,000. With rent, you’ll always be paying the market value of a property as it continues to rise in value through the years.
#2 Get Your Finances in Order & Get Pre-Approved
There are a bazillion homes for sale on the market and the sky’s the limit. But not really. The biggest limiting factor is going to be your budget. To save yourself an immense amount of time and heartache, it makes sense to only look at houses in your price range. And to do that, you have to determine what your price range really is.
Getting pre-approved does essentially that: A bank or lender takes a look at your finances and gives you a letter saying how much they’d loan you without you actually applying for the loan yet. This takes the mystery out of the equation so you don’t get to the point of closing a deal and then, oops, looks like you don’t qualify for your mortgage.
#3 Hire The Gabe Mendez Group
A licensed real estate agent from the Gabe Mendez Group will be your guide through the thicket of the home search and home buying processes. Although you’ll work with a rotating cast of characters on the way to buying a home, your Gabe Mendez Group real estate agent will be there from the beginning to the end and that’s a good thing. As a buyer, working with a real estate agent costs you nothing. Practically every home on the market is going to have a listing agent. Typically, the commission on a home sale is 6% of the sale price, and that comes out of the money you pay the seller. The buyer’s and seller’s agents split the commission from the home, and if you don’t have an agent, the seller’s agent just keeps the other half. For example, on a $300,000 home with a 6% commission, you pay $300,0000, the listing agent gets $9,000 (3%), the buyer’s agent gets $9,000 (3%) and the seller gets the remaining $282,000 (94%). The cost of the home to you is exactly the same as if no one had used an agent at all.
Given the value that a buyer’s agent will provide you in accessing homes for sale, negotiating offers, and shepherding everyone along through the red tape, there’s practically no reason not to work with a buyer’s agent.
One last thing: I know what you’re thinking. “If I don’t use a buyer’s agent, then I can convince the seller to knock off 3% of the purchase price, right?” Maybe. But probably not. And even if you do, that’s only one point you’re negotiating. A buyer’s agent can negotiate other terms of the sale that may save you more than the 3% commission.
#4 Find a Home and Put in Your Offer
Finally, here we are: house hunting. What you may have thought was step one is actually the second-to-last step. It is, of course, the most important step: viewing homes, finding one that fits your budget and needs, and then putting in a strong offer.
Once you’ve narrowed down your searches, contacted the Gabe Mendez Group, and lined up your showings, get ready to have some fun. You’ll likely want to see at least a handful of homes. I highly suggest taking a notepad for taking notes on each home. The homes will start to run together in your mind unless you take notes. I also always take the official MLS listing sheets with me for my clients to help them remember the homes we’ve seen. I also suggest that my clients take a camera or use their phones to snap pictures of the homes as we tour them. Again, at the end of the day, the homes will start to run together in your mind unless you do something to remember them individually.
The chances are high that you will have your “wants” or a “wish list” in your mind about what exactly you want in a home when shopping. For example, you may want a large kitchen, 3 or more bedrooms, a pool, and a fireplace in your master bedroom. However, there is also an excellent chance that you will have to sacrifice one or more things from your wishlist in the end. Make a plan of what is most important to you. We call these a “must-have” in your new home. Arrange an order of things you are willing to give up in your new home from least important to most important. Once you find your new home, it will be time to write the offer known as the contract.
#5 Closing on the Home
Once the offer has been accepted, the house is considered “under contract.” Houses under contract or pending sale are off the market, but the property is often still marketed until closing. That’s because during this period because there’s still a reasonable chance that the sale won’t go through. Both you and the seller have obligations to follow through on before the sale is final.
The steps under contract include getting your mortgage finalized (fairly simple if you’re preapproved) and then bringing in your guy for the pre-sale home inspection (more below). The bank will also send in an appraiser before closing your mortgage, and depending on where you live, you may need to get a few other assessments done to satisfy local real estate transaction requirements, such as a dye test or a survey.
After that, it’s closing day. You show up to the table, sign about a million papers, hand over a big ol’ check (you did remember to get the money transferred out of savings, right?) and then get the keys to your new pad. Usually, you can move in right after closing, but this varies by state and county. In some areas, you’ll have to wait until the real estate office records the title (could be a few days). Or in other cases, you may have negotiated a period where the seller rents the house back from you for a few days while they get organized for their move.
Buying a home is a lengthy, complex process with many ups, downs, variables, and curveballs. Your best bet in navigating the home buying process and closing on the perfect home at the perfect price is to remain aware of what step you’re on and where to focus your energy. In most cases, the person you’ll turn to is your real estate agent from the Gabe Mendez Group. The next most important relationship you’ll have is with your lender. No matter how lost you feel, as long as you’ve properly decided what you want out of a home, hired the Gabe Mendez Group, and a mortgage lender, the home buying process will go as smoothly as possible for you.
Don’t get me wrong—there is always more homework to do. But these are the most important areas to begin focusing your energy.