The Home Buying Process
The home buying process can be like a maze. Just when you think you are done, there is a roadblock and you have to take another turn. The process can vary depending on where you live but this will give you a place to start. As always, please consult a professional real estate agent or Realtor (learn the difference here) in your area to learn what is customary in your market.
- Loan Pre-approval. If you don’t have a relationship with a lender, your Realtor can be a great resource. This is a crucial step prior to going to see properties for many reasons. You need to see how much you can afford. Sometimes there will be things that show up on your credit report that you don’t even know about. Lenders can help you get incorrect information taken off your credit report that may hinder your purchase ability. You may not even realize that you can’t purchase in the timeframe you wanted to. Unless you are paying cash, do not wait on this step. Your offer will be taken much more seriously when you find the perfect house if you have a letter from a lender that shows you are ready to buy!
- Buyer consultation with Realtor. You may want to interview an agent or Realtor in your area (thiswill help). This is where you get to explain exactly what it is that you are looking for and give them your wish list. They should explain their process and how they personally work.
- View homes. You have probably already looked at hundreds of houses online. Now is the time where your Realtor will be culling through properties that fit your criteria and will schedule a time to go see some. Be sure to give feedback on the ones you see so they know what you like and don’t like. This will help them learn your tastes and hone in on the perfect property for you.
- Write offer. Once you think you have found “the one”, your agent will run comparables for you based on the area and the features of the property. Many factors go into coming up with an offer price: market, condition, days on market, etc. Make sure you discuss any contingencies you want or need in your offer (financing, inspection, appraisal, home sale, etc.) and any terms you may need written in (Seller pays title insurance, Seller pays closing costs, home warranty, etc.) Your agent will write up your offer for your signature and will negotiate on your behalf. In the Nashville area, you need to be prepared to write a trust money check which is kind of like a deposit. Once your offer is approved, you will need to get with your lender to continue the loan approval process.
- Once you are under contract, you will want to do inspections. Home inspection. Pest inspection. Radon inspection. Mold inspection. HVAC inspection. Roof inspection. Any kind of inspection that you need or want needs to be done within a certain number of days written into the contract. Most will have fees associated with them so be prepared for out of pocket costs for these services. Your Realtor will help you navigate and negotiate any necessary repairs. Depending on the property, this can be a fairly easy or lengthy negotiation process but in the Nashville area, we only have a certain number of days in which to negotiate this part so be as swift in your responses as possible.
- Your lender will order an appraisal of the property. If you are paying cash, you can get an appraisal, you will just need to find your own appraiser or get a recommendation from your Realtor. The appraised amount will determine whether or not you move forward as planned, negotiate a price change, bring more money to closing, or walk away from the deal altogether.
- Prepare for closing. You are almost across the finish line. Don’t forget to schedule utility transfers and change your address if applicable. Don’t do anything that might hinder your ability to close – don’t get fired from your job and don’t go buy a car or new furniture without consulting with your lender.
- Final walk through. You will walk through the property one last time before closing. You will be making sure that any negotiated repairs are completed and that everything is the same or better as when you wrote the offer.
- Congratulations! If you are getting a loan, your closing will take about an hour due to all the loan documents you will need to sign. The title company will handle all of the paperwork and coordinate with all parties to get the proper information to the proper parties, pay off old mortgages, and make sure you buy the property you intend to.
Over the next few weeks, I will go further in depth about a few of these points to help you understand a little bit more. Your area and/or your professionals may do things differently so always consult with them and ask questions. Happy House Hunting!
Photos courtesy of Stuart Miles via www.freedigitalphotos.net
Michelle Froedge is a residential Realtor and Principal Broker in the Greater Nashville and Williamson County areas of Tennessee. Wife to Robert, “Mom” to Tyler and Livvie, Auntie to Zelamie, she is a vegetarian and sings in her spare time. Michelle has lived in Nashville and Franklin since 1997 and has been selling homes since 2004.