The Home Buying Process

Are you a first-time homebuyer eager to pursue the American Dream of owning your own home?

Buying your first home can be an overwhelming process, but the benefits of being a first-time homebuyer and finally achieving the American Dream of homeownership can make up for it.

1. Determine how much house they can afford

First, buyers need to figure out how much house they can afford. A person’s purchasing power depends on income, credit rating, monthly expenses, down payment and the current interest rate. Balancing personal and family goals with a sound financial strategy will result in the best first-time home-buying decision.

2. Shop for a loan

After you determine how much home you can buy, you need to shop for a loan. You should talk with several lenders and get written quotes, comparing costs, loan duration, interest rates and other financial terms. You should also ask the lenders for a pre-approval letter for a loan, which buyers need when submitting an offer. Pre-approval demonstrates to sellers that you can afford the home and boosts your credibility and negotiating strength. Essentially, pre-approval means you have completed a loan application, had your credit checked and that a lender has approved your loan for a specific amount and interest rate. You can then present this document to a seller as proof that you can afford his or her property.

  • Most buyers will need a down payment. Most lenders insist that you put down 10 percent to 20 percent of the home’s purchase price before granting them a mortgage. So start saving now.
  • Lenders also require that buyers secure homeowner’s insurance before they fund a loan. So contact several insurance agents and get a least three written quotes for homeowner’s insurance.

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3.  Start shopping for a home

The next step in the home-buying process is to start shopping for a home. Many new homebuyers begin their search for a new home by find a local real estate agent to represent them. A local agent can save you time and money.

Now that you’ve gotten pre-approved for a mortgage, hired an agent and found a property you like, it’s time to submit an offer. But how much should you offer? Check recent sales of comparable neighborhood properties. Evaluate sold homes with comparable age, style, square footage and bedrooms and baths.

4.  Make an Offer

Next, have your real estate agent write the offer and present it to the selling agent. Discuss the sales process with your agent. Make sure the offer is contingent on a home inspection.

5. Hire a licensed home inspector

You should hire a licensed home inspector who works in the area. A home inspection will reveal the condition of the house and will help you avoid purchasing a home that has major problems. It will give you peace of mind knowing that you are buying a safe home. Typical inspections include pest (termite) inspection, along with electrical, plumbing, heating systems, roofing, pool, and foundation inspections.

Because of inspections, approvals and appraisals taking place in the days before closing, many issues naturally surface during this stage. As a buyer, remain patient when these issues arise. For example, an inspection may reveal that the roof leaks and significant roof repairs are needed. The seller may repair, replace, reduce the price or do nothing. Buyers need to be prepared for all scenarios. If the seller counters your offer, you and your agent will need to re-negotiate with the seller on the terms and conditions.

6. Signing the paperwork (Closing)

One of the final steps in the home-buying process is signing the paperwork at the “closing” or the final “settlement.” Before you sign anything, however, make sure you read all the documentation and understand what it is says. If you don’t understand the contracts and disclosures, ask your agent to explain them to you.

For first-time homebuyers, purchasing a home is a major financial commitment that involves spending a great deal of money and time. Make sure you do your homework and prepare yourself for the home-buying process. That way, you ensure that the purchase you make is a wise one.