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What Are the Steps to Buying A Home? Part 2

What you'll learn: What is involved in each step in the homebuying process

EXPECTED READ TIME: 4 MINUTES

We’ve already covered several steps involved in buying a home in the first part of this three-part article series. If you haven’t yet read Part 1, you may want to do so before reading Part 2.

The previous article covered:

  • How much home can I afford?
  • What do I need to save for down payment and closing costs?
  • How do I get prequalified and preapproved?

How Do I Find the Best Real Estate Agent?

You may initially consider choosing a real estate agent simply because the agent may have listed a house that caught your eye. There are typically buyers’ agents and sellers’ agents, and depending on the circumstances, you either may not be allowed or may not want to use the same agent as the seller. Whether you’re buying or selling, it's important to meet and interview multiple real estate agents until you feel comfortable with your choice. You may spend a good deal of time looking at multiple homes, so ensuring that your agent understands your wants and needs ahead of time will save everyone valuable time during your home search. A real estate agent referral from a friend can be a good place to start, but before you agree to work with an agent, meet and interview several as a good rule of thumb.

Review the agents’ history of buying and selling. Ask questions about their experience and their knowledge of the area. Look at this process like a job interview, as the agent that you choose is going to be working for you and your interests in your home purchase. Understand their qualifications and ask them why they would make an excellent agent for your needs. Then verify answers with records that they provide or from the public domain.

Last, it's also very important to choose a real estate agent who understands the neighborhood you are looking to buy or in. This will help them better understand the competition (recent sales in the area that were similar), the implications of homes’ asking prices and time on the market, and how much above or below the asking price previous homes in the neighborhood have sold for. This will help you in crafting a smart offer.

What Are My Housing Priorities?

When purchasing a home there are multiple things you need to consider. Here are a few to think about when you are considering a particular home:

  • What is the commute to/from work and what does that look like during rush hour in terms of time and congestion? Make the trip during rush hour before you put in an offer to test this out.
  • Are you focusing on a single-family home, a condo, a townhouse, or a duplex?
  • How much property are you looking for? Be sure to understand the upkeep and maintenance costs and workload.
  • Do you have pets? Look at a home’s yard space, the proximity of area parks, and any condo, homeowners’ association (HOA), and municipal restrictions before you finalize your buying plans.
  • What are the schools like in the neighborhood? Many people choose their neighborhoods by the quality of the schools.
  • What is the home’s proximity to parks, downtown (if in an urban or suburban area), events, and other recreational and entertainment venues?
  • How much privacy are you looking for, and does the home afford you that privacy?
  • Does the neighborhood have ample streetlights, sidewalks, and other safety features?

How Do I Make a Smart Offer on a Home?

As stated above, choosing the best real estate agent can go a long way to crafting and understanding what kind of offer you should make. You don't want to be insulting in your offer so that you lose the home, yet you also want to make an offer that provides you with the lowest possible purchase price. Working with a smart and skillful agent, you can craft offers that could be a win/win for both buyer and seller. For example, if you have a high salary, monthly payments may not be an issue for you, but you might lack cash up front. In this case, the offer might be closer to the asking price, but your real estate agent could work with the seller’s real estate agent to arrange for the seller to pay some of the closing costs. This is an example of the benefits of doing your homework and choosing the best real estate agent for your needs.

In Part 3 you’ll learn the following:

  • What is a home inspection and why do I need one?
  • What is the best mortgage loan for me?
  • What is a home appraisal and why do I need one?
  • How much paperwork is involved in buying a home?
  • What do I need to do about home insurance, utilities, and mail?
  • What is involved in closing on a home?

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