The buying process is broken down into four periods. They are the Search, Contract, Due Diligence and Closing segments.
During your search period, you will be selecting your Realtor, Lender and deciding the criteria, location and price range of the home you would like to purchase.
Realtor – You will want to pick a Realtor to represent you as your buyer’s agent. You want to pick your agent soon based upon referrals, research and a personal interview. You do not want to settle for an agent that you randomly pick off a website or a yard sign. A trustworthy partner will mean a lot more once you get into a deal.
Lender – It is important to select your lender as soon as possible. Realtors can refer a trusted lender or you may already have a relationship with a bank or a credit union. It is always important to get several quotes from different sources. Your personal bank may not be your best option. You will want to get pre-approved before you make any offers. Your lender will also help you decide what price range will work best for you.
Criteria – You will need to decide on the criteria for your home search. First determine if a single family, townhome or condo is right for you. Number of levels, house size, lot size and parking are the next considerations. Finishes like flooring, counter tops and tile are important to think about but not used as search criteria.
Location – You will want to investigate what part of town works best for your family. Commute times, schools and amenities are big factors in deciding location.
Once you have made most of these decisions, you are ready to start looking at homes. You want to have your plan together to avoid falling in love with a home that is not in your budget or doesn’t meet your needs.
You can search for homes on any Real Estate Site. Share the list of properties that are of interest with me and we can start viewing homes and narrowing down the list. We can look at several homes at once or view them one by one as they hit the market. We can meet and ride together or we can meet at the property, whichever works best for you. Once we find “the one”, we can prepare to write an offer.
Once we have our target house selected, we have a couple steps to take before we write up an offer to purchase. We want to view the house more thoroughly than usual or maybe have a second visit. We will do a full inspection once we are under contract but we want to note any obvious issues before we move forward. Next we will review the comparable sales or comps for the home. I will then reach out to the listing agent to see if there are other offers on the table. Last we will construct an offer to purchase based on results of our investigations. The offer will include the price, earnest money(refundable), due diligence money(non-refundable), due diligence date, closing date and a financing proposal. We can write up the offer together in the office and sign hard copies or I can email them and get electronic signatures. Two checks are needed to submit an offer. They will only be cashed if we go under contract. Once we have a signed offer to purchase, I will send to the listing agent to present to the seller. The seller can reject, accept or counter our offer. In the counter situation, we can go back and forth till we come to agreeable terms. This can take hours or days. Once we are in an agreement, we need signatures ASAP! A verbal agreement is worthless in Real Estate. You must do your part as fast as possible so that the seller does not change their minds. Once we have a contract signed by all parties, we move into the due diligence period.
The due diligence period is time allotted for us to get our loan approval, select our attorney and inspectors to investigate every aspect of the home. This includes but is not limited to : insurability, structural, flood plains, Home Owners Associations, termite, well and water, environmental, zoning, surveys, etc. You could even have a Feng Shui evaluation or perhaps call in a ghost buster. You can back out for any reason whatsoever prior to the end of the due diligence period. All you lose is your due diligence fee and any costs associated with inspections or appraisals. Most due diligence periods are 21-30 days. We want to have all our inspections done in the first 10 days so that we have the remaining period to negotiate repairs or concessions. Our contract is an “as-is” contract and the seller is not obligated to do repairs. Because you can walk away for any reason, this cues up the opportunity to negotiate repairs. Any agreements must be documented in writing and signed by all parties before the end of due diligence.
You must stay in close contact with your lender and provide all requested documentation during the due diligence period. The mortgage process can be rigorous especially if you are self-employed. We want a final approval before the end of due diligence.
This period is the time after due diligence up till closing. During this time you will be wrapping up any minor conditions required by the lender. You will be finalizing your moving plans and setting up your new utilities. We will do a final walk through of the home the day before closing to confirm repairs and condition of the home. Your lender should communicate final figures three days before closing so that you can get a certified check made out to the closing attorney the morning of closing. The day of closing should be smooth and will only take about an hour. The loan must “fund” and the attorney must record at the register of deeds before we get keys to the home. Once we are don’t with the attorney, the process is over and you are now a home owner.