Deciding to buy a home is both an exciting and scary process. When you decide to buy a home, it is a good idea to contact a lender. The lender will check your credit history, verify your income, and provide assurances you will be able to obtain loan approval up to a certain amount. A good lender can take alot of the guess work out of financing and get you on the road to shopping. If your lender determines that you have credit problems then you can be provided tips to help increase you credit score. Do you know your current credit score? Find out at freecreditreport.com
How Much You Can Afford?
The pre-qualification from your lender can help you search for a home that is within the range of your loan amount. It is not a good idea to become house-poor by purchasing a home at the very top of what you can afford. After all, there is life to be lived and fun to be had outside of being a homeowner. Try using an affordability calculator to help you determine what you can comfortably spend on a new home.
Where Do You Want To Live?
It is a good idea to set your priorities early and research to determine areas that match your needs. Ask yourself questions like:
Is there a particular part of the Austin area you want to live?
Would you rather live in a single family home or in a condominium?
What amenities are important to you?
Are top tier public schools important?
Is walkability a factor?
How about crime rates?
Search for Your Home
With your priorities set, it is time to begin your search. Most searches begin on the MLS (Multiple Listing System). Stacy can create a custom search of the MLS for homes that meet your priorities. She also has access to search for sale by owner, new builds, foreclosures, “coming soon” and “pocket listings”. You will likely find several homes that match your unique criteria. Some websites can provide outdated listings and incorrect property information so it is best to verify with Stacy as she has the most up-to-date listings information.
Visit Homes for Sale
Now is the fun part, visiting the homes that meet your needs. This is where you can see if the homes in the photographs can really be your dream home! Stacy will take notes on each home that you visit and later discuss how they ranked. After seeing several homes, they will likely begin to run together and you will forget the things that made them special. When you find what you think is your home, act quickly but not impulsively. Stacy will be able to obtain a Seller’s Disclosure for the home and any details available through agent communication. A Seller’s Disclosure is a form that a seller details all physical problems and defects of the home, that the seller is aware of.
Make an Offer
This is where we will determine price, terms, and certain contingencies such as inspections, financing, appraisal, HOA etc… Everything is negotiable so inquire about assessments, fixtures, curtains and appliances. When negotiating, the least emotional parties usually have the most power. The more attached you are to a particular home, price point, or set of terms, the more likely you are to panic or cave in on important points, like price unnecessarily. This is where Stacy can help balance the emotion with the facts and allow for more informed decisions. When you get a counteroffer or response it is a good idea to respond promptly because time is always of the essence and prolonged hesitation often results in lost opportunities.
Execute a Contract and Open Escrow with Deposit
If the terms are agreed upon then a contract is executed. The buyer then makes a deposit to open escrow which includes the earnest money and option money. All escrow deposit funds are held by the title company and those funds are applied towards the closing on the designated closing date. Earnest money is an amount, determined in the offer, which tells the seller that you are a committed buyer. Option money is a fee that provides the buyer a certain number of days to conduct an inspection of the property. This allows for the buyer to cancel the contract within the agreed timeframe without the penalty of losing your earnest money. This may seem daunting but Stacy will be there to guide you through this seemingly harried process.
Conducting an inspection of the property is vital to protecting your investment. An inspection is generally a visual examination of the home’s major systems. An inspection is intended to identify components of the home that are code deficient, unsafe or not in working order. The results of the inspection report may be a second opportunity to negotiate the terms of the contract. Stacy can provide referrals, help with scheduling and will attend the inspection to provide insight and any assistance you require.
The lender will order an appraisal of the property to determine its value. The appraisal protects the lender from investing money beyond a home’s value. If the appraisal is too low then there may be a third opportunity to negotiate the terms of the contract.
Schedule a Closing
Typically the closing date will already be agreed upon on the purchase contract. There are instances that allow for a buyer to close prior to the agreed date or extend the closing date if need be. These are contractual documents that will be handled by Stacy. Prior to closing, Stacy will provide education and referrals to help you decide on a home warranty company, setting up utilities and homeowner’s insurance.
When the lender is ready to close your loan, Stacy will have you sign the final loan documents. Signing will typically take place in at the title company. You will need to bring a photo ID and the funds if they are not being wired. If funds are being wired, arrange to have the wiring instructions in place and that the instructions be exact. Allow yourself enough time to review the documents for accuracy.
Possession of the house often does not occur at closing. Stacy will contact you to confirm that the money has been transferred and the loan has closed, or funded. You will then be given the keys to your NEW HOME!