The 7 steps to buying a home in Charlotte, NC
To this day, I remember my first home purchase in 1996 as if it were yesterday. Though there were a few bumps in the road, what I remember most was my lack of understanding of the whole process as it was going on. I’m someone who likes to have control over things and that was more than a little uncomfortable for me. So, years later and now that I’m a Realtor I try hard to educate the consumer, especially my own clients.
While you’ll find lots of articles about this topic on the web, I wanted to simplify my version a little bit and make the whole process less overwhelming for those of you who have never purchased a home. Here are the seven main steps of the typical home buying process:
You likely grew up in a home that your parent(s) or guardians owned and your friends or family have owned homes. Buying yours is sort of right of passing. Have you analyzed the differences between renting and owning? Have you broken out a mortgage calculator and run figures? Thought about the type of home you’d like to buy such as a condo/townhome vs single family residence? Considered your job security and likelihood of staying in the same area for a few years? Once you’ve done your homework it’s time for the next step.
A licensed Realtor who becomes your buyer’s agent will be your best friend during your home buying process. Not only do they have a fiduciary responsibility to protect you and your best interests, they understand the process from beginning to end and can connect you with the best mortgage providers, attorneys, inspectors and so on. Your buyer’s agent is your lifeline during the process and will hold your hand all the way through so getting one early on is the best way to go. If you don’t already know a good Realtor, let us help you find one.
The mortgage pre-approval process involves connecting with a mortgage person or your bank and allowing them to review your credit, work history, job situation, debt-to-income ratios, etc, and evaluate your ability to qualify for a home loan. If you can’t qualify for a mortgage or currently afford to make an all-cash offer there really isn’t any sense in continuing your home search until you’re financially ready.
Now that you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, know how much you can afford and are comfortable spending, it’s time for the real excitement...finding a home! Some of the main considerations in your home search should include location, proximity to work, area amenities, size and style, schools, etc. Speak with your Realtor about this as well and allow them to give you some insight on all of these important factors. Once you and your Realtor have come up with a good “shopping list,” so to speak, it’s time to go view some homes in person. And don’t worry, your buyer’s agent will schedule appointments. Each home you go through will be a learning experience so don’t rush the process. You’ll start to notice things you do or don’t like in a home, will be sharing your feedback with your Realtor, and will eventually “just know” when you’ve found the right home.
So, you’ve found the home that you’d like to live in, have been pre-approved for a mortgage, and have a great Realtor representing you. It’s time to make an Offer to Purchase and negotiate terms. An Offer to Purchase is just that...it’s an offer to a seller with specific terms in a legal document to purchase their home. Besides the 12 pages of legal jargon, the contract includes various negotiable items such as price, earnest money and due diligence fees, and dates. The seller can accept your offer, reject it, make a counter offer, or simply not respond. Now, prior to making an offer you’ll want to have a good idea of what the home is really worth so you don’t over pay. Your Realtor will help you with this part by studying comparable sold properties and using their knowledge of the area to help come up with what they feel is a “good, fair, price” (as I like to phrase it).
Congratulations, you’re now under contract! But the work isn’t over; and as a matter of fact, it’s just beginning. In order to complete your purchase, there are several things that need to be done:
- Consult with your chosen mortgage person, provide them a copy of the contract, and pretty much do whatever they ask of you
- Schedule closing (your Realtor likely knows a good real estate attorney and can arrange this part for you)
- Schedule inspections (ask your Realtor to explain the various types of inspections you should consider) and later deal with negotiating over necessary repairs pending the results of the inspection(s).
- Schedule a survey (if desired or required by the mortgage provider)
- Arrange movers
- Obtain homeowners insurance
- Line up utilities
- Verify that the HUD statement is correct and making any final changes
- Complete a final walk through of the property
Here you are 30-60 days later and the closing date has arrived. You’re in the attorney’s office with your Realtor, feeling excited and maybe a little nervous at the same time, and it’s time to sign the papers. In about 45 minutes to an hour, you’ll be walking out of there either shaking hands or hugging and in all likelihood and the next chapter in your life will have begun. Be proud. You’ve worked hard, so enjoy this accomplishment.
My goal in this article was not to explain all the nuances are involved in the home buying process - there are many! - but instead, break it down into something a little more manageable and easier to grasp. Let your Realtor buyer’s agent focus on all the little details so you can focus on finding the perfect home. If you’re thinking about making a move, contact me. I’d like to get to know you a little bit, find out what you’re looking for, and help you in any way that I can. You can read what some of my past buyers have had to say here.
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