by Rachel Stamm, MBA, Real Estate Broker, Greater Seattle, WA
The process of buying a home can be overwhelming without the right guidance. Here I’ve broken up the process into simplified steps. Have a question about a part of this process? Please give me a call – 206-295-0727 – I’m hard at work as your real estate advocate!
When you have decided that the time is right to purchase a home, you’ll first want to get pre-approved for a mortgage. A pre-approval is based on a loan consultant’s review of your financial documentation (paystubs, asset documentation, etc.). The loan consultant will order your credit report, and will review all the documentation to determine the maximum sales price, loan amount, and what type of loan would work best for you.
2. Make a list!
You’ll want to make a list of where you’d like to look for a home (specific neighborhoods, areas of the city) and amenities you’re looking for (# of bedrooms, garage). Taking the time to make this list before we begin to look for a home can greatly expedite the process of finding the house that you will want to make your home! This process can work to ensure that family members are all looking for the same qualities in a house. I once had clients who longed to find a “Juliet balcony” on their house. That special feature was on their list, and lo and behold, we found that home! (read more here)
3. The search begins…
I will email you information about all of the currently available homes that match your criteria. You can look at these homes online, and then we’ll make appointments to view the ones of most interest to you. I am happy to preview homes and to report back to you on them. Most often, we plan a tour to take in a number of homes at a time so that you can compare and contrast and begin to refine your search for the perfect new house. Helpful Tip: Wear slip on shoes for our tour!
4. You find “the one”!
Once you’ve found a home that you’d like to buy, we will discuss the terms of the contract (price of the offer, amount of earnest money, closing date, etc.) and we will write a purchase and sale agreement. The earnest money is essentially a deposit towards your down payment and closing costs. The escrow company will generally hold these funds until closing. (The funds are deposited at escrow shortly (within two days) after we have come to agreement on a contract with the seller.)
5. Presentation of the offer…
Once we have the contract written with the terms that work best for you, the buyer, I will present the offer to the seller and their listing agent. They may make a counteroffer (change some of the terms of the contract) or may sign the contract as is. If there are changes made, you have the option to agree to them or not, and we proceed from that point. If both parties come to agreement on the contract then we have “mutual acceptance”, and we proceed to the inspection phase of the negotiation.
You’ll be in charge of hiring an inspector for a thorough inspection of the property. You can ask friends and family for referrals to an inspector and I can provide a list of names as well. The cost of the inspection should be in the range of $375-$450, depending upon the square footage of the home. I encourage clients to attend the inspection. It’s a well-spent 2-3 hours of your time. Hopefully, this new home is going to be YOURS and the inspection usually serves as a great introduction to your new home and will serve up a realistic maintenance plan for the next few years. This is an example of time and money well spent in the buying process.
Here are some of the inspectors that I frequently refer to clients:
7. The loan process…
Once we’ve determined that the property is in good shape and have negotiated any inspection items with the seller, the transaction is really in the hands of the loan consultant. It is my job as your real estate agent to be sure that everyone is working toward the closing date specified in the purchase and sale agreement. I will keep you updated as to the progress made, as should your loan consultant.
On the day that the loan closes, the money is transferred from you or your lender to the escrow agent on behalf of the seller & then the sale is recorded at the county courthouse. Once the sale is recorded, you officially own your new home. When you are entitled to possession of the property (sometimes this is different than the day of closing) I will meet you at your new home with your keys! That’s the day that is the most fun for me!