You’re ready to buy a house, and either you have never purchased one before or it’s been a long time since you have. Regardless, everybody needs to understand the home buying process and where to begin.
First, select a Realtor with whom you are comfortable and one who is knowledgeable about the area in which you wish to purchase. Do some internet searches and read a few testimonials to find a Realtor who you believe would be a good match for you. Don’t be afraid to interview more than one Realtor before you make a selection. If you want to purchase in midtown Tulsa, don’t use your cousin’s favorite Realtor who specializes in Broken Arrow. You are going to spend a lot of time with this Realtor and share a lot of personal information, so it’s important to find a comfortable fit.
Next, select a Mortgage Lender. Either you already have one with whom you have a level of trust, or your Realtor can give you some suggestions. I keep a list of favorite Lenders on my Preferred Vendor list, but I would suggest a particular Lender depending on the type of loan you intend to use or if you had credit issues. Bottom line, talk to a Lender before you proceed, because you don’t want to spend a lot of time looking at $250,000 homes if you are only capable of purchasing a $150,000 home. Nor do you want to waste time and energy looking at homes, only to discover that you need to pay off a particular debt in order to qualify.
Ready to buy a house – where do I begin?
Start shopping online and with your Realtor. I know you’re going to venture off and look for homes on Zillow or Trulia, but also let your Realtor set up a custom search for you powered by our local MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Keep track of how quickly homes are selling and how close to list price they are selling. In midtown Tulsa, for example, the move-in ready homes are not lingering on the market. So, when you see one come on the market that fits your criteria, you’ll need to be ready to write an offer quickly.
To write an offer, you’ll need a (1) pre-approval letter from your Lender; and (2) an earnest money check. For detailed information about the purpose of earnest money, when it is cashed and how much it should be, check out this blog post and short 90-second video explaining earnest money.
Once all parties have agreed to all elements of the offer, the earnest money is delivered to the Listing Brokerage – and you now have an executable contract! Get this to your Lender right away and gather any remaining financial information needed. It is sometimes a long process going through Underwriting, so the sooner you get started, the smoother your transaction will go.
Simultaneously, either you or your Realtor will schedule home inspections. Again, don’t use your cousin’s favorite inspector if they mostly inspect homes built on a slab and you are purchasing one built on a crawl space. Research online and ask your Realtor for inspector recommendations.
Your inspection results will likely reflect several defects. Go over these with your Inspector and your Realtor to prioritize what you may ask the Seller to repair – or budget for those you may make after closing. If you find anything alarming during the inspection period defined in your contract, you may be released from the contract and have your earnest money refunded.
Review your Appraisal. Just about now, you should be receiving a copy of your Appraisal from your Lender. The Appraiser will advise if any conditions to the home need to be corrected, and of course, it will need to appraise for the amount you are paying. Also check out the square footage reported to ensure this is what you expected – if the home’s square footage is important to you.
While you’re not busy boxing your belongings and preparing to move, you’ll want to speak to your insurance agent to get rates for homeowner’s insurance on your new home. You may also want to schedule movers and be prepared to transfer utilities.
So much to do, right? Cram this in to a thirty day period and your head will start to spin. That’s where a patient Realtor with guidance and a listening ear can be your life saver. We know you don’t do this every day!
Keep your eye on the prize, because in a short while, you will be nestled in to your new home and begin making it your castle. Much like childbirth, the hell of Underwriter examination and negotiating repairs will become a distant memory as you decorate and landscape your new piece of Heaven.
Follow the steps in order and try to enjoy the ride!
If you need a patient Realtor to guide you through the home buying process, give me a call – I will walk beside you! 918-852-5036
Content written and published by Lori Cain.