Buying a house is an important milestone. Not only does it set the stage for the next chapter of your life, it also requires investing a large amount of your hard-earned money.
This is why a great deal of planning and preparation should go into your home buying journey. Here is a comprehensive guide that I’ve prepared to help you stay focused and on track every step of the way.
Set clear home buying goals
The key to a smooth home buying process is deciding on what you want at the very beginning and committing to it through the end. At this stage ask yourself – and anyone that might be sharing the home with you – the following questions:
- What size and type of house will I feel most comfortable in?
- What kind of neighborhood do I want to be part of?
- What are the essential, “must-have” features that the house should include? What amenities can I do without, or opt to add later?
- What hobbies and lifestyle interests do I want to maintain when I move in?
Get pre-approved for a mortgage
To find out how much you can borrow for a mortgage, apply for a mortgage pre-approval. For this, you will need to submit your financial records to a lender, including recent pay slips, wage and tax statements (Form W-2), credit reports, and bank statements.
Your mortgage pre-approval letter will give you an accurate estimate of the amount you can borrow to finance your home purchase. It is also a document that you can use to convince sellers of your capacity to pay for their property.
Approach at least two different lending companies in your area so you can compare loan programs and find the best one that fits your needs. If this is your first go at buying a house, this step is also a good opportunity to start learning about special first-time home buyer programs in Tennessee.
Find the right real estate agent to work with
Hiring a real estate agent will make the many steps, processes, and requirements of the home buying process a smoother, more streamlined affair. When looking for the right agent, look for important qualities like:
- Substantial experience in real estate transactions
- Extensive knowledge of the local area
- Access to important real estate market records, reports, and resources
- Credentials and certifications for specific areas of specialization, e.g. waterfront homes, luxury properties, etc.
- Expert negotiation and communication skills
- Professional integrity combined with personal courtesy
Look for a home that best suits your lifestyle
Now comes the exciting part: searching for homes! Browsing online listings is a convenient way to start, but the volume of options may soon become overwhelming. Communicate your needs, preferences, and goals with your agent and leave it to her to match you with the best recommendations in your preferred area.
At this stage, make time for open houses and home viewings. These visits will give you a better feel of the property and its surrounding neighborhood. You can even take the opportunity to chat with current residents to get their take on the local lifestyle. These can help you form a better opinion of the property better than any online listing.
Make a strong offer
Once you’ve narrowed down your list options to the top two or three homes, work with your agent to create a compelling offer package. Decide on a reasonable offer price, but remember to leave wiggle room for a seller to negotiate up. Include a personal letter that explains why you chose the seller’s property, as well as your pre-approval letter that proves you have the means to pay for the purchase.
Be open to counter-offers or even being rejected outright by the seller. Move on to the next top option on your list as soon as you can so that you can maximize the 60- to 90-day validity of your pre-approval letter.
Complete all contingencies and close the deal
When the seller accepts your offer, you will sign into a purchase agreement and enter escrow. This is the time for you to complete contingency measures required to finalize the sale. These steps include:
- Paying your earnest money deposit and submitting all documentary requirements to your escrow agent
- Getting the property appraised and inspected
- Asking for repairs or renegotiating the final price if the home inspection reveals any hidden issues
- Completing your mortgage application
- Getting the property title reviewed and insured
When all contingencies are met, schedule the closing date. Depending on your agreed terms, the seller may give you a final walkthrough of the property to ensure that everything is in order before you sign the final paperwork. Otherwise, you and the seller may complete the paperwork separately.
Your escrow agent, meanwhile, will facilitate the disbursement of your earnest money deposit to the seller and the transfer of ownership of the property to you.
For more expert advice on buying prime real estate in the Tims Ford Lake area, get in touch with Kay Caldwell Real Estate. Give me a call at 931.434.0516 or email BKRCaldwall(at)yahoo(dotted)com to get started.