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So, you want to buy a house, land or investment property - now what? Here’s how the overall buying process works from start to finish.
- Get pre-approved. To get pre-approved for a mortgage you’ll need to get some paperwork ready: pay stubs, W-2s, bank account statements, tax returns for the past two years, and credit lines, and names and addresses of your landlords for the past two years. Start with your current bank, but make sure you check out competitor banks as well – you might get a better mortgage loan rate by shopping around. Also, consider the amount your lender approves you for as a maximum – this is by no means what you should spend. Your real estate agent can also give you lender recommendations.
- Hire an agent. A good real estate agent with experience and expertise will help you navigate the process every step of the way and be your advocate.
- Look at properties. Be patient at this stage. Give your agent detailed feedback so they can show you homes that are perfectly suited to you.
- Make an offer. Once you’ve found your dream home, you may want to move quickly, especially in a low inventory market. Your agent will guide you on a reasonable first offer to start negotiations based on market conditions. Also, make sure you consider closing costs which could account for 2-5% of the home price.
- Negotiate. Prepare to go back and forth with the seller a few times on price and selling conditions. Your real estate agent will be your advocate here and try to get you, their client as much as possible for your money while being fair and respectful to the seller and their real estate agent.
- An accepted offer. Pop the champagne! If you reach an agreement, you’ll make a deposit to an escrow account to show good-faith.
- Do a home or property inspection. Even if the home or property appears to be flawless, there’s no substitute for having a professional inspector review the property for quality, safety, and general condition. You don’t want to be surprised with a home or property that needs a lot of unexpected repairs. If the inspection reveals undisclosed serious defects, you can negotiate further to have the seller make repairs or discount the selling price. You’ll also likely have the option to withdraw your offer and get your deposit money back.
- Closing. When your negotiations with the seller are successful, and the inspection came back clean, you should be ready to close.