Step 1 - Find an Agent and Establish a Relationship
Careful selection of your personal agent is one of the most important steps in buying a home. You want to find someone who is knowledgeable about the current market. It is crucial to find the right person you will want working in your corner throughout this intimate process.
Step 2 - Consult with the Agent to Evaluate Your Wants and Needs
Once you have established your wants and needs with your agent, they will guide you to financial institutions where you can obtain information to receive the best financing available.
Step 3 - Find Your property
Your agent will correspond with you and forward you information about properties based on your established wants and needs. It is imperative to be open with your agent at this time about your likes and dislikes regarding the properties brought to your attention. The more open you are with your agent, the faster and more successful your search will be.
Step 4 - Determine Seller's Motivation
Once you have decided on a property, your agent will do research to help you structure a strong and effective offer. During this time, you can request a Seller's Disclosure which details all physical problems and defects of the property that the seller is aware of.
Step 5 - Write an Offer to Purchase Property
Your agent will draft a Purchase Agreement for you to sign. At this time you will need to provide a deposit, known as "Earnest Money." This typically ranges from $500 to $1000 and gives the Seller confidence that you are serious about making the purchase. You will also be able to pay an "Option Fee" of roughly $150 which gives you the right to walk away for any reason within a decided period of time.
Step 6 - Presentation of Your Offer
Your agent will present your offer to the Seller and their agent. The Seller then has 3 options: accept your offer, counter your offer, or reject your offer.
Step 7 - Seller's Response
Your agent will review the Seller's response with you and help you negotiate to reach an agreeable contract.
Step 8 - Opening an Escrow
Once the Purchase Agreement is accepted and signed by all parties, your agent will assist you in opening and escrow. This escrow will receive, hold, and disburse all funds associated with your purchase.
Step 9 - Have the Property Inspected
You will need to hire a professional inspection company to thoroughly examine the property and you will receive a written report detailing any problems found. It is also a good idea to get a Termite Inspection done at this time. If any significant defects to the property are found, your agent will then help you to negotiate repairs and costs into your contract.
Step 10 - Appraisal, Survey, and Insurance
Your Lender will have an appraiser inspect the property and prepare a written report estimating how much the property is worth. They will also hire a surveyor to prepare an official diagram indicating property lines, sidewalks, public utilities, etc for the property. You will need to find an insurance agent to handle your Homeowner's Insurance and pass their contact information on to your Title Company.
Step 11 - Closing
When all the conditions of the Purchase Agreement have been met, you will go to your Title Company to sign your loan documents and closing papers. At this time you will provide your down payment funds. If your closing costs were not rolled into your loan, you will need to pay for that at this time also.