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Important Steps to Buy a Home

Buying a home is an incredibly exciting and potentially stressful moment in most people's lives. If you're buying your first home or your third, the process generally remains the same. Below is a list of helpful tips to make sure you have in order before you start the home buying process.

Check your credit score

Having your financials in good shape will undoubtedly help to create a smooth home buying process.A credit report pulls data from three major credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. It is the report used to calculate both your FICO score and your Vantage score.

Prioritize your wish list to fit your budget

Once you have a rough budget in mind, make a list of must-have home features. Your price point will likely dictate the size, location and amenities of your future home. Here are a few examples of wish list items to consider:

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
Square footage
Outdoor space
Preferred location
Type of home
Layout, features and finishes
School district
Work commute

Find a real estate agent

Buyer's agents are invaluable throughout the home buying process. In 2020, 85% of buyers used an agent during some part of their home search, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2020. Agents know the local area better than anyone, a good team will offer in depth market insights and guide you to the best neighborhood for you. Agents will also help you set an ideal offer price and negotiate throughout the entire process. Additionally, a good team of real estate agents will help you find and hire the highest tier of professionals to help with repairs and the moving process.

Start the home search

Work with your agent to target a general location you are interested in. Online resources will help narrow down to a few select properties. 

Try to stay flexible — you’ll probably need to adjust your criteria as your home search continues. For example, you might decide it’s worth sacrificing an extra bedroom to be in your desired neighborhood. Play around with search parameters and see what your money would buy if you changed your wish list a bit.

What to look for when touring homes
Once you start visiting homes in person, be sure to consider the home’s “health” so you’ll have an idea of any major challenges that might be coming your way if you decide to make an offer. Ultimately, the inspection will give you an official report on the home’s quality and condition, but while you’re touring, keep an eye out for the following:

Structural defects and cracking
Water pressure (turn on faucets and shower heads)
Electrical issues (try the light switches)
Functionality and heat retention of doors and windows
Roof and exterior quality
Noise from neighbors or traffic

Make an offer

Once you’ve found the right home, you should make your offer based on a comparative market analysis (CMA) done by your agent. The CMA is a calculation of a home’s market value based on comparable recent sales in the same area. Your agent will help you determine a fair price and work with you the negotiate an ideal rate for the area. 

It is important to consider disclosures, closing date, and other contingencies when making an offer. Each of these have the potential to derail the deal, so attention to detail extremely important at this phase. 

Schedule the inspection

Typically the inspection will happen within a week of the contract being signed. Your agent will be able to help you navigate through this process. 

Depending on the report, you will be able to renegotiate price and repairs necessary. Each property will be different in this sense, so it is important to have a trusted agent make sure you are tangled with any major home issues.

Secure your financing

Once all the details are set with the seller's it's time to submit a mortgage application. Once the lender approves the purchase they will schedule an appraiser. Your real estate agent should work with the seller’s agent and the appraiser to schedule the appraisal. After the appraisal is complete, you and your agent will receive copies of the appraisal report, so you can see the appraised fair market value and check out the comps that were used in the calculations.

Close and move in

It's a best practice to schedule a final walkthrough before or on the morning of closing. It's a good chance to make sure all the agreed upon terms are complete. 

Once you have the keys, the home is yours! Your agent will work with you to finalize any remaining details and you will be able to move in to your new home.

Finding the best agent to navigate this entire process can be tricky. I pride myself in being an expert in my field and would love to help guide you during the home buying process. 

Bjorn Farrugia
Bjorn Farrugia
Bjorn Farrugia is a recognized real estate specialist and one of the top performing agents at Hilton & Hyland.

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