Step 1: Review Your Credit Score/Report
Knowing your credit score and report before meeting with a lender is good headstart. There are multiple tools to help you access your credit score and report. One free tool many buyers use is Credit Karma. Your credit report contains information pulled from the three main credit-reporting agencies – Experian, EquiFax and TransUnion. Factors in your credit report such as the amount of your overall debt, your payment history, the length of your credit history, and the type of loans you have, dictates the credit score you are given, usually a number between 350 – 850. Your credit score is a major element that determines your mortgage interest rate. The general rule of thumb is, the higher your score is the lower your interest rate will be.
Step 2: Determine Your Budget
When shopping for a new home it is not always the best idea to set your budget to the maximum limit you were approved for by the lender. Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean that having a large monthly payment is the best option for you. Utilizing a mortgage calculator such as Zillow’s Mortgage Affordability tool can help you estimate your monthly payment when you find a house you are interested in and aid you in making an informed decision.
Step 3: Choose a Real Estate Agent
Your real estate will be your greatest tool throughout this process. With their knowledge of the local market, they will help you search for homes based on your specifications such as your price range, areas of interest and any specific features you request if available. When looking for an agent that will best fit your needs it is a good idea to ask for references from family members and friends who have previously purchased a home or check online reviews.
Step 4: Get Pre-Approved from a Mortgage Lender
Being pre-approved by a lender prior to starting your home search will speed up the process when putting in an offer on a home. Being pre-approved may also give you a leg up against the competition if the home you choose has multiple offers. When you are pre-approved by a mortgage company, you will receive a letter certifying that the mortgage provider will lend you up to the specified amount. Just because you receive a pre-approval from a specific lender does not mean you are required to choose them when you are ready to officially apply for the mortgage. It is common to get loan estimates from multiple lenders before choosing a company to apply with.
Step 5: Begin Your Home Search
This is the fun part! Your agent will send over properties they believe you will be interested in based on the factors you had previously discussed. You can then choose the properties you like best and schedule a tour. Once you find a home you fall in love with, you will work with your agent to craft an offer that will catch the sellers’ attention.
Step 6: Submitting an Offer
Your agent will research the local market and make recommendations on the price to offer, whether it should be above, below or match the listing price as well as add any contingencies you wish to include such as a home inspection. After your offer is submitted the seller will reply by accepting, denying or sending a counter offer.
Step 7: Having you Home Inspected
If having the home inspected was included as a contingency in your offer and it was accepted, you will now need to find a registered home inspector and schedule an appointment for them to come to the home. Your realtor can usually provide you with several references of inspectors in your area. The day of the home inspection will be the most amount of time you spend in the house prior to the closing. The home inspector will thoroughly examine the home to make sure there are no hidden flaws. If the home requires any repairs you can negotiate to have the seller complete said repairs before closing on the house.
Step 8: Set Up Home Insurance and Utilities
Most lenders require home insurance to be established during the mortgage application process. If you have previously purchased a home, you can call you current insurance company and have them write a new policy for your new home. If you are a first-time home buyer you will need to start searching for a plan that best fits your needs. Not what sure what type of policy your new home will need? Take a look at our recent blog post All About Home Owner’s Insurance to learn the best way to protect your new investment. Before moving in, you will also want to contact any utility services necessary and notify them of your moving date to make sure everything is activated when the day comes.
Step 9: Closing On Your New Home
This is the day you thought might never come – closing day! You will meet with the lawyers and lender to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. It will feel like you are signing your life away, but this is the start to an exciting new chapter of life!
Step 10: Moving In
Congrats, you are officially a homeowner! Once all the necessary paperwork is signed, you will receive the keys to your new home and be notified of when you can start moving in. This can happen the same day as the closing or a few days after depending on the situation. No matter when you start moving in, it was a long road to get here, but your patience and determination paid off.
Now that you have a better understanding of what is entailed when purchasing a home, we believe your experience will be less stressful than it would have been going into it without this knowledge. When you are ready to start your home search in Hampton Roads, partnering with Affix Realty will guarantee you receive an agent who will put your best interests first and will work to ensure you find your dream home.