When you are ready to begin house hunting, you may have questions or concerns about the complexities of the process. Learning how to buy a home includes gaining an understanding of the best ways to submit an offer, obtain financing, and complete the agreement of sale. Home purchases can be daunting for first-timers, even with a real estate agent to act as a guide, so consider attending a local home-buying basics seminar. Once you gain a familiarity with the local real estate market and have found a home you intend to purchase, the next steps would be to tour the home several times, secure your financing, and arrange for a home inspection.
Before You Buy, Look at the Home Again…and Then One More Time
One reason it’s so important to learn how to buy a home is that the purchase of your primary residence will likely be the largest single expenditure of your lifetime. Sellers and real estate agents understand the weight of this decision and will completely understand your desire to view a property several times prior to making an offer. Try to go through the house at different times of the day and on different days of the week to assess lighting, potential repairs or renovations, and even traffic patterns through the neighborhood. Bring your parents, your siblings, or your friends along, and solicit their honest feedback.
Before you place an offer on a home, understand how long you will be paying for it and how much you will pay each month. Obtain a mortgage preapproval letter for a specific amount to help sellers understand the strength of your offer. If you need help to determine what you can afford, consider making an appointment with a financial counselor or call a mortgage lender and ask about their approval process. You may also want to download and review the free Homebuyer Workbook available on the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) website.
Know Which Home Inspections are Needed
When you are completing the agreement of sale contract, you will be asked about home inspections, including structural inspections, termite inspections, and radon inspections. The property insurance inspection provision of the contract was also recently updated to include a flood insurance inspection; this reminds buyers not to rely simply on the sellers’ previous need for flood insurance, as the federal government has recently remapped certain flood zones.
Schedule all inspections within the agreed-upon time frame and present any issues noted to the sellers. Your real estate agent will assist you in negotiating the handling of repairs. Depending on the issues noted in a home inspection, you may also be permitted to terminate the contract if the inspection uncovers major issues that the seller is unwilling or unable to remedy.
After you have completed your inspections and secured financing, the next step is to await the independent appraisal of the home’s value. If the house appraises at an acceptable value, you will next select a title company to arrange for title insurance and the management of the closing process. A real estate lawyer can assist with this.
The process can seem daunting if you’re a first-time homebuyer, but taking each step methodically and getting expert help can guide you through the process. Take time to educate yourself, and you’ll end up with the right home, for the right price.