The Home Buying Process

Some people assume the home buying process is complex and intimidating. Knowing what you’re getting into and having the guidance of top-notch real estate agents can simplify the process and make sure you end up with keys in your hand and a smile on your face.


Congratulations! You’re ready to begin the process. Your first step is to determine your budget just as you’d do for any major financial decision. The best place to start is with your bank or mortgage loan officer. There are certain costs associated with getting a home loan and a trusted lender can best advise you. Need assistance? The Lisas are happy to refer you to qualified experts. The lender you choose will sit down with you and design the best financing to fit your needs, discuss current interest rates and work alongside your real estate professional to help fulfill your dream of buying a home.


It’s the rare lucky person who finds the absolutely perfect home within their budget so before you go house hunting, brainstorm a list of what you must find in a home and which features are nice extras. Examples of must-haves include the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, proximity to work and other places you frequent, and access to preferred school districts. You might also have a strong preference on how much outdoor space a house offers and whether it’s move-in ready. Things that shouldn’t be on your must-have list? The way a house is decorated, well-manicured landscaping, a pool – or anything else you can easily fix or install yourself. Refer to this list if you need help down the line making an objective decision between two or more houses – as well as to remind you of what’s important vs. what could cause you to pay too much.


Now for the fun part: house hunting. The Lisas will provide you with the information you’ll need on homes that fit your criteria and will alert you of new listings that hit the market. Attend scheduled appointments. Visit Sunday Open Houses to see what is available at what price, and confirm whether your budget and must-haves are reasonable in terms of what’s for sale.


So you’ve fallen in love with a property that meets your needs and wants – and it’s within your price range. Let’s make an offer! But here’s where it can get tricky: You don’t want to lowball your offer and risk losing the home to another buyer or insult the seller – but you also don’t want to pay more than you have to. So how do you land on the ideal number? This is where you rely on your agent. We’re experienced professionals who can help you achieve positive, effective results. We will weigh in factors such as is it priced accurately, how long has it been on the market, what is the seller’s motivation, and most importantly, are there any other offers coming in? The answers to these questions are important when deciding what to offer.


The seller accepted your offer! Congratulations! The Lisas will help you to thoroughly understand the contract and what you’re agreeing to. Now it’s time to have the home inspected by a licensed inspector. The home inspection – which can cost anywhere between $275 and $400 – helps you to understand what you’re purchasing. Sometimes repairs may be needed and negotiations can result in the seller assuming responsibility for them before the closing. If you find something major (such as an unstable foundation), unanticipated or unacceptable, you have the option of withdrawing your offer at this point.


Now that you’ve decided to move forward, it’s time to formally submit the documents required by your lender. An appraisal will be ordered to ensure the value of your purchase and everything will be reviewed by the underwriting department. The lender and all parties are focused on being ready by the closing date but if a few extra days are needed, an addendum can take place to extend the date. Once you have an accepted offer, the process generally takes 45 to 60 days from start to finish. During this period, it’s best to NOT incur additional debt or make a large purchase that jeopardizes your loan without first checking with your loan officer.


If you’re getting a mortgage, your lender will require you to get home insurance. Basic insurance typically covers fire, theft, storm damage and liability in case someone gets injured on your property. But you can also add riders for things like expensive jewelry, furniture and home office equipment. You can also obtain flood insurance if your home is in a flood-prone region. Just call your insurance agent or ask The Lisas for a recommendation.


Before the big day, you’re entitled to a walk-through to confirm that nothing has changed since the inspection. You’ll receive a settlement statement from the title company approved by your lender – also called a Closing Disclosure (CD) – with the final purchase numbers spelled out. This will show the exact amount you’ll need for closing. On closing day, you’ll need to have your photo ID and the necessary funds. Closing generally takes approximately one hour, sometimes a bit longer, but everybody involved works diligently to ensure a smooth closing. You’ll receive a copy of everything you’ve signed the day of close – including, most importantly, the keys to your new home!