Buying a home can be an exciting time, but if you’re not familiar with the process it can also be quite daunting. Here are the highlights of the home buying process, in order.
As exciting as it is to just jump in and start looking at properties, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Getting prequalified for a mortgage is essential to determining what you can afford. Don’t make any assumptions about price, you might be surprised to learn what the monthly payments turn out to be. Shop around and get more than one quote from more than one mortgage broker. Rates and programs can vary from lender to lender. Once you have done this, then the fun part begins.
Determine your needs and wants as they relate to your next home. How many bedrooms do you need? Do you need a garage? Do you need to accommodate pets? Together with your real estate agent, use these criteria to identify properties you are interested in seeing. If you search online on your own, be sure to forward your favorites to your agent and be aware sometimes the home search websites available to the public aren’t the most up-to-date. Your agent will make appointments and you will visit all the properties in person.
Make an offer.
Once you find the property you want, it’s time to make an offer. Your agent will research pricing trends in that neighborhood and counsel you on how much you should offer. Besides purchase price, the offer will contain the amount of good faith deposits, closing date, an inspection deadline and financing contingency. There may also be riders specific to FHA/VA financing, homeowners' associations or other items. Your agent will present your written offer to the listing agent, who will then present it to the seller. The seller can either accept, reject, counteroffer or even completely ignore your offer. In most cases you receive a counteroffer, then you go back and forth until both you and the seller are in agreement on all the terms. Once the final contract is signed by all the parties, you are considered “under contract” and proceed with the next steps of the transaction.
Obtain a home inspection.
We can’t stress this enough. Even new construction should be inspected (Yes! Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it can’t have problems). No matter the age or apparent condition of the property, it is always a good idea to have a trained professional look at it. There could be safety concerns you aren’t aware of as well as defects that aren’t readily observable to you. If the home inspector finds issues with the property that affect your willingness to move forward with the sale, depending on the contract, you can typically negotiate for the seller to do repairs prior to closing (or give you money to do them yourself afterward), or you can cancel the contract and move on to another property.
There are a wide variety of options when it comes to financing a home purchase. There are first-time homebuyer programs, conventional and non-conventional loans, low down payment FHA financing and an endless combination of other programs. As soon as you get past the home inspection and everything is moving forward, you take the steps to secure your loan. Your mortgage broker will collect a myriad of documentation for the underwriter and order the property to be appraised and surveyed. He/she will guide you through the financing process, asking for additional documentation as necessary until the loan is completely approved and ready to close.
Close and get your keys!
Once your financing is in place, it’s time to close. "Closing" on a home is simply the act of the seller signing over the deed of the property to you, plus a bunch of other paperwork, facilitated by a title company or attorney. This is where you get the keys! Be sure to visit the property one last time on the way to the closing for a final walk-through. If anything at the property is not in the same condition as it was when you originally signed the contract (i.e. appliances are in working order), or agreed upon repairs aren’t completed, you have the right to refuse to close. We always suggest doing the walk-through on your way to closing to minimize the amount of time where something can happen to the property without your knowledge.
Of course the process includes many other steps within these steps, but with the right team of a knowledgeable real estate agent, mortgage broker and title company, it is very easy for your transaction to be seamless. We pride ourselves on being experts in this process.
If you, or anyone you know, is looking to buy or sell a home in Florida, please give us a call.
Peggy Berkoff, Broker/Owner
North County Properties
19510 US Highway 1, Tequesta, FL 33469
Zach Berkoff, Real Estate Agent
Graham Auction Company
19510 US Highway 1, Tequesta, FL 33469