Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Steps To Buying a Home

For many first-time home buyers the process can be a little overwhelming.  Therefore I have put together this step-by-step summary on what buyers can expect during the buying process based on my experience in Northern Virginia.

1. Get pre-approved by a lender.  In Northern Virginia, 99.9% of sellers will not even consider an offer without a pre-approval letter from a lender.  That is the reason why many brokers will also not show you homes until you have shown them your pre-approval letter.  This pre-approval also makes sense.  It will give you the buyer and your Realtor a baseline for what you can and cannot afford.  You can line up your own lender or your Realtor can help you find one.

2.  Sign an agency disclosure and possibly an Exclusive Right to Represent Buyers Agreement.  The agency disclosure should be presented to you by your Realtor before they give you advice on home buying or shows you a home.  The agency disclosure is required by VA law to protect you the buyer.  An Exclusive Right to Represent Buyers agreement will state that you will only use that Broker during the process of purchasing a home and outlines the Broker's responsibilities towards you.

2. Send your Realtor your needs and wants for the home.  Start thinking on what features are a deal breaker and which ones will be nice to have.  Your Realtor will use this to put together a customized search for you and line up potential homes for you to view.

3. View homes.  This is the fun part!  Once you start receiving the listings and you find something you like, you will make an appointment with your Realtor to start viewing those homes and narrow it down to your dream home.

4. Make the offer.  Making an offer is more than just letting your Realtor and the seller know how much you are willing to pay for the house.  Your Realtor will put together a purchase contract that upon ratification (acceptance of the offer) will become a binding agreement between you and the seller.  The Offer must be accompanied with the lenders pre-approval letter and an earnest money deposit.  

5. The Home Inspection.  If the purchase contract has a home inspection contingency (and we strongly recommends this), a home inspector will look at the house and let you know any issues with the home.  At this point, you negotiate with the seller what items they will fix and what items you will just accept as-is. 

6. The Appraisal.  As soon as the offer is accepted, your lender will begin to ask for supporting documentation to get the official approval for the home loan.  One of those supporting documents (which the lender will order), is an appraisal of the home to make sure that the purchase price matches the appraised current value.  Unless this is a cash purchase, an appraisal will be required. The house must appraise for the purchase price or more.  If the house is valued at less than the purchase price, either the seller will have to reduce the price or you will have to pay the difference out of pocket.

7. Final Walk Thru.  After all the contingencies have been met (home inspection, appraisal) and your loan has been approved, you will inspect the home one more time with your Realtor.  The purpose of the "walk-thru" is to make sure the property is in the condition you agreed upon in the contract and the sellers took care of any repairs they agreed to as part of the contract. The final walk-thru usually occurs the day of, or the day before settlement. 

8. Settlement. You are now ready for settlement.  At settlement, if all goes well, all you will be doing is signing a stack full of papers and receiving your keys to the property. If it is a cash purchase, that stack will be significantly smaller.  In the worst case, scenarios, there might be some last minute negotiations regarding the condition of the house during the walk-thru.  

This list is by no means all inclusive as each process can differ.  However, it should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.  If you are not in the VA area, but need a good Realtor, contact me through the web form on the right and I will help you get in touch with a prominent Realtor in your area.


Luisa Rodriguez
Referral Agent
355 West Rio Rd
Charlottesville, VA 22901
Direct:  (240) 377-7104

I am exclusively a referral agent that maintains a license only to refer customers to Licensed Realtors.  Before becoming a referral agent, I was a successful, award winning Realtor.