Are you considering purchasing a home sometime in the future? If you answered yes to that question, this article is for you. It doesn’t matter if you are a first time home buyer, a veteran buyer who moves every 3 years, or perhaps you bought your last home in the 80s. Things change; lending laws, market prices, home styles, I could go on and on. I am an expert at representing buyers and I hope to be able to share with you the proper steps to the home buying process in Georgia. Here we go!
1. Find a REALTOR®.
2. Get prequalified.
3. Begin the home search.
4. Found a home yet? Great now for the fun part of being under contract.
5. Closing day!
Pretty simple yeah? In theory it is, but alas everyone involved with this process is human, at times things don’t go as planned. Be prepared for anything, but be flexible. If you are determined to have a flexible attitude you will enjoy this journey so much more.
Step 1: Find a REALTOR®.
Have you ever been on a boat ride? I don’t mean you hopped into a paddle boat, but perhaps deep sea fishing? Would you have caught that 50 pound king mackerel without your captain? I want you to imagine your REALTOR® as your captain. Your agent has sailed through these real estate waters countless times. It’s their job to look out for your best interest, to guide you, support you and get you to the closing table. Finding a real estate agent is the first step because they are the expert, they will be the first domino to push to make sure everything else falls into place.
On a side note, maybe you are thinking: “I don’t want to pay for their services”. Well #1, as a buyers agent I am free labor for you, the seller pays my commission. You should still respect your agent though because #2 picking them will be one of the most important decision you make in this process.
Step 2: Get preapproved.
Have you ever went to the store, filled your cart with goodies, got to the checkout line only to find out you don’t have any money in the bank? Oops, bummer huh? Imagine spending gas money, your precious time driving around looking at homes, finally finding ‘the one’, you make an offer, you can’t relax until you hear back from the seller, you FINALLY receive a text from your agent: “YES they accepted!” Congrats you are binding! What’s next you ask yourself? Time to get financing in order. How crushing will that moment be when you find out your credit isn’t where it needs to be, or because of your debt to income ratio your budget is $30,000 less than what you were expecting, or maybe your monthly payments are higher that you were comfortable with. It sucks. We always want to put the cart before the horse. Don’t do it!
This is where I as your Realtor would step in. I’ve had the opportunity to work with multiple lenders. I’ve had my taste of Credit union, big banks, and mortgage brokers. It’s your decision to choose who you use, but I will suggest which lender you should talk to. Trust me when I say DO NOT USE YOUR BANK. Some buyers tell me, I don’t want to talk to a lender, or talk to your lender because I don’t want it to affect my credit. You are allowed to have your credit run by other mortgage lenders without it affecting your credit as long as it was within 30 days of the first credit run. When I hear I don’t want to talk to a lender, what that person is really saying is I am not a serious buyer. Getting preapproved is better than getting prequalified. You will know exactly what purchase price you should aim for it you want your monthly payments to be x-amount of dollars. Friends, knowledge is power so equip yourself before beginning your search.
Step 3: Begin the home search.
Wait…what? Why is this the 3rd step and not the 1st? Maybe you saw a home on the internet and that’s the reason why you are even reading this article now. That’s great! There is always something that gets you motivated, but to realize your dream of homeownership you need to set yourself up for a successful journey. Let me reiterate, starting the home search without getting prequalified is setting yourself up for a difficult journey, possibly a disastrous one.
This is where your agent steps in. You will be 100% sure what you can afford after getting preapproved. Your agent will begin to send you properties based off of your criteria. Once you have found a couple you are interested in, your agent will line them all up to be seen. All you have to do is get excited and ready to choose a home!
Once you have found a home it’s time to negotiate! Please listen to your agent on this. I had a client who insisted on putting $50 down as earnest money on a $200,000 home, he never found a home. Your agent will look up comparables, advice on a fair starting price; explain to you the terms of the contract and present offer to the seller’s agent. Maybe you have to go through this process multiple times; it’s a hot market so some homes have multiple offers on them. Be prepared to be patient, your agent doesn’t have control of how fast the other party responds.
Step 4: Found a home yet? Great now for the fun part of being under contract.
So close, yet so far is what I think of step 4. Yall did it; you finally got your dream home under contract! Smooth sailing from here…right? Remember, be prepared for anything and be flexible. This journey isn’t over till the papers are signed at the closing table. Next step is handing over earnest money to the responsible party, setting up the inspection, and beginning the loan process with your lender. After due diligence the lender and attorney take over, attorney works on getting a clear title, and your lender works on getting the loan together. Be prepared to scan 1000 documents to your lender, if you want the house it’ just something you have to do. Your lender will order the appraisal, hopefully no issues with that (will write on that in the future). You and the seller work on the logistics of moving. This is a time period of actively waiting. You are still involved but mostly just waiting on the process to complete itself. With our current lending laws most lenders need at least 30 days to close, but with certain loan programs that time period can be longer. During this time of waiting it would be smart to read this article on our blog: “Things to Remember While in the Home Buying Process”.
Step 5: Closing day!
Congrats! You did it! One last final walk-thru of the home to make sure a tree didn’t fall on it and you are on your way to the closing table. Did you get utilities set up in your name? Sent your wire to attorney? Don’t forget about homestead exemption! These are all things that you will probably hear from your Realtor. Friendly conversations with the other party while waiting to sign that last document and just like that, it’s over. Now you get to focus on making your new purchase, home.
I hope this article has given you a clearer insight into the home buying process. Keep checking our blog for more informational articles, I will be delving into more details on some of the topics mentioned such as; earnest money, due diligence, negotiation, appraisal. As always, our team is here to help. If you have any questions, or are thinking of buying or selling reach out to us! We would love to help you in this exciting journey!