In the United States, almost two-thirds of Americans owned houses in 2023.
Although you’d still be making monthly mortgage payments, at least you’re working toward homeownership rather than throwing away money on rent. Unsurprisingly, this is the main appeal of buying a house vs renting.
However, the home-buying process can be a confusing and complicated one. Without some guidance, it can end up being a major headache.
So if you want to make things easier on yourself, then read on. We’re here with a quick guide on buying a home so you’ll have an easier time.
Start Saving Early On
It’s never a bad idea to save up some cash. You never know if you’ll have a sudden (and expensive) emergency, after all.
But for many people, they just don’t know how much the home-buying process will cost. They figure that a mortgage will cover everything, but that’s not true at all.
When buying a house, you’ll need to pay a down payment.
Generally, it’s recommended that you put at least 20% down for your home purchase to increase your chances of being approved for a mortgage. So on a $200,000 house, that’s $40,000.
Of course, there are banks that approve mortgages for as little as 3% down. But you want to plan for the worst-case scenario so you’re not caught off-guard.
That’s not your only cost either. There are also closing costs, which are typically around 2-5% of your mortgage amount.
What many people don’t know is that buyers can ask sellers to cover part of those costs, so make sure you do that!
Lastly, you’ll have to account for moving costs. This includes things like moving and small repairs and upgrades you’ll need to make to your new home.
Always Work With a Real Estate Agent
You might think that you’re being smart and saving some money by skipping out on a real estate agent and doing all the work yourself. But in reality, you’re most likely shooting yourself in the foot.
As you already know, becoming a homeowner is a complicated process. As a first-time buyer, you definitely don’t want to go it alone.
A good real estate agent will not only help you find the perfect home within your budget, but they’ll also help walk you through the entire process, including explaining all documents involved.
They can also go with you to view properties and spot flaws that make them dealbreakers. Not only that, but agents can also use their knowledge and experience to negotiate fantastic prices for you.
Make sure you do your due diligence. Carefully research and speak with multiple agents to pick the right one for you.
Make sure they’re an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), which is a title given by the National Association of Realtors.
The best thing you can do is pick a real estate agent who regularly works in the neighborhood you’re looking at. That way, they have niche knowledge about the area and can further help you with your home buying journey.
Look at Your Options
When you have your finances in order, it’s time to look at your property options. This is where the real estate agent will be a huge help.
They’ll be able to give you a curated list of properties that tick your checklist (for example, if you want an infrared sauna) and fall within your budget and price range. This can save you a ton of time!
While online listings are very convenient, make sure you take full advantage of open houses. This lets you see the property in person and get answers to your questions immediately.
Make an Offer
Have you found your dream home? Then make an offer!
If it’s a seller’s market in that area, then you probably can’t underbid. You’ll definitely need a real estate agent’s help here, as they can tell you if it’s a seller’s or buyer’s market, and advise you on a wise bid.
What to Do After Your Offer Is Accepted
If your offer is accepted, then congratulations! But the hard part’s not over yet. In fact, it’s just getting started.
First, you’ll need to make an earnest money deposit. This is basically a good faith deposit that shows the buyer you’re serious.
The next step is open escrow. Here, all documents will be collected and prepared. This will be overseen by an escrow officer.
At this point, you’ll get the house appraised. This is ordered by your mortgage lender.
You’ll also have to provide a number of documents to your lender. They include:
- Credit report
- Payroll stubs
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Other financial documents
All of these will be from the last 2 years. You may be asked to provide additional information, so make sure you do this promptly.
Once your lender has all this, you’ll go through final underwriter approval. This can take anywhere from a day to a week.
During this time, get some quotes for homeowner’s insurance and have a home inspection done. Based on the home inspection, you can then make a request for repair or ask for a reduction in the selling price.
Toward the end of the home buying process, the seller’s agent will ask to remove contingencies.
Then, you’ll do a final inspection of the property to make sure it’ll be turned over to you in good condition. If you find new damages, you can ask for compensation.
After this, you’re free to sign the mortgage and escrow documents! Then, you’ll pay the rest of the down payment and closing costs.
Escrow will close once all documents have been received and recorded. You can consider yourself a new homeowner after this happens!
Make Buying a House Easy With Our Tips
Buying a house can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time. But it doesn’t have to be a difficult and stressful process.
By following our advice in this article, you can be well on your way to becoming a homeowner.
Just make sure you start early and take your time when looking at your options for mortgages and real estate agents. A little time invested will definitely go a long way.
After you’ve bought your house, maybe you’re looking for some hobbies to pick up. In that case, check out this article on homebrewing kits for beer!