First time home buyers might feel better to know that they're not the only ones who feel confused about the home buying process. Nearly all home buyers feel the same way, even if they've bought a house in the past, because it's easy to forget the steps you took to get into a home once the event is behind you.
Get Prepped in Home Buying Basics
Before you begin, get educated about the home buying customs where you live. Relatives or friends who live in another state might have some good general advice for you, but chances are the process is very different in their area, so avoid the mistake of relying solely on their advice to make important decisions.
So How Do You Learn the Basics?
Talk to a local REALTOR about the typical home buying scenario. This is not a meeting that should lead to an agreement for the agent to represent you.
If you don't want to talk with a REALTOR, how about a local bank mortgage officer? They look at home buying from a different perspective, but can usually give you a basic overview of the process.
Home Buying Questions to Ask
- If you decide to work with an REALTOR, will that REALTOR represent you as a "Buyers agent" and help you compose your offer to purchase a home? If not, who does help?
What types of disclosures are sellers in your area required to give to buyers? Can the agent give you a sample copy of typical disclosures?
- If the REALTOR uses fill-in-the-blank forms, ask for a blank sample copy to take home and study.
- What types of home inspections are standard in your area? Are there other inspections that the agent recommends?
Is a survey required for most transactions? If so, who typically pays for it, the buyer or the seller?
- How much do the inspections usually cost? Are they regarded as a buyer expense?
- When are inspections done?
- Who does the title search to verify that the deed is problem free, attorneys or a title company? What's the average cost for that service?
- Who acts as settlement agent, the person who puts together final paperwork for you to sign? (attorney, title company personnel, real estate broker, other)?
- Other than loan costs, what's the average total cost for other closing fees?
How long does it usually take to close on a home once an offer is accepted?
- Taxes, settlement agent fees, etc.
That's a good start. After you have the answers to those questions, you'll have a better feeling for the basic customs in your area.
Always Keep a Cool Head
Even simple problems can be a burden when you have so many details to take care of, so don't over-react if you hit a few snags on the way to closing. Keep a cool head and work with the people helping you through the transaction to resolve any issues that pop up.
Now Dig In to the Home Buying Process
At this point, your remaining steps are no different than the steps nearly every home buyer must take. It's time to start digging into the details you need to get through the home buying process.
Take a few deep breaths and relax. The entire process can be a fun adventure if you let yourself have some fun with it!