If you’re pondering a home purchase but feel reluctant for any reason, it’s time to set the record straight. Yes, the homebuying process can feel a tad tedious for some people, but it certainly doesn’t have to be difficult. And, in reality, it’s not particularly tedious, either, if you keep your eyes on the proverbial prize. In fact, with a mortgage lender like Fairway of the Carolinas, it can actually be lots of fun. Up next, let us put your mind at ease as we share how to buy a house in seven easy steps.
1) Decide if it’s the time to buy and plan accordingly
If your credit is poor, you’re in between jobs and you have a mountain of debt, now is probably not the time to move forward on a home purchase. But if you don’t check these boxes, it’s likely there’s never been a better time for you to join the homeownership ranks. Take an honest evaluation of your readiness to buy a home. It’s possible you’re almost ready and just need to button up a couple of things. If this is the case, make raising your credit a focus. Fairway’s internal Creditool team can help with this, too, by drafting a free, credit improvement action plan just for you.
Meanwhile, try to save as much money as possible while also liquidating as much debt as you can. And, of course, you’ll want to start thinking about the area where you might want to live. Ditto for the type of house that will meet your needs without breaking the bank.
2) Connect with a mortgage lender to get pre-approved
Unless you plan to pay in cash (unlikely), you’ll need a mortgage loan to buy a house. The best way to secure one is through a mortgage lender like Fairway of the Carolinas. We will be right by your side to guide you from the day you apply for your loan all the way to the closing table. And we’ll make sure you have everything you need. Sometimes, our job will be to simply answer your questions. This is one of the things we enjoy the most. We’ll also equip you with a pre-approval, which is essential to making a solid offer in this ultra-competitive housing market.
With a pre-approval, you’ll find out how much home you can afford and receive a pre-approval letter that will give you a leg up if the same house has multiple bidders. Ask your Fairway lender about the Fairway Advantage Pre-Approval and Fairway’s Certified Pre-Approval. Both all but 100% guarantee your formal loan approval in the amount for which you Fairway pre-approved you.
3) Go house hunting and figure out the best loan option
It’s important to make time to tour any house you might be interested in buying. Just like you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, as they say, you can’t judge a home by its exterior. Pictures are great, but they’re not the same as exploring the house for yourself. You should do this with every house that might be a purchasing option, too. Thankfully, your real estate agent can arrange these visits for you. Just let him or her know what houses have caught your eye.
When you’re not checking out houses, reconnect with your Fairway mortgage advisor to talk loan options. Fairway of the Carolinas has a bunch, including some with zero or low down payments. Knowing your financial situation, your mortgage advisor can match you up with the loan program that makes the most sense.
4) Submit an offer and wait to see if it’s accepted
Once you’ve settled on the house you really want, make an offer. There’s a good chance the seller will come back with a counteroffer. If so, you will then likely answer with a counteroffer of your own. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a few days to work through the back and forth. Homebuying is not a no-haggle industry. Just try to be patient and let your real estate agent coach you on a good starting point for your offer. If your heart is set on a particular house, it’s better to start higher and make as many counteroffers as necessary.
Sure, you might not end up with an ideal final asking price, but you’ll stand a better chance of convincing the seller of what this home means to you. It also doesn’t hurt to throw in a little earnest money, of course, just for good measure. This deposit sends a strong message to the seller that you’ll go the extra mile to meet them in the middle and complete the deal.
5) Await final loan approval
If your offer gets accepted, one big remaining piece stands in the way of your home purchase. It’s receiving final loan approval from the lender. This happens during the mortgage underwriting process when a member of the mortgage team known as the underwriter takes a closer look at your financial profile. This will include bank statements, pay stubs, employment history, credit history, monthly payments and more.
Assuming everything checks out and your prospective home has appraised at an amount that’s equal to or higher than the seller’s asking price, you will be loan-approved. The appraisal just ensures the home is worth the seller’s asking price. If it’s not, your loan won’t go through. Once you’re approved in underwriting, you can breathe a huge sigh of relief, because you’ve just crossed the last big hurdle of the homebuying process.
6) Arrange a home inspection
It’s quite risky to think about buying a home that hasn’t been inspected. You just never know what you might uncover that isn’t visible to the naked eye. A home inspector carefully surveys the property for any major structural issues or problems with heating and cooling systems. This same person also checks on the home’s plumbing, electricity and other essential key components. Don’t assume all is OK and move in just to find that you’re going to have to shell out thousands of dollars on a repair that could’ve been avoided with an inspection.
If an inspection reveals major items needing repair, you can renegotiate your terms with the seller. Even if the seller doesn’t agree to personally pay to fix the issue, you’re going to come out better, regardless. As excited as you are about buying a home, you don’t want to go into it with blinders on. And that’s exactly what you’re doing without an inspection.
7) Show up for closing and sign those closing papers!
You can know everything there is to know about how to buy a house, but if you don’t show up for your closing, there’s going to be a problem. We would, therefore, be remiss if we didn’t mention this last step. The key to getting your keys is just showing up for your closing. You’ll meet with a notary in person or virtually through an eclosing.
Once together, they’ll walk you through all the documents you need to sign. It’s a bunch of them, but, boy, it’s worth it. Sort of like the entire homebuying process, which is whatever you make of it. Ultimately, though, it’s a journey to something you’ve always wanted: a home you can call your own.
Still have questions about how to buy a house? We’re happy to answer them. We’re also more than happy to help you figure out if now is the right time for you to buy. Contact us as soon as you’re ready. We look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve your homeownership dreams.
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