Home buying: What you need to know

Now that you’ve nailed down what you want in a home and you know what you can afford, it’s time to choose the right house. Depending on your region, there may be a few options on the market that meet your criteria—or there may be hundreds. Your real estate agent and mortgage loan lender can help you narrow in on the right neighborhoods and navigate through important factors, like property taxes.

Choosing an offer amount

As soon as you find a home that meets all of your family’s needs, tell your realtor immediately. Real estate never sleeps, which means what’s available can change from day to day and you don’t want to miss your chance. The realtor will then pull some comparable home sale price information that can be helpful when choosing your offer amount.

When making an offer, you want to hit a sweet spot that won’t be construed as too low, which can upset the seller, or too high, which can make you spend more than necessary. Aim for offers similar to final sale prices of homes in the area with comparable features and upgrades. Another option is to leverage what the seller is willing to throw in with the sale price or remove to lower the sale price (think closing costs and appliances).

Navigating home inspections

As soon as you and the seller have agreed on an offer, hire a professional home inspector to give the home a once over before you close the deal. This is a crucial step in the purchasing process that can save you money down the road or stop you from buying a home with too many repair and safety concerns.

Accompany the inspector as he or she looks at the house and be sure to ask question about anything you don’t fully understand. As issues are pointed out, keep a running tally of the costs associated with repairs. This is a number that could potentially be used to negotiate the repairs with the seller before the deal is closed. The seller may take on the cost of some repairs, provide a credit on the purchase price to over the expense—or they won’t budge on any of it. In which case you’ll need to be prepared to foot the bill or walk away.

Closing the deal

On closing day, be prepared to read several long documents, ask questions, sign paperwork and write payment checks. Review the paperwork carefully to ensure that everything is correct and as agreed upon. This is the time when you’ll provide your down payment to the seller through the realtor, as well as pay any associated costs, like commissions, closing fees and pro-rated property taxes. The seller hands over the keys and you are officially a homeowner!

Owning a home is a rewarding experience, and with this knowledge you should be able to get through the home buying process with confidence. For more information, visit our mortgage calculator and learn what you can expect from a home loan.

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