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10 Easy-ish Steps to Buying a Home

You’re ready to take the next big step. You’ve spent countless hours browsing online home listings. You’ve clocked more hours watching HGTV than you’ve slept in the past month. Most importantly, you’ve saved and scrimped, putting extra cash away and carefully sidestepping pricey nights out.

Homeownership is calling your name, but you don’t know where to start. The good news is that with a little help, it’s easier than you think to go from browsing to buying to getting your shiny new set of house keys. Here’s how to become a homeowner in 10 (relatively) easy steps:

1. Start Browsing

There’s no need to troll open houses or do neighborhood drive-bys in the 21st century. Whip out an app like HomeScout,1 where you can search homes, find the newest listings and recent home sales and get alerts when new properties hit the market.

2. Prequalify

Sellers want to know you’re serious about purchasing, which is why having a prequalification letter is recommended. Contact your lender to get started. They will run your credit, check out your assets, income and debt ratios and provide you with a prequalification letter stating how large of a loan you could potentially qualify for. This is the time to shop for a good mortgage rate and home loan deals. Check with your local credit union to see what they have to offer.

3. Choose an Agent

While you can go it alone, shopping for a home and negotiating your home purchase is easier with a real estate agent or broker by your side. They may have inside access to homes that haven’t even hit the market yet!

4. Find a Home and Make an Offer

Once you’ve found a home you love, it’s time to get serious. Your agent will help you put in an official offer on your perfect pad. Then you play the waiting game … either the seller will accept the offer, reject it or make a counteroffer back to you.

5. Show Them the (Earnest) Money

You will make a small deposit on the home to indicate your good faith to the seller. This money is typically held in a trust or escrow account and will be used toward your closing costs later. You’ll also fill out any formal loan application paperwork after the offer is accepted.

6. Get Your Inspection

As the buyer, you’re generally responsible for hiring a licensed home inspector to come take a look at the property. He or she will do a thorough inspection of the entire home and property, while taking written notes, before submitting a full inspection report to all parties involved in the sale.

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Tip: Be the smartest buyer on the block! Our HomeBuying Toolkit provides The Phoenix-Area Homebuyer’s Guide, The Homebuying Pro’s “Things to Consider” Guide and The Smart Homebuyer’s Guide to Great Phoenix Neighborhoods.

7. Weigh Your Options

If the inspector finds anything more than cosmetic fixes, you’ll have to make some choices. Do you want to take the home as-is or ask for a concession from the seller? A typical concession could be money toward your closing costs, fixing one or more of the home’s issues or lowering the sale price of the home.

8. Loan Details

In addition to filling out paperwork for your loan application, you’ll need to purchase homeowners insurance at this stage of the game. Meanwhile, a loan processor will submit your loan file to an underwriter for review. He or she will decide whether the loan is approved.

9. Final Walkthrough

You’ll take one last look at your new pad before sealing the deal.

10. Closing Time

You’ll need to obtain a certified check for your closing costs before meeting to close on the house. At closing, you’ll present the check and sign documents until your hand cramps. But it’s all worth it since you’ll be a homeowner at the end of the day!

Buying a new home may seem like a complicated process, but when you have help, it’s easier than you think. Remember, your real estate agent and your lender will be there to hold your hand through the process — not literally, of course!

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The material presented here is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.