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 important, you’ve saved and scrimped, carefully sidestepping those dreaded $5 lattes and $10 avocado toast breakfasts that all of your friends have indulged in over the last year.

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:

Start Browsing:

There’s no need to troll open houses or do neighborhood drive-byes in the 21st century. Whip out an app like HomeScout, which is similar to Zillow but with more updated listings.

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.

Choose an Agent:

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

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Tip: Don’t know the difference between a real estate agent and a broker? Play the Key Quest homeownership game to find out.

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.

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.

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, taking written notes, before submitting a full inspection report to all parties involved in the sale.

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.

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.

Final Walkthrough:

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

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 though the process — not literally, of course! So before you get started, check our handy 10-step cheat sheet, read through the Key Quest educational home tool for more details on the process, and just breathe.

READY TO BUY A HOME?

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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.