Buyers Survival Guide:
6 Months to 12 months from purchase:
Assess your situation & get your financials in order. Are you planning
to stay in a home for at least five years? Have you saved up for your down
payment & closing costs? This is the time to make sure you’ve filed your
taxes & have a paper trail for major financial transactions from the past
year. Discuss your financials with several mortgage brokers to shop for the
Make a list of your cash accounts, 401(k), stocks, & other investments.
Identify & set aside your down payment.
Move funds around early.
Pull your credit report & look for errors & derogatory items & dispute them to get them removed.
Pay down credit balances to a third of your credit limit.
Don’t open new lines of credit or buy any big-ticket items.
Start looking for homes online. According to the National Association of
Realtors, 92% of homebuyers use the Internet as part of their home
search, so it’s likely that you’ll do some of your searching online. Narrow
down your list of must-haves & nice-to-haves. Ask the questions that will
help set parameters for your search. Are you set on
buying a home in a particular school district or neighborhood? How many
bedrooms do you need? Do you want a single-family home or are you open to
a townhouse or condo?
Get pre-approved. It’s best to choose a local lender & get a pre-approval
letter before you begin house hunting in earnest. You never know when your
dream home will hit the market, & you want to be ready to make an offer.
Don’t be tempted to just go with your current bank; it’s best to shop around to
find the best rate.
3 Months to 6 months from purchase:
Sign up with your agent for home searches & updates. These tools
will help you identify homes you want to see in person & will give you an
idea what’s on the market. Set search parameters on the Multiple Listing Service
(location, price, number of bedrooms, school district, etc.) & then select
“email me new listings” so you get email alerts any time a home comes on the
market within your parameters. Unlike Trulia or Zillow whos’ sites have homes
for the sale that have been sold in some cases, years ago – the Multiple Listing Service
site updates every 15 to 30 minutes, so you’ll always get the most up-to-date
information about homes that fit your search criteria. Download the app
(of applicable) to receive push notifications on your smartphone & tablet, so
you can stay on top of your home search even when you are away from your
Find a real estate agent who’s on your side. Homebuyers may spend as
much money on a real estate agent as on a car, but many will choose an
agent in less than an hour. Don’t be that person. Do your homework online
& then ask to interview a few agents in person. Not sure what to ask?
Check out the 15 questions to ask when hiring a real estate agent – just ask.
Most agents that work with buyers have a fiduciary responsibility
to the buyer meaning they represent a buyer’s best interest at all times during the home
buying process. This means the agent is focused on helping the buyer find the right
home for them at the right time & price — no pressure, just customer service.
Stay Positive. You may be waiting for a home that matches your criteria to hit
the market or you may have lost out on a few offers. The home search
process can be grueling, but keep your eye on the prize!
2 Months from purchase:
Submit or resubmit your pre-approval application. Most mortgage pre-
approvals are good for 60 to 90 days. If your search extends beyond that,
resubmit your application to last another 60 to 90 days.
Make an offer! You’ve found the home you want to call yours. Submit your
offer as soon after touring the home as possible. Speed is of the essence in a
competitive market with limited inventory. Talk with your agent about the terms of your
deal & the competition you face. If it’s a great deal for you, it’s probably a great deal for somebody else also, so act as if time is of the essence.
3 Weeks from purchase:
Enter mutual acceptance, close the deal. It’s not quite time to sit back &
relax. Buyers should be prepared to place an earnest money deposit with an
offer, which will allow to review the seller disclosure forms, review the
ownership history & title & schedule a home inspection (prior to signing the Contract). Buyers also have
to secure final loan approval from their lender & schedule the final
walkthrough. All of this must take place before you can close.
Line up an inspector. You’ll want to have a licensed, skilled inspector
conduct your home inspection. Your agent can arrange for this for
Get your keys! Attend the closing & bring a government-issued ID and
payment for any overages. This a great time to celebrate — you did it!