The homebuying process can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! Especially if you know where to start and what to expect. Follow these steps for a smoother, more enjoyable homebuying process.
- Check Your Credit
Credit scores range from 300–850. The higher your score, the better your credit and the better your chances to obtain loans that can help you reach your goals. Review your credit report as often as possible to check for accuracy. If you find errors, dispute them. If you don’t know where to check your credit, visit Annualcreditreport.com. We also recommend working with a lending expert for assistance and guidance during the credit process.
- Choose a Mortgage Lender and Get Pre-Approved
Choose a mortgage lender you trust to properly, thoroughly answer your questions and guide you through the process. Friends and family may recommend someone. Or start with your own financial institution. Once you’ve chosen your lender, complete a mortgage application so you can get pre-approved. At a minimum, you’ll need to provide W2s, paystubs, bank statements, 401k and other investment statements. Please note, you may be pre-approved for a mortgage higher than what you can actually afford, so keep track of your overall budget and the payment you can realistically afford (if you’re currently renting, this may be an amount close to what you pay each month for rent). This is also the best time to discuss your options for down-payment and how much you should budget for closing costs.
- Choose a Realtor and Go Home Shopping
When choosing a realtor, seek a recommendation from someone you trust or a referral from your lender. Before home shopping, you should also interview your realtor to make sure you feel comfortable with them and that they understand exactly want you need and want in a home. When shopping, make a list of what you’re looking for. Remember to keep your budget as a top priority. Shopping is the FUN part of the process, so relax and enjoy it!
- Make An Offer
Once you’ve found a home you like, make an offer. The offer process can be a bit overwhelming and challenging, so rely on your realtor and lender for help, especially when it comes to negotiating. Once a seller accepts your offer, you’ll need to put down earnest money to protect your offer until closing.
- Start the Official Mortgage Process
Once you have an accepted offer, contact your lender to start the official process. You may be required to pay for an appraisal up front but the rest of your costs and down payment will be collected at closing. Your offer will usually dictate when you close and any other stipulations. Also, consider getting a home inspection to evaluate the structure and stability of your desired home (this is not always required as part of the mortgage process, but is highly recommended to reveal issues needing repair before purchase).
- Closing and Move In
Once your mortgage loan is approved, you can close. Typically, closing will occur at either a title company or your lender’s office. Remember, you’ll need to bring money for your closing costs and down payment to the closing. Once you’ve signed all the paperwork, your own the home and your dream has come true! Now all you have to do is move in.