Wouldn’t it be great if buying a home were as simple as it is in a game of Monopoly? All you’d have to do is find a desirable neighborhood, hand the bank a few bucks, and you’d receive a house. Of course, the home-buying process is a bit more complicated in real life (especially for first-time home buyers), but it’s not impossible. Competition among buyers in many markets has gotten intense, so if you’re serious about homeownership, you’d better get your act together. To point you in the right direction, we’ve prepared a road map of the home-buying process. From choosing the right professionals to signing that final contract, here are the typical steps you need to be aware of.
Step No. 1: Chose an agent
The first step in the home-buying process is to find an agent you feel comfortable working with on what will likely be the largest financial decision of your life. Ask friends and family members for referrals, and interview several real estate agents.
“Choose a Realtor who communicates, has your best interest at heart, and puts you first,” says Naomi Hattaway of Virginia’s 8th & Home, Real Estate + Relocation.
Step No. 2: Find a lender
Once you’ve chosen a real estate agent you trust to be your advocate, ask him or her to recommend lenders, either an organization or a person who will lend you money so you can buy your home.
A local Realtor® has experience working with mortgage brokers and title companies and can recommend lenders. Choosing someone to handle the financial part of the home-buying process can feel like a scary step, but choosing a lender that’s competitive on rates, communicative, and available is key.
“Often mortgage companies consider you a file, not a human,” says Hattaway. “And if they aren’t available on the weekends or evenings, trouble can ensue.”
Step No. 3: Clean up your credit