The process of buying a house is stressful. You’re excited at the prospect of owning a home, but you are also discouraged by everything that is standing in your way. Yet when you break down the process of buying a house and know what to expect, things can go much more smoothly.

Happy couple standing in their kitchen wearing pajamas

1. Take a Good Look at Your Finances

Before you can even begin the process of buying a house, you need to take a good look at your finances to determine how much house you can realistically afford and the down payment you’ll be able to swing. If your credit is less than stellar or you have limited savings, take this time to work on improving your financial position. There is nothing worse than finding your dream house, only to learn you can’t secure the financing you need.

2. Set Your Expectations for Your Home

When you know your budget, you can start setting expectations for homes that fit into that budget and still meet your needs. When you make your wish list, consider three categories: must-haves, nice-to-haves, and deal breakers. If you know your absolute deal breakers, such as living on a busy road, your agent can help avoid those homes from the start. Some must-haves for homebuyers are garages and the number of bedrooms. A nice-to-have might be an updated kitchen or a certain layout. Keeping an open mind while still understanding the constraints of your budget and having a firm grasp on your deal breakers will help your agent find you the right homes to look at without wasting much time.

3. Find a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is such a key part of the process for buyers, and it’s free to the homebuyer! A real estate agent can find you a home as soon as, or even before, the home is listed, can give you insights on the market and neighborhood, and will help you put together an offer. When you look for a real estate agent, don’t go on recommendation alone. Meet with a few agents and find one that you click with, and more importantly, whom you trust and can communicate with easily.

4. Make an Offer and Negotiate

Your real estate agent is a valuable asset when it’s time to make an offer and begin the negotiation process. Because your real estate agent will understand the market in your specific neighborhood, they can guide you toward a number that is a fair price for you, but will still give you the best possible chance of getting the home. The seller can then accept, decline, or counter your offer until you reach a final purchase price. Your agent will help you put together an offer with any contingencies you may need.

5. Get Your Paperwork Completed

The time in between an accepted offer and taking possession of a home is often referred to as the “escrow” period. You will begin the formal mortgage application process, even though you’ve been through the pre-approval. Your mortgage will be underwritten for your specific property at the selling price you’ve agreed on. You will likely need to provide paperwork that verifies your employment and income, your assets, your credit and debts, the property details, and your personal information. You will need to find and secure homeowner’s insurance so you have coverage on the day you close. The escrow period is also where you’ll schedule a home inspection and appraisal.

6. Close On Your New Home

Closing day is overwhelming, but should be incredibly exciting! Your lender will contact you with the closing disclosure at least three days before closing and will let you know the certified check amount you will need to bring (for your down payment and other mortgage costs if applicable). You will need to bring your proof of homeowner’s insurance, identification, and your checkbook to cover any additional closing costs you will be expecting. You will have a final walk through, then sign the paperwork and take possession!

Getting Help Through the Process of Buying a House

While a checklist is certainly helpful, the process of buying a house can be more overwhelming than just working your way down the list. How do you know if you’re getting a good rate? Is the neighborhood you chose a good one? What happens if you run into a problem with the inspection? While finding a real estate agent may not be the first step, your real estate agent can be very helpful throughout every stage of the home buying process. When you find an agent you trust, you can go to them for guidance at any point.

Buying a home for the first time is both exciting and overwhelming. The stress of the process can easily overtake all the good parts if you aren’t prepared. By planning ahead and starting in an organized way with the right agent by your side, you can have a great experience buying a house in any market. If you’re looking for your next big move, contact Amberwood Real Estate to discuss available properties in this area.