Whether buying your first or fourth home, the homebuying process can be a very emotional and challenging, yet rewarding, process. If you have the right people on your side, it’s sure to make things go much smoother, especially in a real estate market like ours in Greater Boston!
Here are 11 steps to get you through your journey to finding the right home:
1. Choose a real estate agent
Finding the right real estate agent can make or break your shot at getting your dream home. Choose someone who knows the market in and out, and can best advise you on how to proceed once you do find that property that catches your eye. In our competitive real estate market, it’s imperative that at an agent know recent sales in the area, average days on market and other comparable properties for sale. This market is so fast paced that one wrong step can mean missing out on the home you have your heart set on.
2. Find a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage
In this real estate market, you’ll need a pre-approval from a reputable lender to include with an offer once you find a property. Ask around for recommendations or consult with your real estate agent to help find you a mortgage broker who can help you with this process. Before you even start looking seriously at properties, talk to a mortgage broker to review your finances and help you understand what your budget should be based on your income, debt, real estate taxes, etc…
3. Determine your budget (include taxes, insurance, utilities, etc…)
Your mortgage broker can you help you determine what home price you qualify for, but you’ll want to take into consideration the other costs to homeownership, such as real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utilities, HOA fees, etc… Make sure your income and existing bills give you enough room to cover all of these expenses.
4. Make a realistic “must have” list
Create a list of your “must haves,” “nice to haves,” and “definitely nots” to help guide your search. If you’re making this purchase with someone else, it’s important to compare lists and create one so you’re on the same page going forward. This will help your real estate agent pick properties that would be best for you to look at.
5. Talk to your agent about the market to get a sense of what your budget will buy
This is an important part of the process to allow you to understand what types of homes have been selling your price range. Your agent can show you which towns you’ll get the most for your money and other areas where you may need to compromise a bit on your list. Your agent can show you recent sales and the current inventory to help you gauge the market.
6. Start checking out properties
Once you’ve nailed down your budget and your list of “must haves,” it’s important to get out there and start looking! Plan on hitting at least one open houses each weekend or have your agent set up private showings at houses that may work for you.
7. Make an offer!
Especially in our area, it’s important to be able to make a decision about a new listing pretty quickly. In our market it’s very common for a listing to come on over the weekend and have offers due by Monday or Tuesday, so you’ll want to be ready to make your move if the property feels like home. Your agent will give you some comparable properties in the area to help guide how much you should offer. There are certain things you can do to make your offer stand out in a multiple offer situation, such as waiving a home inspection, increasing your down payment and offering a quick closing. You will also need to put your first deposit down with the offer, which will be deposited into escrow if your offer is accepted.
8. Choose an attorney who will represent you for the Purchase & Sales Agreement and Closing on this property.
If you do not know a real estate attorney, your real estate agent will make a few recommendations for you to ensure your interests are well represented for this sale.
9. Schedule your home inspection and any other inspections ASAP.
The typical home inspection contingency is about 7-10 days, so you’ll want to make arrangements for this ASAP once your offer is accepted. You’ll learn a lot during the inspection and likely find a few things you hadn’t anticipated. Once you receive your inspection report, review with your agent to come up with the best next steps – a price reduction or credit at closing, a few repairs for the sellers to take care of or if it’s far more than you are prepared to take on, you are able to pull out of the deal. Whatever happens will need to go into the Purchase and Sales Agreement so it is in writing and signed by all parties.
10. Sign Purchase & Sales Agreement
Your attorney will confirm that all terms of the sale are in writing in the P&S. You’ll have time to review this and once it is satisfactory for all, it is time to sign. You’ll need to provide your second deposit upon signing this as well. Then, send a signed copy over to your lender to complete your application for financing on this property.
You’ll have a final walk through before the closing to ensure the home is as you last saw it. You’ll bring the remaining funds to the closing as well as photo IDs. Be prepared to sign a large stack of documents! Once the documents have been filed with the Registry of Deeds, you’ll get your keys and you will be a new homeowner!