You can imagine yourself touring potential houses, decorating your new space, and getting to know the neighbors. These are all exciting parts of becoming a new homeowner. But you’re not quite ready to one-two-skip-a-few over the realities of the home buying process. Before you send out the housewarming party invites, here are six steps to buying a house that you should know.

Securing Lender’s Pre-Approval

Even if you’ve busted open that piggy bank to account for your 20 percent down payment, and pushed those calculator buttons to decide what is affordable for mortgage payments, you’re not considered a qualified buyer until you’ve secured pre-approval for your home mortgage loan. Pre-approval lets you know what your actual house-buying budget is, lets your agent know you’re financially prepared to do business and signals to the seller that you’re a serious buyer.

Remember, though, that you’ll have additional expenses above and beyond your down payment. When you put in your offer, you’ll also submit an earnest money deposit, and you’re responsible for closing costs, another out-of-pocket expense.

Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

Your real estate representative is going to be all up in your business for the next several weeks or months. You’re undoubtedly going to be spending considerable amounts of time with this representative touring houses, on the phone asking questions and trusting his or her expertise in dealing with offers, negotiations, and contracts. So it’s not just important that you choose an agent who is qualified, but also one whose personality is compatible with yours.

Research real estate agents. Ask around to see who you know that’s recently bought or sold real estate that can refer you to their agent. Read the agent reviews. Check out the ratings on social networks and rating websites. Request copies of the agent’s license and certifications. Inquire about their specialties and niches. Interview agents to find the right agent to fit your needs.

Let the Games Begin! House-Shopping

Now the fun part – house shopping! With your mortgage loan pre-approved and your agent locked in and ready to roll, it’s time to hit the streets with your wish list and start searching for that perfect house.

But wait. Before you set out on the house-hunt journey with the wish list you’ve spent months pining over, talk with your real estate agent for a realistic idea of what your money can buy. Many first-time buyers have their hearts set on upscale finishes like wood floors, granite countertops, high-end appliances. But your budget and your wish list might not be playing in the same park. Trust your agent’s advice and be willing to trim down your wish list.

Offers, Counteroffers, and Negotiations

Do not emotionally attach to a property when you submit an offer. Submitting a bid does not guarantee you the potential of future ownership. Multiple offers may come in, and the seller might opt for another buyer.

Your real estate agent will help you devise an offer to submit, can help you understand and work through counter-offers, and can also help you negotiate the terms of the contract. Be prepared for a possible bidding war and the possibility that the house will go to another buyer.

Appraisers, Inspectors, Surveyors, Oh, My!

Yep, the seller accepted your offer and you are now well on your way to home ownership. But don’t count your chickens just yet. The house you’re buying has to go through an appraisal, inspection, and survey before the deal is done. Appraisal, inspection, and survey guarantee to the lenders that the home and property are worth what you’re borrowing and in good condition with well-defined property lines. This process can be time-consuming, so be patient.

Gathering Around the Closing Table

Finally, you’re at the tail-end of your home-purchasing experience. You’re so ready to snatch up those keys and start moving in. At the closing meeting, the escrow agent disperses the appropriate closing costs and fees, the title is transferred to buyer from seller, a few more signatures are applied, and you are now officially the owner of your first house. Congratulations! And now you can send out your housewarming invitations.

Your real estate agent is the best source of information about the local community and real estate topics. Give The Lise Howe Group a call today at 240-401-5577 learn more about local areas, discuss selling a house, or tour available homes for sale.

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