After hours of searching and countless hopefuls, you’ve finally found a home you love. But what’s next? Finding a home is only the first part of the process, now you get to make the home officially yours. Buying a home is probably one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make. You want to be sure that you have all your bases covered so you can make it to the closing table and get those keys to your new home.
Contact a real estate agent
Research the Home
If you’ve found the home on the internet, you can dig a little deeper to find more information on the property. From your research, you may be able to take a 3D tour of the home and find out information on the neighborhood, as well as local schools or nearby conveniences. You can also sometimes find out more information from the seller's agent, but don't count on this. Many agents are reluctant to deal with buyers directly and may not willingly give up many details. However, if you have an agent working in your best interest, you'll likely be able to find out more details on the property, such as why the home is on the market or how motivated the sellers are to sell.
Request a showing
After you’ve decided that the neighborhood is up to your standards, you will need to request a showing. While high-quality photography and virtual tours of the property can give you a pretty good idea of the condition of the home and its features, nothing beats a physical walkthrough. You probably wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first, and purchasing a home sight unseen is equally as risky. Walking through the home will show you things that a virtual tour or photos cannot. Sellers want to put their home’s best foot forward and, as such, may gloss over certain aspects that you’ll only see by requesting a showing.
Make yourself an attractive buyer
Hopefully, you have already procured financing for a home purchase. It’s always a good idea to secure pre-approval or get fully underwritten prior to searching for a home. In competitive markets, you will have to compete with other buyers as well as buyers making cash offers. Having your financing secured in advance will put you in a much better position and increase your chances of making it to the closing table. Your real estate agent can connect you with banks or other lending institutions and help walk you through the process of prequalification. This way, when you do find a home you love, you’ll be ready to make an offer.
Put in an offer
Putting in an offer on a home is where you’ll really see how helpful having a real estate agent in your corner truly is. Your agent will perform a comparative market analysis and help you draft the purchase agreement. Successful offers don't just happen, they're skillfully crafted to make your offer the most attractive and ensure your interests are paramount by including any conditions you may have. You don’t want to overpay on a home or make an offer that is too low as to not even be considered by the seller.
Get a home inspection
It's easy to fall in love with a home, but before you decide on a home, it is advisable to obtain an inspection. A home inspection is a vital part of the home buying process. Home inspections are paid for by the buyer and not the seller, so some buyers will opt to waive their right to an inspection in hopes of saving money. Although you're entirely within your right to waive the inspection, it's not in your best interest to do so.
Be prepared to negotiate or compete
If you really want to give yourself a leg up on the competition, consider drafting a buyer's letter. While this step is not required, a buyer's letter explaining just how much you love the property — and what you love about it — is a personal touch that could influence a seller enough to accept your offer. Selling a home is a personal undertaking for many homeowners, and sometimes a personal touch in the form of a buyer's letter could endear you to the seller just enough to edge out the competition and get your offer accepted.
Take a final walk-through
Taking a final walk-through may seem like an afterthought, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you’ve come this far in the process, you want to make sure you see it through. Before you officially close on the home, you should arrange a final walk-through with your agent. You want to make sure the home is cleaned and cleared out, that all necessary repairs found during the inspection have been completed, and that the home's condition has not changed dramatically. It is not entirely uncommon for sellers to remove light or sink fixtures from a home prior to closing in hopes that a buyer won’t conduct a final inspection to notice it. The home should be in the same condition, or better, than when you last saw it.