Home Buyer Timeline – What is your next step?

Are you thinking about buying your very first home, or maybe getting a bigger home for your growing family? Maybe you’re even thinking about downsizing to something smaller! All of those potential changes take planning – where are you in the home buying process? Here’s some timeline tips for you:

1. Getting Started – Choose your agent! Me, hopefully! Seriously – take some time to research your potential agent/brokerage. Does that agent have reviews from previous clients that they can share with you? Meet for coffee or lunch – do the personalities seem to fit? Are you getting the good vibes? If so, connect with that agent, ask questions, get a game plan started. The sooner the better! Communicate how fast or slow you’d like to get started on finding your next home!

2. Pre-Approval – Do you have a lender in mind for your next mortgage? If so, give them a ring. They’ll need to know personal information, i.e. copies of your taxes, your most recent pay stub, they’ll pull a copy of your credit report, and etc. If you’re unsure about a possible lender, ask your agent. Any good agent is going to have some amazing lenders to share with you.

3. Home Search Begins – Okay…you have that pre-approval in your hot little hands, what happens now?! When you talked with your agent previously, you probably discussed what area of town you wanted to live, how many bedrooms you wanted, number of bathrooms, yard size, maybe even how close to your job you’d like to be. Your agent will put all your criteria into a search and you’ll get e-mails as often (or not often) as you’d like with all those possible properties. Find a handful of homes you’d like to see in person, and make a day of it! Looking at real estate is one of my favorite things to do – even before I was a REALTOR!

4. Narrow Your Search – Saw some homes? Liked a few? Take a second, or even a third look! Weigh your pros and cons. Find one that you’d like to make an offer on? Great – hopefully that offer gets accepted!

5. Accepted Offer – Once your offer is accepted, your lender and your REALTOR start working overtime on the process. All signed documents go to your lender ASAP so the underwriting task can begin to get final mortgage approval. Your REALTOR will order the inspection (figure about $500.00 into your budget), and all the clocks start ticking.

6. Inspection – Once the inspection has happened, your REALTOR would’ve asked for time to respond to that inspection. Both sides have the opportunity to negotiate any possible repairs that need to be made to the home. With any luck, all parties come to an agreement and the ball keeps rolling!

7. Appraisal – Once the inspection negotiations are done, your lender will order the appraisal (figure about $500.00 into your budget for this, too). This is your second to last stop on the road to close!

8. Final Mortgage Approval – Once the appraisal comes in (here’s to hoping the appraisal comes in just fine), and then that final mortgage approval should be coming right around the corner! As a buyer, remember – don’t open any new lines of credit no matter how big or small. You’d be surprised what can disqualify you from a mortgage loan! Hearing that “we’re clear to close” is music to all ears!

9. Closing – A day or two before closing (after that clear to close), a HUD statement is prepared by the title company for your lender’s review, and your REALTOR’s review. Your lender AND your REALTOR should go over this document with you – two pairs of eyes are better than just one! This document shows you what you’re having to bring to close, how much the seller is going to net, how much money you are being charged for your loan, and how much you’re borrowing for this new property!

10. MOVE IN – Here’s the hard part (in my opinion) – MOVING! Get those keys at closing, and make that house your new home! Congratulations!

By Jill Curtis,