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Buying a Home See Our Quick Home Buyers Video Below
If you want to know how to buy a house, you've come to the right place! When you start thinking about buying your first house, it’s easy to let your emotions run the show. Before you know it, you’re stalking homes for sale on your home-browsing app, rearranging your schedule so you can do drive-by viewings, and researching creative financing options that would allow you to buy a house with next to nothing down.
It’s all too easy to land a house you can’t afford, and that mistake can affect your ability to build wealth in the long run. But understanding the steps of the home-buying process empowers you to make smart decisions about your home purchase.
Buying a house takes time. And no house—not even that perfectly cute bungalow on the corner with the fenced-in backyard—is worth jumping into before you’re ready. You know what’s more important than the house you buy? How you buy that house.
Use this step-by-step guide to buy a house the smart way.
The decisions you make in the home-buying process can make a difference between a home that's a blessing to your family for years to come and a home that becomes such a financial burden you feel like you can’t breathe.
When to Buy a House
First, how do you know it’s the right time to buy a house? Before you even think about starting the steps of the home-buying process, there are a few things you should do:
Evaluate your finances. Make sure you have a consistent income and a good chunk of cash for a substantial down payment. (We’ll talk more about this later.) Buying a house before you’re ready can lead to financial disaster.
Consider the housing market. If you want to make a smart investment on your home purchase, you need to buy a house that'll go up in value. Talk to me a real estate agent about home values in your area and their potential.
Think about your life stage. It doesn’t make sense to buy a house if you may move next year. The process of buying and selling a house is expensive, so make sure you feel confident you’ll be in that area for the next five to seven years. If you think it’s the right time to step into home ownership, here’s how to get started!
Step 1: Save for a Down Payment
It’s tempting to skip the money question and jump straight into looking at homes in your area. After all, home shopping is way more fun than thinking through your finances! But a weak financial foundation is a recipe for regret when it comes to your home purchase.
Don’t shortchange your future by having a short-term perspective. You'll build years of memories in your home. You’ll share countless meals in the kitchen and spend hours enjoying warm summer days in the backyard. Do you want those moments overshadowed by financial stress?
Buying a home is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. Are you sure you’re ready? Answering these two questions will help you know!
Are you financially ready to buy a house?
Before you begin the home-buying process, we recommend paying off debt and saving up three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund. Being financially ready to buy a house is important. Why?
When you no longer have a landlord, the responsibility of paying for repairs falls on you. So what happens if your water heater bursts after just three months in your new home?
When you don’t have room in yourbudget and no savings to fall back on, you may be eating ramen for the rest of the month to get that fixed. But if you have a full emergency fund and no debt taking up real estate in your monthly budget, an unexpected repair won't rock your whole life.
How much should you save?
Just like any goal, buying a homethe smart way takes planning and preparation. The most time-consuming task is saving cash for the down payment, closing costs and other moving expenses.
Ready to get your savings rolling? You’ve got this! Saving for a down payment isn’t rocket science. Set a plan and focus on your milestones and you’ll have that down payment before you know it. You’ve got what it takes!
Step 2: Get Preapproved for a Mortgage
The best way to buy a home is with cash. It may sound crazy, but people like you do it every day! If that’s not feasible for you, you’ll need a home mortgage loan.
How do you get preapproved?
In a quick conversation with you about your income, assets and down payment, a lender can prequalify you to buy a house. Getting preapproved takes a little more work. A lender will need to verify your financial information and submit your loan for preliminary underwriting. But it pays off when you begin your home search because a preapproval letter shows that you’re a serious buyer.
How do you know which mortgage option is right for you?
Bad financing turns your biggest asset into a liability. That’s why getting the right mortgage is so important! Setting your boundaries on the front end makes it easier to find a home you love that’s in your budget.
Here are the guidelines we recommend:
Once you know how much you can afford to spend on your new home, stick to it. And if you’re buying a home with your spouse, make sure you’re both on the same page about your budget.
Step 3: Find the Right Real Estate Agent
Though your search for homes may start online, it shouldn’t end there. You can do a lot of research on your own, but you need the help of an expert when it comes to actually finding and securing your perfect home.
You can do a lot of research on your own, but you need the help of an expert when it comes to actually finding and securing your perfect home.
A buyer’s agent can help you navigate through the home-buying process. In some cases, they may even be able to help you find a house before it hits the market, giving you a competitive edge. And when it comes to making an offer, your agent will negotiate on your behalf so you don’t pay a penny more than you have to.
How does a buyer’s agent get paid?
A real estate agent will advocate for your best interest and is a crucial part of your home-buying team. But they don’t work for free. So how much should you be prepared to pay?
How does nothing sound?
That’s right! In most cases, the seller pays your real estate agent’s fees, so using a buyer’s agent is free to you. Why would you not want to have a true pro in your corner as you make your biggest investment?
What should you look for in a buyer’s agent?
You may know a lot of real estate agents in your area. But keep in mind that not all agents bring the same knowledge and experience to the table. Don’t work with an amateur just because they know your cousin’s sister-in-law’s best friend from 10 years ago.
If you’re trying to spend time with a friend or family member, catch up over coffee. Don’t work with them to make your biggest purchase. You want an expert who can show you how to buy a home!
When you’re interviewing a real estate agent, don’t settle. A true rock star will have:
A true pro won’t shy away from tough questions. They’ll be a mover and a shaker, ready to fight for your best interests as you’re searching for the right house and negotiating the terms of the contract. As a home buyer, working with a rock star agent is one of the biggest advantages you can give yourself!
Step 4: Go House Hunting
After you’ve been preapproved for a mortgage, you’re ready for the fun part: finding your perfect home!
Do your homework!
Once you reach this step, your finances should be rock solid so you know exactly what you can afford. And with a real estate agent to guide you through the process, you have a winning combo for buying a home with confidence!
Before you dive into the home search, create a list of must-have home features. If you're buying a home with your spouse, make separate lists and compare. Once you have clarity on the features you both want, share them with your real estate agent and use those criteria as the foundation of your home search.
Your agent will be able to help you set realistic expectations and target your search to areas you can afford.
How can you know you’re making a good investment?
When you’re looking for the perfect home, it may be hard to imagine you’ll ever sell it. But just remember, even if you think it’s your forever home, you should shop with resale value in mind. Here are some home-buying tips to help you make a smart investment:
The average home buyer looks for about 10 weeks before finding the right house, sooner in a competing market according to the National Association of Realtors. Don’t sweat it if it takes you a while to find your perfect place!
Step 5: Submit an Offer
Once you’ve found the right home, it’s time to get serious! That means submitting an offer and signing a contract agreement with the sellers.
What’s included in your offer?
Your real estate agent will work with you to submit a solid offer. If you end up in a bidding war with other buyers, keep a cool head and put your best foot forward. Things like being preapproved with your lender and having a flexible closing date can help make your offer strong.
Your purchase agreement will include details of the real estate transaction like:
Sometimes agreeing on terms is quick and painless, but it can also be one of the hardest parts of the process.
If your negotiations get intense, remind yourself that both parties want the same thing. The sellers want to sell their home, and you want to buy it! Sometimes it pays to compromise on little details if that will move the process forward. A good real estate agent can give you advice about when to give in and when to hold firm.
A good real estate agent can give you advice about when to give in and when to hold firm.
Step 6: Get a Home Inspection and Appraisal
Once you get to this step, you’ll officially be under contract on your new home! That’s something to celebrate. Being under contract also means you’re done with the most time-consuming stages of the home-buying process. Cheers to that!
But now that you’re under contract, what should you expect? Your main task now is to work through the contingencies in the contract.
Contingencies are simply conditions that must be met in order for the home purchase to take place. They provide a safety net for you to back out of a sale without losing your deposit if something goes wrong.
Even if you’re in a competitive market, don’t let your emotions lead the charge. You should never skip these contingencies because they offer important protection for your home purchase.
As a buyer, you have the right to a professional home inspection before you purchase the house, and you would be crazy not to do it! This is one of the most important precautions you can take before purchasing a home because it keeps you from being blindsided by structural issues or expensive repairs. If the inspection reveals major problems with the home, you can ask the seller to fix the problem, reduce the price, or cancel the contract.
You can also consider getting other professional evaluations like a termite inspection or radon test, depending on the advice of your real estate agent and the age and condition of the home you’re purchasing.
If you’re getting a home loan, your lender will require an appraisal evaluating the value of the property. An appraisal protects you from paying more than the home’s true value. If the appraisal comes in lower than your offer price, your real estate agent can provide the best guidance for what to do next.
Final Mortgage Approval
The best way to pay for a home is with cash! Not only does it set you up for building wealth, it streamlines the real estate process. If you did get a mortgage, you’ll have a final step before you can close on your home: getting final approval. Your lender will dig through the details of your finances to finalize your mortgage. Whatever you do, don’t open a credit card, take on more debt, or change jobs once you’re under contract. That’s a stupid idea anyway! Plus any changes in your financial situation can jeopardize your loan process.
Step 7: Close on Your House!
You did it! All the planning, house hunting and waiting are over. The final step in the home-buying process is closing on your new place!
Before you get the keys for your new home and officially call it your own, you have one more sprint ahead of you: paperwork. That’s right! Bring on the hand cramps!
You should receive a copy of your closing documents to review ahead of time so there are no surprises on closing day. Most likely, you’ll pay for:
If there are any confusing terms or conditions as you work through the paperwork, don’t be shy about asking questions! This is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, and you should know exactly what you’re signing up for.
Once you sign all the paperwork, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief. You’re officially a homeowner. Congratulations! The home-buying process may not be easy, but having a beautiful new home to call your own is worth it in the end.
Learn More About How to Buy a House
This is a lot of information. And guess what? There's even more to learn! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. You don’t have to do all this on your own. Working with me you can be confident you're working with a real estate agent who's an expert in your local market.
Don’t make your biggest investment without the guidance of a professional. Buying a house can be stressful, but a high-octane real estate will walk you through the home-buying process to help you make a smart investment that fits your needs and your budget.
*** PLEASE NOTE THAT WE FOLLOW AND USE THE CORONA-19 SAFETY GUIDELINES SUCH AS THE USE OF FACE MASKS, DISPOSAL GLOVES AND HAND SANITIZER WHEN SHOWING ALL PROPERTIES AND OFFICE APPOINTMENTS DURING THE PANDEMIC.
One of my specialties as your buying agent, I can help streamline the process of buying a home and make it easier for you. I’ve aligned myself with the top professionals in the industry and once an offer has been accepted, I will personally help facilitate the process to close on the home. By working closely with mortgage brokers, title and escrow companies, home inspectors, and home warranty companies I will provide you with the best service possible!
Contact me Today and find out how I can help you with your real estate needs in Maryland, Virginia or Washington D.C. by contacting me at (301) 769.6377 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or CLICK HERE AND SCHEDULE A DATE AND TIME FOR A FREE Virtual Consultation in less than 30 seconds.
There is never any commitment when you contact me, even if you are simply curious. As a Realtor, I'm always happy to provide you with information regardless of the outcome.
Terrence D. Langford, Realtor
10460 Campus Way S
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
Direct (301) 769-6377 Off: 240-765-1300
What Customers Are Saying About Terrence
There's just no hiding my gratitude for you! Mr Terrence thank you so much! I am so grateful. You are the best. Many Blessing to you.
- Maiklel P.
As a first time home buyer, Terrence's expertise was invaluable to me. I admit I had previously been quite anxious about going through this process but Terrence was able to help me through and see that I didn't get taken advantage of and to move us efficiently through the home buying process.
- Alvin W.
We loved working with Terrence. He did everything we could have wanted. He answered questions quickly, offered suggestions that made great sense, organized the houses to see so we didn't waste time driving around and he was immediately responsive when we reached a decision. He was invaluable in negotiating the price and move-in arrangements. He was a gem.
- Anne G.
Thanks again for the wonderful job you did representing my family during our search for a new home. Your knowledge and patience with us definitely ensured that we not only got a new home but a new home that was a perfect fit for us. Your approach to conducting business is very non-confrontational (no-pushy salesperson attitude), professional, and courteous.
- Brandy & Tommy W.
Hey Mr. Terrence! You help me and the boys find a home that we love, and I thank you. Thank you for accepting me as your client and for never giving up on me. The gifts. OMG were amazing, that picture frame is to live for! The white and gold dish is elegant, Thank you for your patience and support. With much gratitude,
- Starr and the Boys
Terrence, I know that I must have been one of your worst buyers that you ever had with my many changes in locations, type of homes, my spicy attitude but you stayed the course. You always treated me with nothing but respect no matter how the home search was going. One of the happiest day of my life was when you called me and said that I found you your dream house and the subdivision is named as in my last name, it’s got to be a good sign, and behold that was my dream home. Thank you so very much.
- Ms. Thompson
If you're looking for a great agent, look no further than Terrence Langford. His professionalism and caring attitude made our home buying process a smooth transition from a rental apartment to becoming first time homeowners with just over $200 more a month while we were still living under our affordable budget. To our surprise he showed up one day with pizza and help us with packing boxes and kept the babies giggling. What a guy. His knowledge of home ownership gave us the confidence to become homeowners. You're the best Terrence.
- Mr & Mrs. Booker
Terrence you're the man. We are so glad we met you. My two sisters just talk about you all the time on how you help them get their dream homes. My son and daughter have been saving up funds for the purchase of their new homes this year as well as my niece and they're just so excited that you will be their buyer's agent. We all are so glad that we met you not only as an agent but a friend. You are the man.
- The Maddens