Could next year be THE year for you to buy a home? If you’re making a new home one of your New Year’s resolutions, then Homes.com has the guide to help make that happen. With help from renowned blogger Serena Appiah, Thrift Diving, we created a step-by-step (or in our case, week-by-week) guide on how to prepare yourself to buy a home in just 12 short weeks. There’s even a week-by-week cheat sheet to help you keep track of the important stuff like credit scores, conversations with professionals, and your notes from home tours. What are we waiting for? Let’s dive in!
This is one of the most exciting weeks on your journey because it’s where you decide that NOW is time to buy a home. If you’re buying with a spouse or partner, now is time to start having conversations about your homeownership goals. Talk, and make sure you listen to what his or her “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” are. It’s the time to dream – together.
Another important facet of week one is discussing finances. Check your FICO score, gather copies of your credit report from different institutions, and start to monitor your finances a little more closely. For more info on the finances to buy a home, take a visit to the Homes.com How To section. You’ll be unstoppable.
Tip: Use the week one printables in the downloadable guide to help guide your conversations with your significant other.
Now that you’re on the same page with your partner (or as close to it as possible), and you’re getting your finances in order, it’s time to assemble a team! These are the folks that are going to help you buy your home. Who are these superheroes? Your real estate agent, your mortgage lender, a home inspector, and potentially others. Visit our homepage to find an agent or to find a lender.
This week you also need to get pre-approved for your home loan. Getting pre-approved is extremely important as sellers are more likely to take your offer seriously versus if you’re not pre-approved. Start shopping the rates at your personal banking institutions as well as with local credit unions.
Tip: When shopping for a real estate agent, ask them who she or she recommends for mortgages, too. You’ll kill two birds with one stone.
By now, you’ve been pre-approved from a lender, and you’re close to solidifying your real estate team. Now it’s time to get real. Remember that letter of approval your lender gave you? It’s time to truly understand the amount you can feasibly afford. Take a look at all of your finances to see how much you’re spending on necessities like electricity, water, as well as other expenses that impact your overall budget like groceries, dining out, and even entertainment.
Tip: Use a spreadsheet in week 3 to journal all of your expenses; or, download an app, like Mint, to help you monitor.
Weeks 4 to 9
Look how far you’ve come! In just three short weeks, you’ve accomplished a lot. From assembling the necessary paperwork, interviewing your team, and even getting real with how much you can afford, you’ve earned what happens next… the home search process! During your house hunt, be honest with yourself and with your agent so you can find the home of your dreams! Use our “13 Essential Things To Look For When Viewing A Home” to ensure you’re choosing the right home for your needs, and to help eliminate some not-so-pleasant surprises when you by the house.
Tip: Use this time period to start packing up objects that you don’t use every day to make your eventual move a little less hectic.
At this point, you’ve probably toured countless homes, and finally found “the one.” Ready to make an offer? What exactly does an offer letter include? Typically, it will have the address of your potential new home, a target date for closing, and of course, the price you’re offering for the home. Your agent submits this on your behalf along with your earnest money deposit, which tells the seller, “I’m serious about this property.” Don’t worry, this isn’t just cash you’re offering up to sweeten the deal; if your offer is accepted, it goes towards your down payment on the home! For more information on the art of making an offer sellers can’t refuse, check out the Homes How To.
Once your offer is accepted (yay!), you’ll need to tell your lender that it’s officially “go time” to get the financial documents in motion. This is a busy week because you will also need to schedule a home inspection, but we’ll talk more about that next.
Tip: Your agent can help you get set up with a reputable home inspection company, but don’t hesitate to do your own research, too.
This week, you’ll receive a home inspection. A home inspection may not be required by your lender, or by the type of loan you selected to finance your home, but it’s an invaluable tool to learn more about your new purchase. This service can range from $250 to $500, and these licensed professionals can help alert you to major repairs the home may need, and help you date the age of major facets like the roof, hot water heater, central air, and more. If enough red flags are found within the home inspection, you could walk away from the property (and thank your lucky stars you went through with this process). Or you can utilize the notes as negotiation tactics for the sellers to assist in the repairs.
Tip: Attend the home inspection and follow along with their work so you can learn the needs and potential pitfalls of your home.
This is it; you’re in the home stretch! Just one more hurdle and that home is finally yours! What’s the last task? The final walk through. Use this time to make sure any requested repairs from the home inspection were completed, and that the sellers did not leave behind any new surprises or major issues.
Once you ace the final walk through, closing day isn’t too far behind. On your closing date, you’ll need to bring your photo ID, a certified check for the closing costs and down payment, proof of insurance, and the final sale contract.
Tip: Schedule your closing for early in the morning so can start to move in that afternoon!
There you have it – how to buy a house in just twelve weeks! Once you’re ready to start this journey, and you’re serious about the house hunt, Homes.com has all of the tools you need to find the homes that’s perfect for you!