These 10 steps can help make the home buying process smoother and help you make the best decisions possible.

1) Define your goals, research your options, make your plans

Given that buying a home is such a big step, it’s very important to educate and prepare yourself as much as possible. This means clearly determining the reasons you’re buying and what kind of home you’re looking for. Since buying and financing a home are so closely related, it also means examining your current financial situation and projecting how much you can afford. Just because you can qualify for a certain loan amount, give consideration to your lifestyle and budget before settling on a home purchase price.

2) Contact a real estate professional

In Oklahoma, working with a Realtor doesn’t have to cost the buyer anything. (Many brokerages charge a fee to the buyer at closing. We do not.) The seller pays the commission for both listing and selling realtors.  Buying real estate is a complex matter with many factors to consider since no two homes or transactions are exactly the same. Moreover, with all the unique opportunities and potential pitfalls of the current market, it’s more important than ever to contact a real estate professional once you’ve decided to buy.

Some buyers just use the real estate agent who listed the property they are interested in. This Realtor can not and will not negotiate on your behalf. They will either be a neutral party that can’t advise either side, or will negotiate the best deal for the seller. Protect yourself and your investment with a Realtor working with your best interests in mind.

When choosing a real estate professional to guide you through the property search, financing, negotiation, and transaction processes, you should consider their local market knowledge, experience, and track record.

3) Get pre-approved for a loan

We recommend that you get pre-approved for a loan before you start viewing homes. You can usually do this over the phone or you can meet in person if you prefer. Many sellers won’t even let a buyer view their home if they haven’t pre-qualified for a home loan. The pre-approval process involves authorizing a lender to examine your current financial situation and credit history. On the basis of this examination, the lender can provide you with a document detailing the amount you can borrow to buy a home.

Your Realtor will be able to consult with you to find a lender that will have the best options for your situations. In almost all cases we recommend using a local lender with a good track record. This usually makes the process much smoother and will allow you to close on your home purchase quickly.

The benefits of pre-approval include:

  • You’ll know what you are eligible to borrow and be able to plan accordingly
  • As a qualified, motivated buyer you’ll be taken more seriously when you make an offer
  • Lenders can tell you if you qualify for special programs that will help you afford a better home (particularly if you’re a first-time buyer).

4) View homes and select THE ONE

Simply put, the key to the home search process is knowing what you’re looking for. Among other things, that means distinguishing between “must-haves” and “like-to-haves”.

That said, here are a few recent facts about the search process that might put your experience in perspective:

  • 92% of buyers use the internet or mobile apps to search for homes.
  • The typical buyer searches for 12 weeks and views 12 homes.
    • We have a proven process to greatly reduce the amount of time this takes for those who need to move quickly. 
  • 97% of buyers view real estate agents as important in the home search process.

There are many benefits to starting the search process on a real estate professional’s website, like the one you’re on now. You can view many homes and their details, access neighborhood info, and read helpful blog posts. On our site, the listings are always up to date. On many of the national search sites, they keep old listings up to get more leads to sell.

While the property details may seem similar online, homes can be very different in terms of layout, design, workmanship and other aspects. Ideally, you should view homes with the help of an experienced real estate professional who’ll notice things you might miss, provide expert analysis, and act as an impartial sounding board.

5) Make an offer and negotiate with the seller

While much attention is paid to the asking price of a home, a proposal to buy includes both the price and terms. In some cases, terms can represent thousands of dollars in additional value—or additional costs—for buyers.

You should carefully review the contract with your Realtor to be sure that they accurately express your intended offer. In addition to drawing up the contract, your real estate professional will be happy to address all of your questions about the offer process.

Once you’ve written the offer, your real estate professional will present it to the seller and/or the seller’s representative. At that point, the process may vary somewhat.

Generally speaking, the seller can accept your offer, reject it, or counter it to initiate the negotiation process.

Successive counter-offers, with deadlines for responding and meeting conditions, may be exchanged between you and the seller until a mutual pending agreement is reached or the negotiations breakdown.

6) Secure your financing & insurance

Once you have a pending agreement, it’s time to return to your chosen lender to finalize mortgage details in order to close the deal. This means finalizing your down payment, interest rate, regular payment schedule and all other financial conditions associated with the closing. As the file goes through underwriting, it’s normal for buyers to be asked for more documents along the way,

This is also the point where you’ll want to shop for insurance. Make sure you understand what exclusions and limitations each provides. sometimes the lowest price doesn’t provide the coverage you really need.

7) Close the deal

If you’ve efficiently taken care of everything connected with purchasing your new home, taking ownership should be a positive joy with no surprises. Key steps to the closing, also referred to as the “escrow” or “settlement”, include:

Getting a title search – you will need a historical review of all legal documents relating to ownership of the property – to ensure that there are no claims against the title of the property. It’s also necessary to purchase Title Insurance for protection in the event of errors in the records or mistakes in the review process. Your Realtor will facilitate this.

The final walkthrough – you will be given the chance to look at the home one last time to make sure it’s in the same condition as when you signed the sale agreement.

The settlement – typically, on the Closing Date you’ll meet with the title company’s closing officer, your Realtor, and possibly your lender to verify and sign all the paperwork required to complete the transaction. The settlement will include paying your closing costs, legal fees, property adjustments and transfer taxes. At that point, you’ll receive the property title and copies of all documentation pertaining to the purchase.

Oh, and one more thing – you’ll get the keys!

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