Buying a home can be stressful. There is much to think about.
Finances, finding a home that you like, and competitive markets can make the ordeal very frustrating. You also have to be rather patient throughout.
The entire process can take months or even up to a year in some cases. There will be many people to interact with and a lot of moving pieces along the way.
Buying a home in Alabama may seem like a stressful process, but it’s really not that bad. You just need to take the time necessary and be patient.
The reward of home ownership is definitely worth the trials and tribulations that you may endure along the way.
Here are six key steps to buying a home:
1. Start planning.
The first step to home buying is getting yourself ready to become a future homeowner. You should start saving for a down payment as soon as possible.
It’s also a good idea to be pre-approved for a home mortgage loan. Obtaining a pre-approval letter from your lender gives you a good idea as far as what your budget and price range should be.
Talk to your lender so that you understand loan payment terms and how much you should expect to save for a down payment.
Once you’ve been pre-approved for a loan, you can start to think about what kind of house you want and where you want to live.
You should consider things like proximity to schools, doctor’s offices, grocery stores and other amenities in the area.
You can start looking at homes right away if you’d like, just to get a realistic view of what’s currently available and the prices that sellers are asking for.
Related: Tips For First Time Homebuyers
2. Hire a real estate agent.
The next step is to consult a realtor. Talk to them about what kinds of houses and neighborhoods you are interested in. You can also discuss your budget and local amenities that you find appealing.
The real estate agent will start researching possible properties that may suit your needs. They will schedule open house visits and can assist you with things like scheduling a home appraisal and inspection and working with a title company.
You can go without a realtor, but it’s not recommended.
Realtors have years of education and expertise. They know the market. They work tirelessly day and night to find the best homes in the best neighborhoods for their clients.
Real estate agents are very beneficial when it comes to navigating all of the paperwork that’s involved in a typical home sale.
They are also bound by a strict code of ethics and conduct. Realtors work for your best interest. They want you to be completely satisfied with the transaction.
3. Start looking for homes.
Now that you’ve met with the realtor, the fun part begins: looking at homes! When meeting with your realtor, you should have a list of necessities as well as a list of things that would be nice to have, but aren’t deal breakers.
This will help the agent to narrow down their searches to properties that are more suitable for what you have in mind. They can talk to home sellers and sellers’ agents to set up open house viewings for you to attend.
You should attend several open houses to get a feel for what each property you are considering is like. Feel free to take notes and ask questions. There may be items that may need repairs or just minor touch-up work.
This can be anything from installing new siding and gutters to replacing light bulbs or having a leaky faucet fixed. Sometimes the seller will do this work before the sale is completed. Other times you can elect to do this work yourself in exchange for a reduced sale price.
4. Get your financing in order.
One of the most important parts of the home buying process is getting your finances in order. Getting pre-approval for a loan is the first part of this process.
The rest involves saving and accumulating enough funds to be able to pay for the house that you want.
You’ll have to factor in the cost of the down payment, closing costs, monthly utilities, any upgrades or renovations that you want to do and any monthly townhome association dues that may apply.
Your realtor will help you understand the costs associated with buying a home so that you can prepare your finances accordingly.
Take some time to prepare a budget and set aside a certain amount or percentage of your take-home pay every pay period for this. You should also have some funds set aside in case of emergencies or any unexpected expenses that may arise.
5. Make an offer on the home you want to buy.
When you’ve found the home that you want, it’s time to make an offer! Your offer should be reasonable according to both your budget and current market conditions.
Your realtor can help you make a fair offer. The seller can accept your offer, reject it or make a counter-offer.
If the offer is not accepted, you can always choose to make a counter-offer or renegotiate. Sometimes offers are contingent upon the seller’s ability to buy another property.
6. Close the deal.
Once the offer is accepted, the final step is to close on the property. You can walk through the home one more time to make sure everything is in satisfactory condition.
If everything is okay, you can start signing the paperwork that finalizes the transaction. After everything is completed, you’ll be given the keys and will be all ready to move in to your new home!
These are the basic steps for home ownership. Each one of them requires careful thought and planning.
Talking to your realtor and lender can give you a realistic expectation for every step along the way. It’s a good idea to set a schedule or timeline so that you know what to do during each step.
Just keep in mind the fact that this can go by faster than you realize. You’ll soon be on your way to becoming a homeowner before you know it. It’s a significant accomplishment that takes time and perseverance, but the effort and investment is definitely well worth it.
Have Questions? Ask Gina!
Buck Realty is the best source of information about the local community and real estate topics. Give Gina Buck a call today at (334) 657-0939 to learn more about local areas, discuss selling a house, or tour available homes for sale.