10 steps in How to Buy a Home

10 Steps to Buying a Home!

Here is a summary of the  10 steps that you will take from your home search to closing as  you buy your home.  If you are a first-time home buyer, don’t be overwhelmed by the number of items listed or their Complexity. Your real estate agent, attorney and loan officer will guide you through this process. Many of the tasks are handled directly by these three parties. They will instruct you as to exactly what you must do and will answer any questions that you might have.  Don’t forget, they’ve gone through these procedures many times before.

NOTE: All dollar figures listed in this section are estimates and will vary due to many factors including which region of the country you live in.

1. Using a Mortgage Agent you are comfortable with, determine the price range of the home that you can afford.

It is usually best to have your loan officer pre-qualify you for a loan prior to you starting your home search. This will let you and your REALTOR know what houses you should be looking at to consider buying. Discuss this with your real estate agent. Ask him or her to show you houses in this range in the communities that you would like to live in. Your agent is a good source for inside information on the benefits of the communities in his or her area. For the most part, you should count on spending two to four weeks looking at homes with your real estate agent. This will give you enough time to look at plenty of homes and make your decision. If you take longer than a month, you risk the chance of losing a home that you would have liked to make an offer on, and you’ll have to start the process again.

During this time period, it is also a good idea to get “pre-approved” for a loan.

This is different than a pre-qualification. The bank or mortgage company actually starts your loan process. Having a pre-approved loan gives you an advantage when making an offer in step 2. Ask your real estate agent to recommend a loan officer if you don’t already have one.

2. When you find a home that you want to purchase, the next thing you do is make an offer through your real estate agent. Your agent will provide you with a standard residential sales contract. He or she can also recommend a good real estate attorney if you feel one is necessary. An attorney may or may not be necessary at this point (Most sales contracts are fairly standard), but may be required later in the process if you have any questions or want one to review the contract.

The sales contract will most likely contain some contingencies on riders attached to the contract. Examples of some contingencies are: your obtaining financing for a specified rate and term, selling your current home, and obtaining a satisfactory (to you) home inspection. Your real estate agent or attorney may include other items.

This offer to purchase a home will be accompanied by earnest money of $1,000 or more,depending on the price of the home. This indicates to the seller that you are making a serious offer. The earnest money is normally in the form of a check made out to the Broker(not the seller). It is deposited in an escrow account and will be applied to your down payment. If the sale is not finalized for a reason beyond your control (i.e. due to one of the contingencies), the earnest money will be returned to you. Subsequent offers and counteroffers may take place until all terms are agreed upon by both parties.

3. Have the home inspected by a professional, bonded inspector. (NOTE: The buyer normally pays for the home inspection – it will run somewhere in the area of $200 -$500.) The home inspection usually takes place within five days after signing the contract. If there are any major flaws in the home, they can be dealt with before you have the lender order the appraisal or do anything else that will cost you money. If these issues cannot be dealt with to the satisfaction of the buyer, your contract should allow you to back out at this time.

4.  Apply for a mortgage. You will probably have to pay a loan application fee of $100 to $300. Some lenders also charge you prepaid points. (One point refers to 1% of the loanamount. Points are paid to the lender or mortgage company to cover their cost for the upfront processing of the loan.) You may decide to “lock in” the rate at this time, or the lendermay allow you to do it at a later point in time. (If you have been pre-approved for a loan,some of the steps in this process will have already been completed.)

When you apply for a mortgage, what are some of the items that are needed?

(These may vary depending on the lender and the loan you are using to buy your home with.)

o        Social Security cards and driver licenses

o        Residence addresses for the past two to five years

o        Your landlord’s name and address

o        Names and addresses of each employer (past two to five years)

o        Your most recent pay stubs

o        Two years signed tax returns and W2s

o        Names, addresses, account numbers and balances of all checking, savings, credit cards and installment loans

o        Two most recent bank statements on all accounts

o        Information on any stocks or bonds you own

o        Details of all real estate owned

o        Copy of fully executed sales contract, riders and listing sheet for your current home (if applicable)

o        Divorce decree & child support agreements

o        Application fee


5. You will receive a “good faith” estimate of the closing costs from the lender.

This is called a “RESPA Statement.” It includes the costs for: points, appraisal, title search,title insurance, survey, recording of deeds, and the bank’s attorney fees. Some of these items may be included in the points that they charge.

6.  At this time, there are several other items that may need to be done before the lender gives final approval to the mortgage title, even though the title company stated it was clear.

o        Buyer’s Title Insurance – This covers you, the buyer, in the event that the title is not clear. This is usually optional, but recommended.

o        Private Mortgage Insurance – Again, this is something that most lenders require if your down payment is less than 20 percent of the purchase price. It is a protection for the lender in case you default on the loan.

This is an insurance policy that covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home in the event of a natural disaster. Obviously, this is beneficial to both you and the lender. This is something that you will shop around for onyour own. You can start with your auto insurance company. Your REALTOR may also have some suggestions. With the exception of the homeowner’s insurance, all of the above costs, plus any additional ones such as the appraisal, survey, recording of deeds and the bank’s attorney fees will be included in the RESPA provided by the lender.

The entire cost to you, the buyer, will usually be in the range of $1,000 to $1,500 excluding points. (The actual amount may be higher or lower than these limits.) The amount of points that you will have to pay depends on the lender’s policies, the amount of your down payment, the term and the amount of the mortgage. This means that you should count on having this much cash available besides the amount of your down payment and the amount of points paid to the lender. The down payment is usually a minimum of 3.5% percent to 10 percent of the selling price. Unless you qualify for a special USDA or Rd Loan.  Contact me  for information on those.

So, how much will this cost? Let’s take an example of a $150,000 home. Suppose your lender allows you to put a 5 percent down payment on the house, and your closing costs will be between $1,000 and $1,500, and the amount of points paid is 1.5 percent (of the loan). This would come to:

Down payment: $7,500

Closing costs: $1,000 to $ 1,500

Points: (1.5 percent) $2,138

Total: $10,638 to $11,138

7.  If your mortgage is approved, the lender will send you a letter of commitment. If the following information is not provided, you will request an exact accounting of the closing or settlement costs and the required documents that you will need to bring to the closing.

8.  All of the parties will agree on a closing date. For the closing, here is a list of some of the items that the three parties are responsible to bring.

The lender: RESPA, Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement, the mortgage, the mortgage note, application for any escrow accounts required for the buyer, and the check for the seller.

The seller: property deed, final utility bills, final tax bills, any documents required to clear the title, and keys to the house.

The buyer: cashier’s check for the remainder of the down payment, plus the balance due for any other payments (you will be informed of the amount), any documents required by the lender, you may need your check book for small dollar amounts, and you should have your photo id with you and possibly a 2nd form of id also.  Check with the lender before showing up to closing on that as many lenders are now requiring 2 forms of id.

9. You will select a walk-through date. This is your opportunity to inspect the home one last time before closing. It is usually scheduled a day or two before the closing date.


10. CONGRATULATIONS! Closing day has arrived. After signing numerous documents and taking care of final payments, and the home has recorded then you will become the proud new  owner of your home.  And you have officially bought your own home!