Whether you have bought five houses or you are a first-time homebuyer, it's important to know all of the steps involved before diving in. I created this checklist for you to use when you are ready to make that big step. Print it off and take it with you or save it to your tablet to use as a guide.
o Do you have enough for your down payment? Before even considering purchasing a home, make sure you have a substantial amount of money up front. Substantial means enough to afford the home you've had your eye on. If you have been making those rental payments and have been setting aside money, you've been a smart cookie!
o Visit my website and use the calculator to see if you saved enough and will earn enough each month to make your mortgage payment. Don't forget you will also need money for utilities, car payments, student loans, insurance, groceries, dining out, etc.
o Now contact a lender and make sure you qualify to buy a home. Even if you already own a home and are moving to another one, your qualifications might be different. If you don't know a Richmond, VA lender, please ask. I can recommend some excellent brokers. Your lender will ask for a copy of your driver’s license, your W-2s, bank statement, etc.
o Ask your lender for a copy of your preapproval letter and keep it handy. These letters will need to be submitted with any offers you make and your REALTOR will want to see it up front too.
o Contact me to help you find a home. The amount of homes on the market can be overwhelming and I can help you narrow down your search.
o When you discuss your options, with me or another real estate agent, you will need to sign a Buyers Agreement Form. If you do not sign an agreement with an agent, you will not be represented. That's not a good idea. We are licensed and know what to expect in the process. You might miss something and could be taken advantage of.
o Make sure we meet face-to-face to go over your options too. It's a good idea to get to know your agent before make such a big purchase.
o Have your real estate agent set up showing appointments when it is convenient for you. Keep in mind some sellers will have limitations on showing times. You should also be prepared to take time off from work.
o When you have narrowed it down, be sure to check out the home more than once.
o Provide your agent with your preapproval letter. Be available to sign the offer and have a checkbook handy. Your agent should present your offer with a deposit. This deposit should show you are serious and able to buy the home.
o Be available to counter if necessary. The seller will counter if they do not find the offer acceptable or they might not counter at all.
o Now that you can move forward, your agent will schedule a home inspection and your lender will schedule an appraisal. A wood-destroying insects inspection will be performed at the Sellers expense. You might also want to schedule septic, radon, mold and/or oil tank inspections too.
o After the inspection comes back, determine which items to have repaired and your agent will submit your requests. There might be a counter with these items too. Expect all receipts and repairs to be completed before closing. If these contingencies are removed and you are having second thoughts, you will need to hire an attorney to get out of the contract.
o Your lender will provide you with a Good Faith Estimate, so you know what closing costs will show up at settlement.
o You will probably have a couple of weeks before closing. Answer all questions and concerns from your lender and submit all requested paperwork. Remember, they need these documents because they are letting your borrow their money for 30 years. They do not allow just anyone to buy a home with their funds.
o During these couple of weeks, schedule your mover and schedule the transfer of utilities. You will also have found homeowners insurance company during this time.
o Expect your agent to schedule the closing with the settlement attorney of your choosing. I have some great recommendations for an attorney too if you are concerned.
o Your agent will also schedule a walk through either a day or a few hours before closing. You might have to take some more time off of work for this too. A walk through can take as long as you'd like it to. Its purpose is to make sure the home inspection items were corrected and to make sure the home is in the shape it should be before you become its new owner.
o Your closing will take anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours. It all depends on the questions you have and the amount of paperwork you need to sign.
o You will receive the keys to your new home at closing and this is also the time when you will need to bring a check to cover closing costs and your down payment. The last thing you will need is to provide 2 forms of identification for the closing attorney. They will make a copy and submit it with all of your paperwork.
o The attorney will take the deed and title to the courthouse to record. Your name will show up on the tax records in a day or two. The deed and title will then be sent back to you within two weeks from your attorney.
o If you have any questions after closing, be sure to contact me. I'm here to alleviate stress and to answer questions!
Becky McNeer is brokered by Napier REALTORS® ERA® in Midlothian, VA and is a licensed REALTOR® in Richmond, VA with the Richmond Association of REALTORS®.