By Jeremy DeLay, Tulsa Home + Design Realty
So, you’ve decided you’re ready to buy a home, but maybe don’t know where to start? Whether it’s your first time or not, there are quite a few steps to buying a home, and the process can seem overwhelming. In this article, we will look at 9 of the key steps in the process of buying a home to help give you an idea of what’s ahead. There may be more steps than this in your particular situation, but these are 9 things you can be sure will come up when you start the buying process.
- Get preapproved for a Mortgage
- Find a Real Estate Agent
- House Hunting
- Make an offer/Negotiate a sales price
- Get an inspection
- Get an appraisal
- Ask for/negotiate repairs
- Final Walk Through
If it seems overwhelming, don’t worry, you’re not alone! People buy homes every day and every day someone is going through one or more of the steps on this list. Let’s dive in and take a look at each one.
I’ve said it before and I will almost certainly say it again: if you’re thinking of buying a home, the very first thing you need to do is find a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you haven’t talked to a lender and gotten pre-approved, you really aren’t ready to buy a house. You may have an idea in your head what your credit is like or how much you can afford, but unless money just isn’t an object to you, without a pre-approval you really are just taking a shot in the dark. And you’d be surprised how far off you might be in your head vs. your real-life situation. The thing is, without going down that road, you’ll never know. The way the market is right now, in 2021, homes in the Tulsa, OK area are only on the market an average of 18-20 days before an offer is accepted. The thing is, without proof of funds, typically in the form of a pre-approval, you won’t even be able to make a real offer. You don’t want to be too late to bring an offer to the table on your dream home because you were still trying to get your financing in order, so go get that pre-approval first thing!
The second item on the list can really be done first or second, but because of the importance of getting pre-approved and the fact that your agent is going to immediately refer you to a lender if you aren’t working with one, I put it second. I’ve written another article about why you should work with a Realtor, so I won’t rehash all of that here. Suffice it to say, studies have proven that you will get more value out of the real estate process working with a Realtor than without. A couple of things to note here are that your real estate agent has access to the MLS, which has a wealth of information, and listings, not available to the general public. Additionally, your Realtor has (or should have) a pulse on the market and neighborhoods and will work to get you the most bang for your buck. Lastly, I mentioned how quickly homes are selling. Once you’re pre-approved, having a Realtor who can negotiate on your behalf and submit offers to sellers is so valuable.
Next comes the fun part, house hunting! Make sure that when you’re ready to look for a new home, you have a good idea of what you’re looking for. What part of town or specific neighborhoods do you like? Is there a certain style of home you love, or ones you want to avoid? This is the time for you to communicate all of this to your Realtor and get to see what’s out there. While it’s never really like the TV shows in real life, this can be a fun part of the process if you know what you’re looking for and are pre-approved and ready to make an offer on the right place.
Step 4 is really where the value that comes from working with a Realtor really starts to stand out. When you’ve found a place you love and are ready to make an offer, your realtor will draft a formal offer for you to sign and will submit it to the seller’s agent. While there are no set rules for the amount of time a seller has to respond, a common courtesy in the industry that many people follow is to respond within 24-48 hours. Upon review of the offer, the seller can either accept what you’ve offered, decline your offer, or counter the offer, which leads to negotiations. Having an agent to negotiate on your behalf is helpful on several levels. Not only is this their job, so they typically have a good deal of experience practicing negotiations, but they also are more emotionally removed from the process than either the buyer or the seller and are able to keep a more level head and look at the situation more objectively than if you were doing it yourself.
Next up, inspections. In my state of Oklahoma, inspections are not required, but they are recommended. Typically, it’s on the buyer to order and pay for an inspection, which varies in price depending on the type of inspection and the size of the home. According to thumbtack.com, “The national average home inspection cost is $310, ranging higher or lower depending on the inspection company, your location, and the size of your home.” Home inspections can uncover a wide range of issues and defects, from leaky faucets and running toilets, to roofs that need to be replaced and serious foundation issues. Whatever the case may be, it’s better to pay a few hundred dollars on the front end to find a problem you may have to spend thousands on later.
After, or often alongside, the inspection is the appraisal. The appraisal is usually required by your lender to establish the home’s value, which is used in determining and confirming the amount they will lend. Important to note here is that lenders typically will not loan more money on a house than it’s actually worth, so you want to make sure that if you’ve offered more for a house than its appraised value that you are able to cover the difference in cash. Otherwise, this may be the point at which you find yourself backing out of a sale.
Once you get the inspection report back, it’s time to negotiate repairs. For this, your Realtor will complete a TRR form to submit back to the seller. TRR stands for Treatment, Repairs, and Replacements. This is the document that spells out defects found during the inspection and how you want them addressed. Depending on the situation, the property, and the seller involved, they may agree to some, all, or none of the items on the TRR, and this kicks off another round of negotiations. Typically, reasonable requests for basic repairs are agreed upon and made by the seller.
After all of this and once the seller has moved out, it’s time for the final walk-through. This is typically done within a day or two of closing. The final walk-through is your last opportunity as the buyer to inspect the house and make sure that any prior concerns have been addressed and that everything is in working order before you close. From quickenloans.com, “Forgoing a final walkthrough could mean unwittingly taking on a big financial burden, having to pay for a repair you’d already negotiated with the seller to cover, or worse.”
The final step in the process is the actual closing. Closing will usually take place at a title agent’s office, and really, it’s just a formal way of saying signing paperwork. This is also where you’ll get the keys to your new home.
While it can be a daunting process, it’s best to know what you’re walking into ahead of time. If you think you may be ready to start looking for a new home, start working on your pre-approval and working with a Realtor.
*At Tulsa Home + Design, we work with clients at every step of their home-buying and owning journey to help them find and create spaces to live and grow. Call us today. www.tulsahomeanddesign.com