Buying a home can be a little intimidating. For most people, it is the biggest purchase you will ever make. The process involves many steps, requirements, and legalities. If you use a real estate agent and hire an attorney to help you, you can leave most of the issues in their hands, but it still helps to have an understanding of the process.
Start by Applying for a Mortgage
It's usually a good idea to prequalify for a mortgage before you begin house hunting. When you prequalify, the lender will tell you how much you're able to borrow. Preapproval means the lender has already agreed to let you borrow that amount. You'll know the price range of homes you can afford.
Make an Offer on the Home You Want
When you find a home you want, you should make an offer in writing. It should include more than just the price you're willing to pay for the property. You should also tell the seller when you think you'll be able to close on the property and list any contingencies you think you may need. "Contingencies" are clauses that let you get out of the offer if something goes wrong, such as if your financing falls through. Otherwise, when both you and the seller sign the offer, it becomes a binding legal contract.
Make Sure the Home Has Clear Title
After you have a signed and accepted offer, you'll need to find a title company. In addition to handling the closing on the property, the title company will make sure there are no liens against the home, such as outstanding property taxes. You may become responsible for any liens after you own the property.
You Have a Right to a Home Inspection
Your signed offer with the seller should allow you to inspect your new home twice. You should have a professional home inspector go over the property right away to make sure it doesn't need any major repairs. If it does, you can usually renegotiate the deal if you included contingency clauses for this sort of thing in your offer.
You should also walk through the home yourself a few days before closing to make sure there's been no damage since you made the offer.
Closing Wraps Up the Deal
At closing, you'll sign all the documents to take ownership of your new home. The title company generally takes care of all this paperwork for you, but there's usually a fee. The company will fax the documents to your lender, and the lender will fund the transaction, sending the mortgage money to the title company. The title company will pay the seller and record a new deed in your name.
A Real Estate Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding the purchase of a home is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a real estate lawyer.