1. Get a REALTOR®
In the maze of forms, financing, inspections, marketing, pricing, and negotiating, it makes sense to work with professionals who know the community and much more. It is always best to use an Experienced local REALTOR® who serves your area. The REALTOR® is the “Hub” of the transaction and will refer clients to the best lenders, home inspectors, closing/escrow companies, and moving companies. A good REALTOR® will know who is experienced, professional, licensed (when necessary), insured and provides great service to his/her clients.
2. Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval
Most first-time buyers need to finance their home purchase, and a consultation with a preferred mortgage lender is a crucial step in the process. Find out how much you can afford before you begin your home search. You will need a mortgage pre-approval before you can submit an Offer; we will show you homes as soon as you receive a pre-approval. **In Fact, due to COVID many Sellers instruct listing agents to only show their home to individuals that are pre-approved for a mortgage.
Get the Right Mortgage for Your Situation
- There are many different types of mortgage programs out there, but as a first-time home buyer, you should be aware of the three basics: adjustable rate, fixed rate and interest-only.
- Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) are short-term mortgages that offer an interest rate that is fixed for a short period, usually between one to seven years. After that, the interest rate can adjust every year up or down, depending on the market. These are good for people who don’t plan on living in their home very long and/or are looking for a lower interest rate and payment. I would STRONGLY advise against an adjustable mortgage now.
- Fixed-rate mortgages are more traditional and offer a fixed interest rate (and thus a fixed monthly payment) for a longer period, usually 15 or 30 years, though they’re available in 20 or 25 year terms. These are good for people who like a predictable payment and plan on living in their home for a long time.
- Both fixed and adjustable rate mortgages can have an interest-only payment. What this means is that for a certain amount of time during the loan term, you’re allowed to pay only enough to cover the interest portion of your payment. You can still pay principal when you wish, but don’t have to if your budget is tight. There is a myth that with interest-only mortgages, you don’t build equity. This is not necessarily true, since you can build equity through home appreciation. The benefit to interest-only mortgages is that you increase your cash flow by not paying principal.
3. Look at Homes
A quick search on our site https://www.homes4saleinri.com/ will bring up thousands of homes for sale. Educating yourself on your local market and working with an experienced REALTOR®, can help you narrow your priorities and make an informed decision about which home to choose. Good REALTORS® will ask you questions about what you want and need in a home and compare that with what you can afford. When you receive listings to consider, before scheduling an appointment drive by them to see if you like the neighborhood. The housing inventory is tight in southern New England, so don’t get frustrated if other buyers get an offer in before you, or they offer more money. That happens A LOT in this market.
4. Choose a Home
While no one can know for sure what will happen to housing values, if you choose to buy a home that meets your needs and priorities, you’ll be happy living in it for years to come. Once you and the seller have reached agreement on a price, the house will go into escrow, which is the time-period it takes to complete all of the remaining steps in the home buying process.
Don’t forget people make money in real estate when they buy it, NOT when they sell it. A good, experienced REALTOR® will help you determine the best “Value” for your situation.
5. Home Inspection
Typically, purchase offers are contingent on a home inspection of the property to check for signs of structural damage or things that may need fixing. Your real estate agent usually will help you arrange to have this inspection conducted within a few days of your offer being accepted by the seller. This contingency protects you by giving you a chance to renegotiate your offer or withdraw it without penalty if the inspection reveals significant material damage.
Remember, a Home Inspection is a “snapshot” of the condition of home on a specific day at aa specific time. Home inspectors typically don’t have access to 2/3’s of the home so they cannot be expected to inspect/observe conditions for areas they cannot see. They cannot see behind paneling, inside walls, or around boxes stacked up in a basement or garage.
You will receive a report on the home inspector’s findings. You can then decide if you want to ask the seller to fix anything on the property before closing the sale. Before the sale closes, you will have a walk-through of the house, which gives you the chance to confirm that any agreed-upon repairs have been made.
The cost of financing your home purchase is usually greater than the price of the home itself (after interest, closing costs, and taxes are added). Get as much information as possible regarding your mortgage options and other costs. Your Lender will take care of all of the financing details, paperwork, arrange the appraisal and keep you informed.
7. Make an Offer
While much attention is paid to the asking price of a home, a proposal to buy includes both the price and terms. In some cases, terms can represent thousands of dollars in additional value—or additional costs—for buyers.
8. Find Insurance
No homeowner should be without insurance. Real estate insurance protects owners in the event of catastrophe. If something goes wrong, insurance can be the bargain of a lifetime. Joe can recommend a good insurance agent who is experienced in working with home buyers – especially first time home buyers.
It is highly recommended that you use the services of a licensed, insured, experienced mover. Whether moving across town or across the country, utilize the services of a professional mover. The potential cost of moving yourself or with “amateur” movers can be significant. Damage to furniture, floors, walls, the cost of renting a truck, quilts, dollies, straps, etc, quickly add up. Then there is always the possibility of bodily injury; hurting your back or someone sustaining serious injury that could involve lawsuits.
The fees charged by a professional mover usually are less than the above potentialities.
10. The Closing
Before the Closing, the Buyer’s REALTOR® should arrange for a Final Walk-Through, of the house to confirm that all of the Seller’s belongings that should have been removed, and those that should remain are still in the house, and that no damage transpired overnight.
The closing process, also known as “settlement” or “escrow,” is increasingly computerized and does vary in different areas. In practice, closings bring together a variety of parties (Buyer and Seller, Closing/Escrow Representative, and sometimes a Seller’s Closing Attorney) who are part of the real estate transaction.
10. Post Closing
Don’t forget to have the utilities, internet access, landline telephone service etc switched into your name. It is much easier to switch service while it is still “on” compared to after it has been terminated.