Buying a home is an exciting process. But it can also be highly stressful, especially when you consider that a home is probably the single biggest purchase you’ll make in life.
Preparation is key to making your home buying experience as seamless and as enjoyable as possible. To help you get started, learn more about the home buying process in California with our step-by-step guide.
- Get mortgage pre-approval.
This is an important first step and should be done even before you start shopping for a home. Pre-approval will give you a good idea of how much home you can afford, and will thus be helpful in setting your budget. Moreover, many sellers will only show their homes to buyers with pre-approval.
- Work with a real estate agent.
An experienced professional can take much of the stress off your shoulder and help you achieve the best possible results. They can assist you in finding the right home more quickly than if you were to go it alone. With their finely-honed negotiating skills, they can help you get the most favorable deal and come out as the ultimate buyer in multiple bidder situations. The agent can also handle the mountain of paperwork required in the process.
- List down the features that you’re looking for in a home.
Create two lists – the first to include the non-negotiables, like location, number of rooms, storage space, parking space and others. The second list will include the details and amenities that you want, such as an outdoor kitchen, an entertainment room, a swimming pool, and similar features.
- Search for a home using your lists as guides.
Find a home that has the features on your first list then see how the property matches up with your second list. You may have to compromise and let go of some of your desired amenities to stay within your budget, or to get the primary features that you need.
- Once you’ve found THE home, write an offer letter.
The letter will include your offer price and other terms, including all contingencies. Your agent’s assistance will be invaluable in drafting the letter, as well as in determining your offer price and the terms of purchase. Negotiations start once the seller issues a counter-offer.
- If the seller accepts your offer, the process goes to escrow.
At this stage, you need to finalize financing for the home. The lender will conduct their own appraisal to determine the value of the property. If the appraisal yields no problems, the lender will release the funds for the purchase. Otherwise, you have several options, including re-negotiating with the seller or getting out of the deal.
- Arrange for home inspections and get homeowner’s insurance.
Home inspections are discretionary. It’s highly advised to go through this process, but you may opt not to have an inspection if it can help you close the sale or speed up the process. Homeowner’s insurance, on the other hand, is required in Southern California.
- Close the sale.
More documents need to be processed and signed, with your agent doing most of the legwork for you. The down payment and closing costs also have to be settled at this time. The transaction is considered closed when the title is transferred to your name.