Home Buyer's Guide
STEP 1: First Things First
Besides affordability, your credit history is one of the primary factors considered by a mortgage lender. Before you begin your home search, you’ll need to be assured that you’re creditworthy. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
You can do so online at annualcreditreport.com. By taking advantage of this, you will discover if there are errors that need cleaning up or glitches that might affect your ability to get a loan.
STEP 2: Select a Realtor®
Our first discussion will cover all the wants and needs you have in mind. All of our Sales Associates have the expertise, experience and training essential to your buying success. They are bound by a strict Code of Ethics, well versed in the buying process and dedicated to making it as simple and hassle-free as possible. An added plus is that we have offices throughout greater Houston, Galveston, Bay Area, and surrounding counties, which means that your Gary Greene Sales Associate will know the market where you want to buy.
STEP 3: Get Finances In Order & Pre-Qualify For A Loan
Armed with credit score knowledge and a Realtor® to guide you, your next step is deciding how much you can afford, which depends on your income stream, monthly expenses, funds available for a down payment, and current interest rates. Connecting with a mortgage lender to determine your buying and borrowing power, and getting pre-approved for a loan is a logical next step before beginning your home search. You’ll need to have filed your taxes and have documentation of any recent major financial transactions.
STEP 4: What To Look For
Make a list of wants and needs – just make sure that needs come first. Those are items you can’t live without – whether it’s the number of bedrooms or baths, living in a particular school district or some other critical feature. Next, come things you wish for but may opt to forego (a swimming pool, extra storage, etc.). This will narrow the field in the search for your home.
STEP 5: Where To Look
There are many considerations when choosing a neighborhood, not the least of which is location, location, location. But factors like price; school district; property taxes; deed restrictions; and area amenities; even the commuting distance to and from work or schools all play a part. Thanks to our many locations, we’re equipped to provide first-hand, detailed information about all area neighborhoods, discuss their subtle differences, and show you what they have to offer.
STEP 6: Begin Your Home Search
Statistics show that you will certainly begin your search online, but after that initial search, you’ll need the assistance of a Gary Greene Realtor® who will find the homes that meet your criteria, make appointments, and schedule showings on your timetable, handle the details, and make the search experience so much easier. Our ease of access plus our knowledge of neighborhoods and market pricing will save you valued time and greatly expedite the home search process.
STEP 7: Make An Offer
When you’ve found the home of your dreams and it’s time to make an offer, your Gary Greene Sales Associate will advise you on all the details needed to make a fair offer, guide you through the process, handle the paperwork, carefully review that it reflects the terms you want, and present it on your behalf. An offer to buy includes both the price and terms. In some cases, terms can represent thousands of dollars in additional value for buyers – or additional costs. The success of an offer depends on the basic laws of supply and demand: If many buyers are competing for homes, then sellers will likely get full-price offers and sometimes even more. If demand is weak, then offers below the asking price may be in order.
STEP 8: Negotiate The Contract
The negotiating process is a back and forth communication that requires excellent skills, and a clear understanding of all the terms and conditions is crucial. The value of having a trusted Gary Greene Realtor® working on your behalf to reach an agreed upon price and terms cannot be overstated. There are countless factors involved in the negotiating process, including but not limited to:
- Date of possession
- Inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment
The seller may accept your offer, reject it or make a counteroffer. Because counteroffers are common (any change in an offer can be considered a “counteroffer”), it’s important for buyers to remain in close contact with their Gary Greene Realtor® during the negotiation process so that any proposed changes can be quickly reviewed.
STEP 9: Send Executed Contract to Loan Officer
Due diligence completed, it’s time to obtain financing. If you have not already connected with a mortgage lender and gotten pre-approved for a loan, your Gary Greene Realtor will help you find a qualified lender and tell you what personal and financial data to bring with you when you apply for a loan. Once the lender is chosen, it is important for the Buyer to make loan application within the time frame specified in the Earnest Money Contract. When final loan approval is obtained, your Gary Greene Sales Associate can assist you in arranging for homeowner’s insurance and other necessary details prior to closing.
STEP 10: Conduct Inspections
When the terms of purchase have been agreed upon and the Earnest Money contract delivered to the title company, it is time to evaluate the property. The contract should provide time for you to complete inspections of the property before you are bound to finalize the purchase. You should NEVER buy a home without having it inspected by a professional.
Typical inspections are structural, to determine if there are material
physical defects and whether expensive repairs and replacements are likely to be required in the next few years (which generally includes mechanical, plumbing, and electrical), and wood destroying insects. These inspections help you avoid purchasing a home in need of major repairs or damaged by wood destroying insects. Additional inspections that will be required by your lender will include a survey to determine boundaries and an appraisal to determine value.
STEP 11: Other Critical Details
Your Realtor will have already informed you about current real estate values, taxes, utility costs, municipal services and facilities, and made you aware of deed restrictions that could affect your decision to buy. You are also entitled to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your Gary Greene Sales Associate can help you resolve any issues that might cause problems. Also, if you choose a home in a neighborhood with a Homeowners Association, your Realtor will make sure you get a copy of their association packet so you can review it before closing.
STEP 12: Close On Purchase
Your Gary Greene Realtor® represents you and your best interests through the closing. Your Realtor will confirm that all contract and amendment conditions have been met or completed and review a closing checklist; assist in scheduling and conducting your final walk-through prior to closing; review closing figures, closing documents and the title insurance commitment with you so you will know what to expect during the closing process; and, finally, attend the closing to answer any questions or deal with last-minute issues.