The Buying Process

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Checklist with a person using a black marker to check the boxes.Buying a home can get quite detailed. Here are the steps to take to ensure you’re prepared for the exciting road ahead.

Choose a Texas REALTOR®

Why?  A Texas REALTOR® will help you with all the following steps and more.  He or she will save you time and money by researching properties based on your criteria, helping you secure the best mortgage rates, counseling you on the offer amount and terms most favorable to you, and negotiating on your behalf. Ask your friends and relatives for their recommendations, or use the Find a Texas REALTOR® search.

Decide What You Want

Before you start looking, make a list of what you want. Then assign each item a priority. Some areas to consider are:

  • Location: How close do you want to be to your job, shopping, the kid’s schools, or entertainment?
  • Type of home: A single-family house typically provides the most space and gives you fewer restrictions on customizing your home. But a condo offers amenities without yard work—for a price.
  • Age of the home: Existing homes have mature yards and established neighborhoods; however, they require more maintenance. Although new homes aren’t always without problems, they usually require less maintenance initially. Of course, you may have to put in landscaping and endure nearby construction.

Know What You Can Afford

Consider these factors:

  • Downpayment: Most loans require a downpayment. The amount varies, but 20% of the purchase price is typical. If you’re a first-time buyer or fall below certain income thresholds, you may qualify for affordable-housing programs.  Generally, a higher downpayment means better loan terms and a lower interest expense on the mortgage.
  • Qualifying for a loan: A lender will determine how much he thinks you can afford based on your income, employment history, education, assets (e.g., bank account balances, other property, insurance policies, pension funds), and debt.  Check your credit report before the lender does to clear up any problems.
  • Your comfort level: You don’t have to spend $200,000 on a home just because the lender says you can afford a $200,000 home.  Do some math and determine what you’re comfortable spending.

Make an Offer

You’ve figured out your home-search criteria and what you can afford. Now find a house and make an offer.  Your Texas REALTOR® is invaluable in this part of the process that involves many steps, including:

  • Preparing a contract and the myriad details on it
  • Handling negotiations with your best interests in mind
  • Juggling inspections and option periods.

Secure Financing

Unless you’re paying cash for the home, you’ll need a loan. Keep in mind the true price of financing goes beyond the interest rate alone.  Consider items such as points, total lender fees, term of the loan, and penalties for early payment.  The lender will likely require an appraisal to verify that the home is worth the cost of the loan as well as a physical survey.  Repairs may be required.  Insurance must be purchased.  All these conditions and others must be satisfied before a transaction can close.

Close the Deal

After weeks or even months of research and decision-making, you close the transaction, usually at the title company's office. The title agent ask you to sign many, many documents and will explain each one.  You’ll present a cashier's check to the seller, sign another document that itemizes closing costs (the lender will have given you an estimate in advance), and pay your share of the closing costs.  In return, you will receive a deed, transferring ownership rights to you.