So you’ve decided you want to buy a home. First of all congrats, that's awesome! However if you’re like most first time homebuyers, you probably feel lost and have no idea where to even start. This guide is a great reference point for you to get started and have an idea of the process from start to finish. If you have any questions or are in need of a realtor around the Lancaster, PA area I’m your guy! My contact info can be found at the bottom of this page. Reach out any time via call/text/email or DM me on any of my social media pages. But okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way let's dive into this home buyer guide.
Step 1: Get Your Finances in Order
Before you begin your search for a new home, it's important to get your finances in order. This includes checking your credit score, saving up for a down payment, and determining how much you can afford to spend on your monthly mortgage payment. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to put 20% down to buy a home. In fact you can buy a home with as little as 0% down. As for your credit, every lender is going to be different. Some will work with a score as low as 580 and others will require a higher credit score. Of course you want your credit as high as possible but anything over 720 is typically considered excellent. Your lender can talk with you in more detail about these things during the next step though. Additionally, it's important to consider other expenses like closing costs which can range between 5-8% of the purchase price of the home, moving expenses, utilities, and potential repair costs. This is also a good time to start reaching out to realtors in your area. If you live around the Lancaster, PA area this is when you call me!
Step 2: Get Pre-Approved
Once you have your finances in order, the next step is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This involves sitting down with a lender and discussing your financial situation in detail. They will review your credit score, income, debts, and other financial information to determine what you can realistically afford to spend on a home. They’ll also talk with you about the different types of loan options you have available to you. Most first time homebuyers typically aren’t in a financial position where they can afford a large down payment. Because of this, there are a ton of programs out there specifically geared toward first time homebuyers that your lender can discuss and recommend to you based on your unique situation. If you don’t know of any lenders near you then your agent will certainly have some they can recommend to you.
Step 3: Develop a Game Plan
With your pre-approval in hand, it's time to develop a game plan for your home search. This is where you’ll sit down with your real estate agent and discuss what you're looking for in a home, including the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, location, and any other must-haves. Your real estate agent will use this information to search their database and send you properties that match your criteria.
Step 4: Tour Properties
Once you receive a list of properties from your realtor, it's time to start touring homes. Your agent will schedule showings for any properties that you're interested in and accompany you on the tour. It's important to take your time and thoroughly inspect each property to ensure that it meets your needs.
Step 5: Make an Offer
Once you find a property that you love, it's time to make an offer. Your agent will help you submit an offer that reflects the current market conditions and your budget. It's important to be flexible during this process and be prepared to negotiate with the seller if necessary. There are a lot of different contingencies and parts of the offer that your agent will walk you through. If the offer gets declined or the sellers decide to go with another offer, try not to stress over it too much as this is very common. It is very common for buyer’s to have to write multiple offers on different properties before getting one accepted. If it does get declined, you’ll just go back to the drawing board and keep looking for properties.
Step 6: Under Contract Process
If your offer is accepted, the busy work officially starts. At this stage you’re going to have much more communication with your lender, title company, and transaction coordinator. You’ll order any inspections that were elected, secure your loan and make sure the title is clear of any liens or clouds. Depending on the results of the inspections, also be prepared for another round of negotiations if there are any repairs that need to be made. This entire process can typically take a few weeks to a month.
Step 7: Pre-settlement Walkthrough
The next step is the pre-settlement walkthrough, which is typically done on the same day as settlement. During this walkthrough, you'll do a final examination of the property to ensure that everything is still in good condition and no problems arose since your initial showing. This typically only takes about 20 minutes or so. Once you’re done looking at the house and you're satisfied with it, you’ll head over to where your settlement is being held.
Step 8: Settlement
The next step is settlement. This is where you'll officially close on your home! This usually takes place at either the realtor's office or title company’s office. This is where you'll bring your checkbook and pay your closing costs and sign a BUNCH of papers (Pro tip: drink plenty of water and get your potassium in to avoid a hand cramp.) Once all parties sign off on everything, your agent will get to hand you your keys to the house and you'll officially be homeowners! You can then start the process of moving everything into your new home and making everlasting memories!
Step 1: Get finances in order
Step 2: Get Pre-approved
Step 3: Develop a game plan
Step 4: Tour properties
Step 5: Make an offer
Step 6: Under contract process
Step 7: Pre-settlement walk through
Step 8: Settlement!
Buying your first home can be an exciting and overwhelming experience, but with the right preparation and guidance, you can find your dream home and start building equity in your future. If you’re in the Lancaster, PA area and looking to buy a home, reach out to me! I would love to be your go to realtor here in Lancaster, PA. Also, if you found value in any of this, please share it with anyone else you know who might be looking for a home!
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Call/Text: (717) 572-0629
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