Important Home-Buying Steps You Don't See on TV
Don't Start With House Tours
House hunting isn't the first step toward home buying. In fact, the buyers you see on TV did a lot of work before they went to look at listings. You'll want to gather together your financial information, from your bank statements and tax returns to confirming your credit score is accurate. Pre-qualify with a lender so you know in what price range you should be looking.
House Hunting Takes Time
You don't just look at three houses and find your dream home. (Or if you do, you're one of the lucky ones!) Looking for a house definitely takes longer than a half hour. Working with a trusted real estate agent will help speed up the process. Once you've discussed your housing must-haves with your real estate agent, he or she will have valuable information on how to find the right neighborhood and home for you.
Offer Accepted! All Done?
Smiling homeowners holding a "Sold" sign in front of their new home. Cut to credits. It's just as exciting in real life, but it's not the end of your home buying experience. You've got work to do. Your closing date is set 30-45 days after your offer is accepted. During that time, you'll work with your mortgage lender, who will verify your application and send it to underwriting for final approval on your loan. You'll also need to secure your homeowners insurance.
Don't Skip the Inspection
When shows go from first time looking at a house to closing in 22 minutes, they leave out a few steps. One appointment you don't want to forget is the home inspection. When you sign your contract, there will be a timeline of when the inspection needs to be completed. Ask your real estate agent or mortgage lender for reputable inspectors, they can offer the names of several inspectors from whom you can select. Remember you can have multiple inspections made, if desired. The inspection is key to learning if there are any repairs you'll want the sellers to handle before finalizing the deal.
Be Aware of the Hidden Costs
Budgets play a role in every show, but it's typically limited to how much the buyer can offer. What TV shows don't delve into is all the unseen costs of owning a home. Not only will you have your monthly mortgage, but you need to include property taxes, homeowners insurance and possibly a homeowners association fee. Another expense to consider is closing costs. Sometimes sellers will pay it, but often the buyer is responsible for half or all of closing costs.