Buying a home—especially in a competitive market like the Triangle—can seem like a daunting process. But if you educate yourself and work with the right agent, it's actually a lot easier than you might expect. If you're ready to start your search off on the right foot, just reach out to Hunt for Homes. We'd be happy to help you navigate every step of the buying process!
The Seven Steps to Home Buying Success
Step 1: Take a look at your finances
Before you even start searching for homes, sit down and take a hard look at your finances. You'll want to determine your debt-to-income ratio (the amount of money you spend paying off your debts each month), as well as how much you have saved for a down payment. This will help you figure out what you can afford to spend on both your home and monthly mortgage payments.
Most experts recommend having 20% of a home's total purchase price saved up for a down payment, but there are a variety of flexible loans that require even less. You may also qualify for a down payment assistance program, so be sure to research all of your options.
Step 2: Get preapproved for a mortgage
Once you have a general idea of what you can afford, you can begin shopping around for a mortgage. Mortgages come with many different terms and interest rates, so it's crucial to research the kind that's right for you. You may even be eligible for a loan backed by the federal or state government, such as a USDA loan or VA mortgage.
After you've narrowed down your options to a few lenders, you'll want to apply for preapproval. Being preapproved means a lender has reviewed your finances and cleared you to borrow a certain amount of money at a set interest rate. Many agents and sellers won't view you as a serious buyer until you have your preapproval letter in hand!
Step 3: Find a local agent
Working with the right agent can make or break your entire buying experience, so it's important to spend a lot of time interviewing potential candidates. Not only will your agent help you track down the right home, but they'll also serve as a guide throughout the entire buying process. You'll want to work with someone who's familiar with your target area and price range—you should also get along on a personal level, too!
Step 4: Start touring homes
Now it's time for the fun part: touring homes and attending open houses! With so many listings on the market, it can be a little overwhelming to narrow down all your options. Try jotting down a list of your wants and needs to keep yourself focused on what you're really looking for in a home. Consider taking photos and making notes after each showing so you remember what you liked...and what you didn't.
Have questions about a specific home or neighborhood? Your agent will be happy to offer their expertise!
Step 5: Make an offer
When you find a home that checks all the boxes, it's time to take the next step and put in an offer. Your agent will handle all the paperwork for you, but you'll still have to decide on a price and any contingencies, such as a home inspection or appraisal.
In today's market, many homes sell above their initial list price—and it's not uncommon for sellers to request your best and final offer upfront. Your agent will be able to help you come up with a number that's both fair and competitive.
Step 6: Get a home inspection
After a seller accepts your offer, you'll deposit your earnest money into an escrow account and enter the due diligence period. As a buyer, you can use this set amount of time to do more research on a home and make sure you still want to buy it. This is also when you'll have your inspections, appraisal, survey, and review all documents related to the title. If you uncover any issues with the home, you can negotiate repairs or price reductions with the seller.
Step 7: Finalize your loan
You've almost made it to the finish line! Now is the time to work with your chosen mortgage lender to formally apply for your loan. Being preapproved helps shorten this process quite a bit.
Be prepared to sign a lot of paperwork and have all of your financial documents on hand. Your lender will need this information to formally issue your loan.
Step 8: Sign, close, and pay!
The big day is finally here—the closing! On a predetermined date, you, the seller, and your agents will meet up to sign any remaining paperwork and finalize your loan. As a buyer, you may have to pay for certain closing costs, such as attorney fees, title insurance, government recording fees, and taxes. However, some charges will be covered by the seller.
Once the title is transferred and the deed is recorded, you're ready to move in. Congrats!
Turn Your Real Estate Dreams Into Reality
If you're thinking about making a move in the Triangle, Hunt for Homes is here to help! Our team of expert agents would love to guide you through every step of the buying process—and we're always just a phone call, email, or text message away.
Need to sell before you buy? Ask us about our 2% discount listing fee!