10 Steps to Buying a Home in 2020

Buying a house can be overwhelming. It’s likely one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. But beyond that, the house you buy becomes the home you cherish — the place where you raise your family, spend most of your time, and make lasting memories. So if you’re looking to buy a home this year in 2020, where should you start? We’ll take you through our entire home buyers guide, step by step.


Find a Great Real Estate Agent

For many home buyers, this is the most important step. Real estate agents can be extremely valuable partners whenever you’re buying a home. They’ll provide you with inside information on neighborhoods and homes that isn’t readily available to the public. They’ll also know all of the ins and outs of the home buying process, how to negotiate for a better deal, and how to find homes that check all of your boxes. And the best part? Getting a real estate agent doesn’t cost a thing — they only get paid by commission by the seller of the house.

Figure Out Your Budget

How much house can you really afford? In most cases, lenders recommend that home buyers should look for homes that don’t cost over 3-5 times their annual household income, provided their plan is to make a 20% down payment and they have just a moderate amount of additional debt. For example, if your annual income is $100,000, look for a house that’s in the $300,000 to $500,000 range. Getting prequalified for your mortgage and pre-approved for credit is another good way to figure out how much you can reasonably spend on a house.

Start your Search

Start your search by doing some homework. Begin looking at websites and catalogs of real estate listings. Keep track of how long homes you’re interested in tend to stay on the market. Take note whenever asking prices go up or down. That way, you’ll get a good feel for housing trends in different neighborhoods.

Shop for Your Home

Time to go shopping! Start touring houses within your price range. Chances are, you’ll see a ton of houses — keep track of which is which by taking notes, photos, and video. Evaluate all kinds of details, from the quality of the neighborhood to how strong the water pressure is. Be patient as you look for the right home — it might take time, but it’ll be worth it.

Make an Offer

Once you’ve fallen in love with a house, work with your real estate agent to negotiate a fair offer, taking into account the asking price, the climate of the market, and prices of comparable houses in the same neighborhood. Once the seller accepts your offer, the house goes into escrow.

Inspect the Home

More often than not, purchase offers are contingent on a home inspection of the property. These inspections check for significant structural damages or any other things that might need repairing. Your realtor will help you arrange an inspection within a few days of the seller’s acceptance of your offer. If the inspection reveals significant damage, you’ll have the chance to withdraw your offer, change your offer, or ask the seller to repair anything on the property before closing the sale. Then, before the sale closes, you’ll walk through the house one last time to make sure that any of those repairs have been adequately made.

Select Your Loan

Every home buyer’s financial needs are different. Work with a mortgage banker or other trusted lender to find a loan with terms that best suit your individual needs — whether you’re looking to keep your monthly payments low, pay off your home quickly, or make it easier for you to move in the next couple of years.

Appraise the Home

Your lender will have a third-party appraiser provide an independent estimate of your home’s value. They’ll then let each party know that you’re paying a fair price.

Close the Sale

Make it official! Once you’ve completed everything else on the home buying guide, your lender and your real estate agent will coordinate all necessary paperwork you need to sign in order to complete your purchase. Once everything’s signed, you’ll typically have to wait a matter of days for your loan to be funded.

Move in!

Hooray! Once the check is delivered to the seller, you’re all ready to move in and call your new house home!

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