Part 4 of our continuing series with real life tips from the experiences of our resident recent first-time homebuyer.
So you have been house hunting for what seems like a lifetime. Maybe putting in offers here and there but nothing is really working. Just when you think you can’t look at another place, you walk into “the place”. This is it; it’s the one you have been looking for. You want it and you want it now. There is the moment of “oohhhh” with the sun shining, birds chirping, and soft music in the background all swirling around in your mind (or maybe that was just me).
I was in seventh heaven with a condo I found nestled in my hometown. It was the perfect size for me. It had two bedrooms, bath, kitchen, living area, porch, and best of all a WALK IN CLOSET. Eekkk! It was every girl’s dream. I couldn’t have asked for more; I wanted this place and I was going to do everything in my power to get it.
Step 1: Write an offer to purchase
Work with your realtor to decide on an appropriate offer price. They should provide you with comps (comparisons for similar properties that have sold recently in the area and for how much). This is also the time when you give a deposit of earnest money. More than likely your offer will be rejected and a counteroffer will be made.
Step 2: Negotiate and Counteroffer
Make sure that you have a number that is your bottom line and what you are comfortable with. The last thing you want to do is over pay. It can be tempting to do if you really want a place. Remember even though you might be willing to pay anything, you don’t want to end up paying more than what it is appraised for. If an agreement cannot be met, walk away. You can and will find another place. BUT if an agreement can be reached…
Step3: Accept the contract and schedule home inspection
Be sure to find a qualified home inspector. I used Tiger Home Inspection and recommend them. There wasn’t much that needed repair concerning this condo. If I remember correctly the stove needed to be secured to the wall, the slider needed a new handle, the bathtub needed a little love, and there was a bat living on the balcony. But nothing major 😉 Believe me, the bat was the least of my worries.
This is also a good time to:
- Find out about any special assessments
- Hire an attorney
- Have the property appraised
- Buy homeowner’s insurance
- Buy title insurance
- Secure underwriting
Step 4: Closing process
It is important to have an attorney for this so that they can review the purchase and sale agreement and make sure it is in order. If you’re buying a condo, the attorney will also review the condo documents and condo association budget. Be in close communication with your mortgage lender the whole time. You will want to lock in your interest rate at this time. Also obtain a detailed list of closing costs AND be sure you understand what is expected from you. Closing costs can be confusing, make sure you know what the out-of-pocket expense will be and the final amount you will need the day of closing. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you are unsure.
Step 5: Final walkthrough
During your final walkthrough, make sure that any repairs negotiated during the purchase and sale have been attended to. Turn on everything from the stove to the microwave; flip on and off light switches; look for any water damage that might have occurred; check for signs of vermin; test the a/c and heat; pretty much a mini home inspection. If you find any new issues, have your attorney request financial compensation at the closing.
Step 6: Sign away!
The best and final part of the whole process. Plan on being at the closing for at least 2 hours. When they say sign your life away, they mean it!
The day for closing had almost come for me. I was so excited. Boxes were packed up and I was all ready to make the big move. One week to the day that I was going to sign for my condo, I lost my job. It was all downhill from there…