The following steps are a guide to help prepare you for the process of buying a home. Of course there is much more to buying a home than what can be covered in a few brief steps, but I hope this information will help you prepare for the home buying process.

1. (Choosing your Realtor)
This may very well be your most important decision. You need to find someone you can trust, someone you are comfortable working with, a Realtor who will represent your best interests in purchasing your home. A Realtor who will go the extra mile for you and will guide you through a potentially confusing and stressful transaction to make it as easy as it can be. You should ask yourself if this person has the experience and the reputation of a knowledgeable and skilled professional and most of all, has this person been recommended by a previous client?  I believe the customer is the best gauge of how well a Realtor does their job. I have built my reputation and my business on the referrals of my clients.

2. (Getting pre-qualified for your home loan)
I strongly recommend that all my clients get pre-qualified.  Many buyers skip this vital step, even though it can be done in as little as 30 minutes. When you know what your budget is, you can search the homes that are within your budget. You will be able to enter into negotiations with confidence. Knowing that you have the pre-approval of your lender actually strengthens your bargaining position. Getting pre-qualified not only helps you during the negotiating process, it also helps you to realize what kind of home you can comfortably afford, (what will your payments be, how much of a down payment will you need, etc.) and ensure that your efforts will not be in vein. Another benefit of getting pre-qualified is that it allows you to correct any errors on your credit report. It also allows you to identify any issues that affect your credit rating and clean them up. You may even find that you can qualify for a low down or “0 down” loan program. There are many programs out there that you may qualify for that you didn’t even know existed. With the help of your Realtor and a good Lender, you may find that you can buy a home that you previously thought you could not afford. Please feel free to contact me directly and I will be happy to recommend a few good lenders that my clients have been happy with.

3. (Finding the perfect home with the help of your Realtor)
This is the fun part. As soon as you let me know what type of home you’re looking for, what part of town you prefer, the price range you’d like to stay within, what features you want in a home and what style of home you prefer, I will show you every home on the market that meets your criteria and take you out to have a look at every home that you would like to see. By seeing all the homes that are available, that match your wants and needs, you will begin to learn more about your expectations. Many buyers find features in one home that they like, but other features that they don’t like. As you view different homes you begin to mentally compile a list of what you like and don’t like. Soon you will begin to better understand what you really want in a home.

4. (Placing an offer)
When you have found that perfect home and it fits in your budget, then it's time to place an offer, with the help of your Realtor of course. This is an exciting step that has the potential of allowing you to purchase your dream home. However, it is very important to follow the proper procedures and know how to protect yourself if any unexpected surprises come up. You don't want to lose your earnest money, if you decide not to purchase the home for some unforeseen reason. This is where your Realtor can really earn their commission. They are there to protect you and get you the best possible deal and the best part is that it doesn't cost you anything. The seller always pays realtor commissions.

5. (Negotiating the best possible deal)
  Deciding what price to offer on a home is greatly dependent on the actual value of the home. It’s very important that you make an informed decision when placing an offer. Your Realtor is vital to this process, because they are very experienced in these matters and have access to information that you may not be able to find on your own.

6. (Have a Professional Home Inspection done)
A home inspection is absolutely vital in this day and age, when purchasing a home. Hiring a professional home inspector can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. The home inspector will thoroughly inspect the entire home, from the foundation to the roof and everything in between, pointing out not only the condition of every aspect of the home, but also any repairs that may need to be performed as well as necessary periodic maintenance that you need to be aware of. Any items that the inspector recommends to be remedied immediately can be negotiated into the Purchase & Sale Agreement and request that it be fixed at the seller’s expense prior to closing. If they refuse, you can then either renegotiate the price of the home or walk away from the transaction.

7.  (Verify accuracy of all property information) This is another step that I highly recommend to all my clients. The chance of discovering that the home you are trying to purchase has an easement for a future road to a development of 500 homes is a remote chance, but believe it or not it could happen. What if there were plans in the future to build a freeway through your property? Do you think you would ever be able to sell that home if something like that was discovered? Of course not! Let’s face it, sellers may not always disclose everything about their property, because they are afraid that they won’t be able to sell it, or the price will be lower than their expectations. As a buyer, it’s your obligation to do a thorough investigation of the home you want to purchase. Your realtor is a fantastic source of information and can help you in many ways, letting you know what to look for and where to find that information. However, because of the potential for legal issues, your realtor will not be able to give legal advice or guarantee such information. It’s your investment and your future home, it would be in your best interest to verify the accuracy of the information given to you by the seller and their agent. As your realtor, I would be able to point out potential issues and help you find the information you need, but my role in these matters would be unofficial. Most of the information is public record and it’s free, you just need to know where to look and who to ask. As your realtor, I’m happy to help you in any way I can, and help you to protect your interests, now and in the future.