Buying your own home is one of the most exciting things you will ever do, but it’s also something that you need to do a bit of research on before you start. You want to make sure you are learning everything you can to get the best deal possible on your mortgage and your final home price. If you want to make sure you are getting your home at a great price, have a look at this article to get a better idea of navigating the home-buying process in 2023.
Step #1: Figure out your Budget
Figuring out your budget might be a little difficult because you might not be aware of how much you can afford. Talking to your bank or a financial expert is the best way to find out how high of a loan you can be approved for. Once you have figured out your financial situation, it will be easier to start going through the local listings.
This step might take a bit longer if your credit score isn’t at the level you want. Your financial advisor will likely let you know your credit score and if you can do anything (paying off loans, building credit, consolidating debt, etc.) to make it look a little better for the lenders. A bank is more likely to give you a better rate or a higher loan if your financial situation is stable so do whatever you need to do to try and sort it out before you start asking around.
TIP: Many different websites offer you “free” credit score checks. These websites can often be wildly inaccurate, or they might even be a scam that requires you to pay to see the score after it’s been calculated. Your bank is the best place to get some help figuring out your accurate credit score, and their services are typically free.
Step #2: Start looking at Homes
Once you have determined your budget, you can start looking for homes! Housing listings provide you with a wealth of information and photos of the house, but nothing beats seeing it in person. This part is typically very exciting, but you want to make sure you are not acting too fast when you see a home you like. There are plenty of great places to look, but most realtors have started to invest their time into keeping their online listings updated, so people can browse incredible homes for wherever they are.
Many homes for sale will offer an open house for prospective buyers, but if you find one that doesn’t have one listed, contact the agent in charge of the listing, and they will likely be able to give you a personal tour. Most people are advised to “flush the toilets and check the taps,” but you should look for things beyond that when you are going through a potential new home. Check for drafts and odd smells and look up for water damage from leaking ceilings. These could be signs of significant issues, and you want to make sure you are getting them addressed before you move in.
TIP: If you are moving to an area that is a bit too far away for a casual drive, you might want to work with a realtor that lives in the area you are moving to. They will be able to vet the home for you in person and typically give you a chance to see it by using a video call. “During the pandemic, many realtors had to make some changes when it came to showing off homes, and many turned to offer video calls as a way for the new buyer to see the house with their own eyes while asking questions they would typically ask during an in-person walk-through,” says Dayton real estate agent Don Shurts.
Step #3: Make an Offer and get it Inspected
Making an offer is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful if you don’t have a good plan in place. A realtor will be able to guide you towards a number based on your financial situation and the value of the home, but the buyer is the one who ultimately decides the number they want to offer first. Sometimes the seller will accept the offer right away, but other times, you might end up in a bidding war with other potential buyers. What you do in this situation all depends on your financial situation and how badly you want that particular home, but either way, you should always make sure you are only offering what you can afford.
When it comes to getting your home inspected, you should make sure you are hiring an inspector certified in the area for home inspections and try to have your real estate agent walk through the inspection along with them. Some people choose to get their inspection done before they make an offer, but others prefer to do it the other way around. Either way, it is recommended (but not required in most places) to get the home inspected sometime before the final paperwork is completed.
TIP: The inspection might end up costing you out of pocket, but it could save you tens of thousands off of the price if the inspector happens to catch something significant. Paying for a good quality inspection might also save you a bit of money with your homeowner insurance company, so it is well worth the price.
After you have completed all of these steps, you can finally sign the final paperwork and move into your new home. This entire process can take a few months or a few years, so make sure you have a plan in place before you start to pack up your existing home. Buying a home is an exciting time, and you will feel much better about the process if you know what is coming up next, so consider hiring a local real estate agent in your area to help you figure out the steps you need to take.