- There are a few things that can be done to make your home buying experience much more pleasant.
- Having the right expectations with what is going to happen can have a major impact on your stress level.
- Knowledge and speaking with others that have just gone thru the process will help calm your nerves.
If you're like most people looking for a home, the process has probably taken a few months or longer. Sometimes much longer. Many times during the process there are huge emotional shifts - from the highest highs when finding a home you fall in love with, to what seem the lowest lows when your offer wasn't accepted. It's not uncommon for many buyers to want to give up numerous times during this roller coaster ride of emotions.
So you've gotten past that stage and your offer has now been accepted. Woo hoo! Your family and you are on top of the world! But now all of sudden, that excitement starts to quickly turn into fear. Since it's been a while since you bought a home, you don't really know what happens next but you can briefly remember that the last purchase was very stressful.
Since every state has a different real estate contract as well as closing procedures and costs, I will give you a general outline of what to expect if you live in South Florida. Although other areas are different, this should give a better perspective on what to expect if you live in another state. I definitely recommend speaking to a professional before and during your home purchase. Since many of the deadlines on the contract are negotiable, I will use the most common ones that I come across.
- Besides speaking to your real estate agent and the other people I speak about later, the first step I would recommend would be to speak to friends, family members and co-workers that purchased homes recently. I would ask them about their experience - what stressed them out the most, things that surprised them during the mortgage process, and any other things that stood out after their offer was accepted.
- Once your offer is accepted, you should make an appointment immediately in person or on the phone with your Realtor. Ask the agent to give you realistic expectations about deadlines and expectations. If possible, have him/her give you a calendar with the major events. It's even better if that calendar of events is given to all parties involved in the transaction so that everyone is on the same page with all the dates.
The best agents will go over what to expect prior to viewing properties, but even if this has been done, it's best to go over it again after an offer is accepted. The mindset of a buyer changes a lot before they find a property and after their offer is accepted.
- If you didn't have an attorney review your offer prior to submitting it, now would be a good time to select one to do your closing. In the state of Florida, many buyers use title companies to do their closings. Although there are many reputable ones, I would recommend hiring an attorney to do your closing. The price difference between an attorney and title company doing the closing usually isn't much.
- You need to select an inspector. Typically inspection deadlines are 7 to 15 days. So the sooner you select one, the better off you are. If you don't know any, ask your friends and family and real estate agent. I would highly recommend getting at least a few different options and doing your research to find one that you feel will do a good job.
Keep in mind that no matter how nice or new the house is, the inspector almost always will find a bunch of things wrong with the home. Don't worry about that. This is normal. The inspector's job is to find stuff that you would have trouble finding. The inspection report is usually about 20 or 30 pages and will almost always make any home look like it's a disaster. Don't be scared. I would question the inspector and see if he/she thinks it is home that they would buy.
Inspections can range in price from $350 to $2,000. The size of the home and scope of the inspections typically determine the price. The inspection is money that you pay out of pocket. If the home fails the inspection, it is best to know sooner than later. That way, you won't have to pay for an appraisal because the contract would have been canceled.
- The escrow deposit is typically due within three days or less of the offer being accepted and everyone signing their part. The amount of the escrow deposit is a negotiable item on the contract. The amount usually ranges from 5% to 10% of the purchase price.
- The buyer needs to apply for the mortgage within five days of the offer being accepted. Many people misinterpret getting pre-approved for a loan as applying for the mortgage. The lender will send the buyer a package to fill out that is different than the mortgage pre-approval paperwork.
- If the property being purchased is in a development with an association, typically you would need to apply to the association within five days of the offer being accepted. I would recommend trying to change this date to ten or fifteen days after the offer is accepted. The last thing you want to do is spend the time filling out a bunch of paperwork and paying for an application if the home does terribly on the inspection and you back out of the sale. Find out how long it takes for the association to approve a buyer so there are no issues with the closing date.
Have your agent try and obtain the rules and regulations and financials for the association sooner than later. This way you will know if there are any issues or things that you don't agree with in the bylaws. For example, if you are an investor and find out that you aren't allowed to rent out the property the first year, that may make you change your mind on the purchase or make you want to negotiate a bit more. Also, it is important to verify parking spot(s), any special assessments, additional storage spaces or anything else that is supposed to come with the unit.
- The loan approval is typically 30 days on contracts. So the buyer needs to make sure that he/she is diligent with whatever the bank may require. Since there are numerous departments at the lender that are involved with the mortgage, there may be times that they don't require any paperwork. You may even ask the lender what else they need and they may say nothing. Then at the last moment, they may tell you they need something and they need it right away. Don't worry. This is normal.
- Don't schedule your moving truck until you get as close to the closing as possible. Sometimes transactions blow up at the last minute. So wait until it is almost certain that a closing will take place before scheduling and paying the moving company.
- When you are pretty certain there will be a closing that is going to take place, don't forget to schedule the appointment for your internet/cable provider. Also, don't forget to have the power, water, and mail set up for the day you are moving in. Having no wifi or tv at a home you just purchased will take away a little bit of the excitement.
Good luck with your purchase and remember that this should be a time of happiness for your family and not stress.