Buying a House for the First Time

You finally found a home you love, and you’re ready to buy. Congratulations! There are still a few more steps you have to take before you can call it home sweet home.

1. Make a competitive offer (within your budget).

It can be hard to know how much you should offer for your first house. That’s when you rely on your real estate agent’s expertise.

Ask them to help you make a competitive offer that’s within your budget and close to the home’s value. Don’t make an impulsive offer you can’t afford just to knock out the competition.

2. Close the deal.

Once the seller accepts your offer, you can close on the house. The average closing process takes 48 days. During that time, your real estate agent will help you handle the remaining steps to buying the house, and they’ll inform you about any roadblocks.

Get a home inspection and appraisal.

Home inspectors can help you spot potential problems so you can fix them—or walk away from a bad deal! If you still want the house, the appraiser will assess its value. You can use the appraisal to try to negotiate a better price.  

Buy homeowners and title insurance.

Lenders require you to buy homeowners insurance, which pays to repair or rebuild your house after a disaster.

Title Insurance protects your home from claims against the property or questions of ownership—like the last owner’s unpaid tax bill or long-lost grandson who claims he inherited your house. It sounds crazy, but it happens. And it’s why title insurance is worth every penny!

Take out a mortgage.

Once you and the seller agree to move ahead with the deal, it’s time to return to the lender and get a mortgage. They’ll walk you through this process. But I can’t say it enough: Don’t let them talk you into borrowing more than you can afford! Stick to the 25% rule. Period.

Do the final walkthrough.

Right before you finally buy your first home, you’ll get to walk through it and make sure everything’s as it should be. This is also your last chance to back out of the deal if something’s wrong, so be thorough.

Sign all the papers (but read them first).

You’re legally responsible for any papers you sign. Read every document carefully and ask your real estate agent to explain anything you don’t understand so you don’t end up in hot water.

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