The central Ohio home buying process (usually 4-6 months from start to close), when boiled down to its most salient items, has 7 basic parts. This post will explain those parts in some detail, with future posts going in-depth on each segment of the buying process.
Step 1. Meet with a Real Estate Professional
Working with a reputable, experienced buyer’s agent – the best deal in town!
Whether you think you’re 3 weeks, 3 months, or 3 years away from buying your first home, meeting with a real estate agent will ensure you’re on the right path. Among many other tasks and duties, a reputable buyer’s agent will
- Help explain the market conditions (no two markets are ever the same);
- Work to understand your unique situation;
- Build your real estate team (agent, lender, inspector, attorney, contractors);
- Assist you with finding the best mortgage;
- Help you locate the right home;
- Negotiate the best price terms, and conditions for your deal; and
- Connect you with reputable vendors for your repair and renovation needs (sometimes with VIP discounts).
If you decide to work with a buyer’s agent (and you should), it’s the best deal in town! A good buyer’s agent is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and well-networked (important for knowing about off-market opportunities and new listings). Based on my experience, their service is at no cost to you, the buyer, because their commission is paid by the seller (including homes being sold by owner).
Step 2. Get Pre-Approved
Show me the money!
We’re in a seller’s market in central Ohio, so knowing how much you can afford is critical to an efficient and successful home shopping experience! Some items your lender will likely need:
- Recent paystubs (to prove employment);
- W-2’s (2 years of tax returns if self-employed); and
- bank statements (likely 2 months worth).
Step 3. Search for Homes
The fun begins!
From visiting open houses, to scheduling one-off showings, your agent will work with you to locate the perfect home prospects. Being as open and honest with your agent about the homes you see (online or physically) will ensure you’re being as efficient and effective with each other’s time.
To accommodate today’s modern, mobile homebuyer, I invite you to visit my brokerage’s site to view homes. There, you’ll be able to search by location, price, property type, school district, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms…etc.
It’s important to know that not every real estate website is the same. Some sites, like Zillow or Trulia, are great for content, but are not sponsored by real estate brokerages, therefore, they’re not held to the same ethical standards (why much of their listing information is inaccurate).
Step 3. Make an Offer
List price ≠ Market Price
Once you locate the home you’d like to buy, your buyer’s agent will prepare a Comparable Market Analysis (aka, CMA) which includes the market value of the home, along with other market stats (e.g., days on market, types of financing used in similar deals). In a seller’s market, a savvy seller’s agent will price their home slightly under market value to drive up the volume of interested buyers, so it’s important to understand the true market value of a home, not the list price!
Step 4. Negotiation and Contract
Your buyer’s agent should be a savvy negotiator!
It may take a few back-and-forth’s between your and the seller’s agent, but the goal in this step is for both parties to agree on the price, terms and conditions that are suitable to all. These terms and conditions include language outlining your timeline for obtaining financing, inspecting the home and property (you should ALWAYS hire a licensed home inspector), remediation of any inspection-related items, along with outlining your rights and responsibilities pertaining to the contract.
Step 5. In Contract
The work begins…
When you and the seller have agreed to the price, terms, and conditions of the transaction, you are “In Contract.” The home is effectively held for you until closing (assuming you and seller perform contractual obligations).
Step 6. Final Details & Closing
Goal is to remove contingencies.
You’re in the home stretch of the deal!
You and and your team will be performing due diligence, like conducting an inspection and agreeing on remediation of any inspectional issues. Your lender with be reviewing final terms with you, ordering an appraisal, and preparing the loan for closing.
Once approved for closing, you and your buyer’s agent (usually the night before of morning of closing) will visit the home to ensure it’s being presented to you per the terms of the agreement (e.g., checking appliances, plumbing, and home condition).
Step 7. Closing
Time to pop the bubbly!
The closing is usually held at the Title Company’s office, but can be held at the Registry of Deeds, a law firm, or any other location the parties agree to. At the closing, the transfer of funds and ownership takes place. At the closing, an attorney or title company representative typically acts as an independent third party facilitator.
If you’d like to start the first step in the journey, let’s chat!