The 6 Keys to Buying a House
We first have a conversation to determine your wants & needs for your new home. What style and how many bedrooms are important considerations, but just as important is the amount a bank or mortgage company will loan you. The best thing you can do for yourself before ever looking at one house is to get pre-approved with a bank or mortgage company. Most sellers will want to see this done before they’ll look at any offer. It is for your benefit too in the negotiating process. I can also explain "buyer brokerage" which means that my loyalties are 100% for you--the buyer.
After deciding what exactly you're looking for, I will help you select homes to visit in person. You may choose any home listed by any company. I will then set up appointments for each showing. If you visit an open house just say, “We’re working with (your agent’s name).” If you are curious about a home you drive by, simply tell them the address for the complete details on any home listed by any company. You don’t need to call anyone else for information.
Making An Offer
Once you've seen the home you want to buy, your REALTOR® will explain all the wording in the necessary forms and help you prepare a successful offer to purchase. You will also need to provide an earnest money check (typically about ½% of the purchase price), that accompanies your offer and shows the seller of your serious intentions. your REALTOR® will then present your offer and negotiate it for you. If you are not sure about the condition of the house, this is the time to make your offer contingent upon an inspection. If the offer is accepted, this insures that you will have the opportunity to hire a professional contractor to “check-it-out”. Remember, this must be written down in the offer. You can’t add conditions to your offer after all the changes are final.
After the offer is accepted there will be a 7 day period to hire any inspectors you want. Typically, there will be a “whole house” inspection, a termite inspection and the bank will also want to send out a real estate appraiser to confirm that the house is worth what you paid for it. There may also be other inspections or contingencies that will lead to further negotiation, but none of these things will necessarily “kill the deal” if both buyer and seller are willing to cooperate in finding a solution. However, if you are not pleased with any portion of any inspection, you should have the option to void the contract and receive your earnest money back. The termite inspection varies slightly from this rule which Matt can explain further in detail.
After the appraisal validates the price you paid, and you are satisfied with all the inspections, the seller's attorney does a "continuation" of the abstract (mandatory for Iowa properties), followed by the bank's and/or your attorney who will do a "title opinion" to insure against any liens or other title errors. This process takes about 10 days. Illinois properties can by-pass this process by using title companies and title insurance.
30-40 days after you’ve found your house, we go to the closing. It lasts about an hour. Present at the closing are the buyers, the sellers, their attorneys, the representative for the lending institution, and the REALTORS®. Sitting around a large table, all the mortgage documents are explained to you in detail. And after all the papers are signed, you’ll receive the keys and become a proud new homeowner!