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How to Buy a Home

If you’ve never bought a home before or it’s been years it can be overwhelming and a little confusing to know what's happening. Here we outline step by step the home buying process from signing the real estate agreement all the way to possession day! Before starting this process we recommend reading our blog on how to choose a Realtor® here.

A small wooden house that says "Helen Harder Real Estate team" sitting on a table. There is a set of keys beside it and two people shaking hands in the background.

1. Sign Buyers Representative Agreement

Your Realtor® will get you to sign a Buyers Representative Agreement, there are two types of these; exclusive and non-exclusive. We recommend signing a non-exclusive agreement which allows you to use and switch to any agent you want for whatever reason. Aside from the exclusivity this agreement outlines the Real Estate Agents' duties and responsibilities to you as their client.

2. Create a Must-Have List

Now that you have a Realtor® it’s time to think about what you need in a house and what you want. Most houses won’t have everything on your want list but in order for you to move forward we think it has to have everything on your need list!

3. View Properties

Based on the criteria of your must-have list your Realtor® will send you a list of potential homes that might work, now it’s time to view them! We recommend only looking at 3-4 properties per session to avoid getting overwhelmed. As you walk through take notes on what does or doesn’t work and refine your must-have list accordingly.

4. Be Patient

When viewing properties our number one piece of advice is to be patient! It can get disheartening when you don’t find what you’re for looking right away but don’t settle! The right property for you is out there, sometimes it just takes a while.

5. Make an offer

Once you find a place that you can envision yourself living in and that meets your must-have list it’s time to make an offer. This contract outlines the terms that you are willing to offer the seller. It has an offer price (unless you’re in multiple offers we usually recommend taking this opportunity to offer a bit below list price), a deposit amount to “hold the property”, a possession date, along with any additional conditions. The most common conditions are: a financing condition, a property inspection condition, and a sale of home condition. We ALWAYS recommend having a property inspection to provide that extra layer of protection and peace of mind.

6. Negotiate & Sign the offer

Once the offer is sent to the seller, negotiations begin. The seller can negotiate any part of the offer including sale price, included items, and possession date. Once both sides agree on terms and conditions, both sides will sign the final revised offer agreeing to the new terms.

7. Meet Conditions & Sign Waivers

At this point the signed offer gets sent to your mortgage professional to send out and secure financing, this usually takes about two weeks. Once that condition is removed, we schedule a property inspection. If that goes well, we sign off on the waivers confirming that you will be buying the home. If the property inspection has issues you can either re-negotiate the price and/or work to be done or sign a non-waiver stating that you will not remove the condition, and the deal collapses.

8. Switch Utilities

Once waivers are signed it is confirmed that the deal is proceeding and that there could be legal implications if either side tries to back out. In the time between a firm sale and possession date it’s time to get all utilities switched into your name beginning on possession day. You'll also need to get home insurance.

9. Meet with the lawyer

About a week before possession day you will meet with the lawyer and sign all of the mortgage documents. At this time you will need to bring in your down payment and any extra money needed to close (lawyer fees and your portion of property taxes that the buyer has pre-paid for the year and you need to reimburse).

10. Possession Day!

After all of the waiting and searching the day has finally arrived and you get the keys to your new home! Congrats!

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