A Complete Guide to Homeownership

Posted by Phil Boren on Friday, February 19th, 2016 at 3:27pm.

Homeownership is essentially the biggest financial decision you'll ever make in your lifetime and it can be both scary and exciting. If you think you're ready to dive in head first to homeownership but you're not sure where to start, you don't have to worry. We've got you covered with our steps to homeownership in Northern California.

Define What You're You Looking For

Buying a home is about more than the here-and-now – buyers need to truly think about their long-term plans and what their future holds. For example, if you're in your late twenties and single but hope to start a family one day, then you may not want to look at smaller condos and apartments. Think about the kind of home you see yourself growing into and go from there.

Find A Real Estate Agent

northern california home buyingFinding a real estate agent that you trust and understands your needs, wants and financial situation is one of the most important parts of buying a home. Once you let your real estate agent know what you're looking for, you can rest easy. They'll do most of the work for you – from scheduling viewings to paperwork and closing.

Start The Loan Process

Another key step to home ownership is finding a lender and establishing your financing. By getting pre-approved, you're allowing lenders to review your finances and credit history in-depth so they can suggest a loan amount. This is important to help you know what you can afford and how much a lender will approve for you. Additionally, this is something you'll want to do before you find your dream home so that you're not scrambling to find a lender later. And you'll want to do some heavy research in search of the best interest rate for you. Ask your real estate agent for a lender recommendation.

Start Searching

Now, it's time to begin the fun part – finding your dream home. After you've explained to your real estate agent what you're searching for, they'll compile a list of suitable homes. Choosing an ideal location is an extremely important part of the home buying decision. Keep in mind, an older home in a popular location will almost always have a higher resale value than a brand new home in a less desirable area. And don't forget to stick to your list of priorities. Don't settle for a home that is “good enough.”

Set Up Your Funding

Once you've found the home you can't live without and you want to make an offer, get your financing locked-in. Submit a loan application with a mortgage broker and have the documents (pay stubs, tax returns, etc.) required handy. Ask the agent that is pre-approving you for a list of all paperwork needed. Additionally, you'll want to decide how much of a down payment you're comfortable with. If you're a first-time home buyer, ask your real estate agent about special programs that may require a small down payment.

Make An Offer

Once your financing is in order, you'll be ready to make an offer. Discuss with your real estate agent an appropriate amount to offer. The seller will either reject, counter or accept your offer. Your agent will be proposing your offer to the seller's real estate agent until there's an agreed upon price.

Acquire Insurance

Insuring your home is so important and is essentially, investing in your future. There are many different types of insurance including title insurance, homeowner's insurance, flood insurance and home warranty. Title insurance protects the homeowner in the event of a lien or unpaid taxes that could fall on you or make the property sale invalid. Additionally, homeowner's insurance financially protects you in the event of fire, thefts or other liable coverage.

Closing Day

Many closings usually occur about 30 days after a contract is signed. This is all dependent on home inspections, title searches, appraisals and surveys. Once everything is a go, you'll complete the closing process and the title of the property will be transferred. You'll want to do a final walkthrough of the home to ensure the property's condition has not changed.

The steps to homeownership may seem overwhelming, but with the help of an experienced real estate agent, can be a smooth and seamless process. And once you're all moved in, you'll be happy to be adding escrow to your home.

Contact RE/MAX Gold if you're interested in purchasing a home in the Northern California area or to learn more about homeownership.

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Phil Boren
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