Steps to Home Ownership

By Jenni Cordova, Community Assistant Vice President at Honor Credit Union

You’re ready to be a homeowner, and the thoughts of owning your first home put a smile on your face but also brings a lot of questions. Where do you begin? What questions should you have? The process of buying a home can be overwhelming at times, especially for first-time buyers. Read these five quick tips brought you by Honor Credit Union (honorcu.com). 

Meet with A Mortgage Lender: When you start the home buying process, meet with a mortgage lender to review your finances and get a pre-approval.  Be prepared for them to review income, assets, savings, and your credit report to determine not only what you can afford, but what price range you would feel comfortable in. You’ll like submit this pre-approval letter with your offer so that the seller knows you’re qualified to purchase the home.

Selecting A REALTOR®: When selecting a REALTOR®, some things to consider are the REALTOR’S® knowledge of the home buying process, their familiarity with the area, and their negotiating skills.  Hiring a REALTOR® can be beneficial in many ways, as they have access to information on homes that are not always public knowledge.  Things to consider: Is the home located close to places or activities you use in your daily life?  Will it fit your lifestyle?  Be sure to check out the Battle Creek Area Association of REALTORS® at bcaar.com, to learn a wealth of information on homes, REALTORS®, lenders and more.

Time to Go Shopping: When it is time to start looking at homes, bring a checklist of your wants and needs. This helps you to focus on finding the perfect home to fit your criteria!  When you walk through a lot of homes, they start to look the same. What you think you saw in the first house was actually in the last house. To avoid this confusion, be sure to take notes on bedroom sizes, kitchen styles, bathroom features, and what you liked and didn’t like. 

You Found the Perfect House: You have walked through the home of your dreams, and it is everything you want.  It’s time to negotiate and make an offer.  Your REALTOR® will help you think through the amount and terms you should offer, identifying which home items (appliance, drapes, etc.) stay with the house and whether or not you want a home warranty. 

After you have made an offer and it is accepted, you’ll want to submit an earnest money deposit to your REALTOR® and get a home inspection. A home inspector will identify any structural damage, electrical or plumbing issues, or any other issues that may need repair.  If significant problems are discovered, it allows the buyer to re-negotiate with the seller to either fix the issues before moving forward or discuss a lower price.  You’ll want to refer back to your purchase agreement regarding deadlines, inspection periods and contractual obligations. 

Circle Back with Lender: If you have agreed on a price and are moving forward, it is time to circle back with your lender. You may need to provide them with updated financial documents.  By sitting down with your lender, you will finalize the loan type and term that is best suited for you and your financial needs.  After you have agreed on terms with your mortgage lender, it will be time to prepare for closing with your REALTOR®.  A few days before the actual closing, you will receive a final document from your lender that lists all charges you can expect to pay. Make sure you read everything carefully to avoid any surprises. Some closing costs you will likely be responsible for are the down payment, escrow, appraisal, and title insurance.

Congratulations, you did it! You’re a homeowner, and now comes the exciting time of moving into your new home! Get ready to celebrate your first holidays in your new home and decorate as you please. For more information about homebuying or finding a lender or REALTOR®, visit bcaar.com or call at 269.962.5193.

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