Wow, you are contemplating a big step in considering the purchase of your first home in the Atlanta area. Take heart, this may be the best time in recent history to purchase a home with interest rates at record lows.
Here are a few simple steps to help guide you as you begin your home search:
- When is the right time to buy a home? Perhaps you are moving because of a job transfer or to be closer to family. You may have been living in an apartment and are ready to have your own place. It's always a good idea to become more familiar with a new location before you decide to purchase a home - local Realtors who know the neighborhood can be a huge help. The right time to buy is when you are ready, but more homes are on the market in the spring.
- How do your finances look? There are many financing options available, but some require a substantial down payment and excellent credit. Lenders have tightened financing guidelines in recent years, so good credit is crucial with mortgage companies, who will scrutinize every facet of your financial history. Make sure all of your credit cards, car payments, etc. are paid on time or paid off for at least a year before you decide to purchase.
- Get pre-qualified with a Lender - Since most of us don't have all the cash to purchase a home, you will need to line up financing for your purchase. It's helpful to have a lender look over your finances and your credit scores prior to making an offer. Reputable lenders can check your credit, offer financing options, like a FHA loan, which allows the smallest down payment and has less stringent credit score guidelines than a conventional loan, provide a pre-qualification letter for a given price range. Sellers look more favorably on offers from pre-qualified buyers.
- Contact a Realtor that specializes in the area you want to buy - buying a home can be pretty complex. It's easy to look at properties online, but purchasing a home involves considerable expertise and local knowledge. There are many steps involved, including financing options, contract stipulatons and deadlines, real estate terms and State laws, negotiating, inspections, and many other details a professional Realtor can help you negotiate from contract to closing.
- Find your "Dream Home" - As you begin your search, make a list of the things that are most important - number of bedrooms/baths/school district/closeness to work. Work with your Realtor to find homes that fit most of your needs. Remember that "perfect" homes rarely exist, so you may have to compromise on a few of your wants, but you will ultimately find a home that fits most of your criteria.
- Making the Offer - You've found a home that you want to purchase - here are the basic steps:
- Determine what price you want to offer and include all stipulations - when you want to close, inspections, contingencies, etc.
- Your Reator will prepare the contract and present the offer to the Seller
- The Seller can accept the offer, reject the offer, or counter the offer
- Once the offer has been accepted, you will need to complete your loan application with the Lender, schedule the inspections and be ready to close on the appointed date.
- Closing Day - You and your Realtor, and sometimes your Lender, will meet at a designated Closing Attorney's office to sign the paperwork and complete the transaction. It's important to remember that the Attorney does not represent you or the Seller, but your Lender. You are required to wire funds prior to Closing for your down payment and any costs to the Closing Attorney. The Attorney will check the title and prepare the documents with your Lender. All taxes on the property will be pro-rated and paid at Closing . After you have signed all the paperwork, you will be presented with the keys to your new home!