Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or are returning to the market, it’s important to understand the steps to buying a home in NC today. And if it has been a few years, you may notice a few changes! Here’s a run-down:
- Financial Prep work—18-24 months (or more!) before purchase you should be cleaning up your credit report and organizing your down payment. Shoot for at least 20% of the home price for the best mortgage rates.
- List of what you want in a home—this is the fun part, but while you’re dreaming, be sure you prioritize the must-have’s vs the nice-to-have’s. Consider location and type of property, as well as house style, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, special amenities, HOA or no. This is one of the most important steps to buying a home in NC—or anywhere!
- Mortgage pre-approval—different from a pre-qualification (which just tells you roughly what you can afford), getting pre-approval from a lender will require a look into your credit report and some financial details. Many sellers will require pre-approval before accepting an offer.
- Hire a full-service realtor—your professional real estate agent will not only help you find homes with the best options to fit your needs list, they’ll also be your advocate throughout the complex buying journey.
- Launch your home search—you and your realtor will both be searching, online and off. And as you both uncover and tour possible properties, be aware that the details will quickly start merging together, so take good notes, and even photos, as you go. This will help you remember what you like (or don’t like), later.
- Make an offer—this is typically an area where your real estate agent will be particularly invaluable. Especially in a competitive seller’s market (like what we’re seeing in 2020), they have the experience to help guide you in making an offer that will lead to the best chance to get an offer accepted, with minimal back-and-forth.
- NOTE: One step to buying a home in NC that might differ slightly from years past is with earnest and due diligence money. Today you’ll typically offer both to demonstrate your commitment to the seller. [Check out this handy brochure from the NC real estate commission for more details.]
- Schedule your home inspections—once your offer is accepted, your property will require home and HVAC inspections, and possibly radon and termite too. The inspections will reveal any needed repairs in your whole structure, from foundation to roof, and all its systems. As you learn more about the property, more negotiation may be required. Leaning on your realtor’s expertise during the back and forth, multi-stage negotiation process will help you have a better outcome.
- Get a mortgage—there are many types, and the best option will depend on your credit score, income, down payment money as well as the market rates and lender you select. Getting a few options may be a good move, but don’t go overboard because those extra credit checks can ding your credit score.
- Home appraisal—an appraisal is always by an independent party, and is required to confirm the value of the home. A lender won’t give you more than the home’s appraised value, so if the appraisal value comes back lower than your offer you’ll need to come up with the difference, and/or re-negotiate your offer.
- Title and title insurance—you (or you and your lender assuming you’re getting a mortgage) need clear title to your property, confirming no one else has any claims on the home. Title insurance protects you against any hidden liens.
- Final walk through—the walk through is when you confirm the home is in the condition you agreed to. Typically the seller will not have access to the property after the final walkthrough.
- Closing—you and the sellers, and your attorneys and realtors, will meet to sign mounds of paperwork (contracts and more). You’ll hand over down payment checks (or its wired from your bank), and finally get the keys to your new home!
For premiere service and expert assistance navigating the many steps to buying a home in NC, contact Alexy Realty Group.