When should you start looking for your new home? When should you talk to a lender? How long does it take to go from an offer to moving in? How soon is too soon to start touring? How to coordinate buying with the sale of a current home? As Exclusive Buyers' Agents, we will assist you every step of the way.
Practices vary from state-to-state. Here are some rough guidelines for purchases in the Carolinas where the home buying process is relatively easy and buyer-friendly.
If you are planning to buy an existing home*, start backwards from the day you want to move in:
Immediately - Go on line and get a free copy of your credit report to verify there are no errors. If you have any blemishes in your credit history, talk to a lender about the best ways to fix those and improve your credit score. This is the official government site where you can get a free credit report: Official Government Web Site
Immediately - Have a conversation with a lender to find out how much of a mortgage you qualify for. Then decide where your comfort zone is.
Up to 18 months out - Start talking to us about what you are looking for. We can assist you with general research on market prices, schools, commute times, etc. Search available homes on our web site. Review and discuss the currently available homes to get a feel for prices and to communicate your preferences with us. Start narrowing in on towns and neighborhoods of interest. Ask lots of questions!
3 to 12 months out - If you have a home you need to sell before buying, get it listed.This time-frame varies greatly based on the market you are in, but it almost always takes longer to sell than to buy. Almost no sellers in our market will consider offers that are contingent on the sale of another home unless it is under contract and has already passed inspections and appraisal. Whether you are local or out of the area, we can recommend an experienced listing professional to help you.
3 to 9 months out - Give one lender everything they need to pre-qualify you for the maximum mortgage amount you want. This means they have checked your credit and based on the numbers you have given them, determined the maximum purchase price you should be considering. Discuss types of mortgages available and when to lock in an interest rate.
3 to 9 months out - Do a driving tour with us through communities and neighborhoods that interest you. We will show you all the points of interest, provide you with neighborhood & other data, and tour some homes.
3 to 4 month out - Request a PORTAL web site of home listings. (See a Sample) This is a web site we custom build based on your criteria. There you will see all properties that fit your needs the instant they are listed. You will sort them into folders for Favorites, Possibilities, and Discards. You will type in comments and questions for us to see and reply to. Most important: We will provide additional information about each favorite property. This is the best way to narrow in on the list of homes you want to see and be certain you aren't missing any.
1.5 to 3 months out - When you are in a position to write an offer, we can tour every single home that you have interest in seeing and that fits the budget you have been qualified for. We will provide you with a ton of information and you will make note of your favorites using spreadsheets & tools we provide. Narrow down your choices, revisit as needed, and choose a favorite. In popular communities, expect to have to make a quick decision. Good homes sell quickly! We will provide you with a complete market analysis of that property so that you can decide how much it is worth to you. Choose which lender you will be using and ask them to pre-approve you for a mortgage. This means that they have everything they need from you except the address of the home you are buying.
45 to 75 days out - Write and negotiate an offer. In most instances, we recommend planning on a closing date 5 to 7 weeks from the date of your offer. The farthest out that the typical seller in our market is likely to consider closing is 60 to 75 days with only rare exceptions. Foreclosures will often require closing within 30 days. Each transaction is unique.
After your offer is accepted - We coordinate & monitor everything with a careful eye to your "due diligence period" including inspections, appraisal, repairs, the closing attorney, title work, financing, and any possible surprises.
You can start packing!
*We also work with both custom and production builders. If you are considering building a home, contact us for advice on buying new construction and the timing for that.
If you haven't bought a house in the last year or two:
There were Federally-mandated changes that started with mortgages initiated after 10/2015. If you will be getting a mortgage, you now want to allow a full six weeks for the process between offer and closing for mostLenders. (Our preferred Lender can usually do it in 3-4 weeks.) In addition, you will need to be flexible and more prepared for possible last minutes delays. You will not want to have a moving truck scheduled to show up the day of closing. You will want to have contingency plans. Lender rules plus all the Federally designed closing forms and the software lenders and attorney's use to create the forms changed 10/2015. It is critical that you choose a hands-on, customer-service oriented Lender and avoid any Big Banks or internet lenders.You also do not want to be closing with an inexperienced attorney or one that is less tech savvy. Now, more than ever, it is critical that you work with an experienced Exclusive Buyers' Agent (like us) to avoid costly mistakes or delays. Use our vast experience to make the process as painless as possible.