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Here's a helpful video on the buying process
Get pre-approved. Find a reputable lender and take the time to go over your financial situation. This is a great time to discuss with your lender what your expectations are for your budget. Your lender can help you with different loan programs that might be a better fit for your situation. If you don't have the money for a down payment, talk to your lender about programs that may assist with this. A pre-approval letter will also give you a very realistic idea of what you can afford when you are shopping.
Know what you want. Now that you have an idea of what your budget is, think about what you want in a home. What are your must haves? Make a list and keep it with you throughout the process.
Don't add debt. Don't make any major purchases or rack up any other debt until after your purchase has closed. Don't buy a car, get a new credit card or quit a job. Even though you have been pre-approved, all of these things could have an adverse impact on your debt to income ratio and prevent you from getting your loan approved.
Earnest Money. An earnest money deposit will need to be included with your offer to purchase. Earnest money shows that you are a committed buyer. Once you go under contract, you will deposit your earnest money for safe keeping until closing. There are usually several contingencies in place to protect you and get your earnest money back if the deal falls through. If, however, you back out of the deal for a reason other than a contingency, the seller may be entitled to keep the earnest money. Your earnest money deposit will be applied to your down payment and/or closing costs at closing.
Inspection. In most cases you will have a certain amount of days after going under contract to have private inspections done. This is done at the buyers expense and payment is due at the time of inspection. This is an opportunity to dig in to the home and make sure that there aren't any issues that you aren't prepared to deal with. After receiving an inspection report you will have the opportunity to terminate the purchase, request the seller repair items of concern, or, if you are satisfied, move forward with the purchase.
Appraisal. Once the inspection contingency has been satisfied your lender will order the bank appraisal. The appraiser will make sure that the home is worth the amount you are getting a loan for in order to protect their interest in the property.
Final Walk Through. A few days before closing you have the opportunity to walk through the home to make sure that everything is in the same condition as it was when you first viewed it. The seller has a responsibility to make sure that all systems work and that no modifications have been made to the home unless you agreed to it.
Closing. As soon as your lender has final approval on your loan, your closing documents will be sent to the closing company in preparation for closing. They will set up an appointment for you to come in and sign all of your loan documents and pay the remainder of your down payment and closing costs. After both parties have signed, the lender will be instructed to fund the loan. This is the final step and the home will officially be yours!
Having an experienced team working with you throughout this process is essential to making sure that all steps are completed in a timely manner and that your interests are protected at all times. Your agent, lender and the closing company should work together as a team to make this as smooth as possible for you.