What it Takes to Own Your First Home: Finding Your Dream Home
Here we are in the home stretch! Now that you’ve been pre-qualified and pre-approved for a home loan, it’s time to start the fun part: looking for your dream home!
Of course, that process isn’t always fun and games, especially if you’re doing it on your own. That’s why the team at Keller Williams Asheville is here to help.
Connect with Your Realtor
We touched on it briefly in our last post, but finding the right realtor is an essential step in finding a home. We have a massive team of dedicated realtors that can help you find a home that fits your budget, location, and design needs.
Our licensed realtors are all experts in the local housing market, but each realtor also has their own specialty. If you’re looking for historic homes, eco-friendly design, a mountain cabin, a downtown luxury condo, or any other type of home—we have an expert on staff who is waiting to work with you.
Why Use a Realtor?
Sometimes finding the perfect home is, to be cliché about it, like finding a needle in a haystack. Browsing through listings online can be a tedious and frustrating process: the house doesn’t look like the pictures, the buying process is complicated, or the house you’re looking at has already sold by the time it makes it to the web.
Realtors make the house hunt fun by relieving those headaches. Realtors are experts on the local housing market, get updates on new listings before they hit the internet, and are fantastic negotiators. Realtors have access to tons of data on the housing market that isn’t publicly available, which means they can give you keen insights on the hottest neighborhoods that you won’t be able to find on your own.
When you work with a Keller Williams realtor, you have someone in your corner who knows what you want and is always looking out for your best interest.
Start House Hunting
House hunting should be fun, but it’s also a process you need to take seriously. This is a long-term investment, after all!
Your realtor will find some homes that fit your budget, are in or near your desired neighborhood, and will check off some of your dream home checklist items (remember when you made that back in the first part of this series?). Be sure to take some notes as you visit each house. Here are some things to look out for:
- Location:Is the house in a neighborhood you like? How far is it from your favorite restaurants and grocery stores? Which school district is the home located in? Are the other homes on the block well-maintained?
- Tech:This is important to consider, especially if you’re looking in the mountains outside Asheville. How is your cell signal? What sort of cable/internet hookup is available?
- Plumbing:Check the water pressure, run the shower and see how long it takes for the water to get hot. Is the home on a sewer system or septic field?
- Electricity:Check all of the switches and outlets. Are outlets in places that make sense for you, and does everything work? These can be quick fixes, but you don’t want to be surprised when you move in.
- Check the windows and doors:Do they all work? Are any in need of repair?
- Appliances:Are the appliances gas or electric? Are they in good working order? How recently were the appliances installed/updated? Are there any appliances (like a dishwasher or garbage disposal) that you want that are missing from the home?
- Look for other repairs:What condition is the roof in? How is the siding? Are there any other places that need a little work? Most importantly: do you have the budget to pay for repairs or the time and skills to do it yourself?
Negotiate a Price
Once you’ve found a house that you love, it’s time to make a deal. Your realtor will use their knowledge of trends in the housing market and the going rate in that neighborhood to determine if the asking price is fair. They’ll take into account repairs and changes you’ll need to make after moving in to negotiate for a lower price.
This process isn’t a guarantee: sometimes the seller just won’t budge, especially if there are other offers on the table or the market is especially hot. With any luck, though, you’ll get them to knock a little off of the price tag.
Going into Escrow
Once both you and the seller reach an agreement on the price, you’ll write an earnest money check that will be held by a third party until a final contract is written up and you close the deal. This is a critical step as it protects both parties during the last couple steps of the home buying process.
Getting a Home Inspection
Homes always have potential hidden problems. A home inspection will be arranged by you and your realtor within a few days of putting in your offer to make sure there aren’t any of those problems. A home inspector will find any structural problems or necessary repairs to bring the home up to code. While the home is in escrow, you’ll have the chance to renegotiate or withdraw your offer without penalty based on the inspector’s findings. Buyers are often able to work the cost of repairs into the asking price, so you may be able to negotiate the seller paying for repairs, or a drop in price if you’re going to complete the repairs yourself.
Finalizing Your Loan
Since you’ve already been pre-approved for a loan, you should have a lender ready to go. All you’ll need to do now is meet with them to finalize the structure of your loan. This will determine how many monthly payments you’ll make and how much you’ll be paying each month. You’ll want to consider how long you’ll be in the house, what your financial situation is, and how you anticipate your finances may change in 20 to 30 years, whether you anticipate a promotion, retirement, or any other career development.
Your mortgage lender will send out a home appraiser to determine the true market value of the home. The appraiser is always a third party hired to give an impartial assessment of the home’s worth. This ensures all parties that the house’s price tag is fair. Appraisers are generally hired by the lending company because they serve their interests. Lenders don’t want to let you borrow more money than the house is worth, because if you default on your loan they’ll have to sell the property to make back their money.
Appraisers have a process similar to home inspectors in the sense that they do a full visual inspection of the property, inside and out. However, instead of just checking to see that nothing has fallen into dangerous disrepair, the appraiser works to put a value on what’s there. Everything from the floorplan to the square footage to the number of bedrooms and bathrooms has an impact on the appraisal value. Other factors like the going rate for homes in the neighborhood and market trends play a part here as well.
The Home Stretch: Paperwork, Paperwork, and More Paperwork
Once a home inspection and appraisal are complete, it’s time to move forward with the sale. Your realtor, the seller, and your lending company will gather up all of the paperwork you need to complete to purchase your new home. Since this is a large transaction with multiple parties involved, you’ll want to have a good pen handy and be ready to write a lot of signatures and initials. Once all the paperwork is filed and processed, you’re in the clear!
Move in Time!
You did it! Once you’ve completed all of these steps, all that’s left is to unlock the door and move into your new home. Be sure to throw a party to show off your beautiful new place to your friends and family, and then relax and enjoy the place where you’ll be making memories for many years to come.
Admittedly, the home buying process is very involved. This blog series is over 4,000 words long and it just scratches the surface. If you’re feeling discouraged by this complexity, just remember: you’re not alone in your journey. Keller Williams Asheville is here to help, every step of the way.
We Are Here To Help
Our agents receive extensive training and are equipped with the latest technology to help you find your next home. Most importantly, they love working with people just like you!