You found the home of your dreams… Or at least the home for now. Your first home doesn’t necessarily have to be a dream home; sometimes it’s a great step toward your dream home by building equity and then having a larger down payment on the next house. But for whatever reason, you have found the home you want and now you want to make an offer. What are the next steps?
First off, do you have your own agent?
Having your own buyer’s agent is a crucial step to the home buying process. You want to make sure that your needs, interests, and finances are kept confidential and used as leverage for you, not the seller. If you choose to have the listing agent facilitate the transaction, you have to remember that their first priority is to the seller, not to you, the buyer. It’s crucial to have your own buyer’s agent when buying property and it’s completely free to the buyer, so why not?
Once you have found a home you’ll want to make sure you can afford the property. The next step should be getting preapproved for a home loan. You’ll need to sit down with the lender and go over all of your finances including assets and liabilities and your debt to income ratio. Lenders will determine how much home you can afford by your credit history, report, and finances. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding a home you love only to discover your income cannot afford the mortgage payment. This is why we always recommend doing this step first. Once you are preapproved, then you can confidently make an offer.
Make an offer
Having your own real estate agent means that they will write up a solid and tight offer on your behalf. The offer will state the obvious such as the property description and address, the buyer and seller information, and also all of the parties involved including title, escrow, agents involved, and the brokerage selling the property. The purchase and sale contract is typically about 10 to 20 pages long depending on how many contingencies and addenda are attached. You’ll want a financing contingency to make sure that you can afford the property. If anything should fall through with financing, your contingency protects you. You also want to home inspection contingency. We urge all of our clients to have a home inspection performed before finalizing the documents on the purchase. This is one of the largest investments you’ll ever make and it is only wise to know as much as possible about the property.
You may have other contingencies such as the need to sell a property before you can purchase this one. In strict or hot real estate markets, specifically seller’s markets, contingent offers are rarely accepted. There are other options, however, such as a bridge loan or selling first and buying later. This is definitely something to speak to your real estate agent and your lender about as there are so many different programs and options as well as home designs and markets, that everything will factor into the right order of selling and buying.
You’ll also have to put forth earnest money.
Earnest money is basically a good faith estimate that you are serious enough about buying the property you’re willing to put down money on it. Earnest money can typically be less than $500 or as much as 10% of the purchase price of the home. The earnest money will get credited towards the purchase of the home at closing but for now, will be deposited into an escrow account while the transaction is underway. The earnest money will not actually get deposited until the seller agrees to the purchase and sale offers.
If the seller is not completely satisfied with your offer they make a counteroffer and provide different terms, pricing, or other details. This negotiation can go back and forth until mutual acceptance occurs. Only until mutual acceptance happens can the earnest money be deposited and the property is now pending.
Once mutual acceptance occurs you’ll need to schedule a home inspection. We recommend several reputable and local inspectors but you are free to choose whomever you want. After the inspection report, negotiations may occur again and then finally closing.
Each real estate offer is slightly different but the general parts of the contract are the same. Many of these contracts can use legal jargon that can be difficult to understand and this is another reason to have your buyer’s agent by your side. We explain every step of the way and make sure you feel confident about your purchase.
For more information on buying Portland real estate, homes for sale, or questions on the buying process, contact our office today.
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