Whether you’re eagerly buying your very first home, upgrading to a larger dream home on a little land or starting your real estate investment empire, the process of buying any home can feel daunting. If you take it step-by-step, keep a level head and follow the lead of the OklaHome real estate team, top OKC Realtor group of professionals you’ll be flying into closing with a huge smile on your face! At OklaHome real estate our goal is to get you from where you are to where you want to be – with more joy and less overwhelm.
Step 1: Congratulations! Without even knowing it you’ve probably already started the first and most important step of buying a home – reaching out to a Realtor. It’s definiatey in your best interest to allow us to help you through each step, keeping you away from stumbling blocks and putting you in the hands of other helpful advisors such as a mortgage lender, real estate inspector and title company.
Step 2: Many buyers think the first and hardest step to buying a home is to start shopping online. I get it, it seems logical. That’s usually how car shopping, which is usually your largest single purchase of your life until now, worked. Based on that it would make since – Pick out a car, negotiate heavily and THEN go meet with the finance guy to apply for the auto loan. I like to compare this part of real estate investing more to going to the mall to shop for a new sweater (ok pretend you’re back in junior high when going to the mall was an event. You know, before everything was as simple as Amazong + a credit card). As a responsible teen you’d look in your purse to be sure you know how much money you had and THEN decide which stores to shop in and what brand-name sweater would fit in your budget. That actually seems more logical now that you think about it right? When planning to purchase a home you should meet with a trusted mortgage lender before shopping for homes.
One common misconception is that by talking to a mortgage lender you’d be automatically required to apply for a loan and having your credit run would hurt your credit. Actually the initial discussion with a good mortgage lender should be an education learning about the financing options and getting a pre-qualification letter, which you’ll need in order to make an offer on your dream home once you find it. The mortgage company will only need to do a “soft hit” on your credit report which won’t hurt your score much at all. The hit also only happens once per 90 days so you can feel free to shop around as much as you want to find which lender you feel most comfortable with before ever applying for a loan at all.
The most important thing however when researching mortgage lenders is to get recommendations from your Realtor. At OklaHome we have a list of proven local (that’s important!) mortgage lenders to set you up with. From experience we know how to navigate the waters away from lenders who can so often and easily mess up the process causing stressful delays and overwhelming complications. Matching with the your perfect lender needs to be based more on comfort leve, communicationl and capability rather than interest rate and lowest fees.
Step 3: Shopping! Yeah! Another warning: Sites like Zillow and Realtor.com are popular search engines and can give a lot of information with only a few clicks but beware. While those sites can be helpful in giving you ideas of what style of home you like and in general what prices are, those sites also contain a lot of misinformation. We’ve seen way too many buyers get frustrated trying to go it alone with public search engines finding that many of the homes that say they’re available actually aren’t and the new listings syndicate slowely from the private Realtor MLS system and therefore lag behind causing you to risk missing a good deal. Instead let us help in two ways: Give us a list of your wants and needs using this OklaHome Buyers’ Guide and allow us to set you up on an automatic search based on your own personalized criteria. You’ll be notified the minute a new home hits the market or even sometimes beforehand! In today’s market time is of the essence. Don’t risk it. Your other resource can be a special link to your OklaHome Realtor’s specialized search tool. Connecting more closely to the dominant MLS system you’ll still be able to search on your own but won’t fall into the trap of finding your dream home online – only to find out it’s not actually available after all. When searching online for homes work smarter not harder.
Step 4: You’ve found a couple of homes that look good enough to see in person. So exciting! What not to do: click on “Contact Agent” on the public Zillow or Realtor,com listing (also did you even read my paragraph above? Shame on you!). While you may think that’s the best way to get quick information on a home or to set up a showing appointment when acutally you’ll be then tied to a luck-of-the-draw agent who paid those sites to give out their number. Don’t think you’re “bothering” your OklaHome agent for one minute (this is what we do for a living! We love it!) because unless he or she schedules the initial showing they often won’t be able to represent you down the road, putting you in the hands of a random agent who might have only the seller or themselves in mind. Instead make a list of a few homes you’d like to see and let your OklaHome agent schedule an afternoon or evening tour including them all.
Step 5: Making an offer. You’ve found the one! The home that checks the boxes and that you can see your family living in someday. Depending on the market conditions you may have a strong arm to negotiate with or may need to be a quick draw to win a bidding war. Your OklaHome agent will help guide you to present the strongest offer possible. Despite what you might think – the highest price doesn’t always win a multiple offer situation. Other offerings or contingencies like timing, closing costs, appraisal waivers or as-is purchasing may dominate the seller’s decision. Contingencies (such as needing to sell your current home first) and financing (being backed by a good local lender (see above)) or even a cash purchase are all things you’ll need expert advice on. We’ll go over all of these steps with you ahead of time and we’ll help you get all your ducks in a row so that once you do find your perfect home you’ll be ready to confidently present your very best offer.
Step 6: “Congratulations! The Seller accepted your offer!” are some of the most exciting words as agents we get to say. Hey, we get just as invested and excited in the hunt as you do by this point! You may think that now the hard part is over when actually we have a few more hills to climb. Most people think finding and contracting on the home is the hardest part. While those are crucial steps to work with your agent to be strategic with, it’s the legal contract, inspection, appraisal and title work that can foil the deal. In new agent training I always tell our agents that they need to view themselves as a nurse or a coach. It’s our job to inform and educate you and to come alongside and cheer you on. A good nurse or coach will tell you to brace yourself and be prepared when the challenges are ahead and will pull you through to the other side. Two big hills you’ll climb will be the inspection and appraisal parts of the transaction. You’ll have a set amount of days (usually about 2 weeks) to have any inspections done and repairs requested of the seller. We’ll schedule an overall inspector, termite, pool, well and septic inspection – each of which usually requires a different contact. You want good ones too! No one wants to move into their new home finding expensive repair surprises. Your lender will schedule the appraisal. That appraisal value will determine how much you’re able to finance on the home. It’s always a hold-your-breath moment waiting to find out whether the home “met value” or not. Appraisers do get backed up and lenders sometimes drag their feet on the orders so here’s where we step in to make sure that ball gets rolling as quickly as possible and that the Appraiser has all the informaition he or she needs to do a thorough job. If the appraisal comes in low, a second negotiation occurs.
Step 7: Title work. In Oklahoma the Buyer typically chooses the title company to close with. If you don’t already have a favorite (most buyers don’t) then you’ll want the OklaHome Real Estate Team to give you advice there too. With experience we’ve learned which title companies can help make these last few weeks before closing a pleasure or a battle. The title company makes sure the home is sellable being clear of leins (surprise money that might be owed on the home) and title issues (someone else claiming they own the home and messing up the sale). Their work is all done quietly behind the scenes but worth every penny to have a quality job done. Once the title work is complete and your lender says their ready we can schedule a closing date for you.
Step 8: The last few days before closing will be busier than you’d guess so our advice is to plan ahead and get everything done ahead of time as possible. Don’t leave things until the last minute because there will always be other things you didn’t anticipate that will pop up at the last minute instead. This is where our OklaHome May We Suggest list comes in as a valuable tool. You’ll need to set up utilities, schedule your mail and package deliveries, coordinate movers, set up an intial professional cleaning (or request that up front from the Sellers during the negotiation), prep contractors such as painters, carpet installers, and servicemen to be ready to start remodels as soon as possible. Oh and on top of all that – you’ll need to pack. You never realized how much stuff you have until you try to pack it all. (Pro tip: Start earlier than you think you need to. Give yourself time to purge and organize as you pack. Don’t forget the attic. Hire professional movers and schedule everything to be done a day or two before closing so that you’ll have wiggle room. Pods can be a huge help here too. Again from experience we’ve learned a few tricks to possibly negotiate extra moving time for you. There’s nothing worse than having to move everything out of one home and into the next all in 24 hours. We’ve seen too many exhausted Buyers crawling to the closing table with a full U-haul waiting in the parking lot with the dog, kids, gold fish and melting freezer food all going downhill fast. Don’t be those people. We’ll help you there. Our May We Suggest list also incudes helpers you probably haven’t even thought of yet like professinal organizers and packers, closet coordinators, lawn maintenance, pool maintenance, window intallers and even the most perfect color coded labels you MUST order early.
Step 9: Congratulations! You have the keys to your new home! Order pizza, sit on cardboard box furniture, sleep on the mattress on the floor for the first exciting night and enjoy! You’ve officially made it from where you were to where you want to be and you’ll be forever thankful that the OklaHome Team helped get you there too. Also you’ll swear you’ll NEVER move again but statistics show we’ll do this again in 5 – 7 years. We’ll be there for you then too!