Buying real estate can be a complicated and confusing process…but it doesn’t have to be! Our REALTORS® at Covington Real Estate, Inc. are equipped and ready to guide you through the process of buying property in Bell County.
This is a brief introduction to the real estate purchasing process. As your REALTORS®, we’ll help you navigate the entire process, helping you from start to finish. Keep in mind that the following is a general guideline, not a strict regimen. No two real estate deals are alike. That’s why Covington Real Estate is here to help.
We’ve boiled down the process to six key steps:
1. Obtaining Financing
It’s important to know how you’re going to pay for your house before you get started. If you’re going to pay cash, you can skip this step, but you should be prepared to provide proof of funds to a seller. If you plan to get a loan, go ahead and talk to a lender before you start shopping. It’s free and easy to get “pre-qualified” or “pre-approved” (terms are often used interchangeably) for a mortgage. Doing that now will help you to refine your search, know what you can afford, and make your offer stronger when you’re ready to sign a contract. Ask us for recommendations of local, reputable lenders!
2. Going Shopping
This is the fun part…you get to start looking at houses! This is when the dream starts to feel more like a reality. We will work with you in searching the market to find homes that appeal to you. Then we’ll go tour each one to see if it looks as good in person as it does online! We’ll offer advice and opinions as you hone in on just the right home for you. Keep in mind, our agents can show you any house on the market, not just our own listings. We can also represent you in building a new home. Call us to talk about all the ways we can help to represent you!
3. Signing a Contract
Once you’ve found the house you want, we will write & sign an offer. We’ll draw up all the paperwork for you and then walk you through it, explaining what each part means. When you sign it, it is an offer. After the seller signs it, it becomes a contract (“contract” and “offer” are often used interchangeably, but the terms serve two distinct purposes). As soon as you have a contract signed by both parties, you’ll need to write checks for the earnest money and an option fee. The earnest money shows the seller that you’re sincere about buying the house. If you terminate the contract without cause, losing your earnest money is one of the possible repercussions. The option fee buys you an option to terminate the contract within the first few days and receive your earnest money back. Contact one of our agents to have a more in-depth conversation about the earnest money & option fee.
4. Surviving the Option Period
We’ll build an “option period” in to the beginning of your contract. This is the first 7-10 days of the contract (the number of days may vary, but 7-10 is common). It’s a time for you to get a home inspection, termite inspection, and any other inspections that are important to you. In exchange for having an option period, you pay the option fee mentioned above, typically a nominal fee, much less than the earnest money. During the option period you can back out of the contract for any reason and get your earnest money back. If you terminate the contract during the option period, you’d only forfeit your option fee, plus any money you spent on inspections. During the option period, you can potentially renegotiate the terms of your original contract. You could ask the seller to pay for repairs, lower the price, pay some of your closing costs for you, or any number of other things. Once the option period expires, you are committed to following through with the purchase. Ask one of our agents about what inspections are important to get, as well as recommendations for local, reputable, licensed inspectors.
5. Waiting It Out
After the option period, the waiting game starts. There is a lot happening in the background during this time. The lender is working on your loan & appraisal. The title company is working on your abstract, title commitment, and title insurance policy. There may be a survey or repairs taking place. It can be a little nerve-wracking during this interim period because the active part is mostly over for you. But the work being done in the background is going to protect you in the end. The lender or title company may contact you to get additional information from you. It’s important to respond to information requests in a timely manner to keep the transaction & closing on track. Talk to one of our agents about how the appraisal, title policy, and survey protect you as the buyer.
Congratulations! You made it! Closing is when you sign all the paperwork to officially transfer ownership of your house from the seller to you. You’ll also sign your final loan documents at closing, and then your loan will fund. Funding means that your lender sends the loan amount to the title company, so they can pay the seller what is owed to them. Once you close and the loan funds, you will own your new home, and you can move in! We want to celebrate this special occasion with you. But more importantly, we want you to understand all the steps along the way and feel confident about your home purchase, knowing that we’ve been working hard to protect you and advise you from the very beginning. Contact us to learn how having an expert on your side will help you to make your dream of home ownership a reality.
The home buying process can be very complicated and confusing…but it doesn’t have to be! As your REALTORS®, we’ll help you through the entire process, so that everything should go smoothly. You bring your dreams, and we’ll bring our expertise, and together we’ll find the perfect place for you!