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November 30, 2020

Adulting 101: The Home Buying Process

As I have mentioned before, I am currently engaged. We originally were going to get married earlier this month but postponed until October 2021. Anyways, given that this major #adulting event is on the horizon, I have started to think about other major adult events-there is one happening right now in my own family!

My sister recently purchased a home with her husband in our hometown. Also, a few of my friends have begun to buy properties. I was curious as to what goes into the house-buying process, so I reached out to my sister with some questions. Here are some things to consider when it comes to the house-buying process

1. Why should I buy a property, rather than rent one?

If you own a property, you don’t have to worry about asking a landlord about renovations or painting. We also wanted a property with our own yard and space, so we did not have to worry about potential disruption from neighbors. We are really looking forward to decorating.

2. How did you and your partner decide on a comfortable budget?

We created a spreadsheet that summarized our monthly income and spending expenditures. This allowed us to find a comfortable budget.

3. Can you walk us through the buying process?

a) I definitely recommend having an app like Realtor.com, Zillow, or Trulia on your phone. I literally would check every day to see what homes come on the market in our areas. I found that homes usually come on the market on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Also, if you have a real estate agent you are working with, they can set up MLS listing emails that will come to you every time a home comes up with your desired parameters.

b) If you see a house you like, go to the open house. Usually, they are on the weekends. If you have a real estate agent, see if they can get you into the house early before the open house.

c) Once you get to the open house, take your time. This may be your only opportunity to look at the house (which is crazy), so look inside kitchen drawers, look at foundations, look in basement ceilings/walls for any signs of asbestos or mold. Be diligent. We often preferred to look at houses twice before making an offer. Do not be afraid to ask your agent to make a second appointment.

d) If you like the house, speak with your agent about making an offer. Hence, it is best to have an agent to work with. You may literally only have a six-hour window to decide if you would like to make an offer. So, your agent needs to be someone who you trust and who knows you’re looking for. You also want someone who really knows the market well in the area you are looking.

e) Before putting an offer in, you need to have a mortgage pre-approval letter from a mortgage company. Again, this is something your real estate agent can help you with. So, once you are serious about buying a home and know your budget, I would get this set up right away because it will take some time and it cannot be done at the last minute. Also, you may want to talk to a few mortgage companies to ensure you are getting the best rate.

f) Decide with your agent how much you are offering on the desired house. The paperwork can be done digitally but will take about 2-3 hours. You may also want to add a personal touch and write a note to the seller about your love for the home.

g) Your agent takes it from there. You may need to negotiate with the seller or if there are other buyers you may end up in a bidding war….Fingers crossed for good luck!

h) If your offer is accepted, you will need to provide a deposit check, usually for $1,000 to the seller’s agent.

i) You have a certain number of days to complete the home inspection. If something significant is found, you can back out after the home inspection and receive your deposit back. Have your realtor walk you through this.

j) After you accept the inspection and make it clear that you wish to move forward, your realtor will put you in touch with an attorney, who will draft the Purchase and Sales Agreement. At this point, you will be asked to pay a down payment.

k) Then, the mortgage company will go to the house and appraise it. Make sure to purchase homeowner’s insurance in the meantime, as you will need it before closing.

l) Closing is about a month to two after the purchase and sales. After some signatures, the house is yours!

4. How is the buying process different during COVID-19?

Right now, the open house process looks very different. Sales in Boston suburbs have become even more competitive, which we did not anticipate. Many homes we looked at and put offers on went for at least 60,000 dollars over asking and had multiple offers (as many as 15!). Also, in most cases, you need to have your agent sign you up for a time slot during the open house. You will have 15 minutes to look. That’s it. You may also have to sign a release form saying that you do not have Covid-19 symptoms and will have to wear a mask, sanitize and maybe even wear disposable booties and gloves.

5. What other tips do you have for potential home buyers?

Definitely explore the area before you decide to make an offer on a property! Also, know that your bid will most likely be rejected numerous times before being accepted.

Thanks to my sister for providing me with insight into the momentous adult event of purchasing a home. For anyone who is moving or looking to move, please be sure to check out Fresh Start -The Moving Crew. They are based out of Worcester, MA, and serve all of New England. They can help you with all of your moving needs. Established in 2012, they are licensed and insured, which saves you in case of any mishaps. If you need help packing and moving in Worcester, they are a go-to.

Thank you to Fresh Start -The Moving Crew, for sponsoring this post. All views and opinions are my own.

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