Buying a home can seem complicated, especially for first-time homebuyers. When you go through the steps to buying a home one by one and you understand each part of the process, it is much easier. And you don’t have to go through this process by yourself. Work with a real estate agent who is familiar with the Lansing area and you’ll have all the details of the home buying process.
We created the buyer’s roadmap to get you started, so you know what to expect on your home buying journey. If you’re considering buying a home, this is a great place to start.
Deciding to Buy: The First Step
This is the first step to buying a home—you’re probably here already! You’re financially ready for homeownership and you’re looking forward to the many benefits of owning a home: stability, privacy, space, the chance to build equity, and the freedom to make it your own.
You also know that this is a big step, and you want to make sure you’re prepared. At this stage, it’s helpful to compare the costs of renting and owning a home. Most first-time homebuyers find that their mortgage payments will actually be lower than what they’re currently paying in rent. You should also consider how long you want to live in the home. Will this be your “starter home”? Do you plan to raise a family there? Do you plan to move soon?
Lastly, you should assess your financial health realistically. Do you have stable income? Do you have good credit? If so, you will pay less interest and will enjoy better mortgage terms. It’s also a good idea at this stage to start saving for a downpayment.
Preparing to Buy: Getting Financially Ready
At this phase, you’ve determined you’re mentally and financially ready to buy a home. Congratulations! You’ve crossed one of the biggest steps to buying a home and you’re about to enter the real estate market.
You’re now ready to go one step further and turn your consideration into planning. As you prepare to buy, you should decide how much you can afford. Our online mortgage calculator is especially helpful here, so you can determine your monthly payments and total mortgage. You should also calculate a downpayment amount you can afford, as this will affect your mortgage and your home purchase.
This is the step to buying a home where you should contact a lender. You can see the how much you can be pre-approved for, and get a more accurate assessment of your mortgage payments. If you are pre-approved for a mortgage, it will be easier to make an offer on a home.
Finding An Agent: Your Real Estate Partner
In a competitive real estate market like Greater Lansing, it is extremely helpful to work with an experienced real estate agent. This will not only make all the steps to buying a home easier, but it will also allow you to make a fast, competitive bid on the home you love.
In a competitive market, you need the ability to move quickly, and you want to be able to see the new homes on the market as soon as you can.
Your agent should have experience in the local real estate market and tools to help you organize and manage your home search. It is important to find an agent that you work well with, both personally and professionally. Your agent should have a good understanding of your needs, they should be communicative, honest, helpful, and straight-forward. All of these attributes will make make your upcoming home search easier and more enjoyable.
Searching for Your Dream Home: The Exciting Step
Searching for your dream home is one of the most exciting steps to buying a home. This step is full of possibilities. Because there are so many options, it is also easy to get overwhelmed or side-tracked.
When starting your home search, make a list of things that are important to you. This will help you and your realtor narrow down your list and find a home that meets all your needs.
When searching for your home, consider the price, space, appearance and amenities of the home, as well as the neighborhood and location. Is the home close to parks, libraries, shopping centers, or highways? Is the neighborhood safe? Have home values increased in previous years? If you plan to start a family or you have children, you should also research the local schools.
Use these considerations to narrow down the neighborhoods you are interested in, and the houses you will consider. This way you can spend your time only on the homes that meet your needs.
Inspections & Appraisals: You’re Almost There
This is one of the last steps to buying a home. Once you’ve found the home that you want, there are just a few more items to take care of.
Inspections and appraisals are required to make sure the home is in good condition, accurately priced, and your mortgage amount is correct. This will generally be required by your lender, but inspections and appraisals also protect you from overpaying.
The buyer is generally responsible for the costs of inspections and appraisals. If something unexpected is discovered in the home, or it is appraised at a lower amount, you can renegotiate with the seller accordingly. Here it is beneficial to work with an agent on your behalf. This process must be completed within a set time frame, and it is important not to go over deadlines or your home sale could fall through.
Closing and Moving In: The Last Step
It’s almost time to celebrate! With inspections, appraisals, and negotiations complete, you can close the deal. This is the last step to buying a home.
At the settlement or closing meeting, contracts are signed, titles are transferred, and any final closing costs are resolved. You will take one final walk through the property to make sure the condition has not changed. After this, you will receive the keys to the property. It’s time to move in!