1) Hire a Professional Realtor
A good buyer’s agent will be your navigator throughout this journey. A realtor has a fiduciary and professional responsibility to protect your best interests. Make certain you are comfortable with your choice, as you’ll likely spend a good deal of time together in the coming months.
2) Get PreQualified / Preapproved
Ask your agent for a referral to a professional mortgage planner that will assist you in determining what kind of loan is the best fit for you. Ask the lender to give you a loan pre-approval letter, which means your income will be verified and a credit report will need to be run. Decide on your maximum loan amount, but choose only a mortgage type that makes sense for you, and a payment that is manageable.
3) View Homes for Sale
Narrow your search to those homes that fit your exact parameters to find that perfect home. Consider all homes on the market, including fixer-uppers, foreclosures, short sales and traditional sales. Let your agent know which homes you are interested in viewing and ask for additional information.
4) Writing an Offer
Consider writing offers on homes you’d like to purchase. Select an offer price based on the amount you can comfortably afford. Market conditions may call for more or less aggressive offers.
5) Negotiate Counter Offers
If a seller refuses your initial offer, be prepared for a counter offer. Keep in mind, a seller is not always obligated to respond to an offer. The negotiation will continue until a mutually acceptable price is determined.
6) Make an Earnest Money Deposit
When your offer is accepted, you’ll need to deposit your earnest money check to escrow. (California is an escrow state) The offer should have contingencies that will protect your EMD should you decide to cancel the contract.
7) Open Escrow / Order Title
Our team will open escrow and title through a Transaction Coordinator, but typically, this is completed by the listing agent.
8) Order Appraisal
Your Mortgage Professional will require payment for the appraisal of the property. The appraiser’s analysis will determine the value of the home. This value can further determine how our team will negotiate on your behalf. (Should it come in lower than the contracted price, we go to work trying to get you that price!) Remember to ask for a copy of the appraisal.
9) Fulfill Lender Requirements
Your Mortgage professional may require additional information.
While in escrow avoid major credit related activities and purchases, as it may affect your loan. When the file is complete, your mortgage professional will submit it for final underwriting approval.
10) Approve Seller Disclosures
Review disclosures items such as the TDS, Seller Property Questionnaire, natural hazard report, pest inspection / completion and other documents such as a preliminary title policy.Review every document and ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
11) Conduct Home Inspection
Find a highly reputable home inspection company to check the home. It’s a good idea to be present during this step.
12) Issue Request for Repair
Should there be issues with the home inspection, such as building code violations, safety hazards etc. You can ask the seller to address the issues prior to the close of escrow, whether it’s through a credit, or repairing the specific issues. Think of this as a wish list, because does not have comply.
13) Remove Contingencies
A standard default in the California Residential Purchase agreement gives you 17 days to remove contingencies. Be certain that the loan is solid and your appraisal is an acceptable number. After this 17 day period, the seller has the right to issue a notice to perform, meaning they can cancel the contract if you do not adhere to the terms. Only when contingencies are passed and signed off by the buyer, can they call for your Earnest Money Deposit should you wish to cancel.
14) Do Final Walk-Through
This step is very important, inspect the home and make sure any repairs the seller committed to are completed. In short be sure that the home is in the condition you agreed to buy it in.
15) Sign Loan & Escrow Documents
In San Diego County, as a rule you’ll sign general escrow documents early into the process; with your loan documents coming near the end of the escrow. You will require valid identification to sign.
16) Deposit Funds
Use a certified check making it payable to escrow. Bring a certified check payable to escrow. Expect Escrow companies typically pad the amount required to close, this will be re-funded shortly after. The easiest way to get monies to escrow is through a wire, it’s cheap, and saves you time.
17) Close Escrow
The property deed, seller’s conveyance and deed of trust will be record in the public records. The title company will let you know when this occurs. Once this happens, enjoy your new home, as you are the legal owner!