Speak with a Mortgage Lender/Broker and obtain written pre-approval for a loan. This helps you determine your purchasing power and enables you to act expeditiously and with confidence when you identify the property you would like to purchase. Additionally, a pre-approval assures the seller that you are qualified, providing you with an advantage when bidding on a home. This is especially helpful in a multiple interest situation. For mortgage lender recommendations, please ask your agent - or to get pre-approved online, click here.
There are several loan options available. The most typical are FHA (3.5% down), USDA (0% down in approved areas), and conventional (5%, 10%, 20% down). For more information on loan options, click here.
Ideally, be prepared to have those funds liquid when you begin your search. The balance of the down payment will be due upon closing.
In certain forms of ownership, offers are not only accepted based upon price, but upon the financial strength of the potential buyer. Therefore, be prepared to have a pre-approval letter from your lender available. In many cases sellers require you to provide this with your offer. Regardless of the outcome, this information will be required for most purchases and financial institutions so having it prepared will also save you time in the future. Be assured your agent will safeguard this information in a confidential manner.
Review your credit report. Remove all disputed claims and clear up any debt if possible, especially outstanding credit card balances.
Finding Your Home:
Define your search parameters. This typically includes price range, location, & size.
Choose an agent to work with. Since agencies have all of the same MLS listings, working with one broker allows you to efficiently schedule appointments to see only those properties that meet your needs. Since property in Austin tends to sell rather quickly, prolonging the process may actually hinder you from seeing the property that best meets your needs. Lastly, by creating a good relationship with your broker, you assure that you are the first person they call when a new listing arrives on the market.
Talk to your broker. Be specific about your needs, price point, locations of interest and any other amenities you require in your new home.
When scheduling appointments, try to be available during the week. In addition to evenings, early morning and late afternoon is a good time to schedule appointments, as more brokers are available during these times to provide access to their listings. In addition, by avoiding weekend and open house showings you allow yourself to view properties without fighting crowds of people (competition) and giving you more time to ask questions and get a "feel" for the property.
Once you identify the property - The purchase:
Submit a verbal offer through your Agent immediately who will then follow it up in writing. The offer will include such provisions as purchase price, down payment, amount of financing, included and/or excluded personal property (i.e. window treatments, lighting fixtures, etc) & preferred closing date.
Keep in mind that sellers are allowed to hear ALL subsequent offers while your contract is negotiated (or finalized). In fact a seller may accept another purchaser's offer up to the point of a fully signed, executed and returned contract. This means that until your contract is signed by both you and the seller, your deal may not sustain as the primary deal.
Immediately apply for a mortgage (if applicable). Your agent will work with your mortgage broker/bank to coordinate the appraisal of the property and provide the bank with requested information on the building. The loan process typically involves several steps from application to appraisal and finally approval. This process may take up to 45 days to complete and hinges on your ability to provide all of the required financial data to your broker/banker in a timely manner.
The Final Walk-Through:
The day before or the morning of the closing (but usually after the seller has vacated), your Agent will accompany you on an appointment to inspect that the property is in the same condition or promised condition as stated in the contract. Be sure to check appliances and the removal of personal property, and that the premises are broom clean.
Your agent will provide you with a closing statement prior to closing day. This is usually a day before or even hours before your closing appointment. The closing statement will disclose and itemize all fees associated with the closing of the transaction.
At any closing be sure to bring with you your driver's license or passport, your checkbook for any last minute adjustments, and all certified checks (down payment, closing costs, etc..).
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