Buying a Home in Southwest Washington
When you make that big decision to buy your first or new home, you might not know what to do first to be an informed buyer throughout the process. Our Guide to Buying a Home will assist you in understanding the steps and what to expect during the home buying process. Our Real Estate Brokers are experienced professionals that are more than willing to answer your questions as well; please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to begin the process or if you have additional questions.
What's Your Goal in Buying a Home
This might seem like a silly question, but understanding your wants and needs will help find a home that fits your lifestyle while staying within your budget. While you may want four bedrooms you may only need 3, while you'd love to have a garage you may not need one, you may want a gourmet kitchen, but you don't cook, and so on. Make sure you understand what's most important to you and prioritize your wants and needs based on your budget.
What's your Budget
This is one of the most important questions you'll need to answer before starting the home buying process. Many buyers have a monthly mortgage payment in mind that they believe they can afford but neglect to factor in property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities, and reserves for any needed repairs. Start with our mortgage calculator so you can estimate your monthly mortgage payment based on the purchase price of your new home. Now figure your debt-to-income ratio. Most mortgage lenders like to see a debt-to-income ratio in the 30% range with, on average, a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 40%.
To calculate your debt-to-income ratio, add up all your monthly debt payments and divide them by your gross monthly income. Your gross monthly income is the amount you've earned before any taxes or deductions are taken out. For example, if you plan to pay a $1,500 a month mortgage payment and you currently pay $200 a month for an auto loan and $500 a month for other debts your monthly debt payments are $2,200. If your gross monthly income is $6,000, your debt-to-income ratio is 37%. ($2,000 / $6,000 = 0.366 or 37%)
Get Pre-Approved For a Mortgage
This is an extremely important step in the home buying process for many reasons including: are you even qualified for a mortgage, what type of loan are you eligible for, is a down payment required, and if so how much, what's your interest rate, will the lender require PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) if your down payment is less than 20%, are you qualified to purchase a "fixer" or does the home need to be in good condition. These and possibly more factors will affect what you're eligible for. That's why it's critical to talk to a mortgage broker before beginning the process, so you're only viewing homes that fit within your budget.
Find Your Dream Home
Now the step you've been waiting for, finding your dream home. Over 90% of buyers are now searching online for their next home and for a good reason. Our website has a direct feed with the Northwest MLS (NWMLS) and the Regional MLS (RMLS) so you can be assured you see every home listed. In addition, our website is updated multiple times an hour, you'll never miss the latest listings, and if you sign up and save your searches with our free service, we'll notify you if any new listings hit the market that matches your criteria. As always, you can reach out to one of our Real Estate Brokers, and they'd be happy to assist in finding you a place you can call home. Begin your search now!
Schedule a Showing
Once you've found a home or homes, you'd like to see you can either call our office or schedule a showing online. Our Real Estate Brokers are available seven days a week, and we can show you ANY home listed, including homes listed with other brokerages.
Make an Offer
Now that you've found a home that meets your criteria and fits within your budget, it's time to make an offer. When you work with Pacific Northwest Realty Group, we will sit down and structure an offer that's favorable for you. We will take into consideration the amount of time the home has been listed, price compared to other comparable properties, the type of loan you're approved for, and many other factors that will make your offer appealing to the seller while getting you the best deal possible. When we represent you as the buyer's agent, our sole fiduciary duty is to you and only you.
Once the seller has accepted your offer, the closing process begins. The ratified contract will be delivered to escrow so they can start working on the closing process and request a title report. In addition, several timelines will begin, and to comply with the terms of the contract, these timelines must be followed to protect your contractual obligations. Your Real Estate Broker will monitor these timelines to ensure we're protecting you during the closing process. Some of the timelines include: deposit earnest money with the escrow company, obtain and review the title commitment, schedule the home inspection and if necessary the well and septic inspections, ensure your lender has begun the loan process, negotiate any repairs based on the inspection report if necessary, and prepare you for closing by giving you a list of what the escrow officer will need in order to sign closing papers and record the sale.
A couple of days before closing your Real Estate Broker will arrange a final walk-through of the home. This is an essential step in the process ensuring nothing has changed since the last time you viewed the property, it allows you to see the house with no furniture, and wall decor provided it was occupied, and it allows you to make sure any items that were agreed to in the contract remain. If any issues arise, the closing process can be delayed until the seller has corrected any problems.
The day you've been waiting for has arrived. Here's something to keep in mind with regards to the day you sign the closing papers and the actual closing date. The escrow officer will schedule a time and day for each party to come in to sign, once the closing papers are signed most lenders will want a final review of the documents to ensure everything was signed correctly. Once the lender has reviewed the closing papers, they will release funds to the escrow office, which allows them to record the sale with the local recording office. This process usually takes about 24 hours. This is why you'll often sign a day or two before the scheduled closing date. The actual closing day, the day the sale has fully funded and recorded with the local recording office, is the day you'll receive the keys to your new home.