Buying Your Home in Eight Simple Steps

Eight Simple Steps to Buying a Home

Here’s the most important rule for keeping your stress to a minimum: you don’t have to know everything. Your Granite Equity Group agent is ready to help you through every step of the process.

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  • Step 1
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Buying Your New Home

Looking for a new home can be an exciting and challenging experience.
Having a real estate professional that takes the time to understand your unique need and lifestyle is important.

A home purchase is an important step in the path to long-term wealth. Purchasing your own home is a great investment that provides specific financial advantages, including equity buildup, value appreciation potential and tax benefits. It’s also an automatic savings plan that you cannot get from renting!

Decide to Buy

The decision to purchase your first home is one of the biggest and best decisions you could ever make. After all, a home is the largest (and most emotional) investment most people will ever make. So, how do you know if it’s the right time for you to buy your first home?

  • There is never a wrong time to buy the right home. The key is finding a good buy and taking the time to carefully evaluate your finances.
  • A home purchase is an important step in the path to long-term wealth. Purchasing your own home is a great investment that provides specific financial advantages, including equity buildup, value appreciation potential and tax benefits. It’s also an automatic savings plan that you cannot get from renting!
  • Here’s the most important rule for keeping your stress to a minimum: you don’t have to know everything. Your Granite Equity Group agent is ready to help you through every step of the process.

Hire Your Agent

When you’re looking for a real estate professional to help you, know that above all else, good agents put their clients first.
This is your dream, and your agent is your advocate to help you make your dream come true.

A great real estate agent will:

  • Educate you about the current conditions of the market.
  • Analyze what you want and what you need in your next home.
  • Guide you to homes that fit your criteria.
  • Coordinate the work of other needed professionals throughout the process.
  • Negotiate with the seller on your behalf.
  • Check and double-check paperwork and deadlines.
  • Solve any problems that may arise.

Secure Financing

Ultimately, your lender will pre-approve you for a certain amount, but YOU will decide what you’re comfortable paying every month. Remember, your lender only sees your finances on paper. It’s up to you to decide how much you’re willing to stretch your budget in order to get into your dream home.

Be sure to follow these six steps to financing your home:

  • Choose a loan officer.
  • Make a loan application and get preapproved.
  • Determine what you want to pay and select a loan option.
  • Submit to the lender an accepted purchase offer contract.
  • Get an appraisal and title commitment.
  • Obtain funding at closing.

Find Your Home

So you are preapproved and ready to begin your search. But how or where do you begin? There are a lot of homes out there and diving in without a guide can become overwhelming and confusing. A great agent will help you more accurately pinpoint homes that fit your criteria. The right home will meet all your important needs, and as many of your additional wants as possible. Some questions you might ask yourself include:

  • What do I want my home to be close to?
  • How much space do I need and why?
  • Which is more critical: location or size?
  • Would I be interested in a fixer-upper?
  • How important is home value appreciation?
  • Is neighborhood stability a priority?
  • Would I be interested in a condo?
  • What features and amenities do I want? Which do I really need?

You’ll learn as you look at homes, your priorities will probably adjust along the way.

Make an Offer

Once you’ve found a home you love, the next step is making a compelling offer. While emotions are probably in high gear once you’ve found a home you love, it’s important to remember that a home is an investment. Your agent will research similar properties in the neighborhood to help you determine the market value, and fair price, for your home. Look to your agent to explain and guide you through the offer process.

  • The three basic components of your purchase offer are price, terms and contingencies.
  • Price is the dollar amount you are approved for, willing and able to pay.
  • Terms cover the other financial and timing factors that will be included in the offer.
  • Contingencies are clauses that let you out of the deal if the house has a problem that didn’t exist or which you weren’t aware of when you went under contract. They specify any event that will need to take place in order for you to fulfill the contract.

Perform Due Diligence

Just because you love a particular property doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. In fact, this is where reason has to trump emotion. You’ll need to have a property inspection (which we highly recommend you attend) that will expose hidden issues. This way you’ll know what you are getting into before you sign closing papers.

  • Your main concern is the possibility of structural damage. This can come from water damage, shifting ground, or poor construction when the house was built.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s the inspector’s job to mark everything discovered no matter how large or small. The inspectors report may be long, but, things that are easily fixed can be overlooked for the time being.
  • If you have a big problem show up in your inspection report, you should bring in a specialist and if the worst-case scenario turns out to be true, you might want to walk away from the purchase.
  • Even if your home passes inspection, you’ll still need to buy a home owner’s insurance policy that protects you against loss or damage to the property itself and against liability in case someone sustains an injury while on your property.

Close

Once you’ve made your offer and have completed the inspection process, you’re in the “home” stretch! But, in order to ensure that you don’t put your closing date, or your mortgage at risk, you have a few pre-closing responsibilities that you’ll need to be mindful of. These include:

  • Staying in control of your credit and finances. If you are tempted to make any large purchases during this time, it’s best to talk to your lender first.
  • Keeping in touch with your agent and lender, returning all phone calls and completing paperwork promptly.
  • Communicating with your agent at least once or twice a week, and verifying with your lender that all mortgage funding steps are completed.
  • Conducting a final walk-through of the home with your agent.
  • Confirming with your agent, home insurance professional, and lender that you have the settlement statement, certified funds, and evidence of insurance lined up prior to closing.

Protect Your Investment

Congratulations, and welcome home!

The home-buying process is complete, but just like any big process, there’s a maintenance plan! It’s now your responsibility, and in your best financial interest, to protect your investment for years to come. Performing routine maintenance on your home’s systems is always more affordable than having to fix big problems later. Be sure to watch for signs of leaks, damage, and wear.

And remember, just because the sale is complete, your relationship with your agent doesn’t need to end! After closing, your agent can still help you – providing information for your tax returns, finding contractors and repair services, and even tracking your home’s current market value.

Get Pre-Qualified

Getting a Home Loan

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NEW Changes to the HARP Program

HARP, or Home Affordable Refinance Program, allows homeowners facing difficulties refinancing their mortgage through conventional methods to apply for a refinance of their mortgage. A homeowner that is current with their monthly payments but unable to refinance due to a drop in the value is the typical prime candidate for the HARP program. The ultimate goal is to allow a homeowner to do a mortgage refinance for a lower interest rate and overall monthly payment. Click here to learn more about HARP.

Pre-Approval Accelerates the Buying Process

Pre-approval for financing is the single most important step in purchasing your new home. It tells sellers that you are ready and able to submit serious offers, which in turn makes them more enthusiastic about negotiating with you.

Our expert loan consultants will walk you through the process and match you with the best rate and terms for your unique situation. Even if your finances or credit make it difficult for you to purchase today, our promise is to put you on a path to purchase your home within just six months.

These days, most listings ask for pre-approval letters because the seller only wants to spend time with buyers who are actually prepared to buy. Simply put, we cannot overstate the benefits of taking this important first step and Granite Equity Group is here to help.

Granite Equity Group has access to the lowest rates and best terms on the market.

Get a free no-obligation pre-qualification for a new home Loan or refinance!

Get Pre-Qualified

Buying a Foreclosure or Short Sale

Buying a Foreclosure or Short Sale

Foreclosed and foreclosing properties dominate many of today’s U.S. real estate markets—more than four years after the sharpest observers saw the market shift coming, and more than two years after the reality hit home for millions of American home owners.

The recent Granite Equity Group Distressed Property Buying Survey unearthed great information about where the opportunities are, how big they are, and how smart, capable buyers are leveraging the current market.

First-time home buyers make up almost half of all buyers of bank-owned foreclosures and soon-to-be foreclosed short sale properties. They’re followed closely by investors seeking rental properties, and a third important group—homeowners who find they can move up to a bigger or better home they previously could not afford.

To help more consumers win as buyers, Granite Equity Group agents are now offering a workshop, “Winning with Foreclosures,” that shows buyers how to prepare to be successful buying the “distressed” properties—homes that offer, according to the survey, a 10 percent to 40 percent price advantage, depending on the local market.

The truth is: these markets demand most of the same things an ordinary market demands
of buyers—only more intensely and pointedly:

MONEY:
Buyers must be financially qualified and ready to buy. The best properties go quickly. Buyers must look strong to lenders.

MOTIVATION:
Buyers must be motivated to compete successfully. Granite Equity Group agents urge their buyers in this market to be clear about both their “motivating why” and their criteria for the property itself (size, location, condition, floor plan, etc.)

LOCATION:
Contrary to the rumors, prime buying opportunities exist in almost every neighborhood and price range.

CONDITION:
Buyers should understand that repair costs are not necessarily large. The Granite Equity Group Distressed Property Buying Survey shows the average cost to repair to be $5,000—that’s less than 3 percent of the median purchase price in the U.S. today.

EXPERT HELP:
Finally, smart buyers know they need to be even smarter—they become a team with a local expert agent who knows local property, pricing, lenders, and the best listing agents. A strong listing agent can be a critical advantage in seeing a distressed property through from contract to close.

If you think you want to buy, have a talk with yourself first, check your financial readiness, and get with an expert and learn everything you need to know, in order to get what you want in this market.

First-Time Home Buyers

First Time Home Buyers

A first time home purchase can be an overwhelming experience and Granite Equity Group can help make the process simple and fun. From mortgages to home searches and local school information, we can give you the tools you need to get on the road to home ownership.

One of the first steps to being a new home owner is to get your financial records in order and make sure your credit is in the best possible shape. Once pre-approved for a home loan that’s when the fun begins and you can start your home search in earnest.

Almost 80% of all home searches today begin on the Internet. Within seconds home buyers can be presented with hundreds of online listings, then view virtual tours, and sort through dozens of photographs and aerial shots of neighborhoods and homes. Because of the multitude of choices, it’s a very good idea to define your goals before you even begin.

How Long Should It Take?

In a “Seller’s Market” it can take a little more time because sellers are able to entertain several offers from multiple buyers. More patience is going to be required.

In a “Buyer’s Market” – which we are currently in – sellers are much more motivated and will sometimes accept the first good offer that’s presented. A buyer who is qualified and pre-approved has a tremendous amount of leverage in these market conditions. The sale and closing can happen very quickly.

One of the keys to maximizing your time is to work with a real estate agent who understands your needs and requirements and will only spend time showing you homes that fit within those parameters.

Make a List

Write out on a piece of paper your wish list of things your new home should feature. Then when you’re out looking at houses bring the list with you and make notes about which homes most closely match what you wrote down. You may find as you’re out looking at homes that you’ll want to add to your wish list based on what you’re seeing in different homes. Be flexible, but don’t veer from your most important features.

  • Bring a digital camera so you can remember which homes you liked the best. Start with an outside shot and then follow with any interior features you especially liked.
  • Make notes of unusual features, colors and design elements.
  • What are the home’s surroundings? What is next door? What’s behind or in front of the home?
  • How’s the location? What amenities are nearby? Where are the schools, parks & shopping? How’s the traffic?
  • After leaving do a gut check. What was your first impression? How would you rate each house on a scale of 1-10?

Take a Second Look

After making your home tours you’ve probably seen a few that got you excited. Make a list of your top choices and make an appointment to go back and see them a second time. This is your chance to really scrutinize – and try to be as objective as possible. It’s okay to “fall in love”, but before making that offer make sure you’ve done an honest evaluation and analysis.

A good real estate agent will point out any defects or potential issues with the home. They should not be attempting to steer you in or out of any decision, but rather, make sure you have all the information you need to make the right decision for yourself.

Granite Equity Group agents have the local area knowledge and expertise to help you find the home of your dreams!

School Information

School Information

One of the most important factors for parents (and future parents) when deciding where to live is the quality of schools in the area. The Sacramento region offers a wide variety of distinct neighborhoods and educational environments. By doing a little homework before starting off on your new home search you can put yourself and your children at a tremendous advantage, for now and the future.

Click here to view a current, interactive School Performance Map. Easy color codes will show you which schools are performing best and worst.

Below is a list of many of the Sacramento area school districts. Click on a link to view that district’s website.