Buying a house
timeline is simply a memory aid for the things you'll need to do when buying a
new home. Your sequence may differ greatly, although you'll probably need to do
most of the same things.
You may find
your dream home in a week, or it may take months. Your time frame will also hinge
on whether you're moving across town or across the country. It's smart to be prepared
for any scenario.
6 months outNarrow
your territory. Buyers generally buy town first, neighborhood second, house third.
Cancel out the towns and neighborhoods you don't care for. You can do this on
your own or with a one-time area tour with an agent. You're eliminating what you
Know your financial situation.
Get a credit
check. Leave yourself time to correct any problems.
much house you can afford. This is just for your own use. The mortgage lender
will also make this determination at a later point.
about your budget and structure your home selection around that. Should you be
looking at a townhouse or a single-family, someplace in the suburbs or a little
farther out?Interview real estate
agents to help you with your
4 months out
- Select a mortgage broker or a mortgage
lender. They'll run your credit and get preliminary information
such as bank statements and retirement and investment account
with your bank or mortgage company. Double-check your buying
power. You don't want to waste time looking at homes you can't afford.
How much house can you afford?
How much house can you afford?
- Get pre-approved
for a mortgage. Make an application. Collect the required documents
and paperwork. Have a mortgage just waiting for the address of
the property you want to buy.
- Here is a list of questions
to ask when applying for a mortgage.
- Your lender
should give you a copy of a Housing and Urban Development publication called "Your
Settlement Costs." It explains all the fees and expenses you should know
- Make sure you have a local real estate attorney. Don't
wait until you find a house to find an attorney.
- If you're doing a corporate relocation, find
out exactly what is covered and what you're expected to do.
a list of everyone who needs to be notified of the move -- friends, relatives,
creditors, schools, doctors and dentists.
- Select a mover. Arrange for a storage facility
if you won't be moving into a new home right away after you leave your current
- Contact insurance companies to make sure your belongings
are covered during the move. If not, find out what the mover covers. Their basic
insurance probably insures items by the pound, which isn't good enough. See what
other insurance they offer.
- Have an appraisal of expensive
items you want shipped by the mover.
- Arrange to have utilities and phone service
in your old home shut off, or transferred if it's a local move. Remember, movers
need light so have the power cut off the day after you move.
- Close safe-deposit box. Important papers, jewelry
and the like should be kept with you during the move.
may want to close savings accounts, but keep checking accounts open until you're
able to open new ones in your new location.
- Get a cashier's
check for the movers.
When you find a house
- Make an offer.
- Title search -- the buyer
or the lender should initiate a title search. You want to be sure there are no
liens or encumbrances on the property.
- Inspection: the real
estate agent will recommend having a home inspection. Here are tips for finding
and hiring an inspector.
- The lender will hire an
appraiser. This will ascertain whether the house is worth what the buyer is paying.
homeowners insurance. Proof of insurance will be faxed to the closing agent.
warranty. It either comes with the listing or it can be purchased.
prepared for closing. Review your paperwork and the HUD publication "Your
Settlement Costs." The down payment, interest, taxes and insurance are among
the costs you'll probably have to pay.
- Cash to close -- figure
out where you'll get the money for closing costs. Do you have to sell stocks?
If you're borrowing from a relative make sure the check is in your account long
enough to clear.
- Get a cashier's check for closing
costs. (Also: Tips
to avoid last minute closing costs)
- Carefully review the bill of lading.
the old house isn't sold yet, make sure a relative and the real estate agent have
- Final walk through of the house. This is usually done
the day of the closing or the day before.
- Make sure you have
all the payments you'll need to take possession of the house.
assistance from Lori Dahl, Burgdorff Realtors, Parsippany, N.J.,
Bradley, president of American Residential Lending,