Understanding the Buying Process

Understanding the Buying Process

Understanding the Buying Process

For many first time buyers who want to purchase Wilmington, North Carolina real estate, the process likely began with the signing of a six- or twelve-month lease, a local apartment and a lot of hard work saving up for a down payment.  The idea that it is finally time to stop throwing money away in the form of rent every month is certainly a cause for celebration.  But after the requisite funds are stashed at the bank and the landlord has given the OK on you going month-to-month on the lease, what happens next? 

The first step is to contact a local mortgage broker and get a letter of preapproval for a loan.  Though it may be possible to find better rates for a mortgage online, a mortgage broker with a vested interest in the local community will work harder on your behalf to solve problems and ensure your transaction closes successfully.

Some of the top questions on the minds of first time buyers of Wilmington, North Carolina real estate include:  How long should I expect the search to last?  How long will it take to move in after I find a home in Wilmington I like?  What kind of notice will I need to give the landlord?

Considering that real estate often represents one of the biggest investments a person will ever make, it’s understandable to have questions.  But even if the landlords are your parents, it’s nice to know how long it will actually take to escape your childhood bedroom.  With that in mind, here are some of the most common steps associated with the home buying process and a general idea about the length of time you can expect each one of them to take.

Finding a Home

Just because your Aunt Barbara said that you should search the local market for at least three years before you buy something doesn’t mean you have to listen.  There really is not a hard-and-fast rule for how long it should take to get a great deal or find the ideal property that is the best match for your individual needs. 

There is no question that buying a home is a big decision.  All of the factors should be weighed carefully, which is partially why this step can be very different from person to person.  Everyone has a different timeline and reason for moving.  Whether you need to move quickly or you have the luxury of waiting, here are a few of the most important steps involved with finding a home:

·         Consulting with me, your agent – Prior to getting started on your home search, it is a good idea for us to get together, whether in-person, over the phone or through email, to answer some important questions.   After we have gone over your individual needs and goals, I will create an automated search for you based on a specific set of criteria and your target neighborhoods.  By creating a search for you that delivers automatic alerts about new listings and price changes in your favorite neighborhoods, I can save you time and simplify the process substantially.  I will also reach out to my colleagues to find homes that are not listed on the open market. 

·         Searching for homes online – It can be overwhelming and time consuming to find a home online, considering the amount of information that is readily available.  A pro tip:  create a listing collection with a number of solid ‘maybe homes’ in the software application you’re using, and then slowly decrease the number as new insights become available. 

·         Tour the area – Doing a drive-by requires a significant investment of time, but a quick tour of the neighborhood can often provide enough information to know whether a potential home is a Yes or a No.  Driving through a neighborhood takes time, but in-person tours can be even more of a time-waster.  Why look at a home in person if you know it won’t work? 

·         Viewing homes in person – Real estate photographers are consummate pros when it comes to manipulating pictures to make a home more appealing.  With that in mind, as well as the idea that a picture cannot adequately convey noise levels and smells, it is essential to view each home in person.  Plan for taking a minimum of 30 – 45 minutes to view each listing.

Making an Offer

There is no doubt that the most exciting, tense moments of the home buying process will occur during the offer phase.  After finding a home that you are excited about and discussing what a good starting point in the negotiations would be, one of my first questions for you will likely be the following:

Are you willing to walk away from this one?

If you are OK with the idea of missing out on the home, then rejoice because you have what is known as a strong negotiating position.  If you have fallen in love with the place, however, it may not be in your interest to quibble over small amounts or some of the terms.  When stretched over the course of 30 years, thousands and even tens of thousands often don’t amount to much of a difference in the monthly payment.

Sellers only have three choices when they are presented with an offer.  Their options are to accept, counter or refuse.  It may only take about three days to submit an offer and negotiate a sales price, but the moments can seem interminable when you are waiting for a response from a seller.

Contract Phase

For anyone who has ever been married, it will be easy to see why many refer to the contract period as the courtship phase.  In real estate, this phase usually lasts between 30 and 45 days.  The contract period is the buyer’s last chance to check all the systems, kick the proverbial tires, perform all of the necessary due diligence, and walk away from the deal with no repercussions.  The items that will need to be taken care of during the contract period include:

·         Home Inspections – Scheduling a home inspection soon after the home goes under contract is essential.  When the real estate market is hot, a good inspector will need to be scheduled weeks in advance.  After reviewing the home inspection with you, I will help you decide whether to ask for monetary concessions or the necessary repairs.

·         Reach out to your Mortgage Broker – Maintaining contact with your mortgage broker during this period is very important.  Doing so will help to ensure that you will have the paperwork for your loan to close, that the appraisal is scheduled and completed, and that you will know about the amount of funds you will need to bring to closing.   I can also help you follow up with that person, so please pass on their information to me.

·         Get Home Owner’s Insurance – So many people forget about this step that it has to be mentioned.  Having to scramble to find home owner’s insurance at the last minute is a stressful experience, and it is impossible to close on a loan without it.  For this reason, it is a good idea to reach out to 2 – 3 providers for quotes after the inspection has been completed.

·         Countdown to Moving Day – The real work of moving begins when all the items have been crossed off and the paperwork appears to be in order.  When it looks like the transaction will close, it is time to start calling movers and gathering quotes, packing up non essentials, arranging for utility services at the new house, and completing change of address forms. 

Closing Time

Finally, the moment arrives and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  All of the hard work is about to pay off the night before closing, which is a good thing because most people end up having trouble sleeping as the excitement and butterflies mix with pangs of anxiety.  Take a deep breath, find a favorite pen and stretch out your fingers, closing on a loan can last anywhere between 20 minutes and 3 hours, depending on the complexity of the deal.

Once the paperwork is complete and the transaction has been recorded, it will be my absolute pleasure to hand you your first set of keys to your new home.  This is an unforgettable, life-changing moment, but especially for first time buyers.  

Do you have questions?  Did you get all that? Considering how complex it can be to purchase a home, the amount of obstacles, variables and information that can be involved, it is easy to see why it is so important to have a knowledgeable, trusted agent like Fritts Causby on your side. 

For more information about the Wilmington, North Carolina home buying process or to get started on your search for Wilmington real estate, call Fritts Causby at 858-692-5120 or email frittscausby@gmail.com.