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Home Buying Process

Home Buying Process

 

Congratulations on the first step of buying a home in Houston, TX. !  As an experienced real estate agent, I can assist you through the entire process of Houston Home Buying, starting with the mortgage and all the way to closing – and beyond.  At your request, I can suggest mortgage lenders in the Houston area.
AGENCY RELATIONSHIPS
When real estate professionals work with buyers and sellers, “agency” relationships are established. As you start working with a real estate professional, please ask for a clear explanation of the current agency laws in Texas, so that you understand these important issues.
There are three types of agency relationships:
1. Buyer’s agent — A “buyer’s agent” represents the buyer during the home buying process. The buyer’s real estate professional (agent) has a fiduciary responsibility to represent the buyer’s best interests including reasonable care, loyalty and confidentiality.
2. Seller’s agent — A “seller’s agent” represents the interest of the seller and has a fiduciary responsibility of reasonable care, loyalty, confidentiality and disclosure to the seller. A seller’s real estate professional (agent) works to assist the seller in locating a buyer and in negotiating a transaction suitable to the seller’s specific needs.
3. Disclosed dual agent — A “disclosed dual agent” represents the interests of both the buyer and the seller, during the same transaction. A dual agent has responsibilities to both buyer and seller and must act in the best interest of both parties.
On this page you will find some helpful information regarding the Houston home buying process and answers to many questions about getting a home loan, FICO scores, Your needs vs. wants in a home, what your Realtor® can do for you, making an offer, and much more.
Get Pre-approved for a Loan
Obtain a copy of your credit report and your FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score, and if necessary, do what you need to do to improve it. Today, due to the new rules and regulations most lenders will require that your score be above 520 before they will consider you for a home loan. The higher your FICO score, the better your interest rate. Your credit score can be found on the internet, You can access all three reports once a year for free if you go to www.annualcreditreport.com, or contact your realtor for help. It is a good idea to contact several lenders to determine which one will give you the best deal.
Determine Your Price Range and Area(s) in Which You’re Interested
After speaking to your lender, you should have a good idea of how much home you can afford. This helps you narrow down your home search. It can be good to know this information ahead of time, especially if time is an issue.  You should also begin researching Houston neighborhoods in which you might want to live. I can help you with this.
Decide your needs and your wants

Think about your wants and needs.  Make a list of them so that you can narrow your criteria down to homes that fit your needs and including as many wants as possible.  How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?  This need could possibly change the direction of the neighborhood your searching in since some homes were build in the 50’s with only 1 or 2 bathrooms; and unless you are willing to  add on to live there then a different neighborhood would better suite your needs.  Do you want a newer home or an older one? Do you want granite counter tops or are you willing to install them yourself if you find the otherwise perfect home? Are hardwood floors a need or a want?  Only you can decide this.  Try to decide which features you would be willing to give up if you were to find a home that suites the rest of your needs.  Remember, most frequently the “perfect home” doesn’t exist; however you can make some adjustments to suite your needs if necessary.
Begin Testing the Market
Right here on my site, you can find Houston listings that meet your criteria as well as Houston neighborhood data. See what’s available in your price range and explore neighborhoods in Houston.
With Your Agent, Begin Seriously Looking at Homes
I can compile a list of homes in Houston based on your criteria, or show you any Houston homes you might have already found, including any that might have just been placed on the market. I can even set you up a personal website that will automatically send you homes that fit your criteria as soon as they are listed on the market.  Many websites on the internet do not get this information as quickly as I can provide it to you.  Look at homes with a critical eye – does the floor plan work for you? Is the property in good condition? Would it be right for your lifestyle? In short, can you imagine yourself and your family living there? Take notes at each home you visit. What are your likes and dislikes? I recommend that when you begin searching that you take notes so that you will remember the floor plans, condition of the home, things you would like to ask the owner to correct if you were to make an offer, etc.  Does this home fit your lifestyle? Can you imagine yourself living there? Make a list of your likes and dislikes. This will help you to narrow down your choices; revisit homes in which you’re interested and see them at different times of the day.
Make an Offer
When you’ve identified the home you want to buy, be ready to help your agent prepare a written offer quickly. Your agent will be familiar with Houston market values and will help you arrive at a price that gives your offer the best chance of being accepted. At this point, it is best not to become emotionally attached to a home. For any number of reasons, your offer may not be accepted. Rarely does an initial offer get accepted the first time. Both the buyer and seller are trying to get the best possible “deal” so be prepared to negotiate through your agent with the sellers.  Have backup homes in mind. I am a very strong negotiator and can help you, within reason, get as close to your initial offer as possible.

Once Your Offer Is Accepted

 

Once your offer is accepted, you’ll be asked to submit an earnest money deposit that usually isn’t refundable. Earnest money is usually around 1% of the sales price and is made out to the title company of your choice.  Sometimes the seller is already set up with a title company so even that can be negotiated.  As everything in real estate, everything is negotiable.  If, by chance, you are not able to get financed, you will receive your earnest money back.  Also, if you choose to pay the 10 day option fee, which I highly recommend, you will need to write a check for $100 to the owner of the home.  The option fee is a non refundable fee that allows you to back out of the deal up to 10 days after the contract has been executed.  An executed contract is one that is signed by all parties including the seller and the buyer.  This is a good thing because otherwise the only reason the buyer can back out of the contract is if financing doesn’t go through.
As soon as the offer has been accepted you will want to have the property professionally inspected, and if necessary, request repairs. This can sometimes be another hurdle in the home buying process because depending on the outcome of the  inspections you may have to renegotiate with the seller any repairs you would like them to be responsible for and decide which ones you feel you can do yourself.  A good agent can help you through this and help put things in proper prospective.
Planning the Move
Now you can begin making moving arrangements. Find a mover, obtain change-of-address cards, and inform friends and relatives of your upcoming move. If you need help in selecting a mover, I can help you with that.  Obtain homeowner’s insurance. Call your local utility companies (phone, water, electricity, etc.) to schedule the transfers. If you are moving from a different city I will be happy to help you with contact numbers. A few days before closing, stage a walk through with your Realtor®. Also, you will want to obtain a cashier’s check for the down payment, as well as for any closing costs.
At Closing
Make sure the terms and conditions of the loan statement are correct – Carefully read everything before you sign ENJOY YOUR NEW HOME!  If you would like as your Realtor® I will be happy to attend the closing with you.