Buying a house is a different experience than, well, pretty much anything else. But by knowing what to expect and taking it one step at a time, you can learn how to buy a house like a pro, even if it’s your first time.
Hire a real estate agent
Finding a good real estate agent is all-benefits, no drawbacks for buyers. It costs you nothing, but will save you so much time—and you’ll have a pro’s know-how throughout the process. Agents have access to the Multiple Listing Services (MLS), which gives them first glance at what’s for sale in the neighborhood you want at the price you can afford.
Cityrial can also help connect you with a Premier Agent when you click on any property page. Premier Agents are qualified agents who you can trust to work hard for you. You can also ask friends and family or visit a local real estate office. Prepare a list of questions to ask a real estate agent, and interview them before committing.
Make a list of needs and wants
Make two lists: one of must-haves and one of nice-to-have items like the Olympic-sized swimming pool you dreamed about as a kid.
On the must-haves include location—walkable to work, in your favorite neighborhood, by good schools, etc.—as well as number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and whatever else you absolutely can’t (or won’t) live without. Your real estate agent can help you decide what items might best fit on which list based on homes in your market.
Browse online house listings
Take out that handy list of needs and wants and start looking around at what’s available. Use Cityrial’s filters to quickly find the right listings to explore. For example, if you wish to stay near popular landmarks, the search feature allows you to search for it and find homes within the district for sale.
The goal with online browsing isn’t just to find a potential home, it’s also to make sure what you want, what’s available, and what you can afford all line up. If not, you may need to adjust your wants and needs.
Go to house viewings
Once you start seeing homes you like, call your agent and ask them to start scheduling viewings. And another, and another. Visit as many homes and open houses as you can. You can use the Cityrial to find new houses scheduled near you. The more comparing and contrasting you can do, the more knowledge you have about the market and your options. Ask your agent for advice about how to buy a house that really fits your needs.
Make an offer and negotiate
Once you’re ready to start home buying, it’s offer time. Here’s where you’ll thank yourself for working with a real estate agent. They’ll help you determine the right offer to make for a particular house, including things that go beyond the required amount. For instance, offering an accelerated closing date or to buy and lease back to the buyer if they can’t move right away may be a smart move in some situations. When you make an offer on a house, the seller may accept it or counter-offer, and then your agent will help you decide how and if to negotiate. Once you arrive at a deal everyone likes, you’re considered under contract to buy the house.
Close on your house
This is the day you get your house keys—but first, you have some serious paperwork to do. You’ll set an appointment for closing on your house, and you’ll need to bring your driver’s license, a cashier’s check for your down payment and closing costs (which range from 2 to 5 percent of the home’s purchase price) — and a lot of patience. You will sign and initial dozens of papers.
But at the end of this meeting, you will be a homeowner. You can take your keys and go home.
How long it takes to buy a house