There is no set process for buying a house. Steps can happen in a variety of orders and sometimes, simultaneously. Once you have an offer that is accepted, the general timeframe in the Barre/Montpelier area for closing and possession is 6-8 weeks -- longer if both parties prefer, shorter if the lender moves wicked fast. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's a general outline of what to expect when buying your first house.
1. Talk with a lender to see how much house you can afford
This is different than finding out how much money a lender will let you borrow. Look at the monthly payment, and see if you can make it work in your budget. Getting a pre-approval letter is helpful.
2. Talk with a Realtor
The best way to save a lot of time in the home buying process is to have a clear plan as to what you're looking for, and why. Sure, your goals might change, but starting with a clear plan and a Property Profile will make things much more focused, easier and give you peace of mind that you're buying the right house.
3. Get out there and look at properties
Some buyers look at just one or two and they know they've found the right one. Others look at more. The important thing is to know that you're targeting the right houses for you in the right price range.
4. Once you find your house, make an offer
There's no rule about what the first offer should be in relation to the asking price. Even in today's market, some houses go for at or above the asking price, but you won't know until you make the offer.
5. Protect yourself with contingencies
Common contingencies when buying a house in Montpelier or Barre include a property inspection, an appraisal and a financing contingency. If the house has serious problems, doesn't appraise for the contract price, or your loan falls apart, you should be able to get out of the contract without any problems.
Price and terms are both negotiable, as are timeframes.
7. Reach agreement
Voila! You're in contract.
8. Schedule the home inspection
You'll want to be there for the inspection. Plan on 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the house, outbuildings, etc. The idea is to get as much knowledge as possible about your new home. You don't want any big surprises and you want to be assured that you're buying what you thought you were buying.
8a. Assuming there are no surprises ...
Now, the process is turned over to the lender to do an appraisal and the final underwriting of the loan.
9. Financing commitment
The lender will let you know that you officially have the loan.
Sign a stack of papers, take out the mortgage, assign the house as collateral, get the deed to the property and finally, take your keys to your new house.
- Ray Mikus