Buying or selling a home requires a great deal of time and effort, yet can be an extremely rewarding endeavor and investment. Navigating the real estate waters can be tricky, so here are some tips to consider that will help make the process manageable. Of course, some details may vary from state to state so be sure to consult with a real estate professional to assure you adhere to local laws and financing requirements.

The Home Buying Process:

  • Explore early: Review available homes online, in newspapers, and in local real estate brochures. Take note of neighborhoods and homes that interest you, asking prices, and time on the market so that you have a feel for what you may want to purchase
  • Determine your budget: It’s wise to understand how much house you can afford before beginning your search. Assuming a 20% down payment (and little other debt), a general rule of thumb is that the home should cost no more than three to five times one’s annual household income.
  • Get pre-approved for credit: Going through the process of getting prequalified for a mortgage will help you determine how much home you can afford. A mortgage broker will review your financial information (bank statements, W-2 statements, etc.) to verify who you are and determine how much they will lend you. 
  • Find a trusted real estate agent: Real estate agents come with varying levels of knowledge and experience. Be sure to find one that clearly knows homes in the neighborhoods that interest you and can help you through the home buying process.  
  • Shop: You’ll find a plethora of information online (price, number of rooms, taxes, etc.), and of course do live tours. Note details that you like or that are non-starters. Check everything from electrical outlets to windows to plumbing. Note neighborhood issues like noise, traffic, parking, and proximity to schools, shopping, restaurants, and more. 
  • Make an offer: Work with your real estate agent to make an offer on a home. Once the seller accepts your offer, you will need to come up with “earnest money,” which shows you are serious about buying. These funds gets deposited into an escrow account, and are either applied to the down payment or closing costs, or returned to you following the closing.
  • Request a home inspection: Your real estate agent will help arrange a preliminary home inspection to look for structural damage or things that require repair. If any repairs are required, you’ll have a chance to do a walk-through before the sale is final to confirm they have been completed.
  • Finalize your loan, coordinate paperwork, and close the sale: Work with your mortgage lender to select the right loan.Your mortgage lender will work with a title company to handle all of the paperwork. During the closing you will sign all of the paperwork required to finalize the purchase. 

The Home Selling Process:

  • Interview and select an experienced real estate agent: To avoid the time and hassle of figuring things out on your own, interview agents and select one that best fits your needs.
  • Determine the value of your home: You’ll want to price your home competitively with local, comparable properties. Your agent will help you with this using a Comparative Market Analysis report.
  • Prepare your home for sale: Walk through the home with your agent to determine the steps you need to take to prepare your home, including cleaning, repairing, decluttering, and depersonalizing your home inside and out. 
  • Market and show your home: This step will begin with taking pictures inside and outside of your home, and compiling information to be included in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). You may then choose to show your home by appointment only or by lockbox. 
  • Receive purchase offers & negotiate: It is likely that multiple purchase offers will come in assuming you priced your home competitively. Often these buyers will test the waters and make offers under the asking price. Don’t hesitate to hold your ground on the full price, or to make a counter offer. 
  • Hire a title company and open an escrow account: Once you accept an offer, you will choose a title company or your agent should connect you one that will help you set up an escrow account. At this point the buyer will provide earnest money indicating they are serious about purchasing your home.  
  • Complete seller disclosures: Depending on the age of your home, there are disclosures you will need to make in writing. This includes such things as presence of lead paint, known problems such as pests, rodents, flooding, roof leaks, etc. 
  • Home inspections and appraisal: Most home buyers will request a home inspection for damages et al. At this point the buyer can back out or you can negotiate their requests for repairs. A buyer can also use an appraisal to renegotiate the deal.
  • Sign title and escrow documents: The last step of the process is to finalize and sign documents that complete the closing. 

At The McKay Group, we work tirelessly to help our clients achieve their real estate goals. If you're looking to buy or preparing to sell, The McKay Group team represents some of the best and brightest real estate professionals in the industry, guiding you through the world of all things home-related. For additional insight and advice on buying or selling real estate, contact us today at 630-513-0104 or fill out our online form for information tailored to your needs. Please also be sure to like us on Facebook!