Buying a home usually represents your single, biggest investment – and debt.
The home buying process is one of the most exciting, and frequently stressful, experiences you’ll ever go through. This holds true whether you’ve bought many homes or you’re looking to buy your first; whether you’re in the market for a new primary residence, an investment property, or that perfect vacation getaway.
Today’s real estate market can offer more opportunities, yet can be filled with more risks than ever before. There are a multitude of factors to consider and decisions to make. When buying, it’s crucial to have all the available resources necessary to make a well-informed decision, together with the time required to make use of them. It’s important to enlist the help of a trusted baton rouge real estate agent who’ll be able to provide expert guidance at each step of the buying process.
This e-guide will take you through each step of buying a home in Baton Rouge, plus additional links to helpful resources. You will find a download for all of these mentioned resources at the end of the article.
1.) Define your goals, research your options, make your plans
Given that buying a home is such a big step, it’s very important to educate and prepare yourself as much as possible. This means clearly determining the reasons you’re buying and what kind of home fits your wishlist and your needs. When more than one decision maker is involved in the purchase of a home, they often find they are not on the same page when it comes to their wishlist OR desired area.
Below is a link to download a Home Buyer Questionnaire. Each person involved in the purchase of the home should fill one out and then compare. Having this ready for the first our first meeting will help me to better understand what you want so we can start your home search in the right direction.
Since buying and financing a home are so closely related, it also means examining your current financial situation and projecting how much you can afford. A great place to start is pulling your credit report and cleaning up any glaring mistakes. Plus, reviewing your credit reports will help you catch identity theft that may be affecting your credit score. Individuals are entitled by law to one free credit report every 12 months from each major credit reporting company. When you check your credit report, it does not count as a “hard” pull and will not affect your credit score. You can visit AnnualCreditReport.com to request your free reports. Ensure that the information on all of your credit reports is correct and up to date.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be in a better position to research housing and mortgage options, and create an action plan and timeline for moving forward. Although it is possible to do this yourself, you may benefit by consulting an experienced Baton Rouge real estate agent right from the start. Now you are ready to get serious about buying a home in Baton Rouge!
2.) Contact a real estate professional
Buying a home is a complex matter with many factors to consider since no two homes or transactions are alike. Moreover, with all the unique opportunities and potential pitfalls of the current market, it’s more important than ever to contact a real estate agent once you’ve decided to buy.
As your Baton Rouge real estate agent, I will guide you through the property search, financing, negotiation, and transaction processes including closing day. As the home buyer, my agent commission is paid by the seller of the home in almost all circumstances. This means your representation costs you nothing!
Real estate terminology can be confusing, especially to a first time home buyer. Below is a link to a download which includes a guide to real estate terms. This will help you to understand the home buying process more thoroughly!
3.) Get pre-approved for a loan
We recommend that you get pre-approved for a loan before you start viewing homes with the serious intention of buying. In fact, most sellers will not accept an offer unless is accompanied by a pre-approval letter. The process involves meeting with a lender and authorizing them to examine your current financial situation and credit history. On the basis of this examination, the lender may provide you with a document detailing the amount you can borrow to buy a home. Consider looking online to see what different lenders offer, or contacting your local bank or credit union.
The benefits of pre-approval include:
- You’ll know what you are eligible to receive and be able to plan accordingly.
- As a qualified, motivated buyer you’ll be taken more seriously when you make an offer.
- Lenders can tell you if you qualify for special programs that will help you afford a better home (particularly if you’re a first-time buyer).
Real estate financing is available from many sources, and an experienced real estate agent will be able to suggest lenders with a history of offering excellent mortgage products and services. As an agent that has worked many lenders, I can make recommendations based on the type of loan you are interested in and your current financial situation. I do not receive a referral fee from lenders, so my primary focus is getting you to the right company that can help you determine your mortgage eligibility.
For a list of recommended mortgage companies, please call 225-284-0901 or email [email protected]
4.) View homes and select THE ONE – The fun part!
Simply put, the key to the home search process is knowing what you’re looking for. As your Baton Rouge real estate agent, I have tools and systems to ensure you see every available home that meets your criteria. That said, here are a few recent statistics about home buyers that might put your experience in perspective:
- 92% of buyers use the internet or mobile apps to search for homes.
- The typical buyer searches for 12 weeks and views 12 homes.
- 78% of home buyers surveyed responded that neighborhood quality is more important than the size of the home.
- 57% of buyers would forego a home with a larger yard in favor of a shorter commute.
- 53% of home buyers undertook a home improvement project within 3 months of buying, typically spending $4,550 in improvement projects.
There are many benefits to starting the search process at a real estate website like houses225.com when buying a home in Baton Rouge. You can view many homes and their details, take video tours and access neighborhood information. As a local site, it also contains specific local searches you often cannot find on the “big name” search sites, like golf communities and gated subdivisions.
However, it’s also important to view homes in person. While the property details may seem similar online, homes can be very different in terms of layout, design, workmanship and other aspects. Ideally, you should view homes with the help of a real estate agent who will notice things you might miss, provide expert analysis, and act as an impartial sounding board. Last year, 34% of buyers found the home they purchased directly from their agent.
5.) Make an offer and negotiate with the seller
Once you’ve found the home you’d like to buy, it’s time to make an offer. On the purchase agreement contract, you can specify a sale price and clauses specifying various terms of purchase, such as the closing and possession dates, your deposit amount, and other conditions.
You should carefully review these clauses with your real estate agent to be sure that they accurately express your intended offer. Your real estate agent will present your offer to the seller and/or the seller’s representative. At that point, the process will vary somewhat depending on the market you’re in. Generally speaking, the seller can accept your offer, reject it, or counter it to initiate the negotiation process.
If you and the seller agree on price and terms, the home is effectively held for you until closing. To understand how to choose your closing date, read my article on 5 tips for choosing a closing date.
6.) Preparing for closing – The final details
During this stage, you perform any inspections. If there are any deficiencies with the home or repairs needed, the buyer may negotiate with the seller to receive compensation for agreed upon repairs or to have the seller fix the deficiencies prior to closing day. This is what many call ‘the second stage of negotiation”. If the seller and buyer agree on the inspection repair request (if applicable), then the lender will order the appraisal if required.
During this stage, you will also be finalizing your loan and reviewing documents Your mortgage lender will be managing this process with you. As your Baton Rouge real estate agent, I will work very closely with you to ensure you understand everything leading up to the closing day. I can recommend inspectors and also point you in the right direction when it comes to transferring utilities – and even recommend skilled workers or companies for updates or repairs you want to conduct on the home after closing day.
7.) Closing Day Is Here!!
This is the transfer of funds and ownership. A title company or an attorney will act as an independent third party to facilitate the closing. The title company is typically chosen by the buyer earlier in the home buying process. As your real estate agent, I can recommend title companies for your to contact.
Leading to this day, the title company will perform a title search to ensure that there are no claims against the title of the property. It’s also recommended to purchase owner’s title insurance for protection in the event of errors in the records or mistakes in the review processes as the home has been bought and sold throughout the years.
**The final walkthrough – you will be given the chance to look at the home one last time to make sure it’s in the same condition as when you signed the sale agreement before heading to the closing table**
At the closing table you will sign all of the paperwork required to complete the transaction and pay your closing costs.
Oh, and one more thing – you’ll get the keys!
Congratulations….You’re a Home Owner!!
- Home Buyer Survey
- Real Estate Terminology Guide
- Home Buying Road Map
- Critical Date List
To learn more about the complete process to buying a home in Baton Rouge, contact me at 225-284-0901. Click here to start searching for Baton Rouge area homes now!