It is that time of year. First time homebuyers are gathering their financial paperwork and driving around looking at houses, dreaming of home ownership. So, at this time of year, I like to share the basic steps for buying a house with all of you who are getting ready to make your first home purchase.

1. You Need a Mortgage Broker.

Before I can help you, a mortgage broker works with you to assess your finances to see how much spending power you have. A good mortgage broker will advise you on ways to clean up your finances for a smooth loan process. If you need a referral to a mortgage broker, please give me a call.

2. Identify Your Key Search Criteria.

In today’s real estate market, there is a lot of “inventory” to choose from, so narrowing down that selection is important. In addition to price range, you will need to think about space needs, location, and condition—what will work for you now and in the future. Also, it is important to understand your motivation. The home buying process can be quite emotional, and knowing your goals will help you stay focused.

3. Let the Search Begin.

Once you know your criteria, the fun part begins—let’s get out there and start looking at houses. You will receive automatic email announcements of new listings and price reductions for homes that meet your parameters. We can meet up at times that are convenient for you to look at homes that catch your eye.

4. Review the Offer Paperwork.

Once you are ready to make an offer, things can move quite quickly, so it is important to be comfortable with the paperwork and procedures. I will give you a sample of the purchase offer paperwork to review when we first meet. Make sure to read and review it so you are comfortable when the time comes to make an offer.

5. How to Hold Title.

A serious consideration is how you will own the property. This is a very important consideration for LGBT homeowners and other unmarried couples. This is especially important if you are buying in Washington, which is a community property state (and is on theverge of marriage equality!). You may need to consult an attorney or financial planner. I would be happy to explain title options to you in more depth.

6. Inspections.

Once you have an accepted offer, you will need to have the home inspected. Make sure to have liquid cash available for a general home inspection, a sewer scope, and possible further inspections. You need to make sure your dream home doesn’t turn into a nightmare. I usually recommend having $800-$1,000 in cash available for inspections.

7. Ask a Lot of Questions.

This is a big purchase….possibly the largest transaction you will make in your life. Don’t just follow my advice at every turn, and don’t make assumptions. Be curious, ask questions and find out everything you need to know to be a confident and well-informed homebuyer.

This is just a brief introduction to a complex process. I can help guide you through your search, negotiations, escrow, and beyond. Drop me a line and let me know how I can help kickstart your home search.