In case you weren’t aware: Buying a home is a big deal. 

The good news? It’s a process, and the more comfortable and informed you are with the process, the smoother, and more educated your home buying journey will be.

While exact steps can vary depending on your situation, we’ve pulled together an overview of what the typical process looks like:

1.) Know Your Credit Score & What You Can Afford

Checking your credit score to know what you’re working with for a mortgage is an essential next step. Check out this article on how to navigate the free credit score system. In addition, you want to know what you can afford (and feel comfortable with) for a down payment and monthly mortgage payments. Check out this tool from Zillow to help figure what you can afford.

2.) Work With a Parks Real Estate Agent

You’ll want the knowledge and guidance of a Parks Real Estate agent as soon as possible to help you go through the rest of your home buying process. The great thing about choosing a real estate agent now is that you can read reviews, and contact a few to see what the best fit is. No more simply choosing one based on the postcard you received in the mail! You want to feel confident that your agent is the right person to help you with this big decision.

3.) Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Take some of the guesswork out of the lending process and have a pre-approved loan form on hand. This is especially helpful if there are multiple offers on a house. Already having a pre-approved loan will put you a step ahead of everyone else. (Hint: You aren’t locked into the lender you got the pre-approval form from. When you actually know how much you need to borrow, it’s best to get quotes from at least three lenders on what the interest rate and fees would be).

4.) Look at Homes!

Now to the (hopefully) fun part! By this time you’ve probably sorted out what you really want and need in a home. Keep an open mind as the process goes on and you discover new things you realize you’re really excited about or would like to avoid.

5.) Make an Offer

Hopefully you find your dream home and can keep the nerves at bay while working with your real estate agent to craft your offer. Depending on location, there are many variations on exactly what can and cannot be done in an offer, but remember to use your real estate agent’s expertise to offer something that makes sense for you and the market. Likely, a counteroffer is in store in which you and your real estate agent would go back with either a yes, no or another offer. You will be in this stage until there is a “no” from either side in which you are back to #4, or a “yes” and will move to the next step.

6.) Inspection Day

Likely, your offer was contingent on a successful inspection (or at least one with the willingness to negotiate on costs for necessary repairs). While this is a huge step to make sure that the home really is in appropriate shape to purchase, don’t forget to take advantage of the most time you’ll have in the home until the day you get the keys! Most people end up doing some measuring and planning for move-in.

7.) Insurance & Utilities

To protect your investment, it’s important to get homeowners insurance. If you already have homeowners insurance, it is easy to get a new policy written up. If this is your first homeowner’s policy, make sure to do some research and find out exactly what is being covered and what makes the most sense for you and your property.

8.) Closing & Keys

Congratulations! You have made it to closing day! After sitting around a table and reading and signing what will feel like endless papers, you are officially a homeowner. Depending on exactly when it was decided that you will have keys in hand, you will likely be able to move into your very own home that day. Enjoy the new place!

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