Sunday, September 1, 2013

How to Buy a House (for the Very First Time!)

My husband and I have recently been considering buying a home. We went from a tiny rented apartment to a large rented home- the next step seems to be buying our own home, but the more I learn about it, the more I’ve realized… Buying a house is complicated! Luckily for me, though, I’ve got a realtor (Becca) who lets me inundate her with a barrage of different text message questions. However, not everyone has a realtor at their fingertips, so I asked her to outline (as simply as possible) what it takes to buy a home.

So, fellow first-time home buyers (also referred to as property virgins, I think)- use the following article as a guide to help make the muddled mess of home buying a bit clearer.

Hey, MyAmConf readers! My name is Becca Summers and I am a licensed Realtor in the state of Utah. I love to help people achieve their real estate goals. My sister and I were talking today about buying a home (this would be her first home purchase). She had a few questions, and I thought, “Why not write a blog post to help explain the process for buying a home; it’s not as simple as one might think.”

The following is a basic overview; no two purchases are ever the same because emotions are involved in the purchase from both the buyer and the seller.  Here are the first five steps to buying a house.

1. Consult with a Realtor. You will discuss the buying process, figure out your expectations for you and your agent, and assess your wants and needs for the home. This will help you learn more about what to expect.

2. Get pre-approval with lender.  Many homes require a pre-approval to be completed in writing before you write an offer. This is essential before you start viewing homes, so you will know what price range to look for.

3. Select and View Properties. Your agent will send you properties in your price range and in a desirable area. Keep track of your favorites and let your agent know what you want to look at.

4. Write offer. Once you have found the property that is right for you, you write an offer. You should look at comparable homes in the area to give you a better idea of pricing.

5. Negotiate offer. You might be surprised, but often the first offer isn’t accepted, so there is then some negotiation. Perhaps you want to move in quickly and they need a few days to move, so they will counter and ask you to change your moving date a few days back.

Wooh! That was all the fun stuff, but now we get down to the nity-gritty parts of real estate. Once your offer is accepted, you are under contract! Here are the last six steps in buying your house!

6. Under Contract. This is where the lender (who you get your mortgage with) and title company (the ones who do a background check to make sure the home title is clear) come in to work through all of your paper work. The lender company and title company each specialize in a different area of the transaction.

7. Earnest Money- When you write your offer to show that you are “earnestly” interested in the property, you will give ‘earnest money’ to the seller. This is usually 1% of the purchase price and will go toward your down payment as long as you actually purchase the property. If you decide not to buy the house, you might lose this money. The opposite is also true. If the seller backs out, you’ll get your earnest money back, plus a penalty equal to the original amount of earnest money.

8. Seller Disclosures. This is a document where the sellers will disclose everything they have done to the property (repairs, maintenance, fire, mold, etc.).

9. Due Diligence. This is one of the most important steps for you as a buyer (to protect yourself!). It is where you go through and make sure the property is right for you. This is the time I would recommend getting a home inspector to go through the house.

10. Financing & Appraisal. The lender (who you get your mortgage with) will order the appraisal (an official guesstimate of how much the house is worth) to confirm the price. They will also verify the loan terms and make sure they are good before the financing deadline.

Look! Becca Summers!
Realtor Extraordinaire!
11. Settlement & Closing.  Settlement is where you go the title company (the ones who do a background check to make sure the home title is clear) and sign all of the documents. Closing is when the home becomes officially yours! Hooray!

Still with me? That feels like a lot of information,  but I wanted to make sure I was thorough. All of these things take time-don’t get frustrated –it is well worth it to have your own house.

I hope I’ve given you some knowledge without giving you a headache. If you have more questions about buying a home (in Utah- sorry, world, I only work in Utah) feel free to email me at or check out my Facebook page


  1. better yet forget the realtor and find owner finance.....quicker, cheaper. get an attorney to write out the paper's and bypass the costly mortgage co......did it 14 yrs. ago soooo easy

  2. Unfortunately some people cant. My apartments wont let you end your lease early with owner financing.

  3. Owner financing is far a few between in most markets. You are better off spending time finding a realtor that you connect with and let them do their job of knowing the area your searching and the most recent home sales to make the best offer and negotiate in your favor. In the long run it save you time and energy...and most instances the seller pays the commission. :)