It's no secret that Houston and Sugar Land have some of the hottest real estate markets in Texas—but that doesn't mean you can't find the right home at the right price. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the entire home-buying process. And if you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out!
The Seven-Step Guide to Buying a Home
Step 1: Take a look at your finances
While it may be tempting to start touring homes right away, you first need to take a look at your finances and determine what you can afford. Start by calculating your debt-to-income ratio, which is the amount of money you spend paying off your debts each month. You'll also want to check your bank account and other assets to see how much you have saved up for a down payment.
Most buyers should aim to put down around 20% of the total purchase price, but this number can vary depending on your lender. You may also qualify for a down payment assistance program, so be sure to research all of your options.
Step 2: Get preapproved for a mortgage
Once you've determined how much you can afford, it's time to research potential mortgage lenders. Believe it or not, there are dozens of different home loans available to today's buyers, and you can even craft a financing plan that works best for you. If you have any questions about mortgages, it's best to consult your agent or a mortgage broker.
After you've honed in on a few lenders, the next step is getting preapproved. Being preapproved means a lender has reviewed your finances and cleared you to borrow a certain amount of money at a set interest rate. Think of a preapproval letter as your ticket to officially start the home buying process—many sellers and agents won't take you seriously if you don't have one!
Step 3: Find a local agent
Now that you have your preapproval letter in hand, you can start looking for a top-rated local agent to help you kick off your search. The right Realtor should have plenty of experience with buyers in your area and price range. Don't be afraid to interview a few candidates before settling on the right one—it's important that you get along with them on both a personal and professional level.
It may also be helpful to read an agent's reviews to get a better idea of what it's like to work with them. The more five-star reviews an agent has, the better your experience will be.
Step 4: Start touring homes
Now it's time for the most exciting part of buying a home: touring listings and attending open houses! Before you schedule your first showing, try jotting down a list of your needs, wants, and would-like-to-haves. The right property should meet all of your needs and at least a few of your wants. Taking pictures and writing notes on each home will help you remember what you liked...and what wasn't so great.
Have questions about a specific home or neighborhood? Just ask your agent—they're always here to help!
Step 5: Make an offer
When you find a house that you love, you'll want to put in an offer as soon as possible. Your agent will help you determine a fair yet competitive offer price and negotiate any contingencies—like a home inspection or appraisal—into the contract.
It's not uncommon for homes in Houston and Sugar Land to sell for above their initial asking price. If a seller requests your best and final offer by a specific date, you could find yourself in the middle of a bidding war. If this does happen, be prepared to move fast and stay flexible.
Step 6: Enter due diligence
Once the seller accepts your offer, you'll enter into the due diligence period. Due diligence is a set amount of time for the buyer to do some digging on a home and decide if they still want to purchase it. Typically, this is when you'll schedule any inspections, appraisals, and surveys, and review all documents related to the title. If you discover any problems, you can attempt to renegotiate repairs or price reductions with the seller.
Step 7: Finalize your loan
Before the closing, you'll need to contact your lender to officially get approved for a loan. Being preapproved will help shorten this step because most of your paperwork will already be on file.
It's important to be patient and sign all documents related to your mortgage as soon as you receive them. If you miss any deadlines from your lender, you may have to delay your closing.
Step 8: Sign, close, and pay!
You've finally reached the finish line: closing day! On a predetermined date, you, the seller, and your agents will meet up to sign any remaining paperwork and finalize your loan. As a buyer, you may have to pay for certain closing costs, but most of them will likely be covered by the seller.
Once the title is transferred and the deed is recorded, you'll receive the keys to your new home. Congrats!
Ready to Get Started?
If you're ready to turn your real estate dreams into a reality, contact me, Karla Arjona, to get started. I'd be honored to help you begin your next chapter in Houston, Sugar Land, or one of our area's beautiful suburbs.
Need to sell before you buy? I can certainly help with that, too!