Buying a home will probably be one of the biggest purchases you will ever make in your lifetime. Whether you are purchasing a home for the very first time or you’ve done this before, this decision must be planned and made carefully, in order to make the entire process as stress-free as possible.
Buyers Guide – Greater Cleveland Real Estate
Preparing to Buy
Before looking around, it’s recommended that you make sure that you can actually buy a home. Compile info about your bank accounts, statements, investments, loans, tax returns, insurance, and other important financial documents. This is your green file, which you’ll need in order to secure financing.
Also check your credit report as early as possible – your credit score will affect the type of property you can buy and at what price. Give yourself time to correct any possible errors on the report.
Choosing a Real Estate Agent
How the housing market works can be rather complicated for those not familiar with it, but not when you work with a real estate professional. Select a real estate agent who has lots of experience in successfully closing transactions in the area, knows the latest market trends, and is highly familiar with the areas where you want to live.
The right agent will provide you access to lots of information and listings, as well as handle all the necessary paperwork. Someone you are comfortable with is important. Because that agent will guide you in making more informed decisions and help you steer clear of potential problems, it’s best to find someone you feel at ease and can build a rapport with.
Loans and Mortgages
Check the different kinds of loans available to find out which is the best one for you depending on your financial situation. First-time homebuyers may be eligible for one or more of the programs offered by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, and veterans can apply for VA loans.
If you don’t qualify for a conventional mortgage due to previous credit problems like foreclosure or bankruptcy, you may qualify for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan.
Your agent can help to guide you in this process by providing a list of qualified lenders with a proven reputation in the industry.
It’s also necessary to be pre-approved by a lender and receive a letter stating such in today’s real estate market. This will be submitted with your offer and will indicate to sellers that you’re a serious and qualified buyer.
Looking for your home
Making a list of what you really want can narrow down your options and enable you to find the home you want faster, saving you hours and even days of searching.
Get to know more about the neighborhoods that you plan to live in, and check your future home’s proximity to important amenities such as schools, shopping, or main roads. Take some time and drive around the area to see for yourself if the community is right for you.
Making an Offer
When you’ve chosen the home you want, your agent will help you make an offer for the seller. Be ready for counteroffers or even rejections, and bear in mind that these negotiations are part of the buying process. Having a good agent on your side will help ensure success.
Under Ohio’s residential disclosure laws, a home seller should submit a Residential Property Disclosure Form to prospective buyers that contains information concerning the condition of the home. You should require the seller to provide the form before entering into a purchase agreement, and you need to acknowledge receipt of the form. In case the form is not given to you or is given after you have entered into the contract, as a buyer you have the right to rescind the agreement.
Other disclosures that you should receive before agreeing to purchase include:
- a Consumer Guide to Agency Relationships, explaining agency law in easy to understand language and outlining the brokerage policy on agency relationships;
- an Agency Disclosure Statement that documents the agent’s and brokerage’s agency relationships with the parties involved in the real estate transaction;
- and a Lead Based Paint Disclosure Form containing known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards, which is required if the home you are buying was constructed prior to 1978.
Inspection and Appraisal
As you head towards the closing process, your agent will handle this crucial part of the transaction. Once the seller accepts your initial agreement and deposit, you will need to do a property inspection, and your lender will also employ an appraiser to determine the value of the property.
Ohio closings occur either in escrow or at a round table meeting. In an escrow closing, the closing agent collects all closing funds and documents involved from the parties then verifies and disburses those funds according to the settlement statement. In a round table closing, the parties all sit down together to sign documents and exchange funds.
Ohio law now mandates that closing protection coverage be offered to the seller, the buyer, and the lender in a closing transaction, and you might want to buy closing protection coverage for yourself before you hand over funds to the closing agent.
As a buyer, you can see all your closing documents well in advance of closing so you can discuss any concerns with your lender, title company or agent. Or if necessary, you may determine you need legal representation at the closing. When everything is in order, the keys and the deed is turned over to you. Congratulations, you’re ready to move into your new home!