Here are the seven key professionals you want to be on your dream team, together with their roles. These people will make the home buying experience simpler, less stressful, and definitely one of the most exciting moments in your life.
The process of purchasing a home will feel less daunting and overwhelming when you work with an experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent. Your agent will be there to represent your best interests and make sure the home-buying experience is as smooth as possible.
When you first meet with your agent, be prepared to discuss your goals, priorities, your must-haves and deal-breakers, and also your financial situation. Your agent will weigh these considerations against the current trends in your market then send you home listings that suit your criteria and budget. This is why you'd want a local buyer’s agent that is not only knowledgeable in market prices, but also knows the neighborhood well.
If you want to do some video-chat tours before physically visiting the property, your agent will use their experienced eye to point out features and flaws in the home so you will only be seeing homes that you really like. A real estate agent will also help you on your purchase offer, get involved in the final negotiations, and will be there with you during closing until you are handed the keys, so make sure you choose an agent you can trust and will have your best interest at heart.
If you're going to borrow funds in the form of a mortgage to buy your home, you will need to carefully choose a lender you’ll be working with, especially since there are various loan types and mortgage lenders out there. Aside from your agent, your lender will be with you during the home buying process, and likely for years after the home is purchased as you pay the loan.
Even before you start your house-hunt, getting a pre-qualification letter is highly recommended but getting a pre-approval makes you a strong buyer. A pre-qualification is an informal way to see how much you will be able to borrow, which is a great place to start when you are out with your real estate agent looking at homes. But if you are ready to buy now, the pre-approval is your biggest asset when getting into offers and negotiations. The pre-approval is the lender’s commitment to lend to you and is assessed by the lender looking at your creditworthiness, income and assets, and other relevant paperwork. This commitment is what will help secure your loan and get you into the underwriting process.
From then on, your lender or mortgage company will work with you and your agent to hire an appraiser, facilitate the escrow process, and finalize the closing costs associated with buying a home. Your lender will also handle things like property taxes and insurance payments until the mortgage is paid off, so it’s important to thoughtfully choose a reliable lender to work with.
Another crucial step in the search for your dream home is the home inspection, which is why having a knowledgeable home inspector on your team is also important. Remember that your property is probably one of your biggest investments so you want to make sure you protect yourself from any future issues or hefty expenses for major repairs later on.
After the initial offer has been accepted, you'll want to hire a home inspector to thoroughly inspect the home’s condition, uncover any hidden issues that only a professional could, and estimate the cost of repairs. Issues related to structure, electrical, or plumbing will be easily spotted by their trained eyes. This way, you and your realtor can negotiate with the seller to cover the costs of repairs, lower the total purchase price, or simply walk away from the real estate transaction, especially if the home was found to have some serious structural damage.
Depending on the age and condition of the home, you may also consider hiring inspectors that will specifically check for mold, lead paint, and other toxic materials like radon and asbestos.
Make sure you don't confuse the home appraiser with the home inspector. The home appraiser determines the value of the property for sale through an unbiased and professional evaluation called the home appraisal, which is required by lenders before issuing a mortgage. An appraiser will consider factors such as the size of the home, exterior and interior conditions, and will compare it to similar home sales in the neighborhood before determining the home’s value.
The appraiser will verify that the home you want is worth the money you’re going to pay for it before you get the loan, and ensure you’re getting a good deal on the house you want.
Your title officer or title company also plays a huge role in your home buying journey. The title officer will do a thorough investigation of public records to ensure the legality of the title of the property. They will make sure that there aren't any outstanding mortgage payments, unpaid taxes, liens on the title, or other issues before ownership is transferred from the seller to you. After this, they will issue a title insurance policy that will protect you from any outstanding claims over the ownership of the property, protecting you as the buyer as well as your lender.
Some states require that a real estate lawyer is present at closing, while others do not. But even if your state does not require one, hiring a real estate attorney can be well worth it to help mitigate risk and help you have a smooth home purchase.
Your lawyer can help prepare and review documents, will resolve any disputes that arise during the transaction, especially if you're purchasing a distressed property or inherited estate, and will be present at closing to represent your interests. Since real estate laws are a matter for state and local jurisdictions, having an attorney on your team can ease your mind when it comes to buying your biggest asset.
You're definitely going to want financial protection for one of your biggest purchases, thus the need to purchase home insurance. A standard home insurance policy generally protects your home and personal property if it’s damaged by most natural disasters, theft, water damage, and accidents. Your home insurance pays to repair or rebuild your property in case it has been damaged, and also covers your personal belongings, additional living expenses, and liability protection. The coverage you’ll need will depend on the location, age, and condition of your home.