Actually, my offer was only accepted and the closing date is scheduled. Let me step back for a minute. As an employee of Time-Realty and being around real estate for over 15 years it seemed a natural transition to purchase my own home when my finances settled and I picked out a neighborhood I loved and wanted to set down roots in. With my background knowledge of the process it should be easy right? The best part about real estate is that it is never “hard”, rather it is all dependent on how prepared you are.
A little background for you. I’ve been saving up for this big purchase. Some say it is a big step, but I approach this as one of the largest investments I will make. Buying a house, something much more expensive than a car, boat, a stock share, or a tax lien, is something with endless potential but also with a lot of liability. It is both an exciting and humbling experience. I’m buying what some would call a “fix it upper” with plans to live in the property while making changes. After speaking with others in real estate, friends, and acquaintances, I’ve decided to write about my experience as a reference for you and others looking to buy your first home. First things first, let’s close on the house.
The Road to Closing
One of the larger investments of my time was spent searching for incentives available from the city and the state for buying a home in my neighborhood. Certain historical neighborhoods, like mine, are eligible for closing cost assistance and tax incentives. Then based on income and planned use for the home there are other closing cost assistances, tax breaks, and low cost loan options for home improvements. It was well worth my time to check these out. While I had to fill out paperwork, crossing all my T’s and dotting my I’s, I was able to pick up both a historical and homestead tax break and have them lined up for closing.
Home Inspection 101
Between getting pre-approved by the bank, searching up home buying incentives offered by the city and the state, it seems like I must be getting close. One of the first things I did after hearing about my offer acceptance was to schedule the home inspection. At the suggestion and with a recommendation from my realtor I choose a home inspector who I felt comfortable with and scheduled him for the following week. Knowing I was going to be finding a house I picked out my inspector during my home search. I called him and a few others to determine who I would trust with my inspection and also to find out how much notice they would need to schedule an inspection. The time frame was especially important given you have a set amount of time to inspect after receiving the copy of the signed contact from the seller. Being after a major holiday my home inspector had a short turnaround time so I gave him a call when we heard that we’d be getting a signed contact back. Following my inspector around my “new” home I learned more about houses than I learned in one of my college courses. This is the best chance to ask questions about where the water shut off is, how often certain things should be cleaned, changed, maintained, and to find out an approximate age on appliances and mechanicals in the home. The problems we found with the house were minor and easily fixable. A conversation with the owner’s agent and another amendment later the owners agreed to fixing some of them before closing.
One of the more confusing, but albeit the more important things you need to buy is home insurance. A quick check on the FEMA website showed my new home to be outside of a flood plain, so I did not feel the need to get flood insurance. This is a personal decision and one you should make after seeing the research on your area. The FEMA elevation maps are available online for your perusal. My second step was to obtain a few quotes for home insurance, taking into account if I were to bundle it with my car insurance or keep that separate. A nice conversation with an insurance agent also alerted me to other options for lowering insurance costs such as having a home security system installed. Something I added to my post-closing To Do list. This was also a great time to have the “what if” conversation with the company I choose. What if I rent out a room, will their items be covered… what if my home is broken into…would it be helpful to have a list of item and serial numbers that I own… what is the process for filing a claim on my home…. How will a claim on my home be paid, is it reimbursed or upfront money… etc.
With everything in line my To Dos before closing are getting shorter. Other things I will be doing in the meantime is finding a contractor and beginning discussions with them about my renovation plans. Starting this prior to closing means I will try to hit the ground running after closing, which means I will need to plan accordingly. My current home lease ends 2 months after my home closing, this will give me time to make the initial renovations, pack, and move my furniture. My hope is this gives you an insight into things to consider prior to closing. Next up, packing up a home and moving it.