Sunday, June 13

Finding Home

OK, so you know how to buy a house with no money for closing. You know how to make sure house payments will fit into your budget. Now, I'll talk about the process of finding your home and making it yours!

First things first, you must get pre-qualified! Don't be afraid to talk with several mortgage companies, but wait until you're ready to buy to request an estimate because the companies will pull your credit history. Too many credit checks can actually hurt your credit score. It's also a good idea to check your score yourself before going to a mortgage broker. 

The estimate they give you is called a Good Faith Estimate (GFE). Be sure that is what you ask the mortgage broker for. Different brokers will give you different loan amounts and interest rates, but you don't have to choose a company right away. Interest rates change daily so a GFE will be inaccurate after a couple weeks.  Once you find the house you want contact all the brokers again for an updated estimate. Remember, you don't have to lock in your rate right away. If the interest rate they offer isn't very good you can wait a few days to see if it gets better.

Backing up a bit though...once you get a GFE, call your realtor. Most realtors want clients to get pre-qualified before showing them houses because the GFE lets them know what price range to look at. Once you're pre-qualified they also know you're serious about buying. Realtors get paid as part of the closing costs once you decide to purchase a home, which means that unless you decide to buy a home they don't get paid. 

DO get your own realtor. While you may not take him or her along to look at every house, you want someone experienced advocating for you once you make an offer.

Once I decided to buy it was less than a month before I found my house. I was lucky, I heard several stories of people who fell in love with a house only to have it snatched out from under them by another buyer who acted first or made a better offer. Don't get discouraged if that happens, there are hundreds of houses out there, you will find another one to make home.

Something that surprised me is how quickly everything moves once the seller accepts your offer. The rounds of inspections begin. I had a general inspection, pest inspection, lead base paint inspection and my insurance company inspected the house (this was important, see why below). I used Pillar to Post for the general inspection and Sure Shot Exterminating for the pest inspection and was impressed by their knowledge. The inspections let you know if the house has any major (or minor) problems and they gave me an idea what improvements I wanted completed before I bought the house.
Less than a week went by before the previous owner and I came to a tentative agreement on a price and the repairs/improvements he would make. That was about the time my insurance agency said they couldn't cover the house unless the roof was replaced. I definitely recommend choosing your insurance agency early in the process, if I had waited until later and then found out that the company wouldn't insure the house it would have been an unpleasant surprise.

As it turned out, we hadn't signed a contract yet. I adjusted my offer to include a new roof. I suggest following your instincts when offering for a house. My initial offer was much lower than the asking price and included several improvements. We made several counter-offers, but when I added a new roof to the mix my realtor told me the owner probably wouldn't agree. But you know what? He did. I had to give up a few other improvements and pay a little more, but it was much better than paying for a new roof myself.

The insurance agency I chose is State Farm. I went with State Farm partially because my family has used them for years, but mainly they gave me the best rate. Once the new roof was completed I had no problems insuring my house and the insurance was included in my monthly mortgage payments. And since I insure my car through them too I was able to get a better rate.

I ended up choosing the Bank of Oklahoma for my mortgage because they gave me the best rate. There were a couple of added bonuses for me when I decided on BOK. I work very close to one of their branches, so I'm able to save postage by just taking the payment by the bank. Also, after I added my mortgage they upgraded the checking account I have with them!

You also need to choose a company to prepare your property title and closing documents. I used Buffalo Land Abstract and Title Company because I knew they were a good company. OK, so I chose the company because my dad has worked there 15 years, but it's because he works there that I know the company is awesome. They did a great job preparing everything and making sure I knew what was happening. 

Once you settle on a price, improvements and give the information to all the people helping you complete this crazy process, buying a home becomes a waiting game. Half the time I felt like I had no idea what was going on and I found that very frustrating. I needed to let my current landlords know when I was moving out, but I didn't know. My original closing date was postponed because the roof wasn't done. Meanwhile, the owner wasn't living in this house, so there it was--empty. If you find yourself in a similar situation contact the owner about an early residency agreement. Our final closing date was at the end of August, nearly two months after I began looking for houses. But I moved in at the beginning of August. 

Closing will likely be the only time you meet the previous owner and most of the other people involved in your home purchase. My representative from the Tulsa Housing Authority, both my realtor and the previous owner's realtor (Elizabeth Craddock and Tonya Bell), the title company staff and of course myself and the previous owner were all present. There were piles of paper to sign, but I walked out of that meeting with my own home. Because my closing date was at the end of the month my first mortgage payment wasn't due until the first of October. I got to live in my house rent- and mortgage-free for two months.

While confusing at times, the process of buying a home was fairly smooth for me. Is anyone currently buying a home? Any homeowners out there have stories or thoughts to share from their process?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...