Here we demystify the home buying process. Learn the steps to buying a home in Austin. For a flow chart, download our PDF guide.
Steps to Buying a Home in Austin, TX
Step 1: Select a Buyer’s Agent
A good buyer’s agent will save you time by showing you how to make your home search efficient, make sure you don’t overpay by helping you understand the market, recommend professionals who can evaluate the property’s condition and make sure you don’t miss any homes. One of the biggest mistakes a buyer can make is to use the listing agent (the company whose sign is in the yard) or an on-site sales agent who represents the builder to purchase a home. The listing agent and/or on-site sales agent is hired to get the seller (or builder) the most money, not the buyer the best deal. Buyer representation is paid by the listing company (or builder) and costs you nothing extra. If you got sued, you wouldn’t hire the opposition’s attorney to represent you, would you?
Step 2: Get Pre-Approved by a Reputable, Local Lender
Before you start seriously looking at homes, it’s best to understand the dollars and cents and have an accurate figure of how much a lender will let you borrow to purchase a home. That number can sometimes be much more than you’re comfortable spending. Good news is, you don’t have to borrow everything they will allow. Simply choose a number that you’re comfortable with (while considering monthly mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and expenses) and that will be your maximum price. Need a recommendation for a great lender? Email us!
Step 3: Understand the Local Real Estate Market
An experienced buyer’s agent will sit down and explain the current real estate market, listen to your home buying goals and help you determine whether or not the type of home you want for the price you’re willing to spend can be obtained in this market.
Step 3.5: Put Eleven Oaks Realty to Work for You
But first, interview a few Realtors. It’s important that you are confident in your buyer’s agent’s ability to work for you. You’ll be spending quite a bit of time with them over the course of the home buying process and you need to like and respect them. We’ve been in this business long enough to have several systems and procedures in place to make home buying a seamless process – and quite frankly, we’re pretty good at it!
More Info: For Best Results, Interview Austin Realtors
Step 4: Identify the Geographic Area You’d Like to Live
Before you dig too deep into finding the specific home you like, spend some time evaluating neighborhoods and areas of town. Remember, location is the one thing you cannot change about a home, is the number one reason people become dissatisfied with their homes and can be the biggest obstacle when it comes time to sell. A good buyer’s agent will point out location flaws and help you evaluate each neighborhood in terms of resale potential. We always say buy the very best location you can possibly afford if you want to preserve your home’s value.
Step 5: Carry Out a Thorough, Proactive Market Search
A good buyer’s agent will be looking at several properties for you – many more than you’ll see – and they need to understand what you’re looking for to save you time. The only way to do this is for us to sit down and have a detailed conversation about what exactly you’re looking for (needs vs wants) and what you don’t want. Investing an hour or two of your time upfront to have this detailed discussion will save you several hours during the process.
The first time we see houses together, we’ll ask you to tell us what you liked and didn’t like about each property. This way, when we’re out looking at homes for you while you’re at work, we can look at homes through your eyes, identify the homes that may meet your standards and help you eliminate the ones that won’t.
You also need to make home buying a priority. If you work from 6am – midnight and aren’t willing to give up one minute of daylight from your boat on the weekend, it may not be the right time in your life to buy a home. The best homes are selling quickly and buyers who are available to check them out when they come available will snatch them up.
Finally, make sure you see enough homes that you can feel confident you made the right choice. For some people, that’s one house. For others that can be 20 houses. You know you better than we do. We’ll help you buy right whether you only decide to see one, or if you want to see 20.
More Info: Best Apps to Use When Searching from Your Car.
Step 6: Select a Home
After all that hard work of preparing to buy a home, now comes the fun part. When you find a home, we’ll help you evaluate it’s potential resale problems, recommend professionals (like inspectors) who can evaluate the property’s condition and make sure you don’t overpay. We’ll take care of all the details so you can focus on the fun part.
Step 7: Make an Offer and Negotiate the Contract
A good buyer’s agent will show you how to craft your offer to get it accepted by the seller, no matter what type of market you’re in. Good buyer’s agents are also great negotiators and their negotiation strengths can mean thousands of dollars to your bottom line. And, since you pay nothing to be represented, how can you go wrong? We never forget that protecting and promoting your best interests is our number one priority and will always put your interests ahead of our own. As your negotiator, we’ll treat your money as if it were our own.
Step 8: Get a Home Inspection
For most people, buying a home is their single biggest asset and when you’re spending all that money, it’s important to understand what you’re buying. We can help recommend professional inspectors who will look at your home from top to bottom through a trained eye. We attend all inspections and highly recommend you do the same so you can ask questions, even if you’ve owned a home before.
More Info: What to Expect During a Home Inspection
Step 9: Thoroughly Investigate the Property
A general home inspection is a great place to start, but it might not be the only inspection or evaluation you’ll need. Take the home inspectors recommendation and call out specialists when necessary. If your home has a septic system, get it inspected. Have an HOA? Make sure you understand the rules. Basically, if it is important to you, investigate it until you are certain you can live with the condition or rules. We can help you through this process.
Step 10: Negotiate Repairs and Credits
Here in Texas we have what is called the option. This is when the seller agrees to take their home off the market for a period of days for a certain sum of money (to be determined through negotiating the terms of the deal) so the buyer can have the home inspected. If at the end of the option period the buyer decides to buy the home, the money they’ve paid to the seller will be credited to them at closing. If the buyer decides not to buy the home, the seller keeps this money as payment for keeping their home off the market. For a buyer, its money well spent because the only time you’ll be out of pocket is if you find something you can’t live with and decide not to buy. A small sum of money can buy you a lot of protection.
During the option, we’ll complete all inspections and come up with a list of things you want the seller to repair. This can be in the form of actually completing the repairs or a closing cost or sales price credit. If you decide to have the seller do the repairs, the contract states they must have the repairs completed by a licensed professional. Either way, we’ll need to negotiate the repairs and/or credits during the option so you can walk away from the deal if the seller says no.
Step 11: Get an Appraisal & Final Loan Approval
In today’s lending market, it is important you have an experienced lender working for you to get your loan approved. Their job is to work with the bank to make sure the transaction goes smoothly, not just collect your paperwork. We can help recommend mortgage professionals who will put your interests first.
Step 12: Perform Final Walk Through
From the time an offer is accepted to the date you become the owner can be upwards of 30-60 days. It’s important to go back to the home a day or two before closing to make sure everything is in the same condition as when you made the offer. For example, if a tree fell on the house, you’d want to know about that before you closed escrow and became the owner. This walk through usually turns up nothing unexpected, but it is a good practice to be sure.
Step 13: Sign Closing Documents
With every real estate transaction, there is a mountain of paperwork to sign. The last step in the process is to sign all of those documents, which is done at the title company. Your lender and your Realtor should go to the closing table with you. When you’re interviewing them, ask them if they go to closing. If not, a red flag should go up. Your transaction is important to us and we think it’s important to see you through every single step. You should demand this level of service from your Realtor and lender.
Step 14: Close Escrow, Become the Owner and Start Moving
A couple of hours after you sign papers, generally, you will become the owner of your home. Then, you can get started on another task – moving!
More Austin Home Buyer Resources
Check out all of our Austin Home Buyer Resources.