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The Buying Process

10 Steps to Buy a Home

Whether it’s your very first time buying a home or your third or fourth rodeo, purchasing a new home can be one of the most exciting—and stressful—milestones in your lifetime. At the Haley Garcia Group, we guide you through every step of the way to make the process of buying a house as seamless, efficient and rewarding as possible.

Here’s what to expect on the journey to buying your new home.

Step 1: Make Your Wish List

Congratulations—you’re buying a new home!

During this initial stage, we’ll sit down with you to get a sense of your lifestyle and what you envision in your new home. Are you looking for a home in The Woodlands with a pool? New construction homes on acreage? This is the perfect time to assess your needs and any non-negotiables.

Step 2: Prepare Your Finances  

Before you begin your home search, you’ll want to make sure your financial house is in order. Take into account your income, savings, monthly expenses, credit score and debt-to-income ratio. This will help you determine what you’ll be able to afford and what you can realistically contribute to your down payment and closing costs. It’ll also help you prepare for the mortgage application process.  

Step 3: Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage 

After you’ve considered your finances, the next step is to meet with a mortgage lender to review different types of loans and interest rates. During this stage, you’ll have two options: pre-qualification or pre-approval. 

Pre-qualification means that the lender will collect basic financial information and provide a ballpark estimate of the loan amount and what you’ll be able to afford. This is a quick process that typically takes less than a day.  

Pre-approval means that you’ll complete a mortgage application and the lender will conduct a financial background check that verifies your income and creditworthiness. This process is a bit more involved and requires an extensive look at your financial house as a whole. Once you’re pre-approved, the lender will provide you with a pre-approval letter that offers a specific loan amount for up to 90 days.  

Pro tip: We recommend getting pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin the home search. This shows the seller that you’re serious about making an offer and can give you a competitive advantage over other potential buyers. To speed up the process, we work with top-rated lenders who are committed to finding the right loan for you with competitive rates and low down payments. 

Step 4: Search for Your New Home 

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for—house hunting! 

At the end of the home shopping process, compare and contrast the homes that you’ve seen. This will help you narrow down your list of favorites and bring you much closer to the next step: making an offer. 

Step 5: Make An Offer & Negotiate the Purchase 

It’s official—you’ve decided on the home that makes your heart sing and are ready to take it off the market! Before you submit an offer, we’ll conduct a comparative market analysis of homes that are currently listed or have recently sold in your desired area. Then, we’ll share valuable insights and advise you on how to make a reasonable offer that’s attractive to sellers in a competitive market.   

After you’ve made an offer, the seller will accept, decline or counter your offer by adding new terms to the sales and purchase agreement. 

It’s important to know that counter offers are very common and can go back and forth. Aside from price, we may negotiate other factors like closing costs and timeline, repairs and upgrades, contingencies, home warranties, appliances and fixtures. At the Haley Garcia Group, we use our proven strategies and deep market expertise to successfully lead our clients through negotiation. 

Step 6: Secure Your Financing  

It’s time to apply for your mortgage! You’ll provide the lender with documentation such as: 

  • Personal identification and Social Security number 
  • W-2 forms from the past two years 
  • Federal income tax returns from the past two years
  • Pay stubs from the past 30–60 days
  • Proof of other sources of income
  • Recent bank statements 
  • Details on long-term debts

Once complete, your application will go into underwriting. This just means that the lender will thoroughly review your financial history before granting approval.

Step 7: Get a Home Inspection 

Great news: the seller has accepted your offer and you’ve both signed the sales and purchase agreement. The home is now in escrow. During this stage, you’ll hire a home inspector to conduct a thorough examination of the property. 

What do home inspectors look for? Home inspectors look for major repairs and safety issues that can cause potential problems in the future. 

An excellent home inspector will look for:

HVAC issues (i.e., gas or carbon monoxide leaks) 

Electrical hazards 

Plumbing issues (i.e., leaky toilets) 

Attic insulation and ventilation 

Mold, mildew and spores 

Roof issues (i.e., faulty gutters, missing shingles) 

Structural damage in walls, ceilings and floors (i.e., cracks in the drywall, sloping ceilings)  

Foundational issues (i.e., crooked flooring)

Step 8: Get a Home Appraisal & Request a Title Search 

Your lender will require a home appraisal after the inspection to determine the actual market value of your home. The appraiser will review your home’s sale history and analyze recent sale prices of comparable homes in the area. The appraisal is essentially an evaluation that keeps the lender from loaning you more money than the home is actually worth. This is helpful to you in the long run!

A title search verifies that the seller is the sole owner of the home. This protects your property and prevents anyone else from trying to claim ownership of your home in the future! Keep in mind that many lenders also require buyers to take out homeowner’s insurance as a condition for loan approval. 

Step 9: Make Final Negotiations

Now is the time to make any final negotiations prior to closing the deal. Depending on the results of the home inspection and appraisal, you may be able to negotiate a range of things, including: repairs, renovations, upgraded appliances, help with closing costs or a discount on the sale price.  

 

Step 10: Close the Deal

It’s closing time—you’ve reached the finish line! Together we’ll conduct a final walkthrough of your new home, sign all paperwork and pay all closing costs and escrow funds. At this point, the home’s title will be officially transferred to your name and you’ll receive keys to your new home.