The Home Buying Process

Finding your perfect home can be an incredibly exciting process, but it can also feel overwhelming. While finding a property that fits all your needs can be a lengthy exercise, our team of expert real estate professionals will put you first and work with you every step of the way to make the transaction as smooth as possible and successful for everyone involved.

No matter where you are in your home buying journey, it’s important to understand what each step involves before you take it, and how long it will take. The following sections break down the overall home buying process, including what you can expect from each stage, along with a few tips.

Preparing to Buy a Home

Before you begin your home-buying journey, there are a few things you will want to do to prepare. These include: identifying what you are looking for in a home, what price range you are comfortable with, and getting pre-qualified and pre-approved for the mortgage.

You can use our mortgage calculator to help with finding the right price range, and any one of our agents would be happy to help you navigate the process of finding and putting an offer in on your dream home.

Making an Offer

One of the first major steps in your home buying process is making an offer.

When you work with a real estate agent, your agent will help you through the preparation process of making an offer on a home that fits within your budget. When you are ready to make an offer on a specific property, there is an important consideration to keep in mind: you will likely not be the only prospective buyer placing an offer on that home!

Making an offer on a home is like making an offer on anything — it’s best to make your offer as specific, fair, and appealing as possible, and to have it written up professionally. Before making your final decision, here are five key questions you’ll want to ask:

  1. How many offers have already been submitted?
  2. Are there any conditions to purchasing the home that I should know about?
  3. Can my agent suggest other things I should include as part of my offer?
  4. What does the seller like most and least about the property?
  5. Aside from price, can my agent tell me what the seller may be looking for in the offer (or buyer)?

With so many offers being submitted, you’ll want to make sure yours stands out from the rest. Be on the lookout for similar homes in your desired location, and consider making an offer on more than one home.

Making an offer requires the buyer and their agent to agree to terms that can include deadlines, contingencies, and date of possession. For example, the seller might require the buyer to close escrow within a shorter-than-standard timeframe; therefore, it’s important for your agent to know what kind of time constraints you may have, if any. Another example would be a loan contingency, which would mean that the buyer is asking for additional time to find financing and can’t technically close escrow until they have successfully funded their mortgage.

Escrow: What’s Next?

Typically, an offer will go through several rounds of negotiations before it’s accepted by the seller. Once all parties agree on terms, the home goes into escrow.

If you’ve reached this point, then congratulations — your offer has been accepted! Next, here are some suggestions you’ll want to follow (along with the advice of your real estate agent) so that escrow and settlement can go as smoothly as possible.

First things first: escrow is a neutral third party that holds and regulates the sale of the home until all terms are met, including inspections, loan funding, appraisal, and contracts. The closing date will be set once everything has been completed, which usually takes anywhere from 30-60 days.

During this period of purchasing your home, you are going to need an escrow or settlement company to act as an independent third party so that you know when and who to give your money to get the deed to your new home. The escrow or settlement company will hold your deposit and coordinate much of the activity that goes on during the escrow period. This deposit check may also be held by an attorney or in the broker’s trust account. Make sure that there are sufficient funds in your account to cover this check.

The period that you are “in escrow” is often 30 days, but may be longer or shorter. During this time, each item specified in the contract must be completed fully and satisfactorily. By the time you have opened escrow, you will have already come to an agreement with the seller on the closing date and the contingencies.

During the escrow process, you’ll want to secure homeowner’s insurance and any other insurances that are required in your area before you can close the sale. Due to these requirements, such as fire and earthquake insurance, this process may require a lengthy period of time. It would be in your best interest to apply for insurance as soon as possible after the contract is signed.

Next, you’ll also want to contact local utility companies to schedule to have service turned on when you close escrow. Your real estate agent should be able to provide you with the contact information for the utilities in your area.

Lastly, schedule the final walk-through inspection. At this time, you should make sure that the property is exactly as the contract says it should be. By way of example, what you might have thought to be a “permanently attached” chandelier that would come with the property might have been removed by the seller and replaced with a different fixture entirely.

During the escrow period, it’s important to keep in touch with your agent and trust their expertise when it comes to the progress of the sale. If any issues arise, your agent will inform you and will help you reach satisfactory solutions.

Once everything is good to go, escrow should close with a final walk-through inspection. At that point, the keys to the house will be turned over to you, and once the sale has closed, you’ll be the proud owner of your new home — congratulations!

Ready to Find Your Dream Home?

If you’re interested in learning more about buying a home in coastal Orange County, Villa Real Estate is here to guide you through every step of the process. Our experienced, responsive, and reliable agents provide phenomenal service and can help answer any questions you may have about finding and purchasing your new home.