Congratulations on deciding to buy a home! Use this step-by-step guide as a way
to prepare yourself for the process.
- Interview real estate agents.
- What experience do they have? How many homes have they sold in the last year?
- Can they provide recent references?
- Will you work with one person, or a team of people?
- How is the agent being compensated?
- Do you have to sign a buyer's agency agreement?
- Become an expert in your market.
- Read blogs.
- Watch homes for sale - What do they sell for? How long do they stay on market?
- Start attending open houses.
- Research neighborhoods
or suburbs you'd like
to live in.
- Review the standard purchase and sale forms that you will be using
to place an offer.
- Be familiar with the offer paperwork and legalese before you find that perfect home.
- Use a buyer's agent for home tours.
- Agents can access any home that is listed for sale, even listings from competing agents.
- Many listings do not have open houses or require appointments to view. Your agent can make this process easy.
Seattle Real Estate Blogs
Housing Market Information
Find additional home details, valuations and sales history online.
- Compose your home search online.
- Price Range.
- Needs, wants & must-haves.
- Type of home (Residential, Condo, Townhome).
- Geographic area & neighborhood.
- Consider all of your options and know your trade-offs.
- Residential vs. Townhome vs. Condo.
- New construction vs. Fixer-Upper.
- In-City vs. Suburban.
- Evaluate local schools.
- Set-up an online search; Make sure you set up alerts for new homes
and price changes.
- Don't miss out. Successful buyers often tour newly-listed homes in the first few days on market.
- Set-up home tours with your agent. Plan to see several before
you place an offer. Nothing replaces an in-home tour!
- Plan your tours in advance. Many homes are occupied and require an appointment.
- Take notes and photos on your tours. It can be hard to remember everything you've seen.
- Speak with at least 3 lenders and get pre-approved for a loan.
- Find out what you can afford to buy, and how much of a down payment you will need.
- Discuss finance options with your lender.
- Understand how the loan officer is paid and loan fees that you will be responsible for.
- Begin to get your finances in order; put together a budget based
on your projected monthly payment.
- Don't forget ongoing maintenance costs for the home.
- Ask your lender to prepare a pre-approval letter that your agent can submit with your offer.
- An offer without a pre-approval letter is unlikely to be taken seriously by a seller.
- Understand how much cash you will need to close - ask your lender for a Good Faith Estimate.
- Document all money transfers and don't open any new credit lines until the home is closed.
- Understand the situation.
- How long has the home been on the market?
- What is the seller's motivation?
- Are you competing against other bidders?
- Make sure you and your agent have seen the home in person.
- Prepare your offer strategy.
- What's a fair price? Ask your agent to analyze recent sold properties in the area.
- What contingencies should you include in your bid?
- How will you need to improve your offer to compete against other bidders?
- Plan to spend about an hour with your agent reviewing the paperwork
and strategizing your offer.
- Understand what you are signing.
- Evaluate risks and trade-offs for various offer terms.
- Be sure to be persistent in your negotiations. Your agent should
keep the negotiations moving along (on paper) until both parties are satisfied.
- Be prepared to write an earnest money check at the time of your
- This is the seller's safety net should you default on the offer.
- Ask your agent what type of contingencies to put in place to protect your earnest money.
- Ask your agent to prepare a list of timelines required by the purchase & sale agreement.
- Schedule a home inspection.
- Apply for your loan.
- Shop for home insurance.
- Review the title report.
- Review inspection results and be reasonable when negotiating items that come up during inspection.
- Consider other types of inspections - sewer, mold, lead paint, etc.
- Is there a Homeowners Association (HOA)?
- Read through HOA rules, regulations and budgets.
- Understand if there is litigation, special assessments or rental caps that could affect your ownership of the home.
- Respond promptly to lender requests.
- Every day you delay documentation to your lender is a potential delay in your closing.
- Be ready for signing.
- Have your down payment ready.
- Plan to be in town before closing to sign documents.
Short Sales and Other Distressed Transactions
We work with a variety of professionals and contractors that can help with your home. Check our resources list or ask your findwell agent for recommendations.