Home Buying Tips

For most people, the process of buying a home is complex and intimidating. We’ve drafted an outline of the process, including what steps you need to be anticipating, complete with more involved advice.

1. Define Your Needs
2. Mortgage Pre-approval Pre-Qualify
3. Neighborhood Information
4. Search Listings
5. Making an Offer
6. Negotiate The Offer
7. Finding Vendors
8. Pre-Close Preparation
9. Closing on a Home
10. After Closing
11. Get Moving Now

1. Define Your Needs
Congratulations on your decision to purchase a new home! Your first step toward buying your new home will be to analyze your needs. Your real estate agent can assist in analyzing your needs so that you will be able to get a clear picture of exactly what you want your new home to look like and how it should function for you and your family.

First, you should write down why you are looking for a new home. For example, are you currently renting and would like to have a home where you can begin building equity? Maybe you recently married and have outgrown your current residence. Or, maybe you have just gotten a promotion, which requires you to move to a new city. These factors will all have a bearing on how you approach your home search.
Second, establish a time frame that you would like to stay within for buying your home. Depending on your reasons for wanting a new home and the current state of the market in the area you are looking to buy, you should be able to come up with a rough guideline, which you can finalize at a later time.

Last, you most likely have a mental picture of what you would like your house to look like and what features it should have. It’s very important to write these ideas down to avoid any ambiguity later in your home search. You should make at least two lists: one should be a list describing your dream home and the other should list the features of the home that are an absolute must-have in order to buy it. In a perfect world, your new home would fulfill both lists 100 percent. It is more likely that you will end up blending the two lists into a schedule of prioritized items as you progress through the buying process. This is a natural and evolutionary process as you get more clear about what you want and what is available.

2. Mortgage Pre-approval / Pre-Qualify
Now that you have your list of features you want in your new home, you are ready to start looking! Well, not just yet. You are going to need to know in what price range to look. There are two ways to go about this. You can get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a Mortgage (Click HERE to have a 525 Realty Group Approved Mortgage Lender contact you).

Either way, you will need to contact a Mortgage Lender. There are some key differences between pre-qualification and pre-approval for a loan that you need to be aware of. Loan pre-qualification is a simple process. It takes into account very basic information regarding your financial status and gives you an amount for which you may qualify. This can be done strictly on a verbal level or electronically over the Internet. The pre-qualified amount is based solely on the information you provide. In most markets, pre-qualified buyers usually hold little clout compared to pre-approved buyers due to the fact that the information given during the pre-qualification process is not thoroughly investigated and therefore may be unreliable. Where a pre-approved buyer is actually approved for a loan of a certain amount, a pre-qualified buyer is only told that they might be approved for a certain amount.

Pre-approval is a much more involved process. The lender will take all pertinent information regarding your finances and perform an extensive check on your current financial status. This will ultimately give you the exact amount that you will be eligible for (depending on what type of loan you decide to go with). Being pre-approved lets the seller know that you have gone through an extensive financial background check and there should be no unexpected obstacles to buying the home. You can see how being pre-approved would be more attractive to a seller than just being pre-qualified.
In order to make an offer to buy a home, you will need to submit a check or certified funds for about 1% of list price ($2,000 for a home selling for $200,000). This money will need to be in a checking account so it doesn’t delay the process of making an offer.

3. Neighborhood Information
Now that you have your list of needs and wants and you know how much you can afford to spend, it’s time to look at some houses! Not just yet. Step back for a moment and consider the larger picture. People don’t just buy a house; they buy the neighborhood the house is in. Think about that…if you found the perfect house but it was in a neighborhood that wasn’t to your liking, would you make an offer on it? Most likely the answer would be, “No.”

So, you will need to make another list: What type of neighborhood do you want to live in? You will most likely want to consider things like how living in the neighborhood will affect your drive time to and from work, what amenities are offered (swimming pool, tennis courts, park, etc.), and, if you have children who are attending school or soon will be, what school district you will be in and how close the schools are. You may even want to make two lists, just as you did with your home criteria.

Your REALTOR® can help you consolidate the information from your list of needs and wants for your home, your pre-approval, and your list of needs and wants for the neighborhood. You can incorporate this information into a broad search profile, which will then be narrowed down to specific areas dictated by the market you will be looking in. Your REALTOR®’s experience in local markets will be an invaluable resource during this step.

4. Search Listings
At this point you will have a good idea of what you can afford and the type of area you will want to invest in. Taking that information into consideration, you are ready to embark on your property search. If you don’t know much about the city you’re moving to, you will most likely want to start your search by finding areas that meet your criteria and then narrowing your search to particular properties in the area.

There are a few ways to go about this. Possibly the most efficient way to find properties is to allow your REALTOR® to keep you up-to-date on available properties that meet your criteria, and then allow your REALTOR® to screen these properties for you. When your REALTOR® presents you with a property that interests you, he or she can arrange for you to tour the property at your convenience.

You can also access local publications highlighting available real estate in the area; contact and visit the local Chamber of Commerce; look on the Internet; and even drive through areas that you feel would meet your needs. Driving around a particular area looking for properties for sale is good because you can actually see the property. However, it can be very time-consuming and it is a “hit or miss” process.

5. Making an Offer
Now that you and your real REALTOR® have found the home you would like to purchase, it’s time to make an offer. Taking into account the recent sales of homes in that neighborhood which are similar in size, quality, conveniences, and amenities, what are you willing to pay for the home? Your REALTOR® will consult with you and advise you on how to create an offer that will have the best chance of being accepted.

Your REALTOR® will ensure that you have everything down in written form… no verbal agreements. After consulting with you to put your offer in a written contract that meets all the legal requirements according to local and national guidelines, your agent will present the seller with a written document detailing what needs to be done by both parties to execute the transaction. The contract should protect the best interests of all parties involved and should be comprehensive. Your REALTOR® will also ensure your financial position as the buyer by including any necessary contingencies, which would protect you if a particular requirement was not met. Once the seller accepts it, it may be too late to make any changes.

The contract, though not limited to this list, should include the following:

  • A legal description of the property
  • The offering price
  • The down payment
  • Financing arrangements
  • A list of fees and who will pay them
  • Amount of the deposit
  • Inspection rights and possible repair allowances
  • The method of conveying the title and who will handle the closing
  • A list of appliances and furnishings that will stay with the home
  • The settlement date
  • Any relevant contingencies

Remember that the legalities of this phase are very important. If you have any questions or concerns, they need to be addressed right away. After all, no one has ever said at their closing, “I wish I had asked fewer questions.”

6. Negotiate The Offer
Once your offer is made, you and your REALTOR® may need to enter some negotiation in order to reach an agreement. Keep in mind that almost everything is negotiable when you are buying a house. This can give you a great deal of leverage in the buying process — that is, if you have adequate information and you use it in an appropriate manner. Your REALTOR® will have the market knowledge and negotiating expertise necessary to make sure that your offer is accepted at the best price and terms possible for you.

Some of the things that you may have to negotiate are:

  • The price
  • Financing
  • Closing costs
  • Repairs that need to be done
  • Appliances and fixtures
  • Landscaping
  • Painting
  • Occupancy time frame

The key to successful negotiating is keeping in mind that the end result must make both you, the buyer, and the seller happy. Otherwise, negative feelings will persist throughout the remainder of the process and someone may walk away feeling that they were not treated fairly.

7. Finding Vendors
After your offer has been accepted, your REALTOR® will typically supervise the coordination of all necessary vendors and serve as your advocate when working with each vendor. Your agent will make sure that the vendors have access to the property at the appropriate times to perform their procedures and oversee the execution of those procedures on your behalf.

For instance, the property will need a thorough examination. Working with your lender, you may need to have a formal appraisal (this will be arranged by the lender) and a survey done for the property designated in the contract.


A home inspection might be the most overlooked part of the entire buying process. Ironically, the inspections should be a top priority for sellers and buyers alike. This is your chance to see if there are any maintenance issues with the house before purchasing it. While it might be tempting to waive the appraisal and or inspections, your best bet is moving forward with an inspector that puts your health and safety first.

If there are issues or inconsistencies brought to light during this time, it may delay or even nullify the contract depending on the contingencies set forth in the contract.


is another very important item that will need to be taken care of at this point. Insurance experts recommend that you obtain insurance equal to the full replacement value of the home. Unless you have insurance coverage on the home, the closing can not proceed. Having these procedures done in a timely and professional manner is a must. Investigate each vendor to make sure that they are reputable and have a clean operational history.

Your REALTOR®’s experience in this area should be invaluable in making sure that everything is completed on time and in a professional and legal manner.

8. Pre-Close Preparation
As the closing date draws near, your REALTOR® will contact the escrow company or closing attorney and your lender to make sure that all the necessary documents are being prepared, and that they are complete, accurate, and delivered in a timely manner. Your REALTOR® will also need to confirm that the documents will be delivered to the correct location so they can be reviewed and that they will be ready for the appropriate closing date.

At this point, you and your REALTOR® should find out what form of payment you will need to bring to the closing for any unpaid fees. Make sure that your payment is made out to the appropriate party.

Ensuring that each closing document is ready and available will enable you to have a quick, easy closing.

Now that you are abut to take ownership of the property you will need to have your local services such as electricity, cable, and phone set up for transfer. Your REALTOR® can help you coordinate the set-up of these local services. No doubt your REALTOR® already knows who the local vendors are for such services as water and electricity, as well as others, so he or she can help provide you with a list of contacts.


9. Closing on a Home
“Closing” refers to the meeting where ownership of the property is legally transferred to the buyer. It is a formal meeting that is attended by most parties involved in the buying/selling process. Closing procedures are usually held at the title company’s office or lawyer’s office. Your closing officer coordinates the document signing and the collection and disbursement of funds. Your REALTOR® will be present at your closing to read the documents on your behalf, answer any questions, or help to resolve any last minute or unexpected details that may come up.

In order for the closing to go smoothly, each party involved should bring the necessary documentation and be prepared to pay any related fees (closing costs). The title company will only accept certified funds (money order, cashiers check, wire transfer, etc) payment for your closing costs, so ask the closing officer which form of payment will be required and to whom it should be made out. Closing costs will generally total an amount equal to 2 to 3 percent of the total loan value, not including down payment and the buyer’s escrow account. (We also strongly recommend locating branches of your bank near the city you are closing in the last thing you will want to do is drive to another state the day before closing if there are no branches close.)
Sellers sometimes pay for a portion or all of the closing costs, depending on local market conditions, terms of the purchase contract, and the seller’s cash and timing considerations. Any such concessions should be acknowledged in writing. Most lenders will allow a credit from the seller to the buyer for the non-recurring closing costs. However, they usually won’t allow a credit that reduces the amount of the buyer’s down payment or any of the buyer’s recurring costs, such as expenses for fire insurance premiums, PMI, or property taxes.

10. After Closing
Congratulations on the purchase of your new home! Now that you have taken ownership of the property you will need to have your local services such as electricity, cable, and phone set up. Your REALTOR® can help you coordinate the set-up of these local services. You should now be aware of the expenses that are typically associated with owning a home. Neighborhood Association fees, landscaping costs, and annual taxes should be budgeted for throughout the year.

11. Get Moving Now
Every homebuyers experience is different. Believe it or not, some go from pre-approval to closing in only a few weeks. Others, meanwhile, take upwards of a year to finally get into their home. That’s why we suggest starting the process now if it makes sense to do so. Giving yourself cushion allows you to find the right REALTOR®, figure out your FINANCES, and ultimately, learn more about what goes into buying a house.


EDMOND/OKC METRO OFFICE: 405-285-7000 I SHAWNEE: 405-788-7477 I ENID: 580-616-8222