Are you looking into buying a home in Northern Colorado? In this blog (and video), I break down the 10 steps you’ll need to know to get that home you’re looking for and make it your own. I’ll lay it out in the correct order so you don’t have anything come back to get you later in the process.
Step 1: Find a Real Estate Agent
Good news! You don’t need to have your money in order or know exactly what you’re looking for to choose a real estate agent. Look for someone knowledgeable about Northern Colorado and the homebuying process. It also doesn’t hurt if you get along with them because you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them in the near future.
Step 2: Figure Out What You Can Afford
Before we drive around and look at houses, you need to know the price range of what you can afford. Don’t think about the big number but think about what you can afford as a monthly payment. What makes sense for your household income? Take into account other expenses. Consider homeowners insurance, HOA fees, and the cost of repairs/updates. I always recommend to clients doing a household budget if you don’t already, to give you a better idea of what your monthly payment could look like. And, as you do this you can play with this mortgage calculator.
Step 3: Find a Mortgage Broker
Your mortgage broker is someone who can take a look at what your budget allows, along with your credit score, potential downpayment, and other financial information, and figure out what loans you can qualify for. It’s also a great idea to find someone you get along with because you’ll be working with them closely throughout the process. If you don’t have someone in mind, your real estate agent can recommend a few options.
Step 4: Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Your lender will look at things like your employment history, pay stubs, W-2s, and what you feel comfortable paying monthly and get you pre-approved for a loan. The pre-approval is essential in the highly competitive housing market in Northern Colorado. Buyers will not even entertain an offer that isn’t backed by a pre-approval letter. If you skip this step, you risk falling in love with a house and not being able to make an offer on it.
Step 5: Start Looking for Homes Online
Yay! Now for the fun part! You can gain an incredible amount of information about a home without ever going to look at it in person. Your online search will really help you weed out homes that don’t fit what you’re looking for. And it will help you dial in what it is that you are looking for. When you work with a realtor, they can connect you to the MLS portal that allows you to see homes going on the market that fit your specifications.
Step 6: Start Searching for Homes In-Person
In Colorado, you need a licensed real estate with you to schedule a showing of a home. So when you’re ready, ask your realtor to start setting up showings for homes you’re interested in. When you find a home you love, your realtor will help you put together an offer. We’re able to do this by looking at comparable houses in the area and what they’re selling for and also keeping in mind the features of the home that you’re excited about. Once the seller accepts the offer, you’re onto step #7.
Step 7: Get a Home Inspection
A home inspection is your due diligence to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting with this home. An inspector looks at things like the roof, the HVAC, water heater, and more. The inspection provides an overall idea of any trouble areas of the home. This allows you to ask the seller to fix some of these potential problems before you go forward with the purchase.
Step 8: Get an Appraisal
This step is different than the home inspection. An appraisal is a third-party, neutral opinion about how much the home is worth. This step is something your mortgage lender helps you set up. The appraisal provides protection to the lender so that they can know the home is worth the money they are lending you.
Step 9: Coordinate the Paperwork
While having a realtor is important for every step of the process, this step is where it’s extremely helpful to have an agent with a lot of experience. Your realtor will help you coordinate all of the players that need to be present and prepared at the closing. This includes the lender, the title company, and the seller’s agent. There’s not too much for you to do during this step. Just be aware as your agent keeps you informed of what’s going on during this time.
Step 10: Close the Sale
This is the step you’ve been waiting for—closing the sale! The closing is when you gather with the seller at the title company (at least that’s how it was before COVID—currently closings are organized to have fewer people present), sign what will feel like hundreds of pieces of paper, and leave as a new homeowner! It’s time to celebrate!
If you have any questions about this process or want to know more about what it looks like to choose me as your realtor, just text me at (970)685-9400. Best of luck with your home buying process!
I'm Lauren Haug! I'm a teacher-turned-real estate agent, and I teach people how to build wealth through real estate in Northern Colorado.
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