Once you've decided that you want to buy a home, you should determine what home loan payments you can comfortably afford. There are many tools available such as our mortgage calculator that give you a general idea of what your payments would be.
There are many home purchase loan options available from first-time buyer programs to traditional conventional, jumbo, and FHA loans. There are 30 year and 15 year fixed loans as well as adjustable and hybrid loans such as a 5/1 ARM or 3/1 ARM. With all the options available, you need expert advice to help you choose the right home loan for your situation. Contact a mortgage lender to start your pre-approval process to see what you can actually afford.
Finally, the fun part! Once you've been pre-approved for a mortgage and have an idea of what price range you qualify for, you can work with a real estate agent to view homes (MLS listings) for sale in the areas you'd like to live. Once you find a home you like, you can work with the real estate agent to draw up an offer and complete a purchase agreement. The seller has the option to submit a counter-offer and you may go through several rounds of counters. Once you and the seller agree to the price and terms, escrow will be opened. Typical escrow periods are 30 days but can be 45 and 60 days.
Depending on how much time has passed since your mortgage pre-approval was issued, you may need to collect some updated information and updated documents for your lender. Once your file is updated and your rate is locked in, your home buying specialist will go over the details of your loan program, confirm the rate that you want, and go over your closing fees.
Shortly after escrow is opened, we would advise you to schedule a home inspection with a professional who will walk you through the property to look for any red flags such as structural damages or appliances that may not be working properly and other items that may need to be fixed. Any major issues would need to be addressed before the close of escrow date. While your loan is being reviewed and processed, we will schedule an appraisal appointment with the seller's agent to confirm the value of the home. Unlike a home inspection, that appraisal is a requirement to determine that the home is worth what you are paying for it.
Once your mortgage is approved, your lender will prepare home loan documents for you to sign. Generally, you will sign your loan documents at the escrow or title office and it will generally take between an hour and an hour and a half. If everything looks good, your loan will fund 2 to 3 days after your signing, and you will get the keys to your new home!