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The Process of Buying a Home

Buyers Center
Quick Guide

Copyright Lawrence Yerkes.   All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing.


Buying a home can be a positive and rewarding event -- provided you use the right real estate professional and you understand the process of buying a home.

There are several steps or phases that we have identified in the real estate home buying transaction process.  All real estate home purchases involve these steps, often varying in the details, but you can not have a successful home purchase without properly executing these steps. 

ARTICLE OBJECTIVE: To give you a basic understanding of the Home Buying Process and to minimize your risks and maximize your results by identifying and using the right real estate professional to guide and assist you in the process.

Who's involved in the process of buying a home?
The process of buying a home is more that just the buyer and the seller.  Every real estate transaction involves a small army of people including (but not limited to) real estate agents, mortgage bankers, attorneys, appraisers, surveyors and inspectors and often other service providers and assistants. Here are the steps the buyer needs to successfully complete a normal real estate transaction..


1. Analyze and determine your needs -- both short term and long term.

Related Site Links

Buyers Center
      Buyer's Q&A
Rent vs Buy?
Why use an ABR?

Seniors Advantage

      Moving Center
  Local Information
Articles - Main Index
Feng Shui Services
Flipping Properties
1031 Exchanges
Foreclosures Guide
What is REO?
Brokerage Services
International Multiple Listing Service - Search Properties Anywhere
Green/ Sustainable
Yerkes GREEN

  • Identify and validate reasons for purchasing: transferring, upgrading, downsizing, fulfill a life dream, financial...

  • Determine desired time frame.  (Whether you need to buy immediately or can afford to wait; whether your purchase is contingent on selling your current home -- this will effect pricing, the homes available for you to consider, negotiations, etc.)  [See "Process of Selling A Home" if you must sell your current home in order to afford buying another home.]

  • Evaluate desired price range.  (Pricing will directly impact qualify, location, length of time to find property that meets your requirements.  You will confirm and set pricing in Steps #2 and #3 below.)

  • Calculate current cost of ownership (investment equity) and how much you need to break even if selling your current home.  (What is your break even point?)

  • How much money do you able to put down on a property at settlement?

  • How much money can you place in escrow as a good faith deposit upon making an offer and/or at the signing of a Contract For Sale?

  • What are the location(s) to which you are interested in relocating.  What are the criteria for selecting and their priority? (For example, is quality school system more important than amount of land, tax rate or access to major means of transportation and jobs?)  You should try to identify one, no more than three, that are of potential interest.  [For the latest local community/neighborhood informaton and comparison reports, go to our "Moving Center".]

  • *IMPORTANT!*  (If you will need to borrow to purchase a property.) Have you been pre-approved by a mortgage company?  And do you have a Pre-Approval Letter from them? 

    [If you won't be borrowing, you will still need an official letter (and/or statement) from a bank or equivalent institution confirming availability of sufficient funds to pay for the property and cloing costs. For more details, read our article, "Paying Cash for a Property and Proof of Funds - Guide for Buyers"]   

    If you do not have a Pre-Approval Letter, and you do not have a mortgage representative with whom you are currently working, request a mortgage pre-approval.  
    [Note: We have no financial relationship with any mortgage service.  Any mortgage contacts that we provide are strictly based on past performance experience, but there are no guarantees of future service satisfaction nor best price.  It is your responsibility to thoroughly investigate and determine best fit for you own unique needs.]

    Click of tap for the Mortgage Center

  • Be aware of the 12 Things Homebuyers Must AVOID Doing Once PreApproved and Until After Closing
  • Make decision to continue process of buying a home.       

    Note: The above step requires action by the buyer to make a decision to begin searching for a house to buy.


2. Identify and select a real estate agent to represent with whom you are comfortable and has the proper credentials and experience for your situation.

  • Manage your risks. 

    Having someone with the proper depth of training and breadth of experience to assist and guide you through the buying  process steps will greatly reduce your risk, your overall costs, and minimize your chance of unpleasant surprises, undue stress and being inconvenienced or disappointed.   You want someone that has faced enough situations so that they can more easily and effectively handle and deal with any problems that will occur during the real estate transaction that you can not foresee nor plan for in advance and that are outside of your control.

    Make sure that the agent is a full-time professional so that you get a 100% commitment of their time to real estate service. (See About Me.)

    Note: Some say that Step #2 should come before (or IDEALLY in conjunction with Step #1 above), so that the agent can facilitate and provide input to your decision making process.  We believe that at least some initial thought and determination to buy a home should proceed engaging the help of an agent.  KEEP IN MIND that an experienced, full-time real estate agent is a great source for identifying reliable and trustworthy mortgage representatives as the agent's commission is directly depedent on whether the mortgage representative can complete the loan for a successful close.

  • Maximize the potential to find the right homes on the Internet. 
    Since everything is heavily Internet oriented nowadays, it's important you have a Realtor that has a strong web presence and web sites that provide state-of-the-art search and support facilities, reaching as broad an audience as possible and able to target specific market segments

  • Use the agent to confirm and refine your analysis and decisions.

  • Make available your mortgage company's  Pre-Qualification / Pre-Approval Letter to agent.  [If not borrowing, then provide official bank or other equivalent institution "Availability/Proof of Funds" letter (and/or statement)]
    Have agent suggest, or get you in contact with, possible mortgage companies for you to check out if you do not yet have a pre-approval letter -- otherwise, we can not proceed to step #3.  
    [Note: We have no financial relationship with any mortgage service.  Any mortgage contacts that we provide are strictly based on past performance experience, but there are no guarantees of future service satisfaction nor best price.  It is your responsibility to thoroughly investigate and determine best fit for you own unique needs.]

    Click or tap for the Mortgage Center


  • Confirm (with input/guidance from the agent) to proceed with the next steps in the purchase of home and the time frame for closing and taking possession of your new property.

Notes: Step #2 requires action by the buyer to select a Realtor that is a best fit for buyer's situation and needs.

Consumer Notice: One of the first items of business every Realtor is required to do by state regulation is presenting an information notice prepared by the state Real Estate Board for you to review and sign (this is not a contract, just a proof for agent that it was shown to you) so that you understand the different forms of real estate agency.

In South Carolina it's called the South Carolina Disclosure of Real Estate Brokerage Realtionships brochure.  [PDF]

The following steps are carried out by the buyer with the aid / guidance / support of the Realtor or by the Realtor on behalf of the buyer.  The timings for each step will vary, many times overlapping, but no step can be skipped.   

3. Establish Price Range and Location of Homes To Be Searched.

  • Since you alreay know how much your are approved for (your "purchasing power"), then decide what price (and more specifically, the monthy payment) with which you will be most comfortable.

  • How / Where do I start my search?  
    A good place to start online, if you haven't decided on an area in which to focus, is to go to our "Moving Center" and access our wide range of local and state information on communities and neighborhoods that may be of interest. 

    An even better way (after going online) to learn a neighborhood and home prices, is spending some time leisurally driving around in potential area(s) in your car -- doing property drive-bys and casually going to open houses.  You will quickly become very knowledgeable.  We suggest that you be open to seeing properties which don’t exactly meet your criteria.  There is an important learning process before any decisions are to be made.  At the open house, remember to keep your personal information private, as the agent hosting the open house is representing the seller, NOT you.

    A great, fun way to learn all about the local area is to take a tour (a fee is involved) with a tour guide knowledgable about the area and can answer questions by people who are planning to move into the area:


4. Identify Homes of Interest and then Make Onsite Viewings.

              Continue with the resources of our "Buyer's Center",
              search and schedule showings through your Buyer's Agent.

              Independent article from LinkedIn:
              Why You Should Not Use Zillow, Trulia, or for Your Home Search

5. Decide on Your Preferred Home and then Write a Purchase Offer in the form of an Agreement of Sale.

             Note: Offers in South Carolina consist of submitting a full
                        Agreement of Sale contract to the seller, then for seller
to ratify or counter.

             If purchasing a bank-owned property, contact us for help with
                        writing effective offers on bank-owneed listings.


Related Site Links

Buyers Center
      Buyer's Q&A
      Moving Center
  Local Information

Articles - Main Index
     12 Things to Avoid Doing
Anatomy of a House
Home Inspection Basics
Home Inspection Information
      How Long Should Things Last
Remodeling Cost vs Value
Radon-What is a Safe Level?
Septic Systems
Lead Paint
Mold Issues
      Closing Costs
      New Home Defects

Seniors Buyer Advantage

6.Submit contract offer to seller along with an Earnest Money Depost (amount as per the contract) to an escrow agent (attorney or broker, never to seller directly).

What is “earnest money”?
It is money you give to the seller (actually, given and held by the seller’s agent or an attorney) to show your good faith abd indicate your seriousness when making an offer to purchase the seller’s property.

How much is the earnest money deposit? 
It depends on the value of the property being purchased and the norm in your community. As your real estate professional, we’ll help you determine the appropriate amount to pay as an earnest money deposit.

7. Negotiate and Write Counter Offers (if any).

8. Identify Attorney to Handle Closing including Title Work.

              Connect with an Attorney

              (Tip: Importance of Title On Your Deed of Trust)

9. Conduct Home Inspection(s).

              Connect with a Home Inspector

10. Order Appraisal.

11. Comply with Lender Requirements.

               Continue following until after closing:
12 Things Homebuyers Must AVOID Doing

12. Order Homeowner's Insurance.

13. Issue Request for Repair(s) (if any).

14. Remove Contingencies.

15. Do Final Walk-Through.

16. Close on Property.


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