How to Buy Your Dream House: the 5 C’s

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to buy a house here in Northwest Arkansas! Maybe it’s your first house, or maybe you’re selling your current house and moving up, maybe your scaling down. Whatever the case may be, this is a huge life event which will affect at least the next few years of your life.

So what’s the process? How do we go from where you are now to where you want to be? Well, let me take you through a simple 5 step process. I call this the 5 C’s: Credit, Criteria, Choices, Contracts, and Closing.

Credit

The very first step should be to determine your buying power. One of the biggest criteria for the houses we will look at is the price, so we need to know exactly what range of homes we should be looking for.

Unless you’re planning to pay with cash, we will need to work with a lender to determine how much you can qualify for. And with a pre-approval letter from a lender, we can breeze right through the negotiation process all the way to close. Many sellers won’t even consider an offer that isn’t accompanied by a pre-approval letter from a lender, but if you do have one, you are a preferred buyer.

So, if you’re not already working with a lender, I can make some great recommendations for you. You’ll need a great loan officer at a dependable lending institution, just like you’ll need a great Realtor®. You’ll probably be dealing with these professionals for years to come, so let’s make sure you’ve got the right fit.

Criteria

The next step is to hire your Realtor® and put them to work finding properties that meet your Criteria. You need to be clear not only about the price and size of the home, but also the preferred area, the school district, distance from work, key features of the house, size of the lot, and any other factors that may be important to you.

From this information, I’ll be able to start a home search and send emails directly to you every time one of our target properties comes on the market. Eventually, we’ll compile a list of homes that you’ll want to see in person. I like to make sure we’ve got 5 or 6 top contenders, and then schedule a day to go see them all.

Choices

After we’ve seen the homes, the next step is to start making some strong choices and narrowing all the possibilities until we’ve found “the One.” Hopefully, after the showings, we’ve got 3 or 4 strong properties to choose from.

You will probably have had an immediate, emotional connection to at least one of the properties. However, it is very important to also take an analytical approach just to make sure you’re making the right decision. So, I will provide you with a scoresheet and we will go through each of our final 3 properties and give each individual feature of the property a score.

When we add all those scores up, we will have an objective number which will either reinforce our initial impressions, or give us something else to consider. Either way, I think this is an important step so that we can be confident that we’re making an offer on the right house with no regrets.

Contracts

Alright, so we’re shopping in our price range, we’ve scanned the market, and we’ve found the ideal house. Now it’s time to write up our contract, and make an offer to the seller. At this point, I will check all the comps in the area to make sure that we are paying a fair price for the home, and that our offer is competitive.

Keep in mind, we may be competing against other offers, and we likely won’t know what the other buyers are bringing to the table. The best strategy is to stick close to the comparables, and feel confident that we’re bringing a strong offer. This may mean we offer significantly less than the asking price. It may mean the list is the right price. Every once in a while, it may even be advantageous to offer more than the asking price, especially in multiple offer situations as long as the numbers are still in your favor. But in general, homes that are priced well sell for an average of 97% of list price.

Now, once the offer has been submitted, the seller has a few choices: they can accept, reject, or counter-offer. Most often, they will counter-offer and these negotiations will bounce around for a few days, but once everyone is in agreement, and the contract is signed, we will move into the closing process.

Closing

Once we are in the closing period, you’ll hire a Title Insurance company to oversee the transaction, document who all the players are, and make sure the owner can verify that they legally hold title to the property through an abstract. I can make recommendations on Title Companies as well, if necessary.

Also, an inspection will need to be done on the property to find any potential problems within the first 10 days. If an inspection is not satisfactory, this is an additional point of negotiation. You can submit a list of repairs to be performed or an equivalent price reduction by the seller before closing. If they reject those terms, and negotiations fall through, you then have the right to exit the contract entirely if necessary.

Your lender will also begin the underwriting process and will require several actions to be taken to ensure that they are making a sound investment. For one, most lenders require an appraisal to be done, and if the property doesn’t appraise for the sale price, negotiations may be re-opened to address the issue as well. Your lender will also provide you with a full Closing Disclosure at least 3 days before we close, detailing all the fees, commissions, expenses, prorations, and obligations involved in the transaction.

If everything goes according to plan and the inspection, appraisal, and title search all go well, you can expect to close in 45 to 60 days from when the contract was accepted.
So that wraps up the process of buying your new home, the 5 C’s: Credit, Criteria, Choices, Contracts, and Closing

Thank you for thinking of me as your trusted professional during this hugely important time in your life. It’s my pleasure to work hard for my amazing clients. Let’s make some dreams come true!

If you have more questions, if there’s anything else I can do for you, please get in touch with me at 479-856-9422 or my personal email ColleyBailey@gmail.com. Thanks!