7 Steps to Buying a Home in Charleston Imagine buying your dream home. Let our experienced staff help you make it happen.
Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or it’s your tenth home, this guide is worth reviewing. Our job is to both represent your best interest in negotiating with the Seller/Seller’s Agent AND to guide you step-by-step through this process. Never hesitate to ask questions, that’s why we’re here. If you haven’t spoken with one of our agents, fill out the form at the bottom of this page. We would be honored to serve you. Our team has experience covering military moves, out-of-state relocation, luxury properties, commercial appraisal, and vacation rentals / second homes.
1) LENDER PRE-APPROVAL or PROOF OF FUNDS
If you will be getting a mortgage to buy your home, a pre–approval should be obtained before you begin visiting potential homes. That is our team and brokerage policy. Anyone can get “pre-qualified” from a web-based lender, but what matters is getting “pre–approved” by a known and preferably local lender. We have several great mortgage brokers/lenders that we work with closely. The lender will provide a list of necessary financial documents which they’ll need to provide to their underwriters for review. The whole process can be handled remotely from your mobile or computer. Within a couple business days if not the same day, you will know if and for how much you are pre-approved.
If you’re a cash-buyer, don’t be offended when you’re asked to show Proof-of-Funds. The selling side will not accept an offer unless you can show you have the money. The funds don’t have to be liquid. A page from or a screen-print of your bank statement or trading account is sufficient, and you may redact information as necessary for your own security.
2) GO SHOPPING!
This is an exciting stage. Remember to lean on your agent’s experience and their tool set. If you have things you prefer, such as a master-bedroom that is downstairs, gas appliances, a fireplace… let your agent know. No need to look at dozens of homes. Work with your agent to fine-tune a list of homes that fit your wants and needs.
3) WRITE CONTRACT
At this stage, our team lead Terry Peterson who started his career in Commercial Appraisal, will do a review of the home and it’s market to ensure it’s priced within reason. We will be quick to tell you if a home is over-priced, and we may have to keep our hopes at-bay that the seller will entertain a realistic offer. Having one of our agents by your side as you decide on the offer price, closing date, and other contract details puts you in the best position for negotiating. At the time of writing a contract it’s best practice to include an earnest money check of at least 1% of the purchase price or $1,000. If your contract is accepted by the seller, this check will then immediately be deposited into our broker’s escrow account for safe keeping. If the sale closes, this money is applied towards the purchase of the home. It’s worth noting however, that this money is at risk if you decide to back away from the purchase. Once the seller accepts your offer and signs the contract, CONGRATULATIONS! You’re under contract to buy your future home!
4) HOME INSPECTION
There are several steps to be performed after getting a home under contract. First thing you’ll need to do is hire an inspector. We know some good inspectors that we strongly recommend using. Some of our past clients’ worst experiences have been caused by their picking a bad inspector, then moving into their new home only to discover issue-after-issue. Budget $450 for the inspector, though the cost can vary +/- $100 or more depending the on the type of home, size and location. The inspector’s fees will need to be paid before they go to the home site and are non-refundable, even if you do not close on the home. This step usually needs to occurs within just a few days of getting the home under contract. Time is of the essence to get the inspection completed and submit a request for repairs (if any) to the seller to review and negotiate.
Roughly two to three weeks into the process, your mortgage lender will have the bank send you an invoice for the appraiser. Only the bank gets to select who the appraiser will be. Typically, this ranges from $450 to $550. Again, this will need to be paid prior to the appraiser going to the home, non-refundable, and is mandatory for the mortgage lender to keep the ball moving forward with your loan.
6) CL100 / WOOD ROT / TERMITE INSPECTION
Finally, about two weeks prior to closing you will need to hire a CL100 inspector (also called a termite or wood rot inspection). Again, we have vendors we trust and can recommend. Often, a “clear” CL100 is required by the lender. The cost ranges from $75 to $150, and yes, non-refundable again. At times we can negotiate the seller to cover this cost.
It may sound like a lot of mandatory costs, and it is a significant investment that goes into the process. Just keep in mind that each of these steps is a level of security toward knowing there shouldn’t be negative hidden surprises within the home you’re about to invest a significant amount of money and time into.
7) CLOSING DAY
You’ve made it to the big day, Closing Day! Most all the work is done… aside from a lot of signing of papers and the actual heavy lifting of moving. If you’re paying for your home with a mortgage lender, there are too many variables for us to estimate how much money you will need at closing. That is completely dependent on your mortgage broker to provide you these numbers as you go (generally providing the final numbers at least 3 days prior to closing). But keep in mind, you’ll need the money for your down payment in addition to lender closing fees, HOA transfer fees (if applicable), prorated property taxes, title search & insurance, and attorney fees. These funds will need to have been wired to the closing attorney at least a full business day prior; preferably a few days ahead of time. But again, your lender will guide you on this stage. The better your lender, the smoother this day will go. If you’re a cash buyer, all funds will need to be wired in advance of the closing day to the closing attorney.
Final step, go give your agent a great review and start moving boxes!
Got Questions? Contact Us!
This is a high-level summary, not an exhaustive ‘how to’ on the process, paperwork, forms, approvals, worrisome waiting and exciting highs associated with buying a home. Your real estate agent is there to make sure you don’t miss anything. At least our CharlestonAgents will!
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