What to Do Before the Closing of Your First Home

What to Do Before the Closing of Your First Home

Purchasing your first home is an experience that can be as stressful as it is exciting. When you have never purchased property before, the process can quickly become overwhelming. The following tips can make your home purchase move along more smoothly and eliminate some of the stress that accompanies the purchase of your first home.

Get a Home Inspection.

We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover. The same maxim applies in the world of real estate—don’t judge a house by its appearance. It’s critical to get a home inspection for the property you plan to purchase to protect you from unknown issues with the property. A home inspector’s job is to identify any structural, electrical, or plumbing issues in your home that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. Spending a few hundred dollars on a home inspection can save you from the nightmare of unknowingly purchasing a home with costly issues such as water damage or foundation issues.

Know if You’re Dealing with an HOA.

If your new home is located in a neighborhood which is governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA), be sure to ask your real estate agent to obtain a copy of the Bylaws, Covenants and Restrictions for the neighborhood. These documents will provide you with the rules and regulations which direct what you can and cannot do on your property. Aspects of your property which an HOA can restrict or govern include, but are not limited to:

  • Parking regulations
  • Color of curtains
  • Displaying flags or other garden ornaments
  • How long you can keep your garage door open
  • Where your trash receptacles must be stored; and
  • Types of vegetation that you are allowed to plant.

Shop for Homeowner’s Insurance.

Before your closing can occur, your lender will require proof that you have a homeowner’s insurance policy in place for your new home. It’s best to start comparing insurance policies early in the closing process. Be sure to ask about discounts if you plan to purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy through the company who provides your car insurance—oftentimes, insurance carriers provide package deals if you “bundle” your home and auto insurance.

Decide on Your Closing Attorney.

In South Carolina, all real estate purchases are required to be conducted by a licensed attorney. If you are a new homebuyer—especially if you are moving from out of state—you may not be aware of this requirement, as this is not a requirement in most states. Be sure to contact an experienced real estate attorney as soon as possible after your contract has been executed so that the attorney can begin preparing for your closing.

Budget for Unanticipated Closing Costs.

For those who have never purchased a home, the true upfront costs of such a purchase can be shocking—the costs extend beyond your down payment. Be sure to budget for common closing costs such as:

  • Origination and underwriting fees
  • Appraisal fees
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Title search and title insurance
  • Homeowner’s insurance premiums
  • Homeowner’s association dues
  • Property taxes
  • Mortgage insurance upfront premiums

Ask What Forms of Identification are Required.

All law firms will ask for a form of identification, such as a driver’s license, when you arrive for your closing. Some lenders, however, require additional identification such as a birth certificate, W-2, or social security card. Be sure to check with your lender or your attorney about the required forms of identification—the last thing you want to do on the day of your closing is tear apart packed boxes to find your social security card.

Change Your Mailing Address.

Your post office will need several weeks’ notice to set up mail forwarding to your new address, so make sure that you set this up with the post office sooner rather than later. In addition, be sure to go online and change your address for all bills as well, such as credit cards, insurance, and medical providers.

Are You a New Homebuyer with Questions? We’re Here to Help

If you are purchasing your first home, we know that you probably have a lot of questions. No matter your questions, the Boger Law Firm has answers. Our real estate team is dedicated to taking the time necessary to explain to first-time homebuyers the steps toward purchasing their biggest investment. To speak with a member of our real estate team about your first home purchase, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


What to Do Before Placing an Offer on Your First Home

The process of purchasing a home can be stressful for even the most seasoned home buyer. For those who are purchasing their first home, however, this process can quickly become overwhelming. If you are in the market for your first home, there are several steps that you can take before placing an offer on your first home to make the rest of the closing process easier.

Set a Budget.

One of the first steps to take when purchasing your first home is to determine a mortgage payment that you can comfortably afford.Be sure to remember that your monthly payment isn’t just principal and interest alone—in many cases, your property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and mortgage insurance premium will be escrowed and added to your monthly payment. Escrowed costs can increase a mortgage payment by several hundred dollars per month. Homeowner’s association dues can also raise your monthly cost of homeownership, so be sure to keep these fees in mind when looking at homes within a homeowner’s association.

Find a Mortgage Lender You Can Trust.

Your lender will be your right-hand man when purchasing your first home, so it’s important to find an experienced lender that you can trust. While you can certainly go through a big-box bank or online mortgage lender if you prefer, don’t forget about local banks and credit unions, which often provide incentives such as lower interest rates. As a home is likely the most expensive investment you’ve made so far, it’s important to obtain a loan through a reputable and experienced lender—choose a lender that you feel comfortable with.

Get Pre-Approval for a Loan.

Getting pre-approved for a home loan doesn’t take a lot of time, and shows potential sellers that you are serious about purchasing a home. Most real estate agents prefer their clients to be pre-approved as well, as this will help your agent search for homes that are comfortably within your budget. Pre-approvals can also save you from any surprises on your credit which could prevent you from obtaining a loan—you’ll know about any credit issues up front rather than finding out halfway through the closing process that you are not approved for a loan.  

Keep Your Records Organized.

Once you apply for a home loan, your lender will ask for a good bit of documentation—such as W-2s, tax returns, bank account balances, and pay stubs—to ensure that you are able to afford your mortgage. Start getting financial and employment documentation ready early so that you can find this information easily and quickly.

Educate Yourself on the Various Types of Loan Options.

Although the 30-year conventional mortgage is the most common type of home loan, it is certainly not the only one. Be sure to explore other options such as FHA loans, VA loans, and shorter-term loans, which might be a better match for you than the run-of-the-mill conventional loan.

Research the Area Where You are Looking to Move.

Make sure that you know the ins and outs of the area of your future home. Looking up information about local schools, average home value, and crime rate in the area can give you a heads-up as to the area that you are looking to move into. Try to find information on average commutes, hospitals, and amenities in the area as well. Digging into this information before you place an offer on your first home can spare you from moving into an area that may not suit you.

Purchasing Your First Home? We’re Here Every Step of the Way

If you are a in the process of purchasing your first home, you need an attorney you can trust. The real estate team at the Boger Law Firm is dedicated to clearing up the confusion that can accompany a first-time home purchase and providing quality representation from contract to closing. To speak with a member of our real estate team about your first home purchase, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.