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.