Buying a home has always been tricky, but right now, it’s much more so. The demand for homes in areas that offer a bit more room to breathe is still growing. If you’re hoping to buy a home this year, you have probably noticed that the market in almost any neighborhood is hot and only getting hotter. You can still find what you need in a property, but you’ve got to have everything ready to go. With these tips, you’ll know what to expect from the process.

Make a List of Home Preferences

Before you start shopping for a home, you should create a list of things your new home should have. It’s wise to categorize them by needs and wants and prioritize them even further. If you’re shopping as a couple or with a family, you should also factor in what everyone needs. This process helps you avoid wasting time trying to look at properties that won’t meet your expectations. Revise this list as you search, even after you start making offers. There’s a possibility you’ll need to shop more than once, so you need the list to be current.

Get Finances in Order

Financing is a common reason a home sale falls through, particularly if the homebuyer hadn’t already secured funding. In this fast-paced real estate environment, people who rely on mortgages compete against investors who can pay cash. If you will need to get a loan, applying for mortgage pre-approval is ideal. Before filling out applications, pay down debts and correct any inaccuracies on your credit report. If you need time to organize a down payment or closing costs, do what you can to get the money in the account beforehand. The faster that your application can go through underwriting, the better you will look as a candidate to buy a home.

Prepare to Act

In a hot real estate market, which is the case pretty much anywhere right now, you don’t have a lot of time to consider properties before making an offer. In some parts of the country, homes are going under contract the day that they are listed, and sometimes even faster than that. It’s hard to compete against an investor who is prepared to buy a home for list price without looking at the property, but not impossible. Keep an eye on the listings regularly and get ready to look at a home as soon as you can. Take your time to look through the property while you’re there, so you can make a decision soon after you leave. Be ready to choose or pass on the same day so that your agent can prepare an offer quickly. 

Don’t Forget the Home Inspection and Appraisal

For most people, the home-buying process involves a home inspection and appraisal. These steps are important because they help you to understand more about the investment you’re making. During the home inspection, a professional performs a series of basic inspections and tests to determine the condition of the structure and the function of various systems. They can’t always check everything, like air conditioning in the middle of winter. They also don’t test for things like mold or lead. If you’re getting a mortgage, the lender will probably require an appraisal of the home’s fair market value. If the appraisal comes lower than the purchase price, you may need to pay more, renegotiate with the seller, or cancel the contract. Use these reports to help you determine if you’re ready to go to closing.

Stay Involved Until Closing

If you get through the inspection and appraisal, you just have to wait for confirmation from your lender that your loan is ready to close. At this point, you will receive paperwork that outlines the details of your loan. It’s a good idea to compare the numbers to make sure nothing changed from your initial pre-approval information. If you agree, you’ll move on to a final walk-through of the home. You can take note of anything that changed, but it looks about the same in many cases. In the end, you will get information about wiring money to the right account and set a time to sign the final paperwork and get the keys.

Getting your own home is a rewarding process that can take a lot of your focus. By paying close attention and researching homes, you can get through the process with a great result and a beautiful new home.