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Ten Steps to Getting "Under Contract" To Buy A Home

    by Steven Dean, REALTOR, RE/MAX Allegiance

    Start by SELECTING US as your Buyer's Agents! We will guide you through the home buying process:

    1) Sign a Buyers Brokerage Agreement: Without a signed agreement, real estate agents in DC work for the Seller. Sign a Buyer Broker Agreement with a short time period to ensure that your working style and your agent's style are compatible. You can always extend it.

    2) Obtain Lender Letter: You don't have to use the lender that provides the letter. Shop and compare rates, products, and services before getting under contract.

    3) Define search criteria and choose homes to view: Make a list of what you have presently in your home and what you'd like to have in your new home. Then mark the items that you MUST have. If a couple is buying a home, do this independently and then compare. If you're considering purchasing a "Short Sale" be sure to talk to a Certified Distressed Property Expert to learn the additional steps necessary in your purchase.

    4) Write offer with earnest deposit check: Your earnest deposit is applied to your down payment and closing costs at settlement. If you don't honor the contract, the Seller may keep this as damages. This check must be deposited within one week of contract ratification.

    5) Offer accepted!!! Once your contract is ratified, your agent will work with you to schedule settlement and any inspections and provide access to the property.

    6) Complete loan application: In DC you have seven days from the date you get under contract to complete a final loan application.

    7) Appraisal ordered:The lender will send an appraiser to determine the "appraised" value of the property. Your agent will coordinate access for the appraiser. Purchasers receive a copy of the appraisal report at least three days before settlement; be sure you follow-up with your loan officer to ensure you receive it.

    8) Conduct inspections and negotiate as needed: Bring a camera and/or tape measure when you inspect if you want to plan your move. You may not get into the home again until final walk-through. Every inspection will find something. Talk to your agent to discuss the findings.

    9) Your loan moves into closing once the appraisal is in and title work is in; time to lock your rate: The rate on your mortgage will fluctuate with the market until you "lock" the rate with the lender. Talk to your lender at least two weeks before settlement to avoid closing delays. If there are appraisal or title concerns, talk to your agent to navigate the settlement process. The settlement attorney can also provide advice.

    10) Bring photo ID and certified funds to settlement and conduct final walk-through prior to settlement: At settlement you'll sign paperwork both for transfer of the property and for your mortgage. If you'll want to read all of the documents before you sign, let your agent know so a time can be arranged for you to read them before everyone meets at the settlement table.

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