Step-by-Step Guide to Buying a Home

Budget: Consider your budget for the home as well as the additional costs above and beyond the purchase price to ensure you stay within your means. For example, you should consider the following:
  • Actual monthly mortgage payment;
  • Monthly home and/or flood insurance premiums
  • Monthly and/or Quarterly Property Taxes;
  • Utility costs including electric, gas, water, and sewer;
  • Monthly maintenance costs including lawn maintenance etc;
  • Monthly Homeowner Association or Condo Association Fees

Initial Sales Contract: Locate and sign the initial real estate contract within your budget;

Attorney Review: You must contact an attorney within three (3) days upon signing a real estate contract. Failure to do so may bind the contract and prohibit you from making any changes in the future. The attorney should personally review the contract with you and draft an attorney review letter on your behalf in order to afford you the greatest protection to your new investment. For example, the attorney review letter should include a provision that forces the seller to immediately return any and all deposit monies in the event the contract is legally deemed null and void.

Home Inspections: Although most contracts state that a property is being sold "As - IS", this is only applicable if the buyer is 100% aware of the condition of the property. Therefore, your real estate contract must include a thorough home inspection clause to allow you the opportunity to have a professional inspect the property and to give you an opportunity to have the defects remedied prior to closing and/or to walk away from the deal with your deposit monies in the event you and the seller cannot agree as to the terms. Buyer's should have a professional inspect the property to determine any and all defects including but not limited to:
  • Mold
  • Radon
  • Infestation of wood destroying insects
  • Underground storage tanks
  • Electric defects
  • Physical and/or structural defects
  • Plumbing defects
  • Heating and cooling defects
  • Sewer and/or septic system defects and
  • Rood and basement defects

Ordering legal title: Your attorney will work with a title company to conduct a title search on the property to ensure the sellers are the true owners of the property, to ensure there are no judgments or liens against the seller, and to advise you of any easements on the property that would limit your use of the property.

Preparing Closing Documents: Your attorney will work with a title company to prepare all of the legal documents necessary for you to legally close title to the property.

Closing Title: Refers to the actual time that you purchase the property and legally transfer the title from the seller to you, checks are written for disbursements and the actual keys to the property are transferred from the seller to the buyer.

Recording the buyers Deed and mortgage (if any).

Obtaining final title, original deed, and home insurance policies: The buyer should receive the original deed, title policy and homeowner's insurance policy within 30 days after the closing.

Purchasing and selling residential property is a complicated transaction. Your attorney should play an active role in your transaction from start to finish including but not limited to:

  1. Reviewing and explaining the contract of sale to you
  2. Negotiating new the provisions of the contract during the attorney review phase to better protect your interest and/or removing provisions of the existing contract that either does not apply to you or hurt you;
  3. Reviewing the home inspection report(s) with you and negotiating any and all repairs and/or credits with respect to same
  4. Ensuring you receive a clean title from the property;