Steps to Home Ownership (9-13)
STEP 9: Try not to fall in love with one particular property. It's great to find exactly what you need, but if you get your heart set on one home, you may end up paying more than it's worth because you're emotionally invested. The deal may also fall apart.
STEP 10: Work with your agent to present an offer. In many areas multiple offers are commonplace; your agent should help you craft a competitive bid that makes the most of your financial assets. Your realtor can evaluate a market analysis to determine its value in the marketplace, select an appropriate price to begin negotiations and advise you in writing the contract. He or she can help you determine how close to the asking price you should be and, if your offer's turned down, how to counteroffer.
STEP 11: Make sure you get a home inspection. Include earnest money with your offer. Your agent can assist in arriving at an amount (usually $1,000 to $5,000). Once you sign an offer, you are officially in escrow, which means you are committed to buy the house or lose your deposit, unless you do not get final mortgage approval. During escrow your lender arranges for purchase financing and finalizes your mortgage. This is also when all inspections must be completed.
STEP 12: Request the following surveys and reports: inspection, pests, dry rot, radon, hazardous materials, landslides, flood plains, earthquake faults and crime statistics.
STEP 13: Close escrow. This final step in buying a home, usually conducted in a title office, involves signing documents related to the property and your mortgage arrangements. The packet of papers includes the deed, proving you now own the house, and the title, which shows that no one else has any claim to it or lien against it. If any issues remain, money may be set aside in escrow until they are resolved, which acts as an incentive for the seller to quickly remedy any problem areas in order to receive all that is owed.