By Jared Koch

Buying or refinancing a house can be an overwhelming process, especially if you haven’t done it before. Here is a helpful overview of the process from start to end to help you along the way:

Home-Buying Process

  1. Hire a Realtor or Attorney. You are not required to work with a realtor to find or purchase a home. But realtors can do a lot of  the hard work for you–finding property listings that match your needs, arranging for home viewings, negotiating with the Seller or Seller’s realtor, and more. Most Realtors work on a commission-based arrangement and charge a percentage of the purchase price of the home. Alternatively, an attorney can help you negotiate purchase terms and prepare to buy a property if you can handle some of the practical house-hunting yourself. Attorneys typically work for an hourly rate, so depending on the property, working with an attorney is often a more affordable route to take.
  2. Search for Houses. Now it’s time to go house hunting. if you are working with a realtor, he or she can help find houses you might be interested in and arrange for showings. For each house you are considering, you should also review the disclosure documents that each Seller is required to provide to prospective buyers so that you can identify any potential problems with the house that you might have to deal with yourself or negotiate with the Seller.
  3. Sign a Purchase Agreement. When you find the right house, your realtor or attorney will help you put together an offer for the Seller. The offer is more than just the amount you are willing to pay for the property–it includes all the terms of the Purchase Agreement, including the proposed closing date, and any contingencies you may need to include (such as requiring that you are able to sell your current home before you can buy a new one). The Seller may counteroffer with a different price or changes in other terms. When you come to an agreement, you and the Seller will sign a final Purchase Agreement that you agree to buy the house and the Seller agrees to sell it to you.
  4. Prepare for Closing. After you and the Seller have signed the Purchase Agreement, it’s time to prepare for the closing. During this time, you will have the property inspected, lock in your mortgage, and take care of other contingencies. You will also select a title company to review the property records, issue a commitment for the title insurance, and prepare the closing documentation.
  5. Closing. At closing, you will sign all of the documentation to formalize the purchase. This includes receiving the deed from the Sellers, executing your mortgage documentation, and signing a variety of other documents to receive title insurance. Once the closing is complete, you get the keys, and it’s time to enjoy your new home! 

Refinancing Process

  1. Prepare for Closing. For a refinance process, you’ll skip most of the process outlined above. Once you have qualified for a loan, the only work you’ll have to do is prepare for closing. The title company you select will review the property records and any previous title insurance policy for your property, issue a commitment for title insurance, and prepare the closing documentation.
  2. Closing. At closing, you will sign all of the documentation to satisfy your previous mortgage and establish the new mortgage on your property, as well as some additional documents to receive title insurance. 

Blethen Berens routinely helps clients in each state of the home-buying and refinancing processes. We have attorneys who are experienced in drafting and negotiating purchase agreements and handling unique issues that come up along the way. We also operate a full-service tittle company that can provide title insurance and handle the closing process. Contact us today to talk to one of our real estate attorneys.