Before you close: Final steps to becoming a homeowner
You’re getting close. You’re about to achieve your dream of home ownership. But there are still a few important steps before you get the keys to your new home.
1. Hire a home inspector
Home inspections are often optional, unless your mortgage program (FHA, etc.) requires it. Home inspections can feel like a pricey expense, but it's worth it to ensure the house is structurally sound and in good working order. Your agent will likely have some recommendations for reputable home inspectors. You can also call around for availability and pricing. Depending on where you live, you may want to complete air testing as well.
The major things to look out for: the foundation, the roof, the AC and the heat. You’ll want to make sure all these items are in good working order.
2. Get a home appraisal & negotiate repairs
Most mortgage companies require an appraisal and recommend appraisers who work in your area. You'll want to schedule this right away, keeping in mind that the seller will have to make the house available, so it doesn't hold up the financing process. Once you get your inspection report, assess any essential repairs you would like to have the seller pay for or fix. You may not have any, which may be the case with a newer home or smaller condo, but an older or larger home is likely to have some maintenance that will need to be addressed.
You could negotiate with the seller and take a cash-back credit at closing and use the money to complete the project yourself.
3. Arrange homeowners insurance
You'll need homeowners insurance to close. Take time to call around for quotes. Some companies may be able to start you with a lower amount of coverage that you can increase over the years as you gain more financial stability.
Make sure to check in with your auto insurance company, often times you get discounts if you “bundle” your auto-insurance and homeowners insurance.
4. Take final walk-through and close
The days surrounding a close are often chaotic. Beyond the monstrous amount of paperwork, you might get requests for obscure information in the final hours, such as your accountant's contact. Bear with the process and be ready to celebrate when you come out on the other side as a homeowner.
During the final walk through don’t just look, test the things you’ll probably use most – like appliances and lights, open and close doors, and run garbage disposals.
Congrats! You did it. You made it through the journey and are now a homeowner. For the moment, forget about moving day and all the other responsibilities and relish the fact that you have a place to make your very own. Crack open a bottle of bubbly and celebrate!