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Top 7 Questions to Ask Before Buying A House

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The home-buying process is both exciting and rewarding, especially for first-time homebuyers! There’s also a lot to keep track of. There are so many questions to ask when buying a house and countless real estate terms to familiarize yourself with before you buy. You learn a lot, and when you’re done, you find yourself in the new home of your dreams!

In this first installment of our three-part series on what questions to ask when buying a house, we want to help walk you through some of the questions that come up during the home-buying process in general and provide some answers to the most common questions to help get you into the home you’ve always wanted.

Questions About the Home-Buying Process:

What’s the first step in the home-buying process?

It starts when you decide what area you want to live in or which areas have your requirements and preferences such as price range, floor plan, commute time, and good school districts. This carries into deciding what type of home is best for you and your family, especially if your family is still growing! After that, but before you start shopping, it’s time to get a pre-approval letter from a lender so you can get started on a path to the home you want in a price range that fits your budget.

How long does it take to buy a home?

A lot of factors go into finding and buying the right house, which means that the process from the time you first start looking until you close escrow can be as long as 10 to 12 weeks. It can take even longer if you’re really looking for something specific. Once you’ve found the home that you want to buy, though, and your offer has been accepted, it usually only takes around a month to actually close on a house.

If I already own a home, should I buy another before selling my current one?

This is one of those questions that doesn’t really have a right answer. The answer truly is that it depends on your situation, and there are upsides and downsides to either approach. You should know this, however: If you have equity in your current home that you want to put toward the down payment on a new one, you’ll need to sell the house you have before you can do that. Also, if you plan on buying a new home before you sell your current home, you’ll need to have the financial strength to qualify for both mortgages.

What’s included in the sale?

Another way of asking this question is what am I really buying when I buy a house? The answer depends on the laws where you live and on your agreements with the seller. Usually, the sale includes the house and the property it sits on – unless specified otherwise – as well as permanent fixtures such as cabinets, faucets, plumbing, wiring, doors, windows, the HVAC system, the water heater, and often other appliances such as ovens and ranges. Whatever your sale includes – and, more importantly, whatever it doesn’t include – should be clearly spelled out in the listing description and any paperwork that you sign. When in doubt, just ask! And get it all in writing within the contract documents.

Is there a benefit to buying into a master-planned community? 

When you buy a home in a master-planned community such as Santa Rita Ranch, you’ll have the added value that comes with the community’s lifestyle. You’ll be able to enjoy lots of amenities every day, such as hiking and biking trails, dog parks, fitness facilities, parks and play areas, swimming pools, and clubhouses. Community gathering areas allow you to enjoy a full social calendar managed by a Director of Fun. You’ll also have access to on-site information centers, an HOA office, and a manager. These added values bring so much to your day-to-day life and should be considered as part of the big picture when choosing where to live.

What happens during the closing process?

Buying a house takes place in several stages. First, you find the house you want. Then you make an offer. If you and the seller can agree on a price, then the closing process gets underway. The closing process includes everything from the signing of the contract and the finalizing of the various financial documents to home inspections and appraisals. You may not actually meet up with the seller to sign the final documents and collect the keys until the closing date!

When can I back out if I change my mind?

As with any large purchase, it’s a good idea to be fairly sure of your decision before you start the process, but you can back out more often than not. Doing so often forfeits any money that you put down “in earnest” to secure the offer, however, which is usually anywhere from 1% to 2% of the agreed-upon price. That may not sound like much, but when you’re dealing with an item as expensive as a house, even 1% of the price can be a decent chunk of change. Be sure to familiarize yourself with each paragraph of the contract, as there are specific clauses that speak to the performance of both parties and specify timelines to be met. Before you start the closing process, take the time to learn about the home and the financial aspects of the purchase, get to know the neighborhood, do your research, and ask your realtor any questions you might have about schools, the HOA, and so on. If you have additional questions, you can always go directly to the source. Schools, tax appraisal districts and the HOA are always happy to provide information, and their websites are full of helpful facts and statistics.

Speaking of those sorts of questions, they’re exactly what we’ll be covering in the next two parts of our series, where you can learn more about commonly asked questions concerning the financial aspects of the home-buying process and the property and neighborhood itself. And if you’re looking at brand new homes for sale in Austin, Texas, all you have to do is fill out the form at the top of this page and a member of our Ranch team will be happy to help you find the home that’s perfect for you!

Take some time and review the Santa Rita Ranch FAQ page to learn more about our 3x award-winning community and get a resident’s perspective on what it’s like to live on the Ranch!