Does buying a home seem complicated? Don’t worry. We’ve developed a guide with 5 simple steps on how to buy a house in Arizona.
But First … What to Do Before You Buy a House
To make your home-buying adventure a bit smoother, there are just a few things to do first. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or have owned a few homes already, we recommend going through these 4 steps before starting the hunt so you have your most current details. If you’ve already got these items covered, jump ahead to our home-buying steps.
1. Decide what you can afford and make a budget
Before you fall in love with that dream house you just found, make sure you can afford it.. Ask yourself some honest financial questions, such as:
- What do I want to pay every month for a house, including mortgage, home insurance, electricity, water and security system?
- What is the maximum amount of money I can afford to pay in case it’s more than I want to spend?
- How much cash can I swing for a down payment on a home?
When you’re preparing your budget, keep in mind all the monthly costs beyond your home — car loans, vehicle insurance, health insurance, student loans, internet, cell phone plans and cable. And depending on your property, you may have regular landscaping or pool service to consider as well. The last thing you want to do is buy a house that stretches your finances to their limit, forcing you to sacrifice other essential household services or plans. Fortunately, qualified licensed mortgage experts can walk you through the process.
As important as it is to determine what you can afford, it’s just as important to set a cap to your budget that you won’t go beyond. No matter how persuasive your real estate agent may be or how perfect a particular property seems to be — if it’s beyond your budget, you must resist the temptation to step outside that boundary (even if your lender pre-approves you for an amount above your own capped budget). We get how hard that may be. But imagine sleeping better at night in your new home knowing you didn’t compromise your financial future.
2. Determine when you can move out of your current residence
Before you start looking for a new house to buy, ask yourself: Is this the right time? Will you be able to move out of your current residence within 4-6 weeks after you purchase a home?
That timeline isn’t arbitrary. Typically, it takes only 4-6 weeks to close on a house in Arizona after an offer on a home is accepted. So before you place an offer on a home, make sure you would be ready to move in that short span of time.
Sometimes purchase contracts can add in leasebacks or post possessions which can give the seller more time in the home after closing. If renting, you can also speak to your landlord about ending the lease early or seeing if there’s opportunity for a reduced buyout.
3. Make a list of must-haves
Go ahead — dream about all the things you want in a home and make a list of what you absolutely must have. Knowing what you want will be an enormous help to both you and your real estate agent when shopping for a new house.
Are you and your household busy and don’t have time to hand wash dishes? You may want to include a dishwasher as a non-negotiable item. Do you have dogs? A big backyard may be high on your list of priorities. Maybe you have an affinity for hardwood floors, or you enjoy the minimalist, tiny house lifestyle.
Whatever you love, whatever you need to accommodate you and your family, write it on the list. But be brutally honest with yourself and recognize the difference between “wants” and “needs.” You may “want” a large deck in your backyard, but do you “need” it to be happy? Are there some things that deep down, you’d be willing to settle on? Go over your list at least 2-3 times before you finalize it.
4. Get pre-approved for a mortgage by your lender or broker
You may have a budget in your head, but that budget won’t make a difference if a lender can’t accommodate.
Lenders and brokers look at several criteria before determining how big of a loan you qualify for. For example, they’ll examine the credit score for anyone going on the loan. They’ll also analyze your debt-to-income ratio which measures how much debt you have on your credit report vs. how much income you bring in every year. These two factors matter because they’re an indication of whether you’ll be able to pay back their loan every month.
Once you’re pre-approved, choose a home that’s priced to fit the loan amount the lender is willing to give you.
One more thing: Avoid making any major financial changes that will affect your credit score or debt-to-income ratio. So don’t open any new accounts or take out any new credit cards or loans. Keep your financial activity stable for as long as it takes to get pre-approved, and all the way to the end of the closing on the house.
Now on to Buying a House
You’ve completed your pre-home-buying steps and you’re ready to get down to business.
1. Find an experienced real estate agent
There are a few ways to find one:
- Request a few recommendations from your mortgage company.
- Scope out the top search results for real estate agents in Arizona and read their customer reviews.
- Ask friends and family in Arizona which real estate agents they used.
An experienced, friendly real estate agent is an invaluable asset in your quest to buy a home. They ‘ll show you houses that fit your list of must-haves, as well as your budget. They will also advocate for you and make sure you get the best deal possible during offer negotiations. This is one step you don’t want to skimp on.
2. Tour properties (with an open mind)
Now comes the fun part: touring and viewing properties. Your real estate agent may find these for you, or you can look them up yourself and ask your agent to arrange a visit.
As you’re touring, you might realize you have to make compromises on some of the things you want in a home if you want to stick to your budget. You may also visit a house that needs fixing up, and it could be your dream home if you’re willing to put a little elbow grease and TLC into it.
3. Make an offer
Once you’ve found the right house, make an offer on it! It can be incredibly nerve-wracking to wait for the seller’s response to your offer. What if they say you need to increase the amount? Or what if they outright reject it?
Don’t be afraid to take this step, though. Just keep repeating this step until you find a seller who accepts your offer.
4. Schedule an inspection and an appraisal
Just a couple things you need to complete before the deal is closed.
First, order an inspection of the property. An inspection determines if the house has any internal problems or needs more work that the seller either didn’t disclose or didn’t know about.
Next, order an appraisal through your lender. The lender doesn’t do the appraisal but will have it assigned to an independent and licensed 3rd party that knows the local market. Your lender will use the appraisal to determine if the home is worth what the seller is asking, and if they’re willing to lend you the full amount of money needed to purchase it. A low appraisal could require additional down payment or could lead to re-negotiating the agreed upon purchase price.
Once the inspection and appraisal are a go, you can move on to the final step.
5. Close on the house
Whew! You made it! When you close on the house, you sign all the final paperwork, the seller is paid, and you get the keys to your new home. You’re now a veteran at how to buy a house in Arizona.
Agave Home Loans Makes Buying a Home in Arizona Even Easier
Do you want your home-buying process to be even easier? Preparation can make all the difference.
With Agave Home Loans at your side, you’ll find that purchasing a home is simpler than you ever imagined. Now that you know how to buy a house in Arizona. Apply now!
Meet with one of our mortgage professionals to create an easy action plan for your home-buying experience.