Buying in New Jersey: A Checklist for First-Time Home Buyers

If you’re a first-time home buyer feeling overwhelmed by the closing process, you are not alone. The road to getting those keys in your hand can have its challenging moments. Luckily, there are ways you can prepare to make the process go smoother. Here’s a checklist of what you can expect when buying your first home. 

Understand your budget

Before embarking on your home buying journey, you need to know how much house you can afford. Knowing how much you can afford upfront and month to month will make it easier to make decisions along the way. In addition, do your best to improve your financial situation by increasing your credit score and paying down any existing debt. 

Get pre-approved

A letter of pre-approval is practically non-negotiable in a seller’s market. This will show sellers that you are serious and give your offer a fighting chance. Shop around for lenders and ask for quotes to ensure you’re getting the best deal out there. You may need to adjust the price range of properties in your search depending on the loan terms you qualify for. 

Search for homes

With your letter of pre-approval and a solid idea of your mortgage payment, you can begin searching for homes with your real estate agent. It’s essential to go into this process knowing what you can compromise on and what is a deal-breaker. This will save you time and unneeded frustration. With a little bit of patience and flexibility, you will find the home you’re after. 

Put in an offer

You will work with your real estate agent to craft an offer to be submitted to the seller along with your letter of pre-approval. Your agent will guide you through this and advise how to put forth your best terms while making an attractive offer. 

Negotiate and enter into a contract

Once you’ve got a bite from a seller, you’ll begin negotiating. Suppose you’re unable to increase your offer. In that case, you can get creative with your offer by waiving contingencies, choosing a title company that can close quickly, or even writing a personal letter to the seller. Once you’ve reached an agreement, you are ready to sign and enter into a contract. Congratulations! 

Choose the right title company

Buyers often have the choice to choose their title company. This is a very important part of the home buying process as they will serve as the intermediary between you, the sellers, and the lender. They will conduct a title search to determine any title issues, ensure that all taxes are paid up, clear all liens, gather information about HOA dues, create closing documents, and issue title insurance. The bottom line is that their job is to ensure a smooth closing process and make sure no liabilities from the property’s history are transferred to you. 

Begin the pre-closing process

During the time between signing the contract and getting your keys, several things will happen. You will deliver your initial deposit, apply for homeowners insurance, and order the inspection and appraisal. You will continue to communicate with your lender and submit the requested documentation they need to get you officially cleared to close. There may be further contract negotiations depending on the results of the appraisal and inspection. 

Ensure you’re getting Title Insurance

Title insurance is a one-time payment that protects you as the buyer from any title defects. So what does that mean? First, this is a protection from any future claims or future losses, including:

  • Forged or fraudulent deeds
  • Outstanding lawsuits
  • Undisclosed or unrecorded liens
  • Ownership claims by heirs, spouses, neighbors, etc.
  • Title search errors

You might be asking, shouldn’t these issues have been solved with the title search? Yes and no. Let’s take a look at this example. Say a man that once owned the property brings a woman to the closing stating she was his wife. They sign the deed and the property is sold. Then, one day, the real wife makes a claim on your property stating her signature was forged and she still owns the house. Without title insurance, she may very well win in court and take your property from you. 

It may seem like a farfetched scenario, but believe us, it happens. Remember, title insurance protects you from losses on your most valuable asset – your home. 

Why Sunnyside Title?

Honesty, trust, and experience are the most valuable qualities in this industry. We know how important the home buying process is and how every first-time buyer comes with a unique situation. We want to make this process as straightforward as possible to take care of all your worries and put those keys in your hands. 

Our team will go the extra mile every time to ensure the best quality service. We are a longstanding family business and are proud to have earned the trust and respect of our community. 

Contact Sunnyside Title today. We’d love to speak with you. 

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