Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make in your life. Having a competent real estate agent by your side is the only way to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.

But before you start your search, it is important to clearly understand the process of buying a home in North Carolina. The North Carolina approach of the home buying process is one of the most buyer-friendly in the United States. This article will describe the steps of the typical buying process for homes in North Carolina, including the beautiful Outer Banks area.

  1. Contact Your REALTOR

Whether you’re looking for an investment property or a residential single-family home, there is an agent out there who knows more about the local real estate market. Agents have the ability to search through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and stay on top of all new listings, price reductions, and other updates. The local MLS system allows a Realtor® to put in a buyer’s specific criteria and to be promptly notified of all listings’ updates and price reductions. There is no need to search the inventory every day.

A good Realtor® is the one who can help you determine if a property is overpriced, or if a listing has any red flags. Hiring a skilled and competent agent will save you time and money. If you are a buyer, a Realtor® does not cost you anything, as the seller is usually the one who pays the commission in North Carolina.

Make sure your Realtor® will provide a copy of the “Working with Real Estate Agents” brochure that explains very important details about your relationship with an agent.

  1. Determine Your Needs and Wants

A successful real estate buying experience depends on a trusted and active relationship with your Realtor®. There is simply no better way to learn about your needs and priorities.

Deciding what features a property must have as well as those you do not want will save you a huge amount of time and energy. There will be a lot of questions about home size and style, acreage, accessibility, privacy, and all your favorite features. Buyers should also have a rough idea of the location of their dream home. Narrowing the viewings down to the best three to five will really help in the decision-making process. Knowing what you want helps avoid confusion and save you valuable time.

  1. Get Pre-approved for Your Mortgage

Set yourself up to be the strongest buyer in competition for your dream home. Get pre-approved for your home loan. This way you will know what the financed part of your offer will be, and you will get a better idea of your new home’s price range. To a seller, a lender’s pre-approval letter is considerably stronger than a prequalification letter. If a seller knows your financing is secure, your offer will be taken more seriously. In a strong seller’s market, that can make a huge difference between having your offer accepted or rejected.

  1. Search for Your Dream Home

The Internet has an incredible amount of information about each property for sale. Besides home features in the listing, your Realtor® can provide you with vacation rental information, flood zone information, local zoning ordinances, and tax records.

However, not all real estate websites have the most advanced technology. At Homeowner Realty, we provide you the most complete and accurate real estate information possible. Ask your agent to help you set up a detailed home search with automatic notifications of new listings and any price changes. This way you will be up-to-date with the homes in the current market.

  1. Comparative Market Analysis

Once you have found the right property, ask your agent to give you his or her opinion of value. Your agent will search the MLS for recent sales to see what other buyers were willing to pay for similar properties. This will help you make an educated decision on an offering price and how high you may want to go. The detailed comparative market analysis may be very helpful in determining the property’s value in the current market.

  1. Offer to Purchase & Negotiation

Review with your agent an “Offer to Purchase and Contract” document. It is important to know exactly what you are signing and to clearly understand the terms and conditions that you and the seller will need to agree upon. Your agent should also be able to share some insights on each paragraph and how it relates to purchasing in this market. Going through this document also helps buyers to plan important dates around their busy schedules.

The proper handling of negotiations can substantially affect your home purchase. Your Realtor® must be the one who would represent your best interest as his own and make sure you get the best deal possible with the least hassle for you. Once a seller accepts your offer, it is time for choosing a closing attorney and moving forward to the next step.

  1. Inspections, Survey, Title Search, and Insurance

Before you invest your hard-earned down payment on a property, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting. Schedule a home inspection, pest inspection, and mold inspection if needed. These inspections will be your responsibility during the due diligence period – the time period during which the buyer will investigate the property, do inspections, and get their loan approved. During this time period, the buyer can walk away for any or no reason at all and the seller must return the earnest money deposit.

Our coastal environment impacts Outer Banks homes with saltwater and air, wind, rain, and high humidity. Local home inspectors are trained to find and identify all potential complications and repair problems found with Outer Banks homes. Hiring a home inspector will help you avoid purchasing a property with any major defects. Termites and other pests like our warm and humid weather. Therefore, hiring a local pest inspector to make sure no bugs are present can save you money on treatments and repairs later.

Getting a Survey helps new owners know exactly what they own and avoid any encroachments that may be placed on a property (neighbor’s fence, shed, or even part of the house). Local surveyors will stake the corners of a property, plat property’s boundaries, and improvements on the lot together with any encroachments and easements that may affect the property. Having your Elevation Certificate ready is not that critical but may be very helpful for flood insurance purposes.

When you buy a property, the previous owner conveys the title to you as evidence of your full legal ownership. Ask your attorney to perform a Title Search for the property to make sure that it is free and clear from any claims or other encumbrances. Sometimes, a hidden defect in the title or a mistake in a prior deed or mortgage may give someone else a legal claim against your property. If such a claim is made, Title Insurance can save you time and money by covering legal expenses and any claims that arise from issues prior to your ownership.

  1. Mortgage Approval and Closing

You should have your mortgage approved by the end of the due diligence period just to avoid any unnecessary stress before the closing. If you have been recently pre-approved (step 3) and have not made any major purchases since then, there should not be a problem.

Go to the Pre-Closing Inspection. Walk through the home with your Realtor® before your closing to make sure all fixtures are in place unless otherwise negotiated. Check for any significant damage from the seller’s move out, and make sure all negotiated repairs were made.

Unlike some states where escrow or title companies handle the closing paperwork, in North Carolina real estate attorneys handle the title searches and all of the closing procedures including handling all funds and loan payoffs. Both buyer and seller should receive their Closing Disclosure forms for their review not later than 3 days prior to the closing date. Your Realtor® will review this form with you.

Buyers wire their funds to the closing attorney by the day of the settlement. There is a formal closing meeting on the day of closing where the buyers meet with the closing attorney and sign the closing statement called TRID, deed of trust, and loan documents if any. After all the paperwork is signed and the lender has funded the loan, the attorney will go to the County Register of Deeds to record the deed and other appropriate documents. This usually happens on the same day. Once everything is officially recorded, your home purchase is completed!

Your Outer Banks Dream Home is all yours! Hаve a successful ownership!

Russ Haranovich

Real Estate Broker

Homeowner Realty

 Outer Banks, NC

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