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How to Buy a House in the US: A Step-by-step Guide

For many of us, buying a home is one of the most important goals in our lives. Owning a home provides security for our loved ones and constitutes wealth for our family. If you’re thinking of switching from renting to buying your own home, but you’re feeling uncertain, we have excellent news: buying a home in the United States is probably easier than you think!

If you're wondering how to buy a house, this guide will offer the insights you need.

1. Determine The Type Of Home You’re Looking For

It's impossible to search for a home if you don't know exactly what you want. The first step to buying a home is to know your family's priorities. We recommend that you answer this list of questions from the US Government Housing Dept. as a starting point. 

Based on your answers you’ll be able to define what the ideal home would look like for you. This "custom" model will not necessarily become the home you will buy—it may not even exist—but you must describe it as precisely as possible to facilitate the search process.

2. Study The Requirements Of Buying A Home

Being prepared for buying a house could save you a lot of headaches. You’ll need to learn details around necessary documentation and credit history. 

You do not need a Permanent Resident Card or any particular kind of visa. Having an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is enough. You’ll need to apply for financing to make the purchase, so it’s important to have a good credit history.

3. Start Your Search

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The real estate market in the United States is very competitive, meaning that properties usually sell quickly. To streamline the process and avoid missing good opportunities, you can hire a real estate agent; just make sure they have the proper certifications required by the U.S. government.

If you decide to perform the search on your own, we suggest setting a price range so as not to exceed your ability to pay. Once you have listed the features you want and the amount you are willing to pay, you need to monitor the neighborhoods that interest you. You can find information from different cities on this site. Information pertaining to local schools, average house prices, and crime rates, among others.

De igual manera, es recomendable visitar la zona que le interesa porque así puede ver el ambiente del lugar. Esto, además, le permitirá identificar oportunidades de compra directamente en el sitio.

It is also advisable that you visit the areas you are interested in to get a feel the atmosphere. Doing so will also allow you to identify properties that are for sale in person.

We suggest that you start your internet search at the same time. With sites such as Trulia and Zillow, you can find homes for sale in the United States without paying for a subscription. When you find an offer you like, visit the house, review your desired features list, and take photos. We recommend visiting as many homes as possible so you can compare them before buying.

4. Decide What Payment Method Is Best For You

Unless you have enough savings to pay in cash, you’ll have to resort to a mortgage when buying a home. Before applying for a mortgage loan, carefully evaluate the interest rate, the loan settlement costs, the lender fees, the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), the loan term, and the interest rate. It’s crucial to evaluate all loan conditions when comparing mortgages, including penalties and extra costs.

Bank mortgage loans

A mortgage broker can help you determine the maximum loan amount you could receive for your dream home or apartment. They can provide you with a mortgage pre-approval, a written commitment from the lender that tells you, and the prospective seller, exactly what your home purchase budget is.

Pre-approval usually requires the following:

  • Your credit history report.
  • Proof of income.
  • Your bank accounts' balance.

Your broker will be able to specify exactly which documents you need when applying for pre-approval.

Keep in mind: Once you receive your credit history report, check for any errors. If a credit report error occurs, make sure to immediately inform your mortgage broker and the appropriate credit bureau so that the error does not impact your pre-approval negatively.

Federal financial support programs

Did you know that the U.S. government has programs that can help you purchase a home? The Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development offer programs to help you obtain a mortgage loan. You can learn more about these opportunities by clicking here.

5. Submit An Offer

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When you find a home that you like and can afford, ask the seller for the disclosure statements to unveil potential problems at the property; then, you can make an offer. You are ready now to send a proposal with the amount you are willing to pay and a clause with the terms of the offer. We recommend including a proof of funds letter for the down payment.

If the seller accepts the offer, both of you will be obliged to continue the sale process unless one of the exceptions specified in the agreed terms occurs. After this, you will need to hire an inspector to review the general conditions of the house: foundations, plumbing, and electrical system, among others.

If the inspector discovers issues not included in the disclosure statement, you can renegotiate the price or even cancel the offer. An alternative could be for the seller to make the required repairs before proceeding with the sale of the house.

Watch Your Assets Grow

You now know the basics of how to buy a house in the US! With this information, you can start the process of buying a home and see your assets grow. If you require support during this process, you can contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-569-4287 (for Spanish, press 2) or send your questions directly to SABEResPODER via SMS.