Buying a house is a big commitment even if you are lucky enough to have the cash to pay upfront and don't need to take on the responsibility of a mortgage. However, a cash sale is pretty straightforward. Otherwise, it's too bad that the process of buying a home is not as easy as selecting your house, bringing the money, shaking hands, and moving in. Those days are long gone.
Today, like most major transactions, buying a home involves several individuals and companies, each serving a particular purpose. Unless you go the FSBO route, your first stop is to find a real-estate agent. A real-estate agent of your own is necessary if you are selling a property and getting ready to move into a new one. They act as your selling agent and represent your best interests. If you are moving into a house without having to sell one, then you can simply search until you find the right house and then contact the seller's real-estate agent.
Your agent first acts as your representative during the negotiating phase, which is necessary unless you want the house so badly you will pay whatever the seller is asking. If you prefer to put in a lower offer, your real-estate agent will deal with the listing agent until a fair price is agreed on. You could get lucky, and the real-estate agent could quickly work out an agreed-upon price; then you can move onto the next phase. Although it's not the next actual phase, which involves proving clear title, an appraisal, and so forth for the purpose of this article, once the title is confirmed, the appraisal must be undertaken. An appraisal is necessary in order to obtain the amount you are trying to borrow for your mortgage. Say you have agreed to pay $200,000 for your new house, and you need to borrow 80%. If the appraisal comes in at lower than $200,000, the bank isn't likely to loan you the amount you need. This is a whole other topic, however, so let's stick with the role of real-estate agents.
Assuming all has gone smoothly, you then get all parties involved—the real estate agents or agent, you, the sellers, the title-company representative—and get down to the signing of the contracts. Allow a while for this. This is where real-estate agents can be a godsend. They will go through all the details of what are fairly complicated and cumbersome documents and contracts. You are often signing many papers with no idea what is going on. After that, the process will finally be done. You now own your home, and the real-estate agents have walked away with their commissions. Now it is time for you to move in.