If you’ve ever wondered how to buy a house in Wisconsin, you’re in the right place. RE/MAX Shine is a top-producing real estate agency in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. We’ve helped thousands of homeowners’ dreams come true, and we understand the process of buying a house can be overwhelming. To make the process easier to understand, we broke down the home buying process into ten major steps.
Ten Steps to Buy a House in Wisconsin:
- Find the right agent
- Prepare your finances
- Get pre-approved
- Start home shopping
- Make an offer
- Order an inspection
- Negotiate final offer
- Order appraisal
- Schedule your move
- Closing day
That’s just a quick overview. Next, we’ll dive a little deeper into each step.
Step 1. Find the Right Agent
Buying a house is one of the most significant purchases you’ll make. It is essential to have an experienced agent in your corner, always looking out for your best interest. A buyer agent’s fiduciary responsibility is to represent the buyer and ensure that they are protected.
After all, a seller has someone in their corner. A listing agent has an allegiance to the seller. Their goal is to get the seller top dollar for their home. There is incredible value in having a buyer’s agent working for YOUR best interests when buying a home.
A buyer’s agent can help you by:
- getting you into homes that match your unique wants and needs
- helps identify potential problems with a home
- handles challenging conversations with listing agents or sellers
- staying on top of all the documentation
- represents your best interest
- knowing the local market and value of a home versus the competition
- having connections with inspectors, contractors, and lenders
- working hard to solve problems that may arise throughout the process
- helping you put in a competitive offer and negotiate when needed
Buyer’s agents can do all this for you, and they are usually paid for their services by the seller!
Related Post: Top Real Estate Agents in Wisconsin
Step 2. Prepare Your Finances
It’s important to figure out how much house you can afford before you start shopping for houses. If you are not purchasing a home with cash, you will need a mortgage pre-approval provided by your mortgage lender. A lender will work with you to get a loan that meets your needs.
Mortgage lenders typically need to verify you have a good credit score before they will issue you a loan.
Finally, you’ll also want to save cash for your down payment, earnest money, closing costs, and home inspector.
Check our completely free home buyer’s guide (available to at the end of this article) for tips on how to improve your credit score before buying a house, types of home loans, and how much cash you can expect to need to buy a house.
Step 3. Get Pre-Approved
Unlike being pre-qualified, being pre-approved means you’ve actually been approved by a lender for a specific loan amount. You will need to provide documented financial information (income, statements, assets, debt & credit reports, etc.) to be reviewed and verified by a lender.
Step 4. Start Looking at Houses
Finally, the home shopping can begin! It can be hard to remember the details of each home, so along with taking notes, taking pictures or videos can help you remember details of the homes you view.
Once you find THE house, your real estate agent will help you present an appropriate offer based on recent sales, current buyer activity in the area, and the value of the property in its current condition.
Step 5. Make an Offer
It’s exciting to find a home you’d like to write an offer to purchase. In today’s market, the demand is higher than the number of homes available, so it is important to act fast! Your REALTOR can help you determine how much you would like to offer.
Here are a few tips for submitting a strong offer that is appealing to sellers and may help YOUR offer be the one they accept:
- Put your best foot forward. Don’t come in with a low offer hoping for a deal. You may only have one chance to get the house in today’s market.
- Put down a healthy earnest deposit
- Offer to pay in cash if you can
- Shorten the inspection period or put a cap on the dollar amount you are willing to pay in repairs
- Write the seller a personal letter about why you fell in love with their home
- Offer to close quickly
Once your offer is accepted, you are officially “under contract” and enter the “contingency period” (also called escrow period in some areas). This is when inspections, appraisals, or anything else built into your purchase agreement takes place.
Step 6. Order a Home Inspection
Schedule an inspection with a reputable home inspector. to do a thorough investigation of the house. Your real estate agent can help you find trusted local ones.
Once this is complete, the inspector will give you and your agent a list of their findings. You can accept the findings as-is or request the seller address some or all of the findings. We encourage buyers to be reasonable on smaller items and more cautious and vigilant with potentially significant issues.
Step 7. Negotiate Final Offer
Issues typically arise after the home inspection, and those issues may result in another round of negotiations for credits or fixes.
Step 8. Order Appraisal
Your lender will arrange for a third-party appraiser to provide an independent estimate of the value of the house you are buying. The appraisal lets all parties know the price is fair.
After the appraisal, the loan file moves to the mortgage underwriter. If approved, you will receive your final commitment letter that includes the final loan terms and percentage rates.
Step 9. Schedule Your Move
It’s time to schedule your move! Get quotes and schedule movers and/or a moving truck.
Declutter and donate, sell, or toss anything you no longer need or like. Find packing materials and start packing!
- Give 30 days notice if you are currently renting
- Get home insurance quotes (you’ll need insurance for your new house prior to closing)
- Contact utility companies for water, electric, cable, etc.
- Schedule a time for closing
- Change your address for mail, prescription deliveries, and other subscriptions
You’ll likely need to get a certified check for closing once your lender gives you exact closing amounts, schedule and attend your final walk-through with your agent, finish packing, and clean up your old residence.
You’ll want to know where your essential items are for the first few nights in your new home, so keep those in an easy to find bag or tote. Confirm the delivery date with the moving company and make sure they have your new home address and cell phone number to avoid any mishaps.
Step 10. Attend Closing
When closing day arrives, you will sign ownership, insurance paperwork, mortgage paperwork, and receive keys to your new home!
Remember to bring a government-issued photo ID, proof of homeowner’s insurance, and proof of funds to cover the remainder of the down payment and your closing costs.
In Wisconsin, it’s common for many people to be at a real estate closing with you:
- Your agent
- The seller(s)
- Seller’s agent
- Title company representative
- Your loan officer
At the end of closing, the keys are yours and you will officially be a new homeowner!
-Written by Val Breit
After you read through your Home Buyer’s Guide, you’ll see how becoming a homeowner is something YOU can do, and why letting a Shine agent help you is a no-brainer.
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We hope this guide is a helpful resource.
If you know someone who needs a trusted REALTOR to advocate and guide them through the real estate process, we’d be honored to help the Shine way!