Depending on who writes/designs a home buying diagram the process can look slightly different. Reviewing a lender's, escrow's, or title's buyer flowchart they all start a bit different yet end at the same place, closing. The below buyer's diagram starts at the real estate broker but experience shows the buyer starts in 1 of 3 places: the real estate agent, the lender, or home searching on their own.

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Home Buying Flowchart
  1. Select a Real Estate Agent: Hiring a real estate agent should be more complex than selecting a person from an advertising sidebar. Mickie and I have been interviewed against competing agents, hired and not hired. Things like personalities, working styles, and/or schedules don't always come into align with the buyer's.
  2. Obtain Financial Preapproval: This step should not be done with a website's financing calculator. Why? Because those tools are not designed to get the whole financial story like credit, income, taxes, child support, outstanding debt, foreclosures, short sales, medical bills and so on. As real estate agents, we work closely with trusted local financiers that explain the process which at times can be more intrusive than folks like.
  3. Analyze Your Needs in a Buyer Consultation: Steps 1 - 3 usually happens around the same meeting, if you choose to work with Mickie and I. Learning and understanding the buyer's priorities is highly critical to successful purchase. Knowing areas, floor plans, school districts, and commuting are just some of things to discuss.
  4. Select Properties: Buyer priorities and knowing buyer's loan type all go into the property selection process. Real estate brokers search the NWMLS (Northwest Multiple Listing Service) for possible candidates and buyers can search through online home search to review images, property details, prices, and price reductions.
  5. View Properties: Its just like it sounds. The broker and buyer set an appointment to view the selected homes. The real estate broker then makes appointments with the homeowner. Also, there can be restrictions on showings, ex. if there a tenant in a home, that can prevent certain times for showings but typically sellers are accommodating.
  6. Write an Offer: Commonly know as a Purchase and Sale Contract. A Purchase and Sale contains: buyer's and seller's full names, property address, purchase price, earnest money, addenda, closing and offer expiration dates. That offer is then presented to the listing agent (the agent that has the home for sale) and the listing agent then presents the offer to the homeowner.
  7. Remove Contingencies: Contingencies are contractual buyer protections that protects the buyer's rights and earnest money. Common contingencies are the home inspection, financing, septic, well, title, and feasibility studies.
  8. Obtain Funds for Closing: This where the appraisal, underwriting, final credit checks, employment verification, any financial explanation letters required all happens. During this time the the buyer will sign lender required disclosures. A good read is the The Do's & Don'ts for a Smooth Loan Approval.
  9. Close on the Property: The escrow company is the one who closes the transaction and is usually the last to receive any documents. Escrow puts together a HUD1 Settlement Statement for the lender's and agent's review, arranges the signings, manages the wire transfers, disburses funds to all parties (if there is any), and sends the documents to County Court House for recording. When the documents record, at the court house, all parties are issued Recording Numbers and the buyer NOW owns the property.
  10. Take Possession of the Property: Boom! Buyers receive their house keys.

View the previous version of the Buying a Home Flowchart here.