Steps to Buying a Home

Steps to Buying a Home in Omaha

1. Pick your REALTOR®.

Your REALTOR® will become a great resource for you throughout the home buying process with their first-hand experience and knowledge of the market. You will want to make sure you feel comfortable with him or her, and trust they are giving you sound advice on your purchase. Make sure you “click” with your REALTOR®.

2. Contact a mortgage lender for a pre-approval.

It is critical you have guidance from a good lender who can help you determine the best course of action for your financing. A good lender will help you decide the type of loan that would be best for you whether it’s a conventional, FHA, or VA loan, to list a few. Your lender should help you answer the following questions:

  • How much can I afford?

  • How much will I need for a down payment?

  • What kind of costs are associated with making a home purchase?

  • Do I need to sell my current home first before I can buy a new home?

  • What other costs are associated in my monthly payment other than principal and interest? (taxes, insurance, etc.)

3. Finding your future home.

Choose where you want to live.

When trying to decide where you would like to live, you might want to ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Do you want to live close to work?

  • Do you mind a commute? If so, how long?

  • Is the school district important? Or will it be important in the future?

  • Would you like to be near hot social scenes? Parks? Shopping?

Pre-existing versus new construction.

If you’re trying to decide between buying an existing home or a new construction home, it will probably depend on how soon you would like to move. The average new construction home can take 6 to 9 months to build, and there will be additional costs associated with a new build such as blinds, a fence, appliances, etc. Also, when purchasing a new construction home, most builders will not contribute towards your closing costs. For a pre-existing home, you can typically close in about 45 to 60 days and a portion of your closing costs can be paid by the seller if negotiated in your purchase agreement.

Create a features wish list.

In a perfect world, your new home will fit all your criteria and won’t need any work once you move into it, right? Well, here’s your disclaimer: You are NOT on HGTV! Most buyers' wants and needs will ebb and flow as they start looking at homes and discover what the market has available for them. It is not uncommon for a buyer to end up wanting to purchase a home they never thought they would ever like—this happens all the time. It’s best to leave your search criteria wide and keep an open mind because this will create a much better home buying experience for you. To help with your wish list, see the “New HomeChecklist'' page in this packet, and make sure you discuss your wants and needs with Kristen.

Your Saved Search in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

Though most buyers start their home searches on websites like, Zillow, Trulia, etc., it can be very time consuming searching for your new home. Your best resources to help you sort through the thousands of homes on market will be Kristen’s knowledge of inventory and your saved search on the MLS.

The MLS is the city wide data base where every real estate company displays their listings that are for sale, and is the most reliable, up-to-date information. With Kristen creating your saved search in the MLS, you will know immediately when homes come onto the market that meet your search criteria. Also, all the information regarding available listings will be accurate versus the 3rd party websites, such as Zillow and Trulia, where their information is not always current with the homes coming on and off the market.

Social Networking Sites.

Change your privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to the highest security settings possible, while allowing people to still “friend” you. DO NOT post anything about your home search as it could be used against you in negotiations. Believe it or not, the seller will cyberstalk you to find out more or any information about you.

4. Time for showings!

Exciting news, you’re ready to start looking at homes. To schedule showings, please contact Kristen to let her know when you’re available to look at homes. Here are some pointers to help with your showing experience:

  • Most sellers will require at least a 24-hour notice to show, but sometimes a half day notification may be an option.

  • Please wear comfortable slip-on shoes as you’ll be removing your shoes when viewing a home.

  • Dress for the weather.

  • Don’t assume you will be able to use the restroom, so plan accordingly.

  • It’s best to view homes during the daylight hours.

  • On average, you can view around 3 to 4 homes an hour depending on drive time.

  • Please let Kristen know if you will be bringing kids, family, or friends with you to look at homes.

  • Kristen will schedule the showings within a very specific timeframe, please make sure you arrive ontime for your appointment.

  • Some sellers will have nanny cams or security cameras in the home, so please be careful what you say in a home because it could also affect your negotiations.

5. You're ready to make an offer.

You have found the home of your dreams, and you have decided to make an offer. For starters,you will need to decide on how much you want to offer on the home—Kristen will help you with this decision. She will run a comparative market analysis (CMA) showing you the market activity in the immediate neighborhood over the last 6 months. This way you can see what other like-properties have sold for in the neighborhood, the condition of those homes, and other amenities the sold comparable homes offered. Kristen will also provide you with the tax information on the home from the County Assessor, plus any past sale activity.

Other items when making an offer on a home:

Would you like to ask the seller to pay for any portion of your closing costs? If so, factor this amount into the offer.

What kind of inspections does the home need? Inspections are a very important part of negotiations, and it is always recommended to have the property inspected. The cost of the inspections depend on the total square feet of the home, and the costs are due to the inspector at the time of the inspections.

Approximate costs:

  • Whole home inspections cost $350-$400

  • Radon test $125

  • Mold test $200-$400

  • The home may need additional inspections, and Kristen can help you determine if other inspections are needed.

6. Now you have an accepted contract — what’s next?

Congratulations on your accepted purchase agreement! The next couple of days are very important, and you will need to make sure you follow your timelines set forth in the purchase agreement. Please be sure to follow these steps:

  • Schedule your inspections. In your purchase agreement, you are given 7 business days to have the home inspected by licensed, qualified inspectors of your choice. Kristen will give you a handful of recommendations, but it will be your responsibility to get the inspections scheduled. Please give the inspection companies your name, Kristen’s name, and the property address. You will schedule the inspections at times that work best for you, and plan on attending the walk thru with the home inspector.

  • Earnest deposit. You will need to drop off your earnest deposit check to Kristen’s office within 24-hours of acceptance. The check will need to be the exact amount of your earnest deposit, and made out to the title company stated in your purchase agreement.

  • Notify your lender. Please notify your lender that you have an accepted purchase agreement on the property, and let him or her know what date you are closing. Kristen will email your lender a copy of the fully executed agreement. Please have your lender email Kristen an updated pre-approval letter with the actual purchase price on it.

7. Attending your inspections.

Your home inspector will inspect the home, and then you will meet him at the home to go over his findings. It is recommended you attend the walk-thru with your inspector. This way you will have firsthand knowledge of his findings and you’ll be able to see defects as well as ask any questions you may have.

8. Keep your lender informed.

Throughout your loan process, it’s imperative you keep your lender informed and make sure you provide them with all requested documentation ASAP. This will help keep everything running as smoothly as possible with your financing. Just as a reminder, here are a couple of DON’Ts:

  • Don’t open any new lines of credit or credit cards.

  • Don’t make any large purchases. (furniture, appliances, car, etc.) 

  • Don’t move money between accounts, unless you speak with your lender first. 

  • Don’t change jobs, unless you speak with your lender first. 

9. Your Homeowner’s Insurance. 

You will need to make arrangements to have homeowner’s insurance on your new property.Once you have decided on a carrier, please have your insurance agent contact your lender as they will require a copy of the insurance rider for your loan’s underwriting process. 

10. Have you satisfied all your contract contingencies?

Your accepted purchase agreement will have several time sensitive contingencies, so please make sure you have satisfied all your contingencies within the given timeframe. Kristen will help you keep on track, but it’s important for you to stay on track, too.

11. Getting ready for closing. 

You’re almost there and have reached the home stretch! When you are about 2 weeks out from closing, you will want to make sure you schedule the following: 

  • Notify Kristen on what time you would like to schedule your closing. Closings take place Monday through Friday, during regular business hours. 

  • Notify Kristen when you would like to schedule your final walk-thru. 

  • Call all the utility companies (gas, electric, water, sewer, and phone) to have the utilities transferred into your name at the date of possession or closing, whichever occurs first. 

  • If you’re moving into an SID, you will need to make arrangements for trash service. 

  • Call the cable/satellite company to schedule your new service and hook up. 

  • Don’t forget to update your mailing address with the Post Office as of the closing date. 

  • Prepare for the move! If you’re hiring movers, call them at least a couple weeks in advance to book your time. 

  • Get your new furniture and appliances ready. If you purchased new appliances or furniture, make arrangements for the store to deliver them on (or just after) closing day. 

  • Kristen will send you a reminder letter on what to do prior to closing, and don’t forget to check out the “Moving Checklist” in this booklet

12. Funds for closing. 

If you are required to bring funds to closing, you will need to bring a Cashier’s Check to closing made out to the title company in the transaction. You will also want to make sure your funds for closing are available within 7 days prior to closing and that there is a branch located in Omaha. If your funds are located out of state, please make sure you give yourself enough time to have the funds available in time for closing. Federal regulations are very strict on how money can be wired, so you want to make sure you’re aware whether your funds can even be available to you by a wire or not. For example, most financial institutions will only allow wire transfers to be ordered in person, and if not, they require everything to be ordered by fax then require a very specific timeframe for verifications. 

13. Invoices from the seller repairs. 

Per your inspection contingencies, you may have negotiated with the seller to have licensed contractors to make repairs/replacements to the home prior to your final walk-thru. As Kristen receives the paid invoices from the listing agent, she will pass them along to you for your review. You will want to make sure the receipts are legible, and if you have any questions or need clarifications, please let Kristen know. 

14. Schedule your final walk-thru. 

The walk thru is a very important piece to you buying your new home. This will be the last time you will be in the home prior to purchasing it, and you want to make sure it’s in the condition in which you had seen it last. This is also the time you will be able to check all the repairs or replacements the seller has done to the home from your inspection contingencies, and you can cross reference those repairs with the paid receipts Kristen has provided you with from the seller. 

15. Closing. 

Congratulations! Today is the day! You will sign all the paperwork officially making you the new owner of your dream home. For closing, you will need to bring the following:

  • Cashier’s Check 

  • Driver’s license 

16. After Closing. 

With your new home, here are 8 final items you might want to consider.

  1. Save your closing packet, and keep it in a safe place.

  2. About 6 weeks after closing, you will receive a copy of the recorded warranty deed from the court house. Please place the warranty deed in your closing packet for safe keeping. 

  3. Hire a locksmith to change all the locks on the home, so you will know exactly who has a key to your new home. 

  4. You will receive a lot of “junk mail” after you move into your new home. Please watch out for any new credit card offers, offers for equity lines of credit, or “mortgage protection (life) insurance” offers, which are often sent in official looking envelopes. If you have any questions, you can always call Kristen or your loan officer. 

  5. You will receive a property tax statement from the County Assessor sometime each December. Please disregard the tax statement ONLY IF you have an escrow account where your lender pays for your property taxes on your behalf. 

  6. Prepare a budget for your new home. In the next few months, there will be both planned and unplanned expenses with your new home. You will also want to set aside money each month in an emergency fund to cover any essential repairs or loss of income. Watch for any changes in your monthly home payment. 

  7. Even if you have a fixed rate loan, your payment can fluctuate if your taxes, mortgage insurance, or homeowner’s insurance go up or down. 

  8. Pay attention to if you have a new service provider for your mortgage loan. The “servicer” is the company to whom you send your mortgage payment, and it is possible your servicer might change. If there is a change, you should receive a letter notifying you in advance of the change.