Buyer’s Guide

Couple Handshaking Realtor After Signing Contract

Are you feeling overwhelmed in your home search? At the Austin Board of REALTORS®, we’re here to help!

This handy guide walks you through every step, from finding your REALTOR®  to accepting those new keys. Let’s get started.

Get Specific

It’s tempting to start bookmarking listings right away, but a successful search begins with nailing down the specifics. Think about questions like:

  • Do I want an apartment or a detached house?
  • What’s my budget?
  • Do I have any “must-haves” or “deal breakers” my REALTOR® should know about?
  • What neighborhoods interest me?

PRO TIP: Make a checklist. While it’s important to keep an open mind, going into your search with some idea of what will have you ready to buy (or prepared to walk) keeps everyone on track.

Build Your Team

Surround yourself with the right support for a smooth and confident search. Trust is key, so don’t be afraid to conduct interviews and ask questions. Here’s a rundown of who you want in your corner:

Find Your REALTOR®

You’re going to spend a lot of time with your agent, which is why you should work with someone you like and trust. To find the right one for you, stop by Open Houses in your target area or ask friends and family for recommendations.

Every REALTOR® at ABoR adheres to a strict code of ethics and professionalism. Through ACTRIS, they have exclusive access to the most up-to-date and accurate listing and sales information available.

Find Your Lender

If you’re like most buyers, you’ll need a mortgage. Your REALTOR® can help you determine what you can afford and where to shop for the best rates and terms. You might end up partnering with a bank, a mortgage broker, or even a mortgage company.

Typically, you want to have enough cash available to make a 20 percent down payment on your new home's purchase price. Can’t make it work? Your lender and REALTOR® can help you find the right financing option.

PRO TIP: Once your financing is set, get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will show sellers that you’re serious and ready to buy.

Go House Hunting

There’s a reason people are willing to watch countless episodes of hopeful buyers critiquing old wallpaper and exploring open floor plans. Looking for that perfect home can be an adventure.

But even the most enthusiastic buyer will find themselves dreading endless tours, which is why we use ACTRIS to keep searches on track. Your REALTOR® will set up an exclusive search for you and alert you when listings that fit your wishlist hit the market. This information comes directly from our multiple listing service to ensure accuracy.

PRO TIP: Try not to rule out a house based on pictures alone. As a local expert, your REALTOR® can give you more detailed information that helps you build a list of homes to see in person.

Seal the Deal

When you find that perfect home, it’s easy to start thinking ahead. Before you start decorating, make sure you’ve completed these next steps:

The Offer

Finally! It's time to make the offer. Your REALTOR® will work with you to decide on a price, the terms, and the settlement date. They will then negotiate with the seller’s agent to reach an agreement.

After both parties have signed, you will cut a check for a portion of the down payment– known as earnest money. It will be deposited into a secure account, usually maintained by your REALTOR®’s brokerage.

Inspections and Appraisals

A house inspection should not be overlooked, especially if you’ve made an agreement contingent on completing one. You might ask for a price reduction or for repairs to be done based on the report you receive—your REALTOR® and attorney will work to have these conditions met.

Your lender will order an appraisal of the home. This unbiased assessment of the property’s value will allow them to ensure the property is worth the loan amount. Since the cost of an appraisal falls to the buyer, you should only get one when you plan to make an offer.

The Transfer Process

Next comes the transfer process. If you're working with an attorney, they will handle background work like getting the history of your new home's title. Your lender will be finalizing the details of the loan.

PRO TIP: Every step of the way, your REALTOR® will be there to help and answer questions. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

Enjoy Your New Home

It’s the big day! You’ll sign contracts, exchange money, and soon enough, you’ll get the keys to your new home. Congratulations!