It may be helpful for your to write down a list of requirements for the new property along with a list of nice to haves. At this stage it's important to establish a budget. If you plan on financing, you'll want to talk to one or more mortgage companies and get pre-qualified. A pre-qualification letter is helpful to send along with any offers in the next stage.
Searching is the most enjoyable part of of a Real Estate Purchase. These days most of the initial stages of this process can be done online. Your real estate agent can also send you properties that fit your budget and requirements. As you look you'll want to pick a number of properties to visit. Your realtor will be able to set up appointments to see houses on your list. When you've found something your real estate agent will discuss with you and prepare an offer for the property. In hot markets it's important to have a back up property and not get too attached to a property. It is likely that houses you like will go under contract fast and you'll have to continue your search
The next stage is to negotiate. Usually your agent will talk to the listing agent and get a feel for the demand they're currently seeing. Your real estate agent will prepare and send an real estate purchase agreement to the other party. If they like it they'll accept if they don't like it they'll counter, reject, or ignore you. In up markets you may have to compete against multiple buyers and may need to adjust your initial offer to rise to the top. Will each offer you'll commonly have an escrow amount. Once the offer is accepted you'll have to deliver an escrow amount that will be held in a trust account until close.
Once you have an accepted offer, negotiations are not done. Your offer may be conditioned on multiple requirements. The two most common are financing and appraisal, and due diligence. If you have a mortgage company they'll require an appraisal. If appraisal comes back lower it's common for both parties to negotiate. General for due diligence you'll order an inspection from a licensed inspector and visit the property. Due diligence often comes with either a negotiated lower price or a list of repair items. Essentially any change to the initial contract need to be negotiated. It's common to negotiate a change of dates, or any number of other addenda to the contract.
Closing requires fulfilling the requirements of the negotiated contract including meeting deadlines and transferring money. Most often there are four entities that are required to communicate to come to a close.
- Buyer/Buyer's Agent/Buyer's Brokerage
- Seller/Seller's Agent/Seller's Brokerage
- Buyers Mortgage Broker
- Real Estate Title Company
It's the title companies job to facilitate the close of the purchase and transfer all monies to the respective parties and realtors. If you have a good real estate agent, most of the hassle of dealing with the and following up with these four parties will be handled for you. You'll want to make sure your mortgage company has everything it needs as they often become the final bottleneck in the process.
If all parties are doing their jobs this process often goes smoothly. If there are any issues usually the real estate agent steps in and helps move the process to completion. If you have a good agent you may not know much of this is going on behind the scenes. It's not common but every once and a while the deal falls apart and put you back to the search stage.