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Top 5 questions about the home buying process, answered

When buying a house, there’s no such thing as a bad question.

A home is one of the largest purchases many people will ever make, so it's common to have a lot of questions when starting to shop—especially if you’re new to the home buying process.

Fortunately, we have answers to some of the top questions asked about how to buy a house.

1. What do I need to do before looking for homes?

When thinking about how to buy a house, getting your finances in order is one of the most important first steps, starting with a check of your credit score. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Generally, higher scores provide better loan terms with the most competitive interest rates.

Next, you'll need to collect all pertinent information, such as pay stubs, tax statements, and proof of debts and assets. Then, consider getting prequalified for a loan to show sellers you'll be ready to move forward when it's time to make an offer.

2. How do I know what to offer?

Deciding how much to offer isn't an exact science, but there are a few things you should consider. If you're working with a real estate agent, your agent should be able to answer the following questions to help inform your decision:

  • What did comparable homes in the same area recently sell for?
  • How hot is the market? In most areas, it's currently a seller's market. That means it's possible you’ll be competing against multiple bids, which can drive up the price.
  • How long has the home been on the market? If it’s taking longer than average to sell and there are no other bidders, you may be able to offer less.
  • Are there immediate fixes that would need to be made to the home? If so, consider bringing these up as part of the negotiation.

Be sure to take a holistic look at your budget, too. Here are tips for how to budget when buying a home

3. How long does it typically take to buy a home?

The time it takes to buy a home, from the first showing to the final closing, varies depending on things like buyer and seller needs, or inspection and paperwork processes. On average, homebuyers spend one to two months looking for a home and an additional 30 to 60 days before their closing date.

Did you know that in certain cases, BB&T may be able to conduct closings in less than 30 days? Talk to your BB&T mortgage professional to learn how you may be able to close in less than 30 days.

4. Can I back out after making an offer?

This depends on where you are in the process, as well as your reasons for backing out. If you're in the initial stages and the seller has yet to sign your purchase agreement, then you're free to walk away without penalties. If the purchase agreement has been signed, it might be time to look at the contingencies in your home purchase contract. Inspection or appraisal issues, trouble finding adequate financing, or job loss might all be covered under these clauses. In most cases, you'd likely forfeit any earnest money you'd paid to the seller.

5. Can I buy and sell a home at the same time?

Yes. It's common for people to attempt this juggling act. If you're ready to make an offer but concerned about selling your current home first, then you may consider adding a home sale contingency to your contract. This means that if your current home doesn't sell by a certain date, you can back out of the contract for the new home.

Keep it up. You're getting smarter about home buying.

Related topics

What are the steps to buying a home?

See the big picture of buying a home, from prequalification to closing.

How BB&T helped me buy my first home

Find out how our first-time home buyers get help at every step of the process.

Financial planning for buying your first home

For many people, their home is their most valuable asset. But be advised: A home isn't usually a good short-term investment.

Loans, lines of credit and credit cards are subject to credit approval.

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