How To Buy A House Online: The Complete Process
Miranda Crace7-Minute Read
June 10, 2022
You can buy virtually anything online these days – and houses are no different. From finding a mortgage lender to closing on the home, you can complete the entire process of buying a house online.
For any prospective homeowners who may be inclined to buy a house online, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to help you along your journey.
Can I Buy A House Online?
Buying a house online is easier now than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic has lead businesses to become more flexible in their operations in order to continue servicing their customers. Because of this, real estate agents and mortgage lenders alike have started offering online services to help potential buyers find their new home.
Buying A House Online, Step By Step
The process of online home buying might look a little different than buying a house the traditional way. Overall, though, the core steps and their importance remain the same.
Let’s break down those steps you’ll need to take in order to buy the home of your dreams online.
1. Finding A Mortgage Lender
When it comes to finding a mortgage lender, you’ll want one that has a reputation for providing their customers with a great online experience. Thankfully, many have made their processes more adaptable to the needs of online clients.
Once you’ve chosen a lender that can conduct business with you virtually, it’s time to get started on your mortgage preapproval. The preapproval process helps you identify how much home you can afford and proves that your intentions to buy are serious. Having this completed before searching for a home can give you an edge on the competition by making a faster offer than those who haven’t been preapproved.
2. Finding A Real Estate Agent
Finding a real estate agent or REALTOR® who can help you through the process virtually is another step you’ll need to take. Above all else, you’ll need to find one you can trust and who has a good reputation. Completing your home search virtually requires more dependency on a real estate agent than the traditional process. You’ll be trusting the agent to choose a home that fits your needs, because you’ll be buying the house before seeing it in person.
Before selecting your real estate agent, ask them about their experience with remote purchases to get a feel for how comfortable you’d be working with them. An agent can also be a great resource for inside knowledge of the area where you’re looking to move.
3. Searching For Your New Home
Thanks to the services of many real estate database websites, finding your new home is as easy as typing in a ZIP code and applying a few search filters. Each online listing should feature photos and a full description of the property. The description should include square footage, property, age, number of rooms and bathrooms, and other noteworthy features. Your real estate agent can also send you recommendations for homes based on any of your must-haves.
Once you’ve identified a few houses that you’re interested in, your real estate agent will walk you through the home via virtual tour or video call. It’s critical that you ask as many questions as possible during this stage. If you’re unsure about the property due to poor video quality or a lack of questions being answered, don’t be afraid to ask for a second virtual tour. Buying a home online is a big deal, and you want to be sure you’re going to be satisfied with the house you choose.
4. Making An Offer
Once you’ve selected the home you want to make an offer on, you’ll continue working with your agent since they will be the best expert on the housing market in that area. Having a local expert on your side will help you make an informed decision on how much you should offer.
Most of this process has already been transitioned online over the past few years, so the step of making an offer should be easier to complete. Your real estate agent will be able to send your offer letter and any contingencies via email to the listing agent, and your agent will then let you know if your offer has been accepted, counteroffered or rejected.
5. Preparing For Closing
Once your offer is accepted, it’s time to move into the closing process. There are a few steps that you must complete before closing on your new home. These include getting an appraisal and inspection, and the underwriting process.
The appraisal is often conducted by a third party, and the buyer isn’t typically present regardless of whether you’re buying a house online or the traditional way. Once the appraisal is completed, your lender will notify you and send you the report electronically for your review.
A virtual home inspection might be slightly different from what you get with a traditional real estate transaction. Typically, the inspector will walk you through their findings as they are identified to give you a clear profile on the house you’re buying. However, this isn’t always possible with an online purchase.
You may want to ask your agent if they can be at the house at the time of the inspection to take notes, photos or videos of the call. Be sure to have the inspector provide you with a detailed report via email. It’s critical that you analyze this carefully, as you never fully know what you’re buying when going through the process online.
Your mortgage lender will handle the underwriting stage, assessing all of your financial records and finalizing all of the paperwork you’ll need to complete for closing. Be sure to stay on top of your emails or messages in an online portal to verify that everything is up to date and being processed as needed.
6. Closing On The House
The last and most exciting step of the process is the closing day. This is the day when you will sign all the necessary paperwork and hand over your down payment and closing costs. After this, you can officially call the house yours.
At your closing, you’ll need to have a notary present. If you are able to hire a remote notary agent, you can arrange with your team to have an in-person notary come to your house to complete the paperwork. After this is completed, the title company will receive it in the mail.
The Bottom Line
With the advancement of technology and increased flexibility of services, buying a house online is more convenient and reliable than ever before. If you can find an agent who’s trustworthy and knowledgeable, you can be one step closer to getting the keys to your dream home – all from the comfort of your current home.
Ready to begin your home search? Start looking at homes for sale now.
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