While many of our clients are veteran home buyers, others aren’t. Just as many of our customers are first-time home buyers, those who haven’t bought a home in many years, or who haven’t bought property in Texas before (since rules and regulations vary by state). If you’re looking to buy a condo in Austin but aren’t sure what to expect, here’s the basics of the process broken down into seven easy steps.
Step One: Secure Financing
Austin’s condo market is hotter than its August temperatures, so it’s important to show a seller that you mean business. When making an offer, you’ll greatly benefit from having either a letter from your bank that shows you have assets sufficient enough for a cash purchase or a pre-qualification letter from a lender explaining your eligibility for a mortgage.
The first step for non-cash buyers is getting pre-qualified for a mortgage. Lenders go about this process in different ways. Some lenders do a full qualification up front, which means that your pre-qualification is actually your full personal qualification. Most lenders, though, simply do a quick pre-qualification and then delve into your financial situation more deeply once you get under contract on a specific property. Either way, getting either a pre-qualification or a personal qualification is the first step.
It’s important to note that not all lenders will approve loans for all buildings. You’ll want to be sure that the lender you choose can fund the building you want to live in. This is something a realtor can help with, which brings us to the next step.
Step Two: Hire a Realtor
Here at Highrises, we have a dedicated, full-time boutique brokerage focused exclusively on the central Austin’s mid- and high-rise condo market. Our agents are always up-to-date on the specifics of the city’s buildings, market trends, and everything else you need to know about purchasing a condo in the city.
Not only does a realtor help get the most bang for your buck by using their expertise to find the best match for your needs, they’ll be at your side every step of the way through the buying process from start to finish. If buying a condo in Austin solo stresses you out, our realtors are here to take the weight off of your shoulders.
Step Three: Find the Perfect Condo for You
There are plenty of ways to find the right space for you. One way to start your search is by browsing the individual buildings on our site. By putting in specific criteria, you can sign up for automated searches that will share new listings as they become available. Another is to work with a realtor who can help match your needs to buildings that will satisfy them.
Once you’ve found properties you’d like to see, work with your realtor to set up showings. It’s best to limit showings to five or six a day. Too many more than that and the various units and properties start to blur together, which makes decision-making hard.
Step Four: Make an Offer
Once you find the right home, we will review market conditions and work with you to decide whether to present an aggressive offer or a competitive offer. Your realtor will write up all of the necessary paperwork and guide you through the process. Remember that negotiations can go back and forth a few times before an offer is settled.
Step Five: Get Under Contract
After both parties accept the terms of purchase, the property then goes under contract. This is when the buyer provides earnest money to the title company which then opens an escrow account. During a roughly seven-day period during this time the contract can be canceled for any reason.
Step Six: Get Inspections, Appraisals, and More
On the first day after the effective date of the contract, the option period begins. It’s during the option period that you and your realtor will work together to schedule any and all inspections of the property to ensure there aren’t any serious defects. It’s during this discovery period that any issues or necessary repairs are negotiated between the buyers and the sellers. If agreements can’t be reached, the contract can be terminated.
This is also the time during which the buyer and the property will have to be approved by the lender if the sale isn’t being made in cash. If either the seller or the property is disqualified from receiving financing, a well-written contract will include contingencies to allow termination of the contract.
Your lender will order an appraisal of the property, which will be billed to you at closing (this usually costs about $500). It’s generally best to instruct the lender to not order the appraisal until after the option period is over. This way, if you cancel the contract, you won’t be charged for an appraisal you don’t need.
Step Seven: Go to Closing
You will need to bring a picture ID and a certified check for all of the money owed (think: down payment, loan origination fees, and the like) to the closing appointment at the title company. Title companies also accept wire transfers — in fact, some now only accept wired funds. It is best to go in person to the title company for closing, but remote closings are also possible. If you go the remote route, you’ll want to allow extra time for the process (an extra couple of days, usually) since the services of a notary are often involved.
The possession of your condo will take place once your lender releases funds to the seller. Typically you will receive keys the same day, unless one party closes late in the day. In that case, you may not receive keys until the following business day.
Once this is complete, the condo is yours. Welcome to your new home!