If you've just started your homebuying journey, you may be wondering how much of the process you’ll have to navigate on your own. The truth is that buying a home is very much a team effort, and you’ll have an expert to help guide you at every step. Let's walk through 7 people you can expect to work with during the homebuying process, and clear up any confusion regarding what they do and when they'll do it.
Real estate agent
While you technically don’t need a real estate agent to buy a home, enlisting their services can spare you a lot of headaches. And for what it’s worth, the seller of the home you eventually purchase will most likely be working with an agent, so you might as well have someone advocating on your behalf. A real estate agent can help you find properties specific to your wants and needs, warn you about red flags you may not notice, negotiate with sellers on your behalf, assist you with compiling necessary documents, and more. Essentially, a real estate agent can be your expert guide through the homebuying process.
In your search for the ideal real estate agent, look for someone who knows the market you’re looking in and clicks with your personality. If you’d like some help, Better Real Estate can match you with a qualified real estate agent who will walk you through the entire process and work to meet all of your needs.
If you’re working with a real estate agent, you may not need to interact with the property’s seller, but there are some instances in which you may end up communicating with them directly. These instances can range from negotiating a price to asking about the property’s condition, getting a feel for the neighborhood, and so on. Remember to request a seller’s disclosure, which is a legally obligated document that lists any problems that the seller is aware of with the property.
Unless you can afford to buy your home with cash, you will likely need to borrow money from a mortgage lender. Throughout this process, your primary point of contact will be your loan consultant. These individuals go by a few other names, such as loan officer and mortgage expert, but the role is essentially the same.
Loan consultants will do a lot of things for you: They’ll help you determine how much home you can afford, inform you what documentation is necessary for a loan approval, walk you through your mortgage options, and answer any questions you have about the financial aspects of purchasing your new home. To perform their job, loan consultants must have a mortgage loan originator license.
Your processing expert’s job is to review all the documentation you submit in your mortgage application. Then, if there are any discrepancies, they’ll work with you to make sure you have everything in order before your application reaches the underwriting stage.
Processing experts work hand in hand with the underwriter, whose role it is to determine the financial risk you present as a borrower and whether you’re approved for a loan or not. Unlike your processing expert, with whom you’ll be in frequent contact, it’s unlikely you’ll ever communicate with your underwriter directly.
Processing experts at Better Mortgage are also responsible for organizing your home appraisal and title search.
Once you make an offer and sign a purchase contract, you'll want to have a home inspector thoroughly examine the property for any damage. That way you can have confidence in what you’re paying for the home—and you can negotiate any necessary repairs with the seller before you move to the closing stage of the real estate transaction. A good home inspector will look for issues in the foundation, walls, roof, electrical circuits, HVAC, plumbing system, and other components that may require expensive repairs.
Most states require home inspectors to be licensed (some states, like California, Colorado, and Wyoming, do not), but all inspectors must undergo professional training.
Appraisals are a required part of the mortgage approval process to determine the true market value of the home. Unlike a home inspector, an appraiser will assess the property on the lender’s behalf—not yours—to ensure that the lender doesn't lend out more money than the home is worth.
Every state requires home appraisers to be licensed or certified, and they will base their decision on the home’s structural integrity, the surrounding area, the prices of nearby homes, and the results of the home inspection. Your appraiser will not evaluate the property if the inspector decides there is too much damage.
A closing agent (also referred to as an escrow officer or settlement agent) is an important person at the end of the mortgage process. Their role is to review your contract and ensure each party has fulfilled their promises. They will also provide third parties (such as real estate agents) with escrow instructions and ensure all money goes where it needs to go. Closing agents are responsible for legally transferring ownership of the property. Once everything is in order, the property is officially yours.
Rounding out your homebuying team
We’ve covered the 7 individuals that are likely to play the biggest role in your homebuying journey, but this is by no means a definitive list. Depending on your circumstances—and where you live—you may work with an insurance agent, a title abstractor, and an attorney, among others. We can help assemble your all-star homebuying team—from real estate agent to loan consultant, and beyond. It all starts with pre-approval, which takes as little as 3 minutes and doesn’t require a hard credit check.