Real Estate & Housing

How Do You Actually Buy a Home?

Jess Zhao | 19 May 2017

Buying a home is a big process. There are so many responsibilities, deadlines, and tasks to keep track of – it can be helpful to know what to expect beforehand.

At Landed, we think about the homebuying process in three phases: preparation, selection and offers, and closing. We’ll dive into each phase in more detail.


  1. Decide to buy a home.
    Before you buy a home, you need to determine if it’s a good fit for you and your family. You’ll want to consider if you are ready to settle down in one location for the next 5+ years, and if you’re financially ready for the responsibility of a mortgage and other costs of home ownership.

  2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage.
    This is where things get real. A lender will be able to tell you what you’re actually able to afford. To apply for pre-approval, you’ll want to gather documents like tax returns, pay stubs, and retirement and investment statements. The lender will issue you a pre-approval letter stating the maximum purchase price, and mortgage amount they can loan you.

  3. Meet with and select a real estate agent. Finding a great real estate agent is important – you’ll be spending a lot of time with this person, so it’s critical to work with somebody you trust. They’re like the quarterback on your homebuying team who will be with you every step of the way.

  1. Shop around for homes.
    With your real estate agent, you’ll start looking at homes that fit your criteria and budget. It can take a while to find something that’s right for you. And you may find that your criteria changes once you start looking.

  2. Make an offer and get it accepted.
    When you find a home that you want, you’ll make an offer to purchase the home. In competitive markets, you may need to make one, two, or 12 offers before you get one accepted. When you do get your offer accepted, you enter a binding legal contract to purchase the home. Congratulations – it’s a big moment.

  1. Home appraisal and inspection.
    There are a lot of things that are happening during the closing process – between you and your real estate agent, the seller and their real estate agent, the lender, and others. Your lender will order an appraiser to your property to determine what it's worth. You should also order a property inspector to come and provide a professional opinion on the roof or foundation. If an inspection has already occurred, you should review the results in depth and try speak to the inspector directly if you have questions.

  2. Loan approved.
    Whereas your lender had previously pre-approved you for a mortgage, they’ll officially approve you during closing. When you have your financing in place, you're almost done!

  3. Closing day, and move-in!
    On closing day, you'll meet the sellers to sign a lot of paperwork and officially transfer ownership of the home to you. The first day in a new home is a big deal, and we hope you celebrate appropriately!

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About the Author

Jess Zhao

Jess is Head of Customer Experience at Landed, where she spends her days working with homebuying teachers. You can reach her at